Congratulations! You're engaged to marry the partner of your dreams! Now, you have your work cut out for you to get ready for the Big Day: Your Wedding!
PRE-WEDDING & POST-WEDDING
PLANNING CHECKLIST & CALENDAR:
What You Should Do and When You Should Do It in the Months before Your Wedding
Once it's official via that gorgeous engagement ring (which you should have insured to protect the prospective groom's investment), you're ready to start planning your wedding. You, your beloved, and your families may want to do it all yourselves, or you may wish to hire professionals, such as a wedding planner or various others. Depending on how attentive and reliable or forgetful your fiancée tends to be, and on whether he is often out of town on business or in the military, you also may want or need to arrange things that normally are the groom's responsibility, such as formalwear and gifts for the males in the wedding party, room reservations for out-of-town guests, someone to return the groom's tux to the rental agency after the wedding, and more. This wedding planning checklist will help.
- Pick a date, considering family commitments, weather conditions, seasons and allergies, and local special events, and immediately check availability with your clergyman or other officiant. Your officiant and church guidelines may require you and the groom to attend premarital classes. Buy a wedding planner or date book.
- With your families, discuss formality for your wedding, set a budget, select your attendants, and compile your wedding guest list. Choose and reserve ceremony and reception sites.
- Hire a photographer, videographer, musician, vocalist, caterer, and florist, and provide those people with all necessary information.
- Because the bride-to-be and a few good friends often like to shop for wedding and bridesmaids' dresses together, your next step may be to choose your bridesmaids. Then, you can gush together as a group over dresses, have your fittings, and order the dresses. Your dress is the star of the show; bridesmaids' dresses should complement yours. Discuss alterations, any extra fees, and bustling for your gown's train. Don't forget your veil and the flower girl's dress.
- Discuss with your fiancée your needs and wants for wedding gifts, even monetary contributions toward the cost of your honeymoon and/or home and its furnishings. Then, make an appointment with a bridal registry consultant and register your preferences, possibly including your selections of crystal, china, and silverware patterns.
- Pick your honeymoon destination and, if necessary, get up to date on passports and shots.
- Finalize your families' guest lists; decide who will receive invitations or only announcements. Discuss the rehearsal dinner.
- Select, order, and pay for your invitations and announcements (including your reception cards, response cards, place cards, pew cards), personal stationery, and thank-you notes (order at least 25 more than you think you'll need to allow for add-on guests and order extra envelopes to allow for mistakes during addressing, no matter who will do the job). Ordering your invitations now allows several weeks for them to be printed, time for you to examine them closely upon receipt, and time for corrections (especially spellings, dates, and addresses), if necessary. If you want creative help in phrasing your invitations and other pieces, hire Writestyle to help you. Also order personalized items such as napkins and matchbooks.
- Settle on your wedding's color scheme; inform your and his mother of dress colors and hem lengths.
- Also share this information with your florist (take color swatches and/or photos of your dress and the bridesmaids', and also of the mothers' dresses, if they have bought them early); order all wedding flowers (fresh, silk or dried, possibly for both wedding and reception), and pay at least the required deposit (note florist's rules for when balance is to be paid).
- Reserve rental items for the ceremony or reception, such as candelabra, kneeler, aisle runner, and special equipment such as microphones and other audio items.
- Reserve transportation for the wedding party members to and from the ceremony and the reception. You may consider horse-drawn carriages, limousines, or other options.
Reserve Writestyle to address your invitations, announcements, and thank-you notes in lovely handwriting or calligraphy, within the rules of proper etiquette. Everything that you need to know, including order forms, is available on our Web site. Depending on the number of invitations/cards you'll have for us to address/assemble, you should allow 1-2 weeks for mailing to us, 1-8 weeks for our addressing them, and then, if necessary, 1-2 weeks for mailing them back to you. Keep in mind that if your wedding falls on a long weekend or a holiday and/or if you are inviting many out-of-town guests, you should mail your invitations, especially for a large guest list, 1-2 months before the wedding.
- You or a trusted other should prepare a map or maps to the ceremony and reception sites, for inclusion within your wedding invitation.
- If you have a large guest list, especially out-of-towners, mail or otherwise provide your invitations and cards to Writestyle to begin the wedding etiquette/addressing and packaging process. Be sure that your package includes invitations, announcements, reception cards, tissue papers, map/maps to ceremony and reception sites, desired specialty inks, and any other important information.
- Order your wedding cake & cake topper and tell the baker your delivery information: date, time, and location. Pay deposit; purchase cake knife and server.
- Arrange for someone to take your cake knife, server, and cake topper to the bakery or reception site.
- Choose and order your wedding bands.
- Settle reception details, including equipment rentals, with the caterer or hotel manager.
- Schedule your bridal portrait and your makeup for your wedding day.
- Confirm final arrangements for your gown and the attendants' dresses.
- Talk with your clergyman or other officiant about the details for your ceremony: music and flowers, photographs, canopies and carpets, etc. He/she and/or the church or facility may have certain restrictions and guidelines for you to follow. Pass along to the musician, photographer/videographer, vocalist, and florist any special guidelines.
- Discuss a wedding hairdo with your hairdresser (take long hairpieces, your veil, and photos of hairstyles you like), and make an appointment now to have your hair done on the day of your wedding. Also, if you want to have your hair cut, colored, or permed arrange now to have it done within 2-3 weeks of the wedding.
- You and the groom should discuss, agree upon, and reserve formalwear for the males in the wedding party; it should match or coordinate with the wedding's color scheme.
- Have a complete invitation weighed at the post office to determine the cost to mail one invitation. Buy enough postage to mail all invitations. Also buy postage for your announcements and thank-you cards. If you are going to have Writestyle address/assemble your invitations, also buy the right amount of postage to cover mailing to Writestyle your box containing invitations/cards and envelopes, any specialty inks, and postage for all invitations.
- Confirm your reservation with Writestyle and mail or deliver your invitations/cards to be addressed (for weddings with smaller guest lists).
- Mail your invitations (you or Writestyle will do this). If your wedding falls on a long weekend or a holiday and/or if you are inviting many out-of-town guests, you should mail your invitations, especially for a large guest list, 4-8 weeks before the wedding.
- (At the latest) Bride's mother (first) and groom's mother select their dresses and shoes; so long as their dresses match yours or the bridesmaids' perfectly, the flowers that were chosen months ago will match without problem.
- Purchase shoes, hosiery, garter, lingerie, and jewelry.
- Pick up the rings. Make sure you have "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."
- Have your final gown and headpiece fitting. Have your portrait taken. Have attendants' shoes died. Make sure that you have flower girl's dress, shoes, and any other accessories.
- Pay the balance owed on your wedding cake and any other aspect of your wedding.
- Prepare your wedding program (probably with the groom, pastor, and musician) and have copies printed for distribution at the ceremony site before the ceremony starts.
- Arrange for any additional assistants. You may wish to have someone to serve as host/hostess beside the guest book to be sure that all guests sign in. If you'll have a Catholic ceremony, for example, you may choose good readers/speakers to read your special scriptural selections during the ceremony.
- For smaller guest lists of mainly in-town guests, you or Writestyle will mail your invitations now.
- Try on your gown one last time and arrange for any final alterations. Confirm the date for your bridal portrait.
- Make room reservations for out-of-town attendants.
- Talk with the hosts about plans for the rehearsal dinner and settle arrangements for the bridesmaids' luncheon or dinner.
- Purchase (and, if necessary, order) gifts for the attendants (usually, all receive identical gifts) and something extra special for the maid or matron of honor.
- Purchase guest book & pen; ring pillow; rice, birdseed, and/or flowers for tossing; toasting flutes; guest mementos; any extras.
- Mail your wedding announcement to the society editors of applicable out-of-town newspapers.
- Write your special marriage vows, if you and the groom have chosen to do this.
- Arrange to have your wedding gown preserved, if that is your preference.
- If you are not hiring Writestyle to assist you, you and your assistants should address your announcements and add postage this month.
- If you and the groom will be honeymooning out of town, arrange for someone (often your parents) to mail the announcements for you on the day after the wedding; when finished with the addressing/postage process, give your announcements to the person who will mail them on the day after the wedding. Also arrange for that same person or another trusted friend to take the top of your wedding cake home and preserve it for you, to return cake stands and pillars to the bakery, and to take your wedding gown to the dry cleaner's and your wedding bouquet for preservation on the day after the wedding. Another friend can take care of the guest book & pen, toasting flutes, cake knife & server, and other necessary items and tasks when the reception is over.
- You and your fiancée should go and complete the forms to obtain your marriage license. If you plan to change your name after your wedding, arrange the official documentation (driver's license, bank accounts, insurance and health policies) now.
- Deliver your wedding announcement to the society editor of your local newspaper.
- Have your hair cut, colored, or permed now, if that's what you want.
- Arrange to have your belongings moved to your new home.
- Confirm your honeymoon reservations, purchase your traveler's checks, and find out about ATMs at/near your honeymoon site.
- Relax, rest, eat well, and drink as much water as possible. Avoid alcohol and overexposure to the sun. A stressed-out, sunburned, and/or exhausted bride won't enjoy her big day as much as she should and won't photograph well.
- Arrange for the wedding party to rehearse one or two days before the wedding, and inform all involved of the exact time and place. Tell all the final details of the ceremony and reception.
- Wrap bridesmaids' gifts; present them at the luncheon or dinner for your bridesmaids. Remind your attendants of details for the rehearsal dinner.
- Make sure that you've given your stamped wedding announcements to the person who will mail them on the day after your wedding.
- Give the caterer your final guest count for the reception. Double-check final details with your wedding, reception, and transportation vendors.
- Get your going-away outfit ready. Start packing for your honeymoon.
- If possible, take a day off your job the day before the wedding so that you can relax, do something nice for yourself, and finish preparing and resting for your big day.
Your Wedding Day!
At Bride's or Parents' Home (Usually):
- Eat breakfast! You'll need the concentration and strength from those nutrients.
- Visit hairdresser; have makeup done.
- Maid or matron of honor and bridesmaids arrive.
- Bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages are delivered.
- Pack and take along snacks if the wedding will be late in the day.
- Dress in wedding gown and veil.
- Photographer and videographer arrive and the photo session starts.
- Limousine arrives and bride's wedding party members depart for the ceremony.
At Ceremony Site:
- Florist arrives and decorates.
- Ushers, musicians, groom, and best man arrive.
- Bride's mother, maid/matron of honor, and bridesmaids arrive.
- Bride and her father arrive.
- Parents of groom are seated and the prelude begins.
- Mother of bride is seated and the processional begins.
- Photo session follows the ceremony.
At Reception Site
(Please devise a timetable for you, the caterer, the photographer/videographer, and the musicians to follow when you've paid for a time limit at your location):
- Photo session.
- Guests arrive. Refreshments are served.
- Receiving line forms.
- Bride & Groom have the first dance, then open the dance to all.
- Dinner begins. Champagne/wine are served and toasts are given (best man first).
- Cake is cut and served. Music and dancing resume.
- Bride tosses bouquet and groom tosses garter.
- Bride and groom change into going-away outfits and depart the reception.
The Following Day
Your parents, or chosen other, should mail your wedding announcements. Also, your assigned trusted people should take the top of your wedding cake home and preserve it for you, return cake stands and pillars to the bakery, and take your wedding gown to the dry cleaner's and your wedding bouquet for preservation, and return the groom's tuxedo to the rental agency.
1-3 Weeks After the Wedding . . .
Or as soon as you return from your honeymoon, you and your spouse should open your wedding gifts; be careful to keep matching cards and gifts together. As you go along, make a list of who gave which gift to you. Then, write all of your thank-you notes, taking care to mention each gift specifically per note, attach postage, and mail. You also may write a note shortly after each gift arrives before the wedding.
We hope this wedding planning checklist is helpful to you.