Congratulations! You're in love, you've set a wedding date, and soon you'll
be married. Between the romance and the ritual, however, you must survive a
potentially life-changing challenge: planning your wedding.
Pulling together a wedding celebration
can be a hectic, intimidating and emotionally stressful
task, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, newly engaged
couples who resist plunging pell-mell into the planning
process may be the most successful planners of all.
Planning for the perfect wedding starts
with the bride and groom summoning up a clear image of the
wedding they want - the image, feel and atmosphere - before
they take a single step.
Before rushing out to book a hall,
order hors d'oeuvres, and ice down the champagne, sit back
and dream a bit. Who are you and your fiancé? Who, and what,
is important to you? Take the time to define your idea of an
ideal wedding. This will pay off later, helping with the
decision-making for your ceremony and reception.
Here is our suggested timetable for the
steps you should take in the months, weeks and days leading
up to your wedding. Start here to envision and plan the
wedding of your dreams.
9 months before your wedding
:: Choose your wedding date. If you
plan to be married in a church or temple, clear the date and
time with your clergy.
:: Announce your engagement in The
:: Set your budget. Take time for a
heat to- heart talk with your fiancé about the budget and
style of your wedding, reception and wedding-related
parties, and who pays for what.
:: Enlist help. Consider hiring a
bridal consultant. If your budget won't stretch that far,
don't despair. Enlist relatives and close friends to assist
you in specific tasks - selecting a dress, interviewing
caterers, etc. - especially in areas where you feel you need
:: Compose your guest list. Let
out-of-town guests know your wedding is in the works so they
can make travel plans.
:: Reserve your reception site.
:: Choose your wedding attendants.
:: Select your wedding gown, shoes and
:: Decide on bridesmaids' dresses.
:: Determine a theme or mood you'd like
to establish with food, table settings, flowers and
entertainment at your reception.
:: Interview caterers, musicians,
florists, photographers, videographers and cake bakers. Get
written estimates of their costs. Keep track of your
discussions and their bids in a notebook or with
6 months before your wedding
:: Choose your caterer. Remember to get
a written contract.
:: Choose your musician(s).
:: Book your photographer and/or
:: Select your baker and order the
cake. :: Choose your florist.
:: Decide on your color scheme.
:: Shop for wedding rings with your
:: Decide on your honeymoon
destination. Work with a travel agent to book your travel
:: Select your wedding invitations.
Don't forget to purchase personal stationery for thank you
4 months before your wedding
:: Register for gifts at one or more
:: Help both mothers to coordinate and
shop for their wedding-day attire. :: Select music for your
ceremony and reception.
:: Choose readings for your wedding and
write your wedding vows.
:: Plan a rehearsal dinner for members
of your wedding party, your family and outof- town guests.
Reserve the location.
:: Arrange hotel accommodations for
members of the wedding party who live out-of-town. Reserve a
block of rooms for other out-of-town guests and let them
know the rooms are available. Remember to ask for any group
discounts or special packages.
:: Reserve your wedding day
transportation and any other wedding day rental needs.
:: Make appointments for gown fittings.
:: Check the requirements for a
:: Make sure contracts and arrangements
are complete with all of your service providers.
3 months before your wedding
:: Carefully prepare directions,
including simply drawn maps, if necessary, to help guide
guests to the wedding, reception and hotels. For guests who
will travel a long distance to your wedding, consider
assembling an information package on fun things to do and
see in the area.
:: Begin addressing invitations and
announcements. Select a special stamp at the post office.
Invitations should go in the mail six to eight weeks before
your big day.
:: Give the caterer or other food
suppliers a close idea of the number of guests you expect.
:: Make sure all reservations are in
place for honeymoon travel.
:: Check with bridesmaids to make sure
they have their gowns and are getting them adjusted.
:: Shop for gifts for your bridesmaids.
Offer to help your fiancé select gifts for his attendants.
:: Select your “going away” outfit and
special items for your trousseau.
:: Make an appointment to have a trial
run of your hair done. Consider including your bridesmaids
in a “day of beauty” with manicures, hair styling, massages
and makeup sessions.
2 months before your wedding
:: Mail out your wedding invitations
:: Finalize the music selections that
will be played during your ceremony.
:: Meet with musicians who will provide
entertainment during your reception and orchestrate
precisely what you want and when you want it played. Don't
be shy to voice your preferences, down to the volume,
favorite songs you'd like to hear, or even songs you don't
:: Plan your rehearsal dinner and a
brunch or fun activity for out-of-town guests to enjoy on
the day following your wedding.
:: Purchase special accessories for
your wedding day attire.
:: Plan a luncheon for your
:: Make appointments for a hairdresser,
makeup artist and manicurist.
:: Finalize honeymoon plans. If you're
traveling overseas, check again that your passports are
:: Gather necessary birth or baptismal
certificates you may need for your wedding license.
1 month before your wedding
:: Get your wedding license.
:: Have a final fitting of your gown
and make sure your attendants have theirs.
:: Check that your menu selections and
service plans are in place with the caterer.
:: Purchase a book to keep track of
wedding gifts as they arrive.
:: Keep writing those thank you notes!
:: If you plan a formal dinner for your
reception, it's time to draw up a seating plan and make up
:: Check with your florist to confirm
dates and times of flower deliveries.
:: Review your wedding day
transportation plans and make sure drivers are clear about
addresses, times and number of passengers.
:: Make name or address changes
official on documents, including driver's license, Social
Security forms and financial accounts. Fill out
change-of address forms at the post office.
:: Meet with your photographer to
specify formal shots you want taken of the bridal party, as
well as specific, candid shots you'd like taken during the
:: Review the video plans with your
2 weeks before your wedding
:: Keep writing those thank you notes
for wedding gifts!
:: Pick up your wedding rings. Make
sure any special engraving appears precisely as you wished.
:: Begin packing for your honeymoon.
1 week before your wedding
:: Make final checks with all your
vendors: officiant, musicians, florist, photographer,
videographer, limousine or other transportation provider,
caterer and baker.
:: Ask a friend or family member to
arrange for wedding gifts that may be brought to your
reception to be delivered to your home or another safe spot.
:: Wrap gifts for bridal attendants and
have them ready for the rehearsal dinner.
:: Purchase travelers' checks and
reconfirm honeymoon travel and hotel plans.
:: See that checks are written and
ready to be handed out to vendors at the agreed-upon time.
:: Inform your caterer of the final
number of guests. Confirm that out-oftown guests are set
with hotel accommodations, transportation and wedding day
1 day before your wedding
:: Take time to relax and enjoy a
massage, manicure and pedicure.
:: This is the day for your rehearsal
ceremony and rehearsal dinner. Have fun!
:: Turn in early for a good night's
Your wedding day
:: Allow plenty of time for dressing,
makeup and hair styling.
:: If you plan on photography before
the ceremony, allow ample time so you're not rushed.
:: Relax and remember: This is your
special day, the result of all your careful planning. Now
it's time to enjoy it. Take a deep breath. Savor every
moment of this sacred day. Let your joy and happiness shine
through. Best wishes!
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