Wedding Planning Tips
Below is a guide of important items and things that need to happen before and on your wedding day. They do not necessarily need to be done specifically within the timeframe, but it will at least give you a good idea of what to expect and what's involved. Please keep in mind that some reception sites will be booked a year in advance or more. If you're looking for a special date, make sure to book it early.
- Create a wedding planning notebook or date book (it will help you stay organized).
- Begin envisioning your wedding and think about - budget, possible dates, locations, size (number of guests), afternoon or evening event.
- Begin interviewing wedding consultants (if you plan on having one).
- Set appointments and visit ceremony and reception sites - some important questions to ask: Maximum capacity? Minimum number of guests required? Do they have set time- frames or can they be flexible? Are there any noise restrictions? Do they allow outside caterers? Do they work with and recommend specific vendors?
- Choose your wedding party attendants - maid-of-honor, best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, ring boy, guestbook attendant(s).
- Begin discussing your honeymoon plans (depending on the destination, it could affect your wedding date).
- If you're having an engagement party, set the date, determine the guest list and send out invitations.
- Start looking for an officiant who suits your style and spirit.
- Start investigating any ethnic customs or cultural traditions you might want to include into your ceremony or reception.
- Select and reserve a reception site.
- Select and reserve a ceremony site if one hasn't been determined by your choice of officiant or reception site.
- Research and interview other wedding vendors - florists, bakeries, photographers, videographers, caterers, musicians, etc. (it's a good idea to interview at least 2-3 of each type as prices and services vary greatly).
- Start thinking about wedding cake styles and decide which bakeries to visit.
- Begin looking at wedding dresses.
- Book a photographer for your engagement photos (if you plan on having them).
- Have your engagement pictures taken.
- Send engagement announcement to newspapers.
- If you need an outside caterer, work on a menu and book them.
- Audition reception bands or DJ's.
- Set up appointments with florists to discuss options.
- Interview and get pricing from photographers and videographers.
- Request demo tapes from ceremony musicians.
- Make final decisions and reserve wedding vendors. Log business names, contact people and phone numbers for all of your vendors in your notebook for easy reference.
- Select and purchase your wedding dress and accessories - shoes, veil, purse, jewelry, etc. (be sure to allow extra time if you plan on ordering your dress, as this may take more time).
- Select your wedding cake and bakery (make sure you've tasted the exact flavors to ensure your satisfaction). Decide and purchase cake-topper and cake serving utencils.
- Begin thinking about the places you and your fiancÃ© would like to register.
- Make a rough draft of your guest list and request lists from both sets of parents.
- Start thinking about your bridesmaid and maid of honor dresses (if you want to order them, start now).
- Research and purchase wedding insurance.
- Make sure your maid of honor and best man are aware of what you expect of them - providing a list of their duties will help.
- Collect necessary measurements from attendants or pass along vendor information so that they can order the dresses themselves.
- Grooms: Decide what style of formalwear you and your attendants will be wearing.
- Discuss where you want to stay on your wedding night.
- Discuss and order invitations (order some extra for those unplanned, last-minute add-on's).
- Book your honeymoon (don't forget the official documentation and get passports if necessary).
- Begin discussing the ceremony rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (may need to work closely with ceremony site as some locations have day and time restrictions).
- Book transportation for your bridal party, parents and yourselves, if needed.
- Discuss wedding rings, visit jewelry stores and purchase the rings.
- If planning to relocate, start looking now.
- Grooms: Give groomsmen the information they need to buy/reserve their attire.
- Finalize your guest list and decide assigned seating or open seating.
- Make appointment with hairstylist to discuss options (bring your veil with you). Also discuss nails and make-up for both you and your bridesmaids.
- Decide which hotel(s) your out-of-town guests may need accommodations at and reserve a block of rooms, if necessary (keeping in mind what the cancellation policies are).
- Select your wedding favors and order if necessary (also buy rice, rose petals, or bubbles for when you leave the reception).
- Pick out a guest book and nice pen if you wish to use one.
- Register at your preferred registries.
- Talk to people you'd want to do special performances or readings for the ceremony.
- Look for lingerie and clothes for your honeymoon, if necessary.
- Obtain information on how to change your name, if needed.
- Meet with officiant to discuss details of the ceremony and the details of the rehearsal.
- If you're into traditions, think about something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
- Address, stamp, and send out your invitations.
- Make a copy of your guest list and check off who will be attending and who won't be attending as you start to receive your RSVP's.
- Make a copy of your guest list and indicate any gifts received and whether or not you've written a thank-you note (this will save you time and energy when you return from your honeymoon).
- Create an informational letter and send to your out-of-town guests describing the area, the things to do, places to stay (mention the room blocks that have been reserved), and if not included in your invitations, mention where you are registered. This courtesy letter will help your out-of-town guests plan their trip.
- Buy each other a wedding gift.
- Ask one or two trustworthy people (do not include members of your bridal party) to be points-of-contact and to help with the details on the day of your wedding (do this even if you have a wedding planner or consultant).
- Purchase gifts for your bridal party and anyone else who is helping out.
- Pick up your wedding rings (if you have not already done so).
- Plan the bachelor and bachelorette parties.
- Get final alterations done on wedding dress, headpiece and bridesmaid dresses, as needed.
- Begin working on vows, if you're writing your own.
- Research local marriage license requirements.
- Confirm with all of your vendors and send deposits to them as needed. Make sure you call each and every one of your vendors and confirm the date, time of arrival, extent of services and expectations on the big day.
- Send rehearsal dinner invitations.
- Do trial runs of hair and makeup; schedule wedding-day beauty appointments.
- Obtain marriage license.
- Do paperwork for official documents if you are changing your name.
- Submit list of "must play" and "must not play" songs for your DJ or band.
- Confirm wedding night and honeymoon reservations.
- Shop for any additional accessories you may have missed.
- Determine the wedding day timing and details (who will get the bride there, where the wedding party will dress, etc.) and make a schedule.
- Finalize any special preferences or other ceremony details with your officant.
- Arrange to move belongings to your new home together.
- Go through your wedding planner and make sure you've got everything covered. Now is your last chance.
- Create placecards for the tables (if you are doing it yourself) and get table numbers for the tables if the caterer is not handling that.
- Call location manager and make sure your vendors all have access to the site when they need it.
- Pick up wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses, if you have not already done so.
- Confirm head count, delivery time and location with the baker.
- Practice walking in your wedding shoes.
- Call guests who haven't RSVP'd for the wedding and rehearsal dinner (it's okay to do this, you need a final head count).
- Give seating chart to location manager.
- Fax or e-mail transportation providers a schedule and addresses for pick-ups for the wedding day.
- Pack for your honeymoon (and your belongings if you are moving).
- Give final number of guests to your caterer.
- Arrange for a family member to return tuxedos and anything else that needs returning after the wedding.
- Attend bachelor/bachelorette parties.
- Whenever possible, greet out-of-town guests.
- Check any final, last minute details with your wedding vendors.
- Remind rehearsal dinner attendees of the details - when, where, etc.
- Purchase any traveler's checks or visit the ATM prior to leaving on your honeymoon.
- Arrange for your bridal consultant (or a family member) to give out wedding vendor checks on the day (you won't have time to do it yourself).
- Create a schedule for the actual wedding and ceremony and review it with your one or two wedding helpers and/or bridal consultant.
1-3 Days Before
- Grooms: Pick up your tux and try it on (don't wait until the day of to do this!).
- Relax with your fiancÃ© and do something fun.
- Good time for bride to get a manicure and pedicure.
- Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner (give presents to bridal party and anyone else who is helping out).
- If getting dressed at the ceremony site, pack everything you might need such as safety pins, tissues, sewing kit, tape, scissors, mints, etc. for any last minute needs.
- Pack saltine crackers or your favorite mild cracker (nothing that could stain the dress) in case you need to settle your stomach.
- Confirm with the people who you expect to give toasts at the reception.
- If your wedding is in the a.m., set your alarm and arrange for a backup.
- Get some much-needed sleep, if you can!
- Drop off favors, guest book, cake-cutting utencils, etc. at the reception site.
Your Wedding Day
- Go to appointment with your hair stylist and make-up artist.
- Allow two to three hours to dress and relax.
- Give groom's ring to the best man.
- Make sure your bridal consultant (or appointed family member) has all of the vendor's checks to pass out during the day.
- Hand off the table numbers, placecards, etc. to your one or two friends helping during the wedding to put everything in its place.
- Take a moment to thank your parents and tell them you love them.
- Take a deep breath, relax and make sure to enjoy the day. No matter what happens, it'll be great!
After the Wedding
- Take the bridal bouquet and other wedding momentos to be preserved.
- Freeze the top layer of your wedding cake to be eaten at your first anniversary celebration.
- Within two months of your wedding, set aside some time to write those thank-you notes.