The Ultimate Wedding Day Checklist: What You'll Need for Every Part of Your Event

These wedding must-haves, from safety pins to cake knives, will help you create a smooth and memorable experience from start to finish.

laura john wedding massachusetts bride
Photo: Edward Winter / READYLUCK

Prepare for every part of your big day, from hem rips to lipstick stains and from a sudden downpour to your cake cutting, with this planner-approved checklist of wedding must-haves. Some of these items are absolute essentials (ahem: the rings), and others are wedding-emergency fixers that the pros rely on—but that you may be lucky enough to avoid needing.

To prevent last-minute panic and midnight runs to the drugstore, collect these items in the months before your wedding and keep them in labeled bins or boxes. "With every wedding, even the most well-planned and executed of events, a small hiccup is bound to arise. The more you can be prepared, the better!" says wedding planner Heather Balliet of Amorology.

Wedding Emergency Kit Checklist

pia davide wedding bride's shoes on wooden dresser

Sarah Noel Photography

If you're working with a wedding planner, your day-of contact likely has an emergency kit. "At nearly every wedding, we find ourselves in need of a safety pin, sewing kit, band-aids, and [stain-remover] pens to help get us through the day, but our list is ever growing!" says Balliet.

Couples who need to prepare their own emergency kit should get this task out of the way as early as possible—about three months before the wedding, recommends Terrica Skaggs, chief event planner and designer at Cocktails and Details. (Assign a member of the wedding party to make sure the kit travels with you throughout the day.) "Emergency kits can help minor aches and pains and major wardrobe malfunctions," says Skaggs. "Having one on hand ensures that you are prepared for anything without the party having to stop."

  • Safety pins
  • Fabric tape, to fix a fallen hem
  • Bobby pins
  • Clear nail polish
  • Bride's color nail polish
  • Nail file
  • Earring backs
  • Face powder
  • Eye drops
  • Aspirin
  • Antacid
  • Bandages
  • Tampons
  • Breath mints
  • Hand lotion
  • Perfume
  • Double-sided tape
  • Krazy Glue
  • Sewing kit
  • Anti-dust white chalk to cover any dress stains
  • Scissors
  • Tissues
  • Phone charger

The Bride's Wedding Checklist

bride getting ready

Laura Murray Photography

Don't leave your wedding-day packing until the last minute, cautions Balliet. "To create a morning full of rest and relaxation, you want to make sure you have all of your day's items ready to go prior to the weekend," she says. "While you may have a beauty team with you on your day to pamper and prep you, it is good to be pre-packed and prepared for any additional styling needs. This allows you and your best gals to feel most comfortable, clean, and camera-ready!"

  • Button-down shirt, to wear while getting hair and makeup done
  • Dress
  • Veil
  • Shapewear
  • Undergarments
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Hair accessories
  • Hair styling products and tools
  • Makeup and beauty tools
  • Mirror
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Floss and mouthwash
  • Extra pair of contact lenses
  • Straws, for drinking without ruining lipstick
  • Comfortable flats
  • Something old, new, borrowed, and blue
  • Chafing relief creams
  • Peppermint oil for aching feet
  • Cooling towels (in hot weather)
  • Extra lipstick in the chosen shade

The Groom's Wedding Checklist

karolina sorab wedding groom help with cuff links
Benjamin Wheeler

The man of the hour may not be checking off a list that's as extensive as a bride's, but double-checking his essentials is just as—well, essential.

  • Suit or tuxedo
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Shoe polish kit
  • Shaving tools
  • Hair styling products and tools
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Lint brush
  • Fragrance
  • Cash
  • Cooling towels or hand warmers (depending on season and location)

Wedding Ceremony Checklist

molly frank wedding ceremony space
Sara Corona

Items that help your ceremony run smoothly, from programs to seating markers, allow you to say "I do" without any last-minute stress. One important note for this part of the day, says Balliet: "Make sure your marriage license and rings are given to someone responsible for safekeeping. Often your photographer will want your rings prior to the ceremony for photos, but they will need to make their way back to the best man along with your vows to the officiant to allow for a smooth sailing ceremony!"

  • Programs
  • Unity candle or ceremonial equivalent
  • Copy of the vows
  • Copy of the readings
  • Rings
  • Marriage license
  • Ring pillow and fake rings
  • Flower-girl basket
  • Aisle runner
  • Entrance signage
  • Reserved seating markers
  • Markers for wedding party positioning

Cocktail Hour Checklist

champagne wedding ideas golf cart as drinks stand

Sophie Epton

Relax after your ceremony knowing everything is in place for your cocktail hour. "As the bridge between 'I do' and 'we did,' the cocktail hour starts off the reception and can set the tone for the rest of the evening," says Skaggs.

  • Welcome signage
  • Escort display
  • Games
  • Bar signage
  • Seating
  • Music or other entertainment

Wedding Reception Checklist

table arrangement with seating card pink plates and napkins with gold utensils
Jenn Emerling

While your vendors will handle the large-scale items at your reception, like linens, tables and chairs, and place settings, the personal details you choose to add are the pieces that make the most impact. "Gathering all the items for your reception can take some time, so we always suggest getting started early!" says Balliet. "Organizing and labeling in clear tubs makes all the difference for your planning team as they begin to set the space for your celebration."

  • Signage for guests
  • Menus
  • Place cards
  • Table numbers
  • Favors
  • Photo booth props
  • Guest book and pen
  • Toasting glasses
  • Cake topper
  • Cake knife
  • Garter
  • Gratuity envelopes
  • Bathroom baskets
  • Flip flops
  • Cake box for leftovers or top tier

Outdoor Wedding Checklist

michael thomas wedding outdoor reception tables

Jenn Emerling

Holding your ceremony or reception outside means preparing for all kinds of weather—hot, humid, cold, rainy, or windy (or any combination). "It can be very easy to fall in love with the vision of an outdoor wedding while forgetting that it lacks the amenities of being in an actual building to offer protection from outside elements or direct access to necessities," says Skaggs. Here's what you'll need to be prepared for just about anything, depending on your event's seasonality.

  • Sunscreen
  • Lotion with aloe vera
  • Bug spray
  • Bug-bite reliever
  • Pre-ceremony cold (or hot) beverages
  • Umbrellas
  • Fans
  • Cooling towels
  • Handwarmers
  • Pashminas
  • Light bracelets for low light areas
  • Heel stoppers (for grass)
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