Counting Down to the Big Day

Counting Down to the Big Day
by Jennifer LB Leese

OK, you're engaged...the date is getting close...now what? Well now is the time to set the wheels in motion. Start planning!
Your patience, organizational skills, humor, mind and body will definitely be put to the test. Weddings take much planning. Depending on the size of your wedding, you may spend over 100 hours on the phone, visiting with vendors, planning, and chasing after details.
For this week's Bridal Issue, I've put together a complete outline of the things you'll need to do for your wedding from twelve months ahead to one day before.
Here's to a good start.
Nine to Twelve Months Before Your Wedding
* If you haven't already done so, now is the time to choose a wedding date and time & possibly a backup date
* Spread the news of your engagement among family and friends
* Arrange for your families to meet
* Set budgets for the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon
* Make a preliminary guest list
* Plan an engagement party with family and friends
* Talk with a bridal consultant or wedding coordinator
* Reserve ceremony and reception sites
* Notify those who you'd like to be in your wedding party (best man, bridesmaids, other attendants and ushers)
* Talk with the church, synagogue, or person in charge at wedding location
* Make an appointment with an officiate; meet with him/her
Six to Nine Months Ahead
* Decide what music will be played at your ceremony and what kind of music/entertainment the two of you would like to have at the reception
* Start thinking about ideas/themes for our reception, as well as determining catering plans and if separate, a baker for your wedding cake
* Finalize your guest list
* Choose a photographer and/or videographer
* Decide who will pay for what and how expenses will be shared
* Think about color schemes
* Shop for wedding rings
* Place an order for invitations, envelopes, thank-you cards, and other stationary you'll need for the reception
* Choose a florist
* Select and order your wedding dress, headpiece, and bridesmaids' dresses and accessories
* Book your honeymoon
* Begin shopping for wedding rings
Four to Six Months Ahead
* Check the requirements for marriage license
* Reserve your wedding day rental equipment
* Decide upon a gift registry and select your gift choices
* Make an appointment with a stylist to discuss hair and makeup ideas
* Order your invitations and related stationary needs
* Reserve your wedding day transportation
* Research and select readings for ceremony if the two of you want to add your own touch to what the officiate already has planned
* Help both mothers coordinate and find their wedding day clothing
* Review your contracts with all of your vendors and service providers
* Plan accommodations for out-of-town guests; ask local hotels about group discounts
* Make a completed version of the guest list and give her a head count
* Place an order for tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen
* Make a final booking for hotel and honeymoon accommodations
* Make a final decision about the ceremony music if you are still undecided
* Make arrangements for the rehearsal dinner
* Choose gifts for your wedding party; the parents
* Order your wedding bands if you didn't do so the day the two of you shopped
* Choose reception favors
Two to Four Months Ahead
* Get with the officiate and go over the readings and vows you've decided upon for your ceremony
* Have engagement portraits taken
* Arrange attendant's parties
* Consider a hairdresser and/or makeup artist and book appointments
* Find out information about changing your name on your bank accounts, driver's license, social security number, etc.
* Practice your hair and makeup with your headpiece on
* Discuss insurance policies such as car, life, medical, and home with your fiance to see if your policies will change after you get married
* Schedule rehearsal time and dinner
One to Two Months Ahead
* Mail invitations
* Final wedding dress fitting
* Final fitting for your wedding attendants
* Obtain marriage license
* Have your attendant's parties
* Purchase your going-away outfit
* Create a calendar of events for the wedding day
* Make sure your accessories are in order (rings, pillow, garter, etc.)
* Choose and buy wedding accessories, like cuff links, lingerie or handkerchiefs
* Print ceremony programs
* Make a seating plan for the reception
* Confirm with your florist, photographer, and band or DJ
* Mail wedding announcement to local papers
* Get marriage license
One to Two Weeks Ahead
* Notify your caterer of the final guest headcount
* Have all your payments ready for the officiate, florists, photographer, band or DJ, and caterer
* Give the best man the amounts your vendors are to be paid on the wedding day
* Print address wedding announcements
* Pack for your honeymoon; confirm travel arrangements
* If honeymooning out of the country, purchase travelers checks, confirm honeymoon reservations
* Pick up dress
* Finalize arrangements with the entertainer(s)
* Provide a list of music you would like played (or not played)
* Finalize music during special events such as first dance, dance with dad, etc.
* Pick up your wedding rings and make sure that the engravings are correct- now make sure they fit!
* Contact the guests who have not responded to your invitations
* Make sure your marriage license is in order
* Have your wedding ceremony rehearsal
* Have your rehearsal dinner
* Confirm out-of-town guests have transportation and sleeping accommodations
* Check with your florist and/or balloonist to make sure they will arrive when scheduled
* Closer to a few days ahead of time, talk with attendants - do they remember their responsibilities?
One Day
* Give all members of your wedding party a gift to thank them for sharing your day
* Give gifts to both sets of your parents to thank them for their support
* Set aside some time for a manicure and pedicure
Day of Your Wedding
Of course your number one goal today is to get married and have fun!
* Try not to get stressed
* Allow at least two hours for dressing
* Show up to the hairdresser and makeup artist a little early
* If photographs are to be taken before the ceremony, allow plenty of time for that
* Be sure that you have the rings and marriage license
* The groom's parents should be seated about 5 minutes before start time
* Mother of the bride is normally seated last
* Take a deep breath, don't worry, be happy and smile!

Source: WWLP Bridal Guide, AZCentral: Wedding Countdown, Wedding Chaos, and iVillage.com.