I’ve been a wedding planner for over 4 years. Here are 10 of the best ideas I’ve ever seen at a wedding.

Mermaid wedding dress
As a wedding planner, I’ve seen some pretty awesome ceremonies with special details. Ana Iacob Photography/Shuttershock
  • I’m a wedding planner, and I’ve seen so many great ideas at ceremonies and receptions.
  • Every couple should do a reception reveal and a private last dance during their special day.
  • Duffel bags are a great gift for bridesmaids, and everyone should have a “designated documenter.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As someone who has worked as a venue coordinator, florist, stationer, and, eventually, a wedding planner, I’ve seen my fair share of big days.

Many moments can make a wedding great, but it’s often the smallest details that make the biggest difference.

Here are 10 of my favorite things I’ve seen couples do for their weddings:

Couples should schedule a private meal before the party starts

I think every couple should have a small meal together before they enter their reception.

They likely haven’t eaten for most of the day, and this gives them an opportunity to have a moment to themselves before entertaining guests all night.

It takes only about 10 or 15 minutes, and I build this into every wedding-day timeline I create.

Planning a private last dance at the end of the night is sweet and special

Newly married couple having a private dance at their wedding
A private dance at the end of the night can feel extra special. Royalty-free/Getty Images

I highly recommend couples build a private last dance into their wedding-day schedule.

At the end of the night, guests are instructed to go outside to line up for the exit, while the couple stays on the dance floor for one last dance. This is a great time for them to reflect on the day and enjoy those last few moments of their wedding before it’s over.

My clients often say this was their favorite moment of the entire day.

I love hearing a toast during the ceremony instead of the reception

At a wedding I recently attended, the bride’s father gave a speech at the beginning of the ceremony. While at the altar, he touched on how this was a union of two families and how much we all loved and cherished the couple.

It set a great tone for the entire day, and everyone was able to hear the father’s sweet words to his daughter and her new husband. There were also no distractions.

Typically, when speeches are made during the reception, dinner is being served in the background, and guests are getting up and down. And it can be harder to hear the speaker if you’re spread out in a big ballroom.

Faux wedding cakes are affordable and can help you avoid germs

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A faux wedding cake means you don’t need to worry about designing a cake that looks good and can serve all of your guests. Olga Shevtsova/EyeEm/Getty Images

Faux cakes have recently become standard practice in the wedding industry.

Bakeries will make the wedding “cake” out of Styrofoam and decorate it to make it look indistinguishable from a real dessert, then keep a sheet cake in the kitchen to serve to guests.

This way, you can achieve the look of the cake you want without having to worry about going over or under on the serving sizes. You also don’t have to worry as much about environmental conditions with a faux cake – it’ll likely be fine if it gets a little too hot.

Lastly, when it comes to extra germs, it just makes sense to have a fake cake on display where people are walking and breathing, while keeping the real deal away from guests.

A recorded-message guest book will give you priceless keepsakes

I think this alternative to a traditional guest book is going to become more popular in the next few years.

There are companies that provide phones for the reception so guests can leave voice messages with well-wishes and advice for the couple to hear later.

This is such a fun option that leaves the couple something special to listen to for years to come.

A ‘designated documenter’ will make sure you capture small special moments

The photographer is there to document the big moments, but it can take weeks to receive those pictures, and they’ll be of only the prettiest bits of the day.

So I like to recommend my clients pick someone in the wedding party or a close friend to be a “designated documenter.”

This person is tasked with getting videos and photos of those unposed, embarrassing, and candid moments that typically come with the best stories.

Numbering the back of your RSVP cards will save you a few headaches

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Number your wedding guests to avoid issues with RSVPs. Ale_Koziura/Shuttershock

I can’t tell you the number of times I have received RSVP cards with an illegible name or none at all.

To avoid this, before you send out invitations, assign everyone on your guest list a number, and write it on the back of their RSVP card. The number can help you see who’s coming even if their name isn’t on the card.

I usually put these numbers on the bottom back corner of the card in pencil. I’ve also seen couples number their cards with black-light pens so guests don’t see the number.

Duffel bags are such a good gift for bridesmaids

A lot of couples give their wedding parties tokens of appreciation, and I recommend getting your wedding party duffel bags as a gift.

I’ve seen only one bride do this. She gifted each of her bridesmaids a bag with their name on it so they could fill it with everything they needed (from matching outfits to hair spray) to go from the getting-ready location, ceremony, and reception.

These bags also made it so much easier for me as the coordinator to grab everything and ensure nothing got left behind at any of the locations.

Having a reception reveal for the couple means they can actually see the space they dreamed up

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With a reception reveal, couples can see the special details they picked out before guests arrive. iStock / Getty Images Plus

I always recommend couples take a few minutes to sneak into the reception before the guests arrive so they can see the final result of their months of planning.

Once everyone is in the space, it’s difficult to get a feel for how everything looks and spot the special details.

It’s become popular to have parents sit on the opposite side of their children during the ceremony

Typically, parents of the couple sit on the side that their child is standing on during the ceremony.

But I’ve recently had more couples request that their parents are seated on the opposite side of them so they can see their child’s face during the ceremony.

This is a small detail that goes unnoticed by guests but means a lot to the parents.