Don't know what to do before a wedding? While planning a wed may be a demanding and exhausting task, with our handy wedding plan each task is broken into simple steps, to make things as easy as possible for you. We hope you'll find our planning guide helpful and fun!
O.K., you obviously have significant other commited to live happily ever after with you. Congratulations for a great start. Now everything depends on your wishes, obligations and your budget. All this should be carefully discussed to avoid as many problems as possible. Wedding is beautiful, maybe the most important event in your life, but it can be very stressful and with careful planning you should try to diminish the stress to the minimum.
We all know a nice wedding can be organized in matter of days, but if you want the 'real' thing, a fairy tale wedding so many women dream of since their childhood, with all the blows and whistles, even if you opt for a professional wedding planner or coordinator, you'll probably need a full year to take care of all more or less important details. So here is a rough schedule to follow:
What To Do Twelve Months Before The Wedding
Hunt for ideas! Start a collection of photos, articles, samples and everything what may inspire you. It's good to have a binder, large map or a box to store your wedding theme ideas. It's up to you to choose what goes in and who (family, friends, acquaintances,...) can contribute and how often you'll skim through the collection. Make it fun!
Have you already announced your engagement? This is not yust another chance for a party, it's a responsibility as well. After all you are telling the world about one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. Announcement can be a nice and totally informal starting point of making your guest list for your wedding. Without the list (at least a draft version) you really can't start looking for the reception venue and this is best to reserve as soon as possible.
Discuss the budget. Only a fistfull of brides and grooms no need to worry about the costs, which on average range about 25 thousand US dollars. The rest of the world should think about the limitations of the financial reality and consequences. How much are you willing to spend and who will pay for the wedding?
Make preliminary inquiries about the legal issues. Who will marry you? A registrar or the priest? Where? Make a list of documents you will need. If you are planning a destination wedding, you may need additional licenses. Now is also a good time to talk about the prenuptial agreement. Marriage has important legal consequences and it's always better to play safe than sorry. Yes, this includes wedding insurance as well!
Plan your honeymoon. This is an ideal closure of your dream wedding - to leave the guests in a vehicle with "Just married!" sign and vanish in the sunset. Now is good time to think about the destination and maybe find a good deal for early reservations. We already mentioned the possibility of destination wedding. This way you can kill two birds with one stone: after the wedding just proceed to the location of your dreams.
Nine Months (or More) To Go
You have the date and time fixed or very close to. Depending on your decision of religious or secular ceremony, you need to select and book an officiant. This can be a priest, civil servant or even your friend with appropriate license. Do you already know who will your bridesmaids be? Maid of honor, flower girls, a ring bearer? And the best man? Groomsmen, ushers, pageboys? Now think about the outfits for everybody - starting with the wedding dress for the bride and groom's suit or tuxedo.
You probably already have a venue or church chosen. Next obvious step is to take care of photography and videography. Will you trust your friend or hire a professional? Are any special requirements (light, equipment, decorations, ...) to consider? Is taking photos and making movies of your special day even allowed in your chosen location? What level of customization is allowed?
Look around for flowers. They are traditional and important part of your big day and it is good idea to choose them according to your wedding theme. Many couples decide to hire a professional to take care of flowers and this can be a florist or a floral designer who should take care for all the details, from buttonholes to bouquets. This is the right time to discuss the floral motif and select the right person to do the job. Good decisions will bring good results!
If catering is not already included in your venue, make a draft list of your wishes and start looking around the catering services. Many offer sample menus and tastings, but before you make a final decision, ask what tasks are included (for instance: cutting the cake) and make sure to discuss all costs, from tableware to taxes.
What about the entertainment at your wedding reception? Will you have a musician, a band, a DJ, an entertainer, maybe even few specialists who will entertain the children (if any) in the party? Discuss with candidates how much involvement can you aspect, what are technical requirements which should be discussed with an owner of the venue, tell them your wishes and ask for prices.
Time is also right to choose your wedding stationary which includes everything printed. Yes, even the menus, place cards, maps and seating plans. If you decided to get married in a certain theme, this should be reflected in all your announcements, being on paper or in your e-mails, from save the dates to thank you notes. It is all right to skip some of the 'official' stationary, and it is totally all right if you don't choose the most expensive type of paper and extravagant way of printing, but make sure invitations are in harmony with your ceremony and your personality.
Six Months Before Wedding
Take care about the transportation for the happy couple and all the guests (in most cases they will arrive by themselves, but some may need some kind of assistance). Do you need to rent limos? Remember, you'll need transport to your reception, party (if not in the same place) and also to your home, hotel or airport. Will some of the guests need help at accommodation too?
Order you wedding cake and wedding favors. There are many kinds of gifts related to the wedding, because everybody who participated, added something unique to you special day. Don't think about your bridesmaids, best man and mothers-in-law only. Every guest counts.
Check you list of suppliers. It is good idea to contact each one of them and confirm your bookings. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan, if anything undesirable happen just before the ceremony. If you did a good job in your interviews, you'll probably have a good feel who can jump in at the last moment and save your party.
Don't forget about the wedding rings! They are almost indispensable at all traditional ceremonies, but this is probably a good time to think about all additional jewelry for people who contribute to your wedding and make it one of a kind. If bridal accessories are not already covered, check the offers in this area as well. There is no need to spend a fortune, because prices vary in all ranges and most pieces can be rented too.
Make an appointment with your stylist, hair-dresser and make-up artist. Pedicure, manicure and other beauty treatment should also go on your list. You want to glow in all beauty on your very special day, right? And you'll probably want to enjoy in close up shots of your hands while exchanging rings too.
Three Months Before Wedding
Check your dress. Is everything ready or on the way? Don't forget the veil, gloves and accessories! hat about the shoes? Are dresses of the most exposed participants in harmony? Try everything you already have. You still have enough time to all make all necessary corrections.
Organize rehearsals. Rehearsal dinner is the best way to predict the real thing, make some additional fine tuning and get a bit of relaxation during the intense wedding planning. Don't forget hen and stag parties. Although they will be probably organized by your friends and family, they should listen to your wishes and coordinate timings with your busy schedule.
Finalize your guest list. Many things can still go wrong, but you should have a list for invitations, seating plan (maybe you need to rent chairs or a tent?) and for your caterer. This will probably still need some fine tuning, but without a list, your plan can easily turn into a chaos.
Arrange paperwork. Will you change your name? If you are planning to start you honeymoon right after the wedding, you need to know if you will go as Mr. and Mrs. Newname or as Mr. and Miss. Do you need marriage license only or a blood test is required as well? Here is a handy link for all the USA citizens with informational prices: http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/
If you plan to marry abroad, you will definitely need to invest additional time and energy to make everything right.
Two Months Before Wedding
Send invitations! Don't forget to include RSVP (request for a response in each one of them). Have a list of all the confirmed guests handy and keep it up-to-date. List of your guests is one of crucial parameters of your weddings (it affects pretty much of everything related to your party) and also one of most unpredictable ones. Make sure to include a plan with clearly marked ceremony and reception place.
Confirm the ceremony music and other details. If this is possible, a trial run is a good idea too. While you are dealing with the ceremonial part, you can also arrange engravings for your rings. Double check spelling!
Talk to your entertainer about the playlist and additional program. Be aware of technical requirements. If you plan a party in open space, you'll probably need a tent for good sound. A tent will also come handy in case of weather inconveniences.
Now it's great time to arrange all beauty treatments like tanning, vaxing, hair extensions, artificial nails. Never have too tight schedule, because sometimes things happen and nobody wants to get married with red spots on the skin or other unpredictable nuances.
One Month Before Wedding
Contact invitees, who didn't respond to your invitation. You can do that in two series: first by e-mail and second by phone, if your e-mail didn't produce results. Finalize your list of wedding guests with venue and caterer. Make a seat plan. Write place cards. Have a rehearsal dinner. You can join it with hair and make up trial to get the feeling if everything works all right.
Discuss the details with your florist, photographer, videographer, caterer and entertainer. Check your wedding attire, which should be all ready by now and don't forget to pick your rings. Obtain a marriage license. Order a cake.
Enjoy your bachelor and bachelorette party. After all the work you invested, you definitely deserve to have some great time off, just don't do that anything you may regret later;)
Two Weeks Before Wedding
You probably have everything you need at home. This means complete outfit with accessories. You tried everything, from underwear to headpiece, but one thing is still worth to do - break in your shoes. You don't want to ruin your perfect day with blisters. Just be careful. Break in shoes, but don't break them. Go slowly, first by walking for few minutes in the house, then outside for more additional time and later dance in them!
Time is right to start packing for honeymoon. Confirm arrangements with your travel agency. Check your passport, visas and other required documents. Remember - these should not be packed at the bottom! If you are going abroad, a small amount of foreign currency will come handy. Will you need a sun lotion or insect repellent?
Purchase gifts for everybody who made your wedding special. You don't need to be showy and you certainly don't need to break your piggy bank for this part of your journey to happily ever after. There are certain unwritten rules about bridesmaids, groomsmen, mother-in-laws, but the main thing which counts is thoughtfulness. Always was, always will be.
Arrange your hair and make up trial. It is also the best time for groom's hair cut. Finalize numbers with caterer, if needed.
One Week Before Wedding Checklist
Write a detailed schedule of your wedding day. Make sure everybody involved understands his or her role in the timetable. Share your seating chart with your wedding planner (if any), usher, venue manager, drivers and other people who will help running things smoothly.
Prepare checks and cash payments for your assistants and suppliers in envelopes. Don't forget the tips. Give them to the person who will take care of the payments (in most cases one of the parents or a trusted friend). Check all the contact numbers which may be needed on the wedding day if something goes wrong. Send all the contacts to everybody who may need them.
Finalize your personal vows, prepare wedding toasts and other whimsical thoughts which you are expected to provide in certain occasions on your big day. As you don't want to end up speechless, you don't want to get in trouble with something as trivial as for instance spilled glass of wine. So prepare a wedding-emergency kit with scotch tape, safety pins, tissues, deodorant and other little helpers.
Have a day off to cool down. Refresh yourself. Relax. You are almost there. You don't want to burn out now!
Day Before Wedding Checklist
Go slowly through your schedule and check if everything you need to take with you is ready. Did you prepare an overnight bag? Deliver your place cards, menus and other wedding day stationery to your reception manager. Check if everything is all right with the cake.
Rehearse the ceremony to ensure every detail is in place. Prepare your clothes - you'll probably change more than once through your wedding day. Remember to use clothes which will not mess your hair and make-up.
Get early in bed and rest.
Get up early and start smiling. You'll probably be photographed and videotaped through all day and you definitely want to present yourself in best light for posterity.
Give all the gifts and envelopes with money and thank you notes to people who are assigned to deliver everything where and when it needs to be delivered.
Introduce your photographer and choreographer to a person, who will act as coordinator to make sure every important person at the wedding is caught on tape or memory card.
Sit back and enjoy in one of the best days of your life!