SIX TO TWELVE MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING:
Decide on your budget – many weddings are outrageously priced, but with a little planning and shortcuts, you may be able to put the extra money down on a house or a longer honeymoon than on frivolities.
Decide if you would like a weekday, evening or weekend wedding:
What time do you visualize for your wedding?
Where would you like to have your wedding?
Set a date
Select your bridal party – (nowadays many couples Have only a Maid of Honor and Best Man)
Select a color scheme
Select and order bridal gown and headpiece
Select and purchase shoes
Select and order attendants – gowns
Research Honeymoon plans
Set up your bridal registry
Look at and choose personal stationery & invitations
Start collecting names for your guest list
Select a DJ or musicians
Visit a local florists for prices and arrangements you like for your bouquet and table arrangements
It would also be less expensive to go to a local craft store and purchase silk flowers in your colors and have them make up the bouquet for free. This will be a keepsake of a lifetime. The girls – bouquets could also be silk, but make sure your parents get fresh flower corsages and the gentlemen get a live carnation or rose as a boutonnière.
Visit a few caterers to see the appropriate venue for your budget and taste.
Talk to and visit photographers in your area. Ask those you trust who have had a favorable experience with their photographer for phone numbers and names.
Announce your engagement in local papers. Send a black and white photo to the paper for the Engagement Section where your notice and photo are printed for free.
Inquire about the obligations you have to your church or temple to see if you must attend any pre-marital workshops.
Talk with clergy about the type of service you would like.
Select a minister for an unorthodox wedding, i.e., beach, lake, park, back yard, restaurant or historic site.
Select and order wedding rings.
THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Confirm dress delivery
Confirm date and time with caterer
Select and order invitations
Complete guest list (make available to your bridal party for bridal shower)
Check over reception arrangements
Confirm delivery of dress and make appointment for gown fittings
Will you order souvenirs for your guests. Many are now having little frames that hold each place card so you can put the bridal couple’s picture in it when it arrives.
Confirm time and date with the florist of your choice
Confirm time and date with photographer (leave deposit, if appropriate)
Confirm time and date of musician/DJ
Discuss the types of music you want played at your wedding.
No hip-hop, rap, heavy metal, loud, or obnoxious music. Do you want music from the Forties, Fifties, Rock N Roll, Jitterbug, and any line dances for the unaccompanied guests. Be specific about songs you would like at your wedding. It is your wedding and your wishes come first. Will you allow guests to make requests of the band/musician/DJ? Give the musician instructions as to which type of music you would allow and which kind you will not allow.
How will the centerpieces be distributed at the end of the party? Closest birth date to your wedding? A piece of masking tape under the seat saying, “You’ve won!” Will there be a penny under one of the cups and saucers. Did you want to pre-assign who gets the centerpieces?
Confirm time and date with church, Justice of the Peace or Minister
Discuss and order transportation to and from the wedding If you have out of town guests, inquire about a block of hotel rooms near the church/temple or reception area. Don’t be afraid to try Orbitz.com for a reasonable price. If you are reserving more than 5 rooms, many hotels will give you a “group rate” for the rooms.
Order groomsmen attire
Schedule wedding party’s dress fittings
Make sure everyone gets a smart looking yet comfortable pair of shoes. They do not have to match each bridesmaid, but you may want them the same color as the dress.
TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Order cake (if not provided by caterer). To save money, many couples order a small cake for the “cutting of the cake” and have a separate sheet cake in the kitchen for the guests to enjoy with coffee. Sheet cakes are much less expensive than Bridal Cakes.
Mail invitations to your guest list.
Inquire as to marriage license procedures for your town.
Finalize Honeymoon arrangements.
Decide if you want to purchase disposable cameras for each table. It is a lovely way of getting candid shots, however, make sure that that adults only use the cameras. Too often children get a hold of them and you have many rolls of ceilings, feet, doors or people with half bodies or heads. Not a good use of money if you make double prints to share with family. Just have a note saying, “For Adults Use Only” on the cameras.
ONE MONTH BEFORE THE WEDDING
Reserve hotel rooms for guests
Plan rehearsal and rehearsal dinner
Purchase gifts for your bridal party
Send out thank you notes as gifts are received so you’ll be ahead of the game.
Purchase a guest book and decide on its placement.
Schedule final fittings of dresses and matching accessories
Make beauty parlor appointment for your bridal party and you, if needed.
A bridesmaid’s luncheon or party could be scheduled if it fits in with your budgeting requirements.
Schedule your bridal photography appointment
Arrange to select and purchase your ring bearer pillow, candles, rose petals, rice, bubbles, etc. for your wedding exit of the church/temple. Find out the rules about throwing rice. There is usually a fee to have this cleaned up outside of the church/temple. Birdseed is a good way to get around this without the additional fee.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING
Finalize wedding transportation
Finalize the number of favorable guest responses
Double-check your musician, photographer and caterer. Give direction to those who need them.
Specify how you would like to be introduced by the musician/DJ when you enter the catering hall and are introduced for the first time?. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or Lisa and John Smith.
What songs should be chosen for the dance with parents, if you had decided to do this.
Will you have a cake cutting ceremony? Will you feed each other cake. Discuss with your significant other, that it is not funny to “mush” cake into the others face while feeding them. Makeup is hard to replace, cake in hair with hairspray is almost impossible to get out, not to mention the embarrassment and anger that this could invoke. I mention this because I officiated at a wedding where this happened and the Father of the Bride was so angry – as was the Bride – that the Bride left the hall and marriage was annulled. So in the end, the expense of the wedding and the annulment and of course the loss of a happily married life together was more than the groom had bargained for.
Will you have the garter belt and throwing of the bridal bouquet?
Just remember that this is somewhat embarrassing to the single women invited to your wedding. So unless you know all of your guests intimately, you may just want to pass this tradition up.
The garter up your leg is also somewhat embarrassing, however, if you are a good sport, then go for it. Discuss this with your partner.
Finalize seating arrangement
Get marriage license in Town Hall where the Bride resides.
Prepare wedding announcements to be mailed after the wedding
Check on your hotel accommodations for accuracy
ONE WEEK BEFORE THE WEDDING
Plan seating arrangements for the final time
Confirm desired photographs with photographer. You have the right to say you want a picture of the Bride with her Father and the Groom’s Father, Grandma with the grandchildren, your mom and dad alone, your parents with you and with your spouse, etc. Talk to the photographer to let him or her know exactly what your dream wedding pictures would be like.
Are you having the wedding video taped?
Are you having the wedding audio taped?
Do you have entrance music – organ or CD of lovely wedding marches and recessionals.
Who will run the CD player if you are using CD’s. Who will shut it off once the ceremony starts.
Finalize the number of guests with caterer
Pack for your Honeymoon.
Style your hair with headpiece
Cosmetic choices should be made
Final fitting of wedding dress and bridal party’s gowns.
Pick up rings, try them on for fit and adjust if too small or large.
Rehearsal dinner or rehearsal without dinner one to two days before wedding.
YOUR WEDDING DAY
THIS IS THE DAY YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR SO ENJOY IT!
Eat at least one meal before the ceremony
Get your hair professional done with headpiece/if arranged and you have plenty of time, get a manicure to top off the perfectly groomed look. Remember, less is more. You don’t want to be overly made up (and look totally different than you do everyday) and your nails should not be so shocking that everyone sees them and not you or your very expensive dress and headpiece.
Start dressing one to two hours ahead of the ceremony
Will you be having the photographer come to the house to take pre-ceremony pictures? Will he meet you at a specific place at the church/temple or place of your ceremony before the wedding to take pictures on the grounds?
Have mother of the groom seated five minutes before ceremony
Have mother of the bride seated immediately before processional
Arrange of the aisle runner to be rolled out by the ushers immediately before the processional.
Be sure to bring your marriage license with you on this day as well as the rings.
Assign people to take care of these tasks for you since you will be too nervous to remember much other than your name and how to say, “I do.”
The Maid of Honor and Best Man normally sign the marriage license as witnesses and the Celebrant will mail the receipt of your wedding to your Town Hall. Make sure you have the proper address, envelope and postage for the Celebrant so there is no mix up in where to send it.
You will get a copy of your marriage license that day, however, it is not an official document. You may order your marriage license approximately two weeks after the wedding. My suggestion is that you order several copies so one can be put in a safe deposit box, and the others one could be used as proof of your change of name for your license, registration, medical insurance, social security card, passport, etc.
If things go wrong on your very special day, it would be better if you just go with the flow. In all likelihood, no one else will notice the mistake because they are having a wonderful time celebrating your happy life together. There is no need to get upset or worry on your special day, so let everything go! You have waited a lifetime for this day and believe me, it goes much too quickly to be upset over petty nonsense.
If for no other sake, enjoy your day — because now you are now married! You did it!!!!!!!!
Vikki Anderson is available to perform interfaith ceremonies such as weddings, baptisms, welcoming ceremonies as well as naming and handfasting ceremonies. See http://www.VikkiAnderson.net under Interfaith Minister for more information about ceremonies and weddings. 973-492-3110.