Imagine your wedding. You have found the mate with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. Everything is perfect and the setting is beautiful, but it doesn’t just happen. In fact, there are very few events that require as much careful long-range planning as does a wedding. There are two stages of this process. Let’s get started.
In stage one, you should to try to find your desired location for the ceremony and the reception and ensure that both places are going to be available. After that, you must choose someone to officiate the proceedings (your minister, pastor, rabbi, or a notary if that is what you prefer). If you are planning a church wedding, take into account that most churches require pre-marital counseling. You need to know that wedding venues can book up a year or more in advance, particularly on summer and fall weekends.
Right away, you ought to discuss your budget. Talk with the families to establish who will pay for what. If either set of parents are paying for some expenses, it may make sense to ask them to let you know how much they are willing and able to spend overall, and adjust your budget accordingly. This should help the bride and groom to allocate the money as they see fit, instead of having to ask for money for each item. Talk about plans for your financial future and whether or not you are including prenuptial agreements.
In second stage, the decisions you make now will depend on the ones you made in stage one. They are important in shaping your wedding because, for example, your budget may determine size or how much of the work you will have to do for yourself. With in the first couple of months of planning, you need to create a guest list, and order your invitations. Now is also the time for you to send your engagement announcement to the newspapers where both families live, choose your attendants, and mail out some save-the-date cards. Notify must-have guests (close relatives, best college buddies) by phone, if you’re marrying over a holiday weekend or in a faraway location.
It will take you many long hours of shopping to find just the right dress at just the right price, so start that very early. Consider the groom’s attire, and what will be the attendants’ wardrobe. Go ahead and set up your beauty appointments, as well.
Plot your honeymoon. Reserve a wedding night suite. Select your trousseau, which is what you will be wearing when you leave the reception and into what you will change when you and your new spouse are all alone on your wedding night.
You will have to make up your mind about the food that you are going to serve and if you will use a caterer. Make arrangements for your flowers, the music you are going to have, and the transportation you will use. Some people will use, and can afford a limousine. Consider hiring a photographer. These should all be done as early as six to eight months in advance.
Within about four months of the wedding, you should have ordered the wedding cake, purchased the wedding rings, arranged for wedding day transportation, chosen a menu for the reception, reserved the place for the rehearsal dinner (customarily, this is the domain of the parents of the groom), addressed the invitations, and started looking for a new home.
You are getting close! Right at two months prior, be sure to get the final fittings for bride and attendant’s gowns; purchase thank-you gifts for your bridal attendants, best man, and ushers. Mail out the invitations. Shop for a guest book for everyone to sign at the wedding. If you live in a state that requires a blood test, get it done. One of you may be moving, so set up for that and remember to get the appropriate address and name-change forms from the department of motor vehicles, bank, social security office, credit card companies, etc. Traditionally, the bride and groom will buy gifts for each other at this point also.
Oh, my gosh! Now it’s down to the wire. Only four weeks. It’s time to get that marriage license. Generally, you’ll need your identification, social security card and the license fee. Have a formal portrait taken and send wedding announcements to local newspapers. Some of the events that are associated with getting married are bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the rehearsal dinner. They should be planned with at least four weeks’ notice as well.
In the weeks to come, go over the final details with everyone involved and make last minute questions and leave nothing to chance (think Murphy’s law). Confirm your honeymoon reservations and pack. Pick up your dress, break in your wedding shoes, throw the bridesmaids’ party and, on the day before, hold the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
At this point, everything should be covered. Take a deep breath and get plenty of rest. Don’t forget to eat something in the morning; nerves don’t do well on an empty stomach. The music starts one-half hour before the ceremony. The bride should have her hair done three hours early and start dressing an hour early. The groom should give the bride’s ring and the officiant’s fee to the best man.