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Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding
A step-by-step guide to help keep the stars in your eyes, your feet on the ground, and your wedding plans on track.
Congratulations! You're in love, you've set a wedding date, and soon you will be married. Between the romance and the ritual, however, you must survive a potentially life-changing challenge: planning your wedding.
Women who tackle wedding planning pragmatically — as if it were a work-related project — tend to survive the process with greater ease.
Think of yourself as a project manager. Establish an overall framework for completing the work, and set specific intermediate deadlines, schedules and goals. Taken one small step at a time, the detail-laden job becomes less overwhelming.
Here is our suggested timetable for the steps you should take in the months, weeks and days leading up to your wedding.
9-12 months before your wedding
• Choose your wedding date. If you plan to be married in a church, temple or mosque or in a religious service at home, clear the date and time with your clergy.
• Announce your engagement in local newspapers.
• Set your budget. Take time for a heart-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, ask relatives and close friends to assist you in specific tasks – selecting a dress, interviewing caterers, locating a reception site – especially in areas where you feel you need support.
• 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 accessories.
• Decide on bridesmaids’
• Determine the theme or mood you’d like to establish with the food, table settings, flowers and entertainment at your reception.
• Interview caterers, musicians, florists, photographers, videographers and bakers. Get written estimates of their costs. Keep track of your discussions and their bids in a notebook or with wedding-planning software.
6 months before your wedding
• Choose your caterer. Remember to get a written contract.
• Choose your musician(s).
• Book your photographer and/or videographer.
• Select your baker and order the cake.
• Choose your florist.
• Decide on your color scheme.
• Shop for wedding rings with your fiancé.
• Decide on your honeymoon destination. Work with a travel agent to book your travel and accommodations.
• Select your wedding invitations. Don’t forget to purchase personal stationery for the thank-you notes you’ll need to write.
4 months before your wedding
• Register for gifts at one or more bridal-gift registries.
• 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 out-of-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 marriage license.
• 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 and reception, and to 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 your 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 a date with your photographer for any formal portraits you desire.
• Make an appointment to have your hair done just before your portrait session and again the day or so before your wedding. Consider including your bridesmaids in a “day of beauty” before your wedding, with manicures, hair styling, massages and makeup sessions.
2 months before your wedding
• Mail out your wedding invitations and announcements.
• Have wedding portraits taken.
• Send bridal portrait and wedding announcement to newspapers for publication.
• Finalize the music that will be played during your wedding 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 want played.
• 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 bridesmaids.
• Make appointments for a hairdresser, makeup artist and manicurist.
• Finalize honeymoon plans. If you’re traveling overseas, check again that your passports are current and that you have any necessary visas.
• 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 locked in place with the caterer.
• Purchase a special book to keep track of wedding gifts as they arrive.
• Keep writing those thank-you notes on a daily basis!
• If you plan a formal dinner for your reception, it’s time to draw up a seating plan and make up place cards.
• 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 the formal shots you want taken of the bridal party, as well as specific, candid shots you’d like taken during the reception.
• Review the video plans with your videographer.
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 honemoon.
1 week before your wedding
• Make final checks with all your vendors: officiant, musicians, florist, photographer, videographer, limousine or other transportation provider, caterers 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-of-town guests are set with hotel accommodations, transportation and wedding-day directions.
The day before your wedding
• Take time to relax and enjoy a massage, manicure and pedicure.
• Traditionally, this is the day for your rehearsal ceremony and rehearsal dinner. Have fun!
• Turn in early for a good night’s sleep.
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. Take a deep breath. Refuse to let any glitch get to you. Savor every moment of this sacred day. Let your joy and happiness shine through. Best wishes!
Copyright © CTW Features
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