Planning Your Wedding Day
This is intended as a guide and should not be considered a complete list for planning your wedding!
7-12 Months Before the Wedding
Announce your engagement to both families. A special dinner is a good idea! People relax, get to know one another and bond over food. This is also an opportunity for you and your beloved to express your love for your parents and closest family and friends. To thank them for all they have done in your life. You might want to spend some time preparing what you will say. If you choose to make this evening a memorable event, you could provide place card holders or unique wedding favors for this event.
Notify the local paper of your engagement. Many papers have websites for you to do this online!
Purchase a day planner and resolve to use it religiously to keep track of important dates, things to do, and contact information.
Select the date. If you have a lot of family memebers with school age children, you may want to select a summer date. Be aware that many caterers and reception locations raise their prices around holidays, they also book up early! At this point you also need to begin planning your theme or style for the wedding. Wedding accessories and unique wedding favors will help you to establish the atmosphere for your wedding. Some examples of themes are: western, beach, calla lily, double happiness, double hearts, asian, winter, fall, Irish, ethnic, butterflies, or religious.
Establish your wedding budget. This needs to be a realistic projection of what the person paying for the wedding can comfortably afford! I have been to very simple and very elaborate weddings and guess what...the outcome was the same, the couple got married! The bride and groom should discuss what elements of the day are most important and make them a priority in your budget. One way to save money is to purchase one unique wedding favor for each family instead of each individual. For more money saving tips, read "50 Proven Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding.
Book the officiant. Most pastors, priests, and rabiis have pre-marital counselling that is required, so you need to get the wedding date and counselling times set. Put the dates on your all important calendar or planner! Be sure an ask what their fees are and include it in your budget.
Reserve the wedding and reception site. If you choose a date near a holiday you need to reserve the church and reception site soon. Here in South Bend, brides avoid weddings on Notre Dame football weekends...hotels are fully booked years in advance at a premium price! So, consider major events in your community, you don't want to compete!
Hire a wedding consultant if the budget allows. Or ask a close friend who is very organized, non-judgemental, detail oriented, and fun, to be your bridal assistant. My niece has done this for several of her friends and she is very talented at advising, shopping, motivating, and relieving stress!
Begin developing your guest list. Remember, the budget will directly effect the length of the list! Make an excel spreadsheet of names, addresses, phone numbers, and email. This will save you countless hours printing envelopes, preparing guest lists for your bridal shower hostesses, and making labels for thank you notes.
Choose your wedding party. This is an honor extended to special friends and family. Remember it is your wedding and your choice to make! True Blue Bridal offers a beautiful selection of personalized wedding party favors and gifts.
Book the caterer. Family and friends are a great source of recommendations. If you need to control costs, seek out a family member or friend that loves to cook and entertain and ask them to cater your wedding. For my wedding, my favorite aunt and uncle were thrilled to prepare the food and my cousins helped with the set up and serving. It was a great way to get everyone involved in the day and we saved a fortune! If you are asking family and friends to help with the wedding, it's nice to give them a special wedding party favor as a special thank you.
Book a photographer. Ask to see examples of their work. Ask for a detailed price list. Talk to other brides in your area and get references. Pictures capture the day and you want a photographer who is professional as well as reasonably priced! Negotiate to get the negatives or digital image files.
Book a vidographer. Again, ask to view samples of their work and select a professional!
Select a florist. Ask to see samples of their work. Most florists have arrangements waiting to be delivered. Observe for freshness, vibrant color, and skill of arranging. Talk with other brides and get their recommendations. Ask the wedding and reception site managers whom they would recommend. Many brides have custom inserts for their bouquet to make their floral expressions unique.
Book the entertainment for the wedding and reception. Decide in advance what wedding songs you want to include in your ceremony (processional, recessional, solo etc) and what type of music you want for the reception. You may want to ask a friend to sing, play the piano, etc You may need to arrange for the church organist. Bands or DJ's for the reception need to be interviewed and selected for professionalism, genre, repertoire, and pleasant personality. I recently attended a wedding reception where the DJ was crude and microphone obcessed. He didn't play the agreed upon genre and was a real damper to the festivities. So, ask a lot of questions and get references!
Select your bridal gown, veil, shoes, and wedding accessories. This is a very special event and you should include your mother, the grooms mother (yes, they really do appreciate being included!), and your maid of honor. Once the gowns have been narrowed down to one or two, call your Dad and have him join you in the final choice. He knows when his little girl looks stunningly gorgeous! Consider personalizing your gown and honoring an ancient bridal tradition with a blue bridal gown insert. For all the other accessories you will need for the wedding visit our wedding accessories pages.
4-6 Months Before the Wedding
Select and order your wedding party attire. If they live far away, ask them to go to a formal wear shop and get measured and send the measurements to you. This can be a fun day for you and your bridesmaids...so enjoy it. Have lunch, laugh, and fully experience the day! When selecting dresses, cost should be a priority particularly if you are expecting the women to purchase their own gown and shoes. Simple is always best! And color? Well we all have heard horror stories! It's best to choose the bridesmaids attire prior to selecting the groomsmens attire. It's nice if it is all complimentary. Don't forget the flowergirl and ringbearer in the process. Arrange dates for fittings and put them on your calendar. You will need to remind everyone of the dates as they draw near. Don't forget to order a wedding party favor or gift to thank your special friends and family for sharing such an important moment in your life.
Reserve any rental equipment you may need. Tents, chairs, tables, dinnerware, sound equipment, candelabras etc.
Order the wedding cake. Visit your local bakeries and sample their cakes. The cake is expensive and should taste fabulous! Choose a unique cake topper that reflects your style, personality, or wedding theme. Purchase it and deliver it to the chosen bakery. Don't forget to purchase a cake serving set and toasting flutes.
Order wedding stationery. Ivitations, Save the Date, RSVP cards, and placecards. True Blue Bridal carries a full line of do-it-yourself printable wedding invitation and stationery kits. This is one way to save money! If your not interested in printing your own stationery, you can always have your local Kinko's print them for you at a fraction of the cost! Order plenty of thank you cards to use for both showers and the wedding gifts.
Book your honeymoon trip. Remember, it is not so important where you go as it is that you go! This is you and your beloved's time to bond and become a married couple. A great wedding gift for your spouse is luggage. I gave my husband luggage and it was regularly used until it was replaced on our 20th anniversary!
Book your wedding day transportation. Limos, carriages, whatever you prefer!
Choose a hotel for out-of-town guests. You can usually get a group discount if you book a block of rooms.
Make an appointment with your hair stylist for 6 weeks in advance of your wedding and also for your wedding day. The advance appointment is for a trial run on your doo! Many salons will accomodate your entire wedding party and provide fruit, cheese, and beverages if they have advance notice. Ask for it fi they don't volunteer. It's a fun time with the girls! True Blue Bridal offers a full line of bridal hair accessories to add sparkle to you and your attendants wedding day doo!
3 Months Before the Wedding
Finalize the guest list and mail your save the date announcements. It is really hard to guestimate how many people will attend the wedding and reception. Some say you should plan for 80% of the invited to attend. My aunt, who was a wedding planner for decades, used the rule of one guest per invitation sent. Naturally, if your wedding guests include family and closest friends, the attendance percentage will be higher than if your list includes a wide range of family, friends, business collegues, etc. Hopefully, everyone will return the RSVP quickly after the invitations go out in a couple months.
Finalize the menu and reception plans. This is when you ensure that everyone is perfectly clear on what you want and expect. Hopefully, you have been making notes to yourself in your trusty planner over the past few months and you have lots of questions and details to go over with the caterer, reception site manager, florist, photographer, cake maker, and anyone that you have entered into an agreement with. Make sure to order unique wedding favors and make it clear how you want them presented.
Plan the rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, the bridal party, family, and out-of-town guests are invited. This is a casual affair, so make it fun. For my brother's rehearsal dinner we reserved a local dinner theatre. Everyone had a great meal and a fun relaxing evening watching the show. Because we were the only party at the theatre, they really went out of their way to make the evening special! This is when you will present your wedding party favors or gifts.
Purchase unique wedding favors. These can be very simple or very elaborate depending on your budget. If you are crafty, and are not under a lot of stress, you can make them yourself. We offer a wide selection of favor bags, boxes, and containers for your personally made favors. We also carry novelty tags for favors that can be personalized with the bride and groom's first names and wedding date. If you are planning to purchase winter wedding favors or fall wedding favors, you should order 3-4 months in advance to insure they are in stock! True Blue Bridal has over 800 unique wedding favors in our catalog. You can find placecard holders and frames, barware favors, coffee wedding favors, candy and chocolate wedding favors, Las Vegas wedding favors, candle wedding favors, and all can be personalized with custom gift tags.
Purchase wedding party gifts. Here again, make them special but don't break the bank! Jewelry to wear the day of the wedding, keychains, gift sets, whatevery you would enjoy giving. We have a great selection of attendant gifts, groomsmen gifts, ringbearer gifts, and flower girl gifts. Many can be personalized to add your special touch!
Purchase your wedding garter. Have you considered "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." If you want to honor this Victorian tradition, now is the time to get those items ready! True Blue Bridal offers a wide range of ready made garters that are one size fits most. However, we also offer a wide selection of our unique design custom wedding garters and plus size wedding garters.
Purchase wedding bands. Simple or extravagant, this will be the lifelong symbol of your unending love.
Design your wedding program or bulletin. I really like receiving a program when I arrive at a wedding. I expecially enjoy learning about the wedding party and their relationship to one another. A program also helps people know what to do during the ceremony if they are of a different church affiliation.
Send out Thank You notes. You are probably involved in wedding showers at this point. Do not put off writing thank you notes! It really makes a statement about your gratitude and priorities. My husband and I appreciate receiving thank you notes, and sadly have been disappointed when a thank you never arrives. By the way, it is never to late to send a thank you note! As the saying goies..."Just DO IT!"
1-3 Months Before the Wedding
Mail your invitations! Don't put this off, your guests need time to respond to the RSVP early enough for you to finalize numbers with the caterer etc.
Apply for your marriage license. Some states require a blood test that can usually be done at the health department. In our county, the marriage license office and health department are in the same building, so you can often get it all done in one trip.
Purchase gifts for each others. Luggage is a practical gift that will be used for years and can be personalized. Jewelry, such as tie tacks or cuff links are also something to consider. A personalized Bible is also a meaningful gift. Whatever you select with love, will be great!
Purchase a guest book. Don't forget to ask someone to attend to the guest book. At several weddings lately, the couples have had their picture framed with a large white matte that the guests can sign along with their wedding day greetings. I think this is great, I love decorating my home with meaningful objects!
Get your wedding program printed. You have been working on it for a couple months now and it should be finalized and ready for printing.
Make sure you have applied for name change. Don't forget your driver's license, passport, credcit cards, and bank accounts. If you're in school, you need to let them know as well.
Send your wedding announcement to your local newspaper. If they include a picture you may want to wait until after the wedding.
Notify the post office of change of address. You can date the form they give you to begin forwarding your mail on a specific date. As you pay bills this month, notify them of your change of address.
Enjoy your trial run at the beauty salon. Make sure that your hair and makeup are just right! It's a good idea to take your bridal hair accessories with you so that they can be perfect.
Continue writing thank you notes. Have you noticed this is a big deal with me?
Reception speeches and toasts need to be written. Remind fathers, best man, maid of honor, etc. that this is something they need to work on. A speech that is well thought out adds a special touch to the wedding reception.
The Final Push! The Month of Your Wedding
Schedule stress relief time! You have planned well but nerves can get frazzled this month. So intentionally schedule activities that relieve stress for you. It could be a long walk, prayer, watching a movie, reading a book, or getting a massage! Whatever works for you, DO IT!
Make a seating chart for the reception. Give this to the person setting up the reception. Be sure and show them your unique wedding favors and make sure they know how you want them positioned on the tables.
Notify the caterer and reception site of the final guest count. Hopefully, the RSVP's have been pouring in! You will never ignore another RSVP again!
Get your wedding dress picked up. You may want to stuff the sleeves and bodice with white tissue paper to keep it from wrinkling in the bag.
Make one final contact with vendors. Touch base with the florist, photographer, videographer, entertainers, hair stylist, church, and officiant. Confirm the date, time, and your expectations.
Make a wedding day schedule for the wedding party. Mail this out to everyone involved. Include where everyone is to be and when, expected dress code, phone numbers etc.
Pack for the honeymoon. Check the weather where you are going to make sure you pack wisely.
Don't forget a bridal emergency kit. Save yourself from trying moments and mad dashes to the store on your wedding day!
Relax and enjoy the most precious time in your life! Seize the day!
PS When you get home from the honeymoon, don't forget to write your thank you notes!