Advice from Wedding Steps 2014
Remember, you have the rest of your life to be married. Now is the time to enjoy the planning of your wedding, that shopping and all the excitement that leads up to that special day. I have included the checklist in separate blog posts according to their place in the planning timeline.
6 – 12 Months before…
Set your date and time – Consider climate and convenience. “If you want lots of blooming flowers April or May is best,” says N.Y.C planner Marcy Blum. As for a holiday weekend, she says “If your guest list is all close friends and family, it’s a great reunion. But business associates would rather be with their own families.”
Set a Budget – Decide how much you can spend and how you want to spend it. For example, you may care more about music than location. and don’t keep upgrading your wish list, says Kate Edmonds, an N.Y.C event designer. “Otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy, looking at more options and spending more money.” If you’re super busy, a perfectionist or facing too many choices, hire a planner now (or recruit your mother as some of my brides have done at the Mansion).
Start compiling your guest list with addresses – Once you have an idea of how many will attend, book sites for your ceremony, reception and rehearsal dinner. Keep in mind many reception sites have a minimum and maximum requirement for the amount of guests you plan on having.
Choose a caterer if one is necessary – Be sure you understand how much of a deposit is required and when full payment is due. Refer to my post: Questions for your Caterer for more information.
Order your wedding cake – check out our preferred pastry list for some excellent Cake and Pastry specialists.
Announce your engagement – Order and send save-the-date cards. You will need them if you plan to wed on a holiday weekend or, says planner Cara Kleinhaut of Caravents in L.A, “if you have many out-of-town guests, are planning a destination wedding, or are inviting lots of people and want to ensure they get there.” Such advance notice lets people book flights early.
Apply for a marriage license – you can go down to your local town hall Clerks Office and download the form.
Determine the wedding style
Contract services with photographer – we have a list of photograpers for that work with all budgets.
Contract services with videographer – if you plan on having a Bride and Groom Tribute DVD produced, begin collecting old photos and even videos if you wish, and book a professional video production company to create it.
Contract musicians, DJ’s, etc. – see our list of preferred vendors, especially my favorite James Daniel Entertainment.
Select your bridal party
Decide on a color scheme
Select wedding site and ceremony officiant – for a list of the Danbury area officiants visit the Town Clerks Office website.
Shop for your wedding dress – Order your wedding gown “Bridal shops will tell you that it’s never too soon to order your dress,” says Blum. A realistic deadline is six to eight months before the wedding. You’ll want a perfect fit, so shop early to allow time for serious alterations. Before your second fitting, choose your veil, shoes,lingerie and accessories; at later fittings, you’ll simply refine your overall look.
Choose and contract with reception site – Tarrywile Mansion gives you romance, history, vintage and elegance all rolled into one.
Choose bridesmaids dresses
Choose a florist – our preferred vendor list comes in handy once a gain!
Book your honeymoon ( my favorite part of the whole process) -“Delegate this to your fiance” says Kleinhaut, “or it’ll be just one more thing for you to do.” If you’re going somewhere during high season, like Europe in the summer, adds Miami planner Wendy Kallergis, have his start even earlier. If you’ll be traveling abroad apply for or renew your passport (there are new passport restrictions and it can take six weeks for delivery).
3 – 6 Months before…
Order invitations and other printed items – “I allow about six weeks for invitations to be completed,” says Edmonds. Plus, you’ll want two weeks for envelope calligraphy. Mail invites six to eight weeks before the date, and if you do use a calligrapher, book her to do place cards a week before the wedding.
Make final ceremony arrangements
Order accessories such as toasting glasses, ring bearer’s pillows, garters, etc.
Buy attendants gifts – popular choices include jewelry for bridesmaids and ties for cuff links for groomsmen ( I have seen personalized groomsmen gifts such as; a poker set, money clip, beer mug, since not every guy wears a tie or cuff links on a regular basis). “We always suggest the the presents be slightly different for each person, even if it’s a charm bracelet with a different charm,” says Blum.
Sign contracts and place deposits
Finalize guest list
Reserve your suite – for the wedding night as well as blocks of hotel rooms for out-of-towners.
Order reception items – such as guestbook, matches, napkins, etc. especially if you want them personalized.
Contract transportation/limousine – whether you want a limo, vintage car or van to ferry you, your groom and attendants from ceremony to reception, reserve it now. “If you don’t have a planner,” says Blum, “hire an expediter from the transport company to greet guests outside the ceremony site and guide them to their vehicles.”
Register your gift preferences – with a couple of stores, make sure you include a decent number reasonably priced items, not everyone will want to give you that big screen tv your fiance’ is drooling over.
Choose your wedding rings – and have them engraved
Reserve rental equipment – such as tents, chairs, tables and linens. I know just the place for Event Rentals…
Take dance lessons – if necessary
Order stationary for thank you notes – it should have your current name for engagement and thank you’s and no show gifts, and your married name for wedding gifts.
Finalize organist and/or vocalist
Confirm all bridal attire is ordered or purchased
Pick music – make sure your band knows – and can play – for your father-daughter and first dances, or that the DJ has the right CDs. “Give the band at least a month if they have to learn the songs,” says Blum. Create a must-play and don-t play lists, and “if the band is going to back up an uncle who’ll sing to the bride, plan rehearsal time for that”, says Edmonds. Also, a note from myself – make sure you know who is going to be the coordinator and announcer for the schedule of wedding and reception. The caterer will know the timing and schedule but if you want to have the DJ do the announcements then you have to let each of them know so they can work together.
Coordinate mother’s dresses – (I don’t know if I want to go there but if you are placed in that situation, more power to you).
Two Months Before…
Address and send out your invitations. By now gifts will be coming in; write thank-you notes as the presents arrive, don’t wait, you don’t want them to pile up and then become overwhelming.
Arrange your final dress fittings
Confirm arrangements with all service providers – fine-tune your menu, choose the wines, taste the food, tweak the menu, and most important go over all contracts. “Ask if there are any extra charges,” says Kleinhaut, “and inquire about overtime so there are no suprises, such as the bartender leaving at 11.”
Choose readings – and who will read them, then pick or write your vows.
Confirm rehearsal arrangements
Make rehearsal dinner arrangements (don’t forget to consider having your Rehearsal Dinner at Tarrywile Mansion!), while you’re at it might as well buy outfits for the rehearsal dinner and bridesmaids lunch (?? this is a new one for me!), as well as after the reception.
Set appointment with hairdresser, test drive hair and make up if trying something new. Book manicure and pedicure.
One Month before…
Order programs and menus
Schedule your final dress-fitting
About three weeks out – ask family members or bridesmaids to call guests who have yet to RSVP so you can get a final head count.
Give your caterer the final count – put it in writing to help prevent disputes over charges for uneaten meals, “You can order more food, but you can’t give it back,” says Edmonds. “Don’t forget vendor meals, which usually cost $10 – $50 a person,” adds Blum. “Hungry vendors are not happy.”
Write (or have your calligrapher write) the place cards.
Do the paperwork – get blood tests and marriage license. If necessary, give the post office your change of address and order a name-change form.
Organize welcome baskets – and tourist information for out-of-town guests.
Book someone -to take care of plants, pets and mail while you’re on your honeymoon. Provide friends with itinerary and emergency contact numbers.
7 Days before…
Ideally you’ve had your shoes for months. Now’s the time to break them in.
Finalize – the seating plan.
Appoint – someone to collect and transport any gifts you receive.
Plot – it out, “choreograph the event the week before, then type up the plan and hand it to everyone in the wedding party,” says Blum. ” Include a time-table and the cell phone numbers of all your vendors and whoever is going to be the point person-the planner, the church or temple coordinator, the maid of honor or a friend. Then let go.” I would also give the plan to your caterer and DJ so they can be aware of the timetable. Also make sure that everyone in the wedding party and family of the bride and groom have each other’s number in case of emergency. It’s very easy for a bridesmaid/groomsman to panic if they have an emergency and don’t have anyone’s contact information.
Make – sure toasts are being written.
Pick – up your wedding dress. Try it on to ensure that all the final adjustments have been made.
Pack – for your honeymoon ( whoo hooo!) and get traveler’s checks if needed.
1 Day before…
Prepare tip envelopes – “It’s really inelegant for the bride and groom to be signing the license and handing the priest an envelope,” says Blum. So plan ahead. Prepare envelopes for the officiant and, Edmonds suggests, “for people dealing directly with the general public: waiters, limo drivers, bathroom attendants.” Give the envelopes to the best man, maid of honor or a parent to distribute.
Give presents – gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen are usually given at or just after the rehearsal dinner. some couples give gifts to their parents at the dinner; others mail a present or note so it’s received while they are on their honeymoon. Parents can have bittersweet feelings after the wedding, says Kallergis; a gift is a nice gesture.
Get a relaxing manicure and pedicure – add a massage for extra pampering (you can treat your maid of honor too).
Rehearse the ceremony, and enjoy the company of your family and friends at the rehearsal dinner.
8 Hours before…
Keep up your strength: Eat breakfast.
Have overnight bag delivered to hotel
Ask bridesmaid to deliver a gift or romantic note to your fiance’ while your hair and makeup are being done.
Remember to bring your marriage license to the ceremony.
Ring in the new – have someone- usually the best man and maid of honor in a double-ring ceremony bring-your rings to the wedding. Switch your engagement ring to your right hand before the ceremony begins so the groom can place your wedding band at the base of your finger.
Prepare to enjoy your wedding, “By this point you should have delegated all the logistics to capable people,” Kleinhaut says. “All the bride should have to worry about is walking down the aisle.” So relax, and if something does go wrong, “smile sweetly,” says Edmonds. “Bear in mind that the glitches sometimes provide the most delightful moments” – and memories.