12-18 MONTHS BEFORE:
- Decide on a budget and who’s going to pay for what
- Think about the big picture – style, size, date, site
- Hire a wedding consultant if necessary
- Reserve the ceremony and reception sites
- Mail “save the dates” for destination and holiday weddings
- Start looking for dresses in magazines and on web sites
- Start scouting for a caterer, florist, DJ or band, photographer, and videographer. Gather referrals from friends and your venue and bring photos of your site to show your potential vendors; for the florist, bring flower shots you love. For the caterer, make a list of favorite foods
- Visit your officiant, if you’re having a religious ceremony you may need to attend premarital classes
- Choose your attendants
- Book the caterer, florist, DJ or band, photographer and videographer; adjust your budget after getting estimates
- Choose and order your dress
- Begin compiling the guest list. Decide whether you will include children and dates. Ask parents for their “dream” lists, with stars next to top-priority guests. Include yourselves and officiant in the head count
- Meet with vendors to plan details (menu, flowers)
- Order invitations or buy them, if printing yourself. Choose a typeface that can also be used on programs and menu cards
- Ask to see proofs before printing; have a friend proofread too, and order 15 extra invitations and 25 extra envelopes
- Research and book honeymoon
- Hire limos or classic cars for the wedding party
- Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses
- Register for gifts
- Order wedding bands
- Order bridesmaid dresses. Have attendants get measured (height, bust, waist, hips) by a tailor
- Finalize guest list; give list and envelopes to calligrapher
- Schedule the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner
- Have your fiancé decide what the men will wear
- Mail invitations (weigh one to ensure you’re using enough postage)
- Go over ceremony details with your officiant
- Do a trial hair-and-makeup run with stylists, or start practicing yourself. Bring pictures of styles you like, as well as hair accessories you plan to wear. Take photos to document the look (they’ll help refresh the stylist’s memory)
- Decide if you’ll go to the salon or if the stylist will come to you
- Buy gifts for the members of the wedding party
- Order favors, if giving them
- Book a hotel room for the wedding night
- Check the state requirements for a marriage license
- Print programs
- Send your announcement to newspapers (if desired)
- Write your ceremony vows (if desired) and keep it short – three minutes or less for each of you. Look to the past (cards and e-mails you’ve exchanged), the future (maybe your hopes for becoming parents), and quotes from poems you love. Consider not sharing your vows until the wedding day
- Submit a shot list to your photographer
- Give the playlist to your DJ or bandleader and include a list of “do not play” songs
- Give your choices for the first dance, the father-daughter and mother-son dances, and any cultural dances.
- Supply any announcements you would like him to make
- Call anyone who hasn’t RSVP’d
- Finalize seating plan; write out escort and place cards
- Write speeches for rehearsal and dinner and reception
- Get the marriage license
- Pack for the honeymoon
- Submit the final guest count to your caterer
- Confirm details with all vendors
- Pick up your dress. Ask the salon staff how to unpack and refresh your gown
- Check that you’ve received any accessories you’ve ordered (under-garments, veil, wrap) before leaving the store
- Give ceremony readers their scripts
- Break in your shoes and scuff the soles
- Assemble programs and favors
- Get a manicure and pedicure (potentially irritating treatments like waxings or facials should be done four days before the wedding)
- Hold the rehearsal dinner
- Prepare a wedding-day schedule and telephone contact list; distribute both to the bridal party at the rehearsal
- Bring extra copies of ceremony readings (in case the readers have forgotten theirs) and vows for your officiant (if necessary)
- Give bridesmaids their presents
DAY OF THE WEDDING:
- Eat small, light meals
- Allot time for hair and makeup before the photographer arrives; put on your dress 30 minutes before his/her arrival
- Make sure you’ll have access to tissues during the ceremony
- Carry your bouquet at hip height (practice in the mirror to find a flattering spot)
- Practice walking – you’ll want to go more slowly than seems natural
- Give yourself a little time to relax and breathe before the ceremony
- Re-apply lipstick and check teeth before you head down the aisle
NOW RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR SPECIAL DAY!
THESE MOMENTS IN TIME ARE YOURS TO CHERISH FOREVER!
Making Your Day Perfect
Please use our etiquette literature to help plan and make your day extra special.
Choosing Your Best Man & Ushers
These guys have a job to do (lots of jobs, in fact), so it’s important to select wisely. The best man needs to be organized, sociable, reliable and confident at making a speech, while ushers should have the same qualities, minus the public speaking abilities. When it comes to choosing the best man, it’s also a great idea to choose someone who knows you both as a couple. It’s important that the bride feels comfortable with him, and that he gets on with both families – hence the best man is often a brother or very close friend.
Never be offended if someone turns down the opportunity to be your best man. Delivering a relatively amusing, tactful speech with a hint of emotion to a room full of people isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time – and it’s better to be honest than to spend months dreading an event before delivering a disastrous speech. Finally, be sure to choose ushers and a best man who get on well together.
How To Include Step-Parents
These days, many couples have more than one set of parents each. In these situations, it’s all about tact. Generally speaking, unless a step-parent has been heavily involved in your upbringing, they should stand to one side during the wedding and let your natural parent play their role. If you can predict any problems, explain to all involved that you’re expecting them to behave beautifully, and give them all a role to play so they feel involved. And, if they really can’t stand each other, separation is the best bet – seat them at quite opposite corners of the room. Above all, everyone has to remember whose day it is – arguments and inappropriate comments won’t be tolerated.
How To Say Thank You
It’s present time again, so be sure to put the parents on the list when you’re buying gifts. Many couples decide to give their mothers a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and their fathers a bottle of their favorite tipple. A framed photo of the happy couple is always a great gift. Whatever you decide, if you want to have adoring parents-in-law, fairness is vital. Your mother may deserve a larger gift for her help in planning the wedding, but don’t make the difference too obvious. If you’re buying her a pair of diamond earrings, but getting a pot plant for your mother-in-law, above all keep it discreet. Sending thank-you motes to both sets of parents once you return form your honeymoon is a lovely touch.
How To Buy The Ideal Gift For Your Groom
Presenting your new husband with a gift on the morning of the wedding is something of a tradition and a lovely idea. Many brides will buy a lovely watch (so he’ll have no excuse not to get to the church on time), cuff links or something else that is a real keepsake and memory of the day. But it’s not essential that the gift is extravagant and expensive, especially if you’ve just contributed financially to the wedding. So long as it is thoughtful, the cost is irrelevant. You might decide to frame a lovely photograph of the two of you, or even be a slushy romantic and write a poem.
How To Buy The Ideal Gift For Your Bride
Sending your bride-to-be a sparkling piece of jewellery (earrings, necklace, bracelet- anything diamond-encrusted will do nicely) on your wedding morning is a wonderfully romantic gesture. If you don’t want to splash out to that extent, you can send another thoughtful gift such as a poetry book, a beautiful photograph of the two of you, a bouquet of red roses…or a love letter. The key is thoughtfulness, and arranging for the gift to be sent to her on the morning of the wedding.