Wedding Planning

Green Wedding32 Essential Steps in Planning Your Wedding published May 8, 2010

Set a Wedding Date

This needs to be flexible until you have checked on availability of your wedding venue.  If you have your heart set on a venue then check what dates they have available and book your wedding date around that or if you want a specific date then be prepared to be flexible on location and venue.  Be warned - don’t spend too long deciding on your wedding date or all your other preparations will fall behind and you could put yourself under unnecessary stress.

Decide on a Wedding Budget

The key driver of wedding expense is the size of your guest list e.g. reception venues often quote per head, catering etc. If you can estimate numbers - great! One approach is to allocate your budget to each expense - keep a reserve for contingencies! A second approach is to sum individual expenses, compare to your budget and cut back on individual items as appropriate. For peace of mind agree all prices in writing, being careful to check what's included in the service being offered.

Book the Wedding Reception Venue

It’s important to decide as a couple what kind of wedding reception you want. Outdoors, indoors, hotel setting, home or away.  Parents may want a say, especially if they are paying, so be prepared to negotiate.  It’s important that you, as a couple, are 100% happy with all the plans.  If the venue is in a far flung location then get plenty of photos and written information, don’t be afraid to pester - this is your one big day and you want it to be right.  Goes without saying - book as soon as possible!

Book the Caterers

It may be simple - your venue offers a selection of dishes and all you need to do is discuss menus and sample the food. If you must find a caterer, go with personal recommendations where possible and get several quotes.  The food should match the wedding theme - if very formal, a sit down meal may be appropriate; if relaxed, you may choose a buffet style.  Remember to cater for your vegetarian friends or those with allergies or illnesses. If possible, sample the food.

Book the Musicians

Will you have musicians playing during the wedding?  Do you want a live band at the reception?   What kind of music are you going to have? A string quartet, a harpist, a jazz band, possibly a disco in the evening or popular music played by a live band.  All this is down to personal choice and, of course, the type of wedding you are planning.  Good wedding musicians get booked a long time ahead, so the minute you have a location and date, get them booked.

Book the Wedding Ceremony Venue

Like the reception venue, the ceremony venue can be booked solid, so book early.  Your ceremony venue may be the same as the reception venue and this can take a lot of pressure off.  If you are getting married at home, book a registrar as soon as you know your date.  You may be getting married somewhere very unusual - check that that the registrar is ok with the venue. Be sure to check that weddings can take place at your venue of choice - this is not always the case!

Book the Florist

A personal recommendation is highly advisable here unless you are going with an established and reputable wedding florist. A florist experienced in weddings should be able to provide you with all the advice you need and make recommendations fitting your venue and ceremony choices and your wedding theme. Unless you have a particular bouquet in mind, ask to see the florists portfolio to get some ideas. Be sure to get an idea of when, on the big day, the arrangements will be ready.

Draft the Guest List

Start with too many and adjust down to match your budget as your plans develop. Family and close friends should write the date in their diaries long before the wedding invitations go out - you want to avoid mix-ups in dates. Parents may want to invite some of their friends or relatives that you left off the list!  Don’t fall out over this - they may be prepared to pay for these guests. If marrying abroad, you may have a second guest list for a reception at home - budget permitting of course!

Choose a Photographer

The obvious - make sure you fully understand what you're getting and for what price e.g. are negatives included? The person you speak to and get comfortable with should be the person actually taking the photographs. Always ask to see his portfolio to get a feel for his style and creativity. A good wedding photographer will have backup equipment and should have a replacement were he to fall ill on the day. The photographer's attire should be appropriate - make sure!

Finalize the Wedding Party

Determine the number of attendants and then fill these slots with family and friends. The number of attendants will be limited by cost and the physical size of the wedding and reception venues. You may hurt some feelings, but stand by your convictions - it's your wedding!! Be sure to keep your list a closely guarded secret until all who haven't been selected have been told, preferably in person. Pick attendants wisely - are they likely to be close to you on your wedding date?

Book the Honeymoon

Make sure your honeymoon place is for couples and not geared for singles, families or specifically for the elderly. Request a double, queen or king bed, especially if you are honeymooning on a cruise. Don't book an early morning flight for the next day unless you plan to be packed and don't expect a late night (unlikely!). All inclusive resorts maximise relaxation but limit sponteneity in where you will dine. Most of all, go by referrals from friends or people who's opinion you trust.

Passport Expiring?

If travelling abroad for the wedding or on honeymoon, check your passport and if necessary renew well in advance of travel. To avoid disappointment when applying for visas if necessary, which you should also do well in advance, ensure you have at least a month left on your passport from the time of travel.

Order the Wedding Dress

You may wish to do this earlier - will depend largely on your designer. Have a price range firmly decided as trying on a dress way above your price range "just for fun" could break your heart (or your budget). Agree all the fitting dates ahead of time and make appointments. Find out if the store charges service fees for trying out dresses - some do so don't get caught out. Ordering your dress will be a final sale and you are past the point of no return so be absolutely sure before you order!

Choose the Bridal Party Attire

The bride chooses the dresses for her attendants, who pay for them themselves. Don't allow the bridesmaids to choose their own dresses - you may not want a rainbow effect! Both parties' needs should be taken into account - the different budgets, heights, shapes and skin tones of the attendants and the theme, color and style of the wedding and the bridal gown. Comfort should be top of the list and reusability should be considered. Two piece dresses may help with fitting to different shapes.

Order the Wedding Stationery

Miniature silk or paper boxes are in with contents to match your theme. The bigger the box and more exotic the material the bigger the bill. Absolute musts on the invite are the full names of the bride and groom, the host and a “request” line – you may want to omit the archaic Mr and Mrs in front of every name. Be sensitive in how you present divorced or widowed hosting parents and partners. Send out early but don’t send to print until you have purchase your website address.

Choose the Groom's Wedding Attire

Usual attire for a very formal wedding is a black tailcoat with matching striped trousers, a white wing-collared shirt, waistcoat, patent leather shoes, studs, cufflinks and gloves. For a formal wedding, a black dinner jacket with matching trousers, a waistcoat, white tuxedo shirt, a bow tie, cummerbund or vest and cufflinks. A semi-formal wedding will demand a formal suit with a white dress shirt and a cummerbund or vest. A business suit, white shirt and tie is usual for an informal wedding.

Buy the Marriage Licence

Your marriage licence is specific to where you get married, so do your research well in advance, especially if marrying abroad. Some countries have a residency requirement and some may demand onerous documentation, such as birth certificates, evidence of termination of previous marriages etc. Licence filing rules and timing will differ from country to country. Do this well in advance!! By the way, this is the groom's responsibility!

Send Out Wedding Invitations

Miniature silk or paper boxes are in with contents to match your theme. The bigger the box and more exotic the material the bigger the bill. Absolute musts on the invite are the full names of the bride and groom, the host and a “request” line – you may want to omit the archaic Mr and Mrs in front of every name. Be sensitive in how you present divorced or widowed hosting parents and partners. Send out early but don’t send to print until you have purchase your website address.

Find Guest Accommodation

Look for locations near your wedding reception especially if your guests have kids. Enquire about group rates early and ensure selected locations have space not only on your wedding day, but a few days before and after the wedding date as well. Recommend locations with varying price tags and consider block booking in advance if you can gauge the take-up. Leave small gifts, such as fruit baskets, in booked hotel rooms to surprise travel-weary guests on arrival.

Finalize Details for the Wedding Ceremony

Music is key. A light, pensive prelude gives way to a charged processional piece. The ceremony is punctuated by symbolic interludes and ends with a triumphant recessional score. A celebratory postlude masks the noise of shuffling feet exiting the venue. Vows should be personally selected and practiced. Be sure you feel comfortable with your legal officiant, that he is willing to invest time in rehearsals and that he has done this before! Symbolic gestures can be added to proceedings.

Attend the 1st Fitting of the Wedding Dress

Try your dress with the essential wedding accessories you will be using e.g. shoes, veil, petticoat or slip. Some stores only allow shoes for the initial measurement. A bridal gown store is no place for kids so arrange a baby sitter if you or your 'helpers' have kids. Wear little or no makeup for the fitting to avoid marking the dress and ensure you are freshly bathed. Avoid tanning lotion, body creams, perfumes and hair spray AND all food stays outside the store.

Arrange the 1st Fitting for your Wedding Party

The advice offered on the wedding dress fitting applies equally here. Be sure to book fittings for your attendants which suit them and each attendant can attend a fitting individually. Page boys should also attend a fitting to ensure correct size and length. Recently announced expecting attendants may need to choose a different cut at this stage or opt out of bridesmaids duties in favor of other duties at the ceremony. The groom and his attendants should equally attend a fitting at this stage.

Order the Wedding RIngs

Tradition holds that the man buys the wedding ring for his bride and the bride for her groom, although it is advisable to shop for wedding rings together. Do NOT leave this to the last minute, especially if you wish to have the rings engraved with your wedding date or other message. Rings may be embellished with gemstones for beauty or for personal symbolism or both. The practicalities of design, size and fit should be considered in the context of the couple's work or sporting activities.

Chhose and O rder the Wedding Favors

If the reception is to be held in a hot climate avoid wedding favors that can melt, like chocolates. Wedding favors can be costly but a bit of personal creativity goes a long way in helping to reduce this cost without sacrificing quality and elegance. Remember that wedding favors are for the guys and gals and not just the gals - your favors may be gender specific or gender neutral e.g. sweets, home made biscuits etc.

Consult with Your Hair Dresser

Collect pictures of possible hairstyles from wedding and glamour magazines and discuss with your hairdresser with at least 1 trial session in mind. Start weekly conditioning treatments and avoid harsh styling methods prior to your wedding - you want your hair in top condition for the day. Beware of using radically different colors to what you're used to - don't leave it to the day before to try something new. Your trial session should incorporate your veil, tiara and flowers.

Book all appointments well in advance, taking care to ensure that your regular stylist has not booked a holiday over this period and that she will be available to do your hair. You will need to book at least 1 trial session and a session on the wedding day. Have a backup plan!

Finalize Your Guest List

Managing your guest list is a dynamic process that would have started shortly after your wedding invitations went out. This will be a process of shuffling names around as RSVP's come in. By now you should have a good idea of who will and won't be attending your wedding and you will hopefully have a tick or a cross against each name on your guest list. RSVP's not received should be followed up vigorously at this stage as lost invites are a possibility and time is short.

Finalize Your Seating Plans

Interestingly, research shows that an overwhelming 84% of guests prefer assigned seating - easier to seat friends together, avoids an unseemly rush for good seats, ensures elderly are seated in hearing and seeing distance + many more good reasons. You can choose to assign seats or tables, the latter requiring slightly less planning. Try and put each person next to at least 1 person they know, families or work colleagues may go together and try and balance males/females at tables.

Plan the Bachelor's and Bachelorette's Party

The best man and maid of honor plan these. You will need invitations to mark the date, time and place(s). Do NOT plan to have your party the night before your wedding! Be sure you tell your best man and maid of honor and keep reminding them of this. Things the lads can try - skydiving, hiking/camping, special box tickets to a sporting event, the races, cigar lounges and bar hopping. Things the gals can try - wine tasting, day at the spa, karaoke evening, dinner and theatre.

Attend the Final Dress Fitting

Same rules apply as for your first fitting at 3 months. Most wedding dresses are made to standard sizes and may require some minor alterations to ensure the perfect fit. Alterations may be done in-store or you may be referred to a seamstress - make sure you understand the budget implications of this. It is critical at this stage that you are realistic about size - don't subject yourself to the stress of having to lose a lot of weight to fit into your dress a month down the line. Back up plan needed?

Arrange the Final Fitting for your Wedding Party

The advice offered on the wedding dress fitting applies equally here. Be sure to book fittings for your attendants which suit them and each attendant can attend a fitting individually. Page boys should also attend a fitting to ensure correct size and length. Recently announced expecting attendants may need to choose a different cut at this stage or opt out of bridesmaids duties in favor of other duties at the ceremony. The groom and his attendants should equally attend a fitting at this stage.

Book the Beautician

A beautician is a must but equally important is a balanced diet, regular exercise, daily moisturising, cleansing and toning. A skin and nail care plan should start 6-4 weeks before the wedding - schedule regular sessions with a beautician. DON'T try out new facial treatments just before the wedding in case they have an adverse effect on your skin. Consider a spray-on-tan as an alternative to a suntan which could leave you burnt and peeling. Pictures of makeovers could help.

by WebIdeas Co

 

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