We look at, think about, and write on weddings every day, so we think we reckon we know a thing or two about how to plan them.

But when it comes to logistical finesse, flawless finishing touches, and zero on-the-day mishaps, there are some things only an expert wedding planner can know. Like the odds on someone cancelling last minute, the chances of your decor going missing for a destination wedding, and how many people will actually eat the cake.

So to share a few of her tricks of the trade, we’ve turned to renowned international event planner, Lindsay Landman.

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Photo by Allan Zepeda, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

Recently named one of the ‘Top Wedding Planners in the World’ by Vogue, Lindsay has been planning weddings and events across the globe for 15 years, with her New York City-based company Lindsay Landman Events.

There are some things a bride or groom would never, (or should never) think about in the lead up to their wedding, and being able to predict these things and stay ahead of the game, is what makes wedding planners so gifted at what they do.

Like magicians, wedding planners rarely reveal their secrets, so when someone like Lindsay Landman shares her top five tips for wedding planning success, you listen up!

1. Let Them Eat (Less) Cake

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Cake by Lovecakes, Photo by Emi Fujii Photography via Bridal Musings

You never need to order a wedding cake for your total guest count.

If you are having 200 guests, save some money and order a cake for 175. Venues and caterers tend to cut smaller slices than bakers account for, not to mention that by the time cake is served many guests are on the dance floor or have snuck out early.

Ordering for about 15% less than your total count is usually a safe bet. Don’t go too low, though… you still want the physical size of your cake to be proportionate with the overall scale of your wedding. In other words, you don’t want to have 200 guests and a cake that looks like it can only feed 20 of them.

2. Down Count at Dinner

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Photo by Allan Zepeda, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

Always “down count” your final count to your venue or caterer when you need to provide the final numbers for your wedding.

In my 15 years of planning weddings, I have never once had a wedding where at least two guests didn’t cancel.

So, if a couple tells me that their final count is 206, I will report 202 to the caterer. Once a number is reported to the venue or caterer, you are locked into it and must pay for that number of guests; since I can say with confidence that there is always at least one couple who drops out at the last minute, you can save yourself the headache and get ahead of it!

3. Go Pro with the Lights

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Photo by Roey Yohai Photography, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

Investing in lighting with a professional lighting company (not your DJ!) is always worth it.

Lighting has an incredible impact, not just on how a room looks, but also how the people in it will feel. A skilled lighting designer knows how to manage the light in the room to create the right ambience at the right time – from romantic and intimate to fun and energetic.

It takes finesse to do it right, so this is not a place to skimp.

4. Ditch Your To-Do List

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Photo by Allan Zepeda, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

Don’t save any tasks to do on your wedding day. None. Zilch. You may think that alphabetizing your escort cards is a five minute project you can do while getting your lashes on, but it is not!

Even my team and I don’t leave tasks like this for the wedding day – we prep absolutely everything ahead of time – so you should too.

5. Destination Dos and Don’ts

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Photo by Allan Zepeda, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

If you are having a destination wedding, never, ever, ever ship your wedding dress! Always carry it with you. Better that it is wrinkled (which can be remedied) than lost.

On the same note, if your wedding is overseas, consider packing personalized items like favors or things that are hard to replace like an heirloom cake topper rather than shipping them.

Customs procedures vary greatly from country to country and there is no way to know if that one must-have box will be impounded and inaccessible for your big day.

Happy planning!

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Photo by Allan Zepeda, Planning by Lindsay Landman Events

So many great tips, lights definitely give even the most simple weddings a polished look and the ones about the cake and the catering numbers – genius!

Thanks so much to Lindsay for sharing her tips – visit her website for a closer look at her beautiful events.

If you’re interested in wedding planning as a potential future career, then check out Lindsay Landman’s courses at the Event Leadership Institute. This December, she is teaching a comprehensive five-week online course on Destination Wedding Planning.

Check out our Step-by-Step Planning Guide