So you’re getting married. He proposed and you said yes. It was the most romantic night of your life.
You dream about the grand beautiful wedding you’ll be having, you riffle through magazines and pin images in pinterests. You’re not entirely sure what you want but you know it’s going to be fantastic.
So you start making some calls, or take a trip to the store to see what something like this would cost. And then reality hits.
Marriage may be a dream come true but weddings are a nightmare. Celebrity weddings are beautiful because they can have teams of people working in the background making sure everything’s running smoothly. Then they have post production edit out the parts that don’t.
For us mere mortals though, that level of organization would pretty much ensure you and your living in a box for the rest of your lives. It’s expensive is what we’re saying.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sure, planning a wedding will involve endless little missed details, missed deadlines, family drama, enough stress that you think eloping might be a better idea. But this guide will help you figure out how to keep things together. And don’t forget to grab a copy of our interactive checklist below, to help keep track of everything that’s going on.
We’re going to assume you’ve already broken the news to your families and everyone’s already on board. If you haven’t then we’ve got a guide on how to do that coming soon.
Ideally you should start at least a year before the actual wedding for the smoothest experience.
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12 Months To Go
You’ve probably thought of getting married before, maybe even have some thoughts on how you’ll want it too look. So now it’s time to define that dream so everyone else knows what you’ll need. Let’s start with…
1. The Theme
The first thing is to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about what you’re doing. Big grand wedding or small cozy wedding. Bohemian free spirit theme, or modern classic? Evening wedding or afternoon wedding? Winter or summer?
Can’t figure it out? Pinterest to the rescue.
The key to picking the theme is
- Pick together, and hear each other out. If one of you isn’t into it, things will only get worse as time goes on.
- Pick a few colors and centerpieces and design everything around those
Keep picking designs and collect them somewhere. Again, Pinterest is great for this. Get some feedback from your recently married friends too, as there might be issues that you aren’t aware of.
Some couples also throw a small engagement party to test out there theme. A small party of close friends and family, 50 people at the most, using elements from the theme you picked out to see how well it works. We’ll also have a guide on how to throw a cozy engagement party soon, so stay tuned.
2. The Date
Pick a date. Nothing too concrete, maybe a week and month. The reason you can’t be too picky right now is because you don’t know if you’ll get a good venue, if important guests will be free, or if you’ll have trouble at work.
On the subject of picking a date, here are a few that you want to avoid:
- Personally significant days like college reunions, birthdays, anniversaries or other events, like big conventions or festivals in your city.
- Holiday weekends. Sure people get time off more easily, but prices are going to be much higher. Travel and hotel costs are usually higher around holiday weekends, flowers are more expensive on valentine’s day, and reception sites are more expensive around new year’s. Besides, some guests might have traditions they’d rather not miss.
- Religious and cultural holidays – your’s and your guests.
- Historically significant days like September 11 or December 7. Particularly important if you’ve got military in the family or guest list.
- Major sporting events like superbowl or March Madness.
- Leap year dates – February 29
- And ‘unlucky’ dates like Friday the 13th. The jokes will never stop, and if anything does go wrong, you’ll never hear the end of it.
3. The Guest List
This is a little tricky, depending on where you’re from. Tradition dictates the couple gets half the guest list, and each set of parents gets a quarter of the guest list. So if you’re going for 200 guests, you get 50, your parents get 50, your spouse gets 50 and his parents get 50.
Let’s work on your share for the moment. Who do you invite?
For a start you want 3 lists. The must haves (we’ll call it the A list) and the good to haves (the B list) and only if the budget allows (the C list). We recommend working on something like google docs so it’s easier to share and collaborate with people.
So let’s start with family. Start by listing everyone in your immediate family. Then add anyone you see at least once a year. Then add their immediate family members. Just because Jimmy doesn’t come to the christmas parties doesn’t mean you don’t have to invite him. Once that’s done go see your parents to see who they’re inviting. There’s probably a lot of overlaps.
Next is friends. Being the popular person you are you’ve got plenty of friends, probably more than your allotment, so who do you pick? Well the really close ones are obvious, they’re in your A-list. But don’t go inviting everyone from your facebook friends list after that. Can you imagine having dinner with them sometime in the next year? If yes, add them to your B-list. If you were once tight but haven’t been in regular contact for ages, keep their name on the C-list.
Finally we have co-workers, clients-turned-friends, mentors, or other people who are significant to your professional life. Same rules as before, only they go on the B and C lists respectively.
Finally you should have a cut list. This is more than people you can’t stand. It’s also a set of rules for what’s allowed like +1s, children and bosses. Just be sure to apply this list fairly across the board.
Hopefully you’ll have your list down to you allotment quickly
4. The budget
Next is the budget. A “reasonable” budget depends on where you want to have your wedding. This article lists costs across a number of states. In particular
So start with what you can afford, how far it’s practical to travel (if you get married in another state there’s hotel costs, and different laws to consider).
Now a high budget does not guarantee a great wedding by any means. You get what you pay for, but a lot of that might not be noticeable, or memorable after a year, so there are some things you can avoid. Not a lot of people can tell apart $50 flower arrangements from $500 ones. Yes that’s $500 each. You read that right.
As you continue planning, it’s not unusual to see your budget creeping up slowly. Do try to keep to your budget, but of course if there is something you really, really like you might want to splurge for it. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “will I remember this investment fondly a year from now? Will I remember that we got this?”. If it’s a no, it’s not worth getting.
You can also find ways of cutting down on the expenses
5. The Venue
The venue will be most expensive items on the list.
And when we say most expensive we mean….
…expensive by a big margin.
In 2015, the average rental cost of a wedding venue was between $1650-$2336. The cost is mainly affected by: location, time of year, event time of day and other in-house services included. It is not uncommon for some locations to charge in excess of $5K-$10K if considered a luxury or premier venue. Some venues may require that you use their “preferred” vendors because they have some form of arrangement with them.
It’s safe to assume any additional services the venue provides, such as valet parking will be extra. Ask for an itemized list of fees to avoid confusion.
It’s also one of the most important decisions you’ll make here. To get started on selecting a venue head over to our search page and look for venues in your chosen areas.
The first thing is to check in with your spouse, parents and in laws to see if they’re all ok with this venue.
Then take a trip to the venue and see what it’s like. Ask them if they have pictures of events in your theme, so you can get a feel for how well it will go. Also ask them what they provide in addition to the space. Some venues provide seating and some decorations as well, so it might help you save money on the whole thing. When you’re discussing the venue be sure to ask about structural and electrical necessities such as portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components, heaters/air conditioners and so on, depending on what you think you’ll need for your dream wedding.
Do also check with the A list guests if they’ll have trouble getting to the venue, especially if there’s a bit of travelling involved.
6. The Wedding Planner
If your budget allows for a wedding planner this is when you call them.
This guide is to help you plan your own wedding, but if you can get a wedding planner you should go for it. Planning a wedding is stressful, hard work and these professionals make everything easier. Your wedding should be a happy occasion, not one a chore that managed to take up a year of your life, and a significant portion of your friend’s and family’s.
Wedding planners come in 3 types:
- a full-service planner to arrange every detail
- someone to assist you only in choosing your wedding location and vendors
- a day-of coordinator (which really means 30 days before your wedding)
They’re especially important if you’re going to be married somewhere other than where you live.
We’ve got a big list of wedding planners on EventKickstart so you should start there.
10 Months To Go
Awesome, you’re done with the basics. You know what you want. Now you need to figure out how to get it. Enter…
7. The Vendors
The vendors are probably the second most important resource in planning a list. If you’ve got a wedding planner, you should let her do most of the work, only getting involved in the major decisions.
If you’re planning the wedding yourself, here are the vendors you’ll need at a bare minimum:
- Hair and makeup artists
- Cake and Dessert
- Catering and bartenders
- Decorations, seating, furniture, and cutlery
- DJs, Entertainers or Live Music performers
- Florists for floral arrangements
- Legally recognized Officiant to lead the wedding ceremony
- Photo Booths for your guests
- Photographers and Videographers
- Transportation, limos for you and possibly other vehicles for important guests, including valets for parking.
- And Rentals for everything else
You might also want to hire:
- Art director: handles design, computer imaging, etc.
- Calligrapher: handles lettering on invitations and signage
- Graphic artist: designs and prints event posters or invitations
Be clear about your budget from the start. If vendors know upfront what you can spend, they can work with you to achieve what you want. Be sure to collect:
- Complete description of service, what’s included and what’s not
- Description of equipment vendor will provide and what you need to arrange for yourself, including their requirements (water, electricity, etc.) if any
- additional services vendor will provide, if any
- Description of costs and payment terms, Refund policy
- Scheduling information and availability
8. The Wedding Registry
We think most people are planning on setting up a Wedding Registry, though some people we’ve talked to are still against the idea of asking to be given a specific gift. Unless you actually want to get 20 of the same dinner set, we’d recommend setting one up.
We’re big fans of the amazon registry ourselves, since almost everyone has an account on amazon already.
9. Letting Guests Know
And now it’s time to let people know. Traditionally people would send out save the date cards.
But don’t pick up generic cards from Hallmark. Have a little fun designing your own.
We’re all for tradition, but between the paper, the calligraphist, and the postage you might run up a little in pre wedding expenses. Thankfully, this being 2016 and all there are alternatives. Why not get a really nice wedding website, and send out nicely designed invitations over email. Go a step further and send animated invites, like this one.
Be sure to include a link to the wedding registry too.
8 months to go
Alright, so the basic arrangements are done, now it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing (and not doing) during the wedding. So let’s start with…
10. The legal stuff
Getting married is a bit more complicated than just showing up to the ceremony. There’s a lot of legal stuff that needs to get done first. Among other things you’ll need to figure out:
1. How you’ll file your taxes. You might be eligible for a marriage bonus or get hit with a marriage penalty if you file your taxes together. Here’s a calculator to see how your situation stacks up.
2. If you’re changing your name. You’re not required to, but you could if you wanted. For a wife to take on her husband’s last name, the marriage certificate is enough. Simply contact your bank, and utility companies, and let them know. Be sure to do the same for identification documents such as your social security card and driver’s license or state issued I.D. If you’re changing your name after marriage to something other than your husband’s name, you’ll need a court order first. Each state has different laws about this, but commonly required forms include a petition to legally change your name, cause shown for legally changing your name, and a decree to legally change your name. Once you have these forms filled out, simply take them along with your state’s required filing fees, to the court clerk and file them. In most cases, a judge or magistrate will review your forms and grant the name change.
3. If you’ll want a prenup. This is a complicated topic, so we’ll leave this up to people more qualified at this.
11. The Rings
You’ll recall that rings are typically the second most expensive item on the list, so you’ll want to take plenty of time to consider your options.
In 2015, the average bride’s ring cost between $5968-$6258, while the average groom’s wedding ring is between $389-$547. This includes both the engagement ring and traditional wedding band. Most brides go for white gold, while most grooms go for tungsten, platinum, and titanium.
You can pick up a wedding ring online, but we recommend going to some stores in your neighborhood first, to get a feel for what you’re getting. Try some on and ask the jeweler some questions about the stones and bands.
Now there are 2 very broad categories of wedding rings. A ring that stands alone (you wear it on your right hand after the wedding band moves in), or something that looks beautiful alone but truly becomes complete with the addition of a coordinating custom-designed or store-bought wedding band.
If you’re getting a custom made ring, expect it to cost at least 3 times what something costs off the rack, and around 6 weeks to complete. Any less and there’s a possibility someone cut corners somewhere.
Even if you buy rings from the store, they’ll need to be sized to fit your fingers. And you want them properly sized because you’ll be wearing it the rest of your life.
12. The Dress
Now obviously the dress isn’t something you want to buy online. This is one of those things you can’t cut corners with, so we recommend you take a trip down to the store to take a look. You’ll also want to avoid buying off the rack, and if you do you’ll want it customized and tailored after you do.
So what does a wedding dress cost?
The average cost of a wedding dress in 2015 was between $1,089-$1,429. Any fancy beadwork, add-ons or intricate embroidery will drive the price up higher.
First of all the designer has a very big impact on the price. Dave’s Bridal has a median price of $600, but can go up to $1,600, while Casablanca Bridal has a median price of $1,200, but can go as high as $12,000. (Source: Value Penguin). Materials also pay a big part, for example White Crinoline typically sells at $2/yard while Silk Charmeuse sells at $35/yard.
Now you could get married in a simple, short, white jersey dress for $29.99 from a retailer like H&M, but anyone can tell it’s a sub $50 dress. You could always customize it afterwards and dress it up, but because of the materials used it just won’t be as nice as an expensive dress.
When buying the dress do think about what kind of hairstyle you’ll be having. The store people will have some ideas on what works well with the dress you’re looking at.
Also important is to match your bridesmaid’s dresses, so be sure to take them along when you’re trying on dresses, and pick some designs out for them too.
A final option is to buy a preowned wedding dress. You’ll be wearing an older design, but you can shave as much as 40-60% off the list price. Even after tailoring and customization (which can make it look significantly different) you might end up paying less than a new dress.
13. The Tux
At the same time, the tux also needs done. The tux is actually a lot easier to manage. In 2015, the average cost of a groom’s wedding tuxedo is between $150 – $242. While some designer fashion tuxedos can cost as much as $400-$500 to rent, most grooms spend somewhere in the $140 range.
The thing about tuxedos is they can be rented. We recommend buying one because then you can have it tailored. Rented tuxedos can be fitted, but it’s not really the same. The cost of a fitting is almost always included in the rental fee.
If you are renting we strongly recommend that you and your groomsmen look around until you can all get tuxes from the same store. Not only are you more likely to find tuxedos that match, the store will give you a deep discount if you’re all getting your tuxes from him. Some stores may even throw in the groom’s tux, fitting included, for free.
14. Taste testing
At this point you’re also looking to finalize the caterers and possibly pick a menu, so a taste testing is in order. You can actually put this off till later but you’ll have a lot of stuff to do, so it’s good to get this done early.
In 2015, the average cost of catering was $62 per guest, though you can reduce that with a banquet-style dinner. The average cost of a wedding cake for 250 people was $538, for a traditional tiered cake topped with some variation of buttercream frosting or fondant. Again, this is something you can pay less for by removing labor intensive details like multiple tiers, flavors, fillings and/or decorations and the cake topping.
Now taste testing differs by vendors. Some will charge for it, some will let you taste for free. Some will let you taste for free, but only after you’ve confirmed them as a vendor. Some will let you taste whatever you want, some will limit tasting to whatever is available at the moment (i.e. might have nothing to do with what you end up ordering). Some will seat you at their offices, some will invite you to a wedding or other event they’re currently catering for. Some caterers do group tastings of seasonal menus, others offer samples of their menu “du jour,” during a scheduled appointment.
Always call and schedule the tasting in advance so the caterer has time to prepare. If you have a favorite food, or need alternative ingredients (vegetarian, or something you’re not allergic to) you can let your caterer know beforehand.
Ask your caterer to present the food to you the way it is to be presented at the wedding reception or party. If it is to be served buffet style over warmers, ask to try the food in this manner. If it is a passed tray reception, ask your caterer if it is possible to sample the food this way. This will help gauge how the food will taste at the reception as well.
Do bring people during the tasting, and make a day of it while you’re at it.
Now the big question is are you getting a live band or a DJ?
We’d start with the kind of music you plan on playing. If you’re going for something like 30s Jazz or salsa then a band is great. BUT their equipment usually takes up a lot of space, there’s usually a much smaller variety of music (many bands will have their own sound/genre and will stick to it all night long.), and there will be times when there’s a lull in music due to break times. However, you will get a one of a kind music performance, and even if people aren’t dancing they can still enjoy the performance. Wedding bands, on average, typically run from $3,000 – $10,000+.
Wedding DJs on the other hand charge between $875-$1100, have a huge variety of music, and (many) offer MC services that have significant impact or influence over the atmosphere, flow, & overall appeal of a wedding reception. They also play non stop so there’s never a lull. Most DJ’s offer a per hour rate, which usually includes standard sound equipment, microphone and extensive music library. Lighting equipment costs extra. In most cases you will get about 16 to 17 songs per hour. The big issue is it’s not as enjoyable if people aren’t dancing.
If the music is a part of the theme you’re going, and you’ve got a big dance floor, then an appropriate band might be best. Otherwise we recommend a DJ because they’re just more versatile. You can search for DJs in your area here.
Thanks to YouTube, sampling a band or DJ is easier than ever. Once you’ve made up your mind you want to book the performers and find out what’s included (e.g. sound equipment) and what they need (e.g. lighting). You can also let them know what kind of wedding you’re going for, and what kind of songs you’ll want to play, and let them come up with a list for you. If you’ve got favorites you can let them know.
You don’t have to finalize the song list right away, there’s time for that. The performer is probably much better at planning the music around the event, so let him do the groundwork.
6 months To Go
At this point there’s plenty for you to do, co-ordinating guests and what not, but there are 2 very important things you need to take care of. They’ll take time so it’s best to start early.
The first are your vows.
Write them down and memorize them. This is one of those things you don’t want to forget. It should be as easy for you to recall this as 2+2. Please don’t be one of those people who forget their wedding vows.
If there’s any chance at all that you’ll forget, write them down in a small card and hide it within your bouquet or in your jacket. Try to be subtle about it when you get it out. Learn how to palm a card (basic card magic people) and no one will know.
As a general rule, here’s how you want to structure the vow:
Start with a declaration of love, a simple statement about who s/he is to you. Then a few things about why s/he’s so wonderful.
Next, promises about what you will do for your partner, focusing about the ways love shows itself, day to day in support, trust, actions, time and attention. Then follow up with things you’ll do with your partner, mentioning good times and bad.
And end with an indication that these promises hold for a very long time. (“…for all eternity.”)
Here are some ideas for vows to get you started: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/wedding-vows/.
17. Essential skills
What essential skills you need depend on the kind of wedding you’re having, but there are 2 that are almost always needed, and important enough that you should learn them anyways.
First is dancing. The kind of dance you’re learning depends on the theme of the wedding you’re having, but at the very least you should try to get some rhythm, so you can keep up with the music, and practice with some of the songs you’re planning on playing. In particular you’ll want to learn one of the classics – foxtrot, rumba or waltz. Check in with local dance classes at least 6 months in advance so you have time to get it right.
The other skill is public speaking. You’ll be the center of attention the whole time, and might be required to make speeches, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t fumble through it. You can get started with free courses on Coursera. Again, this is something you want to start early so you’re smooth by the time you need it.
3 Months To Go
Almost there. We’re in the final stretches now. At this stage you start planning the specifics of the reception. We’ll start with a….
18. Reception Timeline
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s more a guide for how things should go.
Now the traditional wedding, which starts early in the evening and goes on till 10, tends to go something like this:
Morning: Pre-Ceremony/Getting Ready
10:00 a.m.: Hair and makeup
12:00 to 2:00 pm: Vendors arrive and start setting up
2:00 pm to 3 pm: Wedding party photos and family photos
3:30 pm: Doors open and guests begin to arrive; pre-ceremony music begins
4:00 pm: Start time printed on the invitation
4:15 pm: Ceremony starts; wedding-party processional
4:25 pm: Officiant’s opening speech
4:35 pm: Exchange of vows and rings
4:45 pm: Pronouncement of marriage and the kiss
Ceremony & Cocktail Hour
5:00 pm: cocktail hour begins immediately following the ceremony
6:00 pm: Cocktail hour concludes; guests begin to take their seats at the reception
6:15 pm: Emcee introduces the wedding party and newlyweds
6:20 pm: Newlyweds go right into their first dance
6:25 pm: Welcome speech or blessing
6:30 pm: Dinner service begins (music volume is lowered)
7:00 pm: Toasts (beginning with the best man)
7:30 pm: Father-daughter dance, followed by mother-son dance
7:45 pm: All guests are invited to join everyone on the dance floor
8:30 pm: Cake cutting
9:45 pm: Last call
9:55 pm: Last song; followed by couple’s grand exit
10:00 pm: Reception concludes; guests depart; begin breakdown
11:00 pm: Breakdown complete; everyone out
Now if you’re doing a morning or late evening wedding the timeline is going to be a lot different, but this should give you an idea of how long things should take.
Having a shorter reception is way to save money, but you’ll only get married once (hopefully) so we recommend making a day of it.
19. Groomsmen and bridesmaids
This is also a time to finalize who the groomsmen and bridesmaid are. Let them know what their responsibilities are, who’s doing what, and remind them to get their dresses and tuxes in order.
Be sure to get those who’ve been helping you with the wedding so far some gifts.
20. Makeup and Hair trial run
You need to start looking your best, so that a little polishing and preening is enough on the big day, rather than a full makeover. You’ll look much more natural that way. So start by eating lots of vitamin rich fruit, vegetables and nuts, and start a good skincare regimen.
Trial makeup artists and see who you like best. Have a picture of the wedding gown with you, so they know what they’ll be working with. Most makeup artists will charge you for a trial. It’s tempting to do the makeup yourself, after all you’ve been doing your makeup all your life, but trust us when we say that you’ll prefer being worked on by a professional on the big day.
Trail the hairstylist too. You can show the haridresser some photos and ask to get similar hair, but don’t lose hope if she says it won’t work for you. Not all styles suit every face, andsome hairstyles are just not possible without the right volume and texture. Good artists will be able to interpret a look to suit you. A good rule of thumb is to ask for you as you naturally are, just better.
21. Gifts for the in laws
This is also a good time to pick up gifts for the in laws. You’ve known them long enough, you’ve seen them under pressure, and you know their pet peeves by now.
Get help from your spouse, but it should be something that resonates with your relationship with your in laws, i.e. it has to feel like it came from you.
22. The vendors again
It’s time to touch base with the vendors again.
In particular you’ll want to:
1. Let your photographer know about your must-have shot lists, who’s photos are essential, and who needs to be in the formal portraits
2. Deliver your final song list to the DJ or bandleader. You’ve had chance to practice, so you know what you can dance to
3. Finalize the menu and let your caterers know what they’ll be preparing. Have another tasting if they’re up for it.
2 months to go
Not much longer now. For the last 2 months things will be really hectic. You’ll be doing final preparations. To start off you’re going to….
Sit down with the bridesmaids and groomsmen and let everyone know their responsibilities for the big day.
The best man and the maid of honor have special responsibilities of course, but the rest of the groomsmen and bridesmaids have work to do as well.
We’ll start with the best man. The best man is supposed to:
1. Serve as the groom’s personal aide and adviser before and during the wedding. This means he needs to be available for everything.
2. Organize the bachelor party. The groom isn’t necessarily required to pay, but the cost is typically split between all attendees. It’s the best man’s responsibility to arrange everything.
3. Attend the rehearsal with the bride and groom and all the other attendants.
4. Stand beside the groom at the altar and keep the bride’s ring until vows are exchanged.
5. Manage the other groomsmen and make sure they’re doing their duties .
6. Sign the marriage license as a witness after the ceremony, along with the maid of honor.
7. Give the officiant a sealed envelope with his or her fee just after the ceremony.
8. Dance with both the honor attendant and the bride during the wedding party dances.
9. Give the first toast to the bride and groom at the reception.
10. Collect any gift envelopes guests bring to the reception, to deposit in the couple’s bank account.
11. Decorate the just married car.
12. Drive the couple to the wedding-night hotel or airport after the reception. The best man may also hire a limo for this.
The groomsmen he’s managing are supposed to:
1. Attend all pre-wedding festivities
2. Help the best man out with any decorations or planning that needs to get done
3. Usher guests to their seats
4. Direct guests to restroom facilities and the reception site
5. Dance with bridesmaids and guests during the wedding
The maid of honor is supposed to:
1. Manage all the bridesmaids
2. Help the bride with all planning and preparations
3. Help the bride get dressed for the wedding and the change for the honeymoon
4. Host bridal shower
5. Host bachelorette party
6. Make sure that all bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time, and have the correct bouquets
7. Hold the groom’s ring during the ceremony.
8. Arrange the bride’s train and veil before the ceremony begins and just after she arrives at the altar
9. Keep a record of all the gifts received at various parties and showers See to it that all bridesmaids get to the rehearsal
10. Make sure that all bridesmaids get their hair and makeup done, get to the ceremony on time, and have the correct bouquets.
11. Hold the bride’s bouquet while the couple exchanges vows.
12. Sign the marriage license as a witness, along with the best man.
13. Play hostess along with the other bridesmaids at frequent points during the reception
14. Collect any gift envelopes brought to the reception and keep them in a safe place.
15. Dance with the best man during the formal first-dance sequence and possibly be announced with him at the beginning of the party.
16. Toast the couple after the best man.
17. Troubleshoot emotional crises.
And the bride’s maids she’s managing are supposed to:
1. Attend all pre-wedding festivities
2. Help the maid of honor out with any decorations or planning that needs to get done
3. Help the bride with any small tasks she needs help with, such as helping her get ready for the wedding
4. Usher guests to their seats
5. Direct guests to restroom facilities and the reception site
6. Dance with groomsmen and guests during the wedding
Your job a this point is to make sure everyone knows that, and knows the details of what they’ll need to be doing over the next 2 months.
24. Gifts and tips
As you can see, being groomsmen and bridesmaids is hard work.
So be sure to get them all something for taking time to help you out. They’re supposed to, as your friends, but it’s good to let people know they’re appreciated.
While you’re doing that you’ll also want to put a little away as tips for the vendors. If your contract doesn’t include gratuity, you should tip 15 to 20 percent of the total bill. Another way to tip is offering $50 to $100 for each chef and $20 to $50 per server. Wedding planner: Wedding planners don’t expect a tip, but they do appreciate them.
25. Final fittings
At this stage you’ll want to go in for a final fitting. Your dress, tux, and rings need to fit you perfectly.
Dress alterations typically cost $220 in 2015. Prices depend on the complexity of the dress details and degree of difficulty. When making gown alterations, make sure to have your undergarments, shoes and hair accessories on in order to obtain the proper fit.
26. Break in your shoes
This is also a good time to break in your shoes. Put your shoes on at home and walk around for 10 minutes or so every other day. Do this while wearing socks – you’ll be more comfortable and the shoes will break in faster.
You’ll also want to pick up a few things for your shoes. Back of the heel insoles, heel grips to keep your heels from slipping, and non slip insoles to help keep your footing on the dance floor.
You might also want to pick up some instant flats for the ride after the wedding.
Some people also suggest getting a spare in case your shoes break. We like the idea as long as it’s not too expensive.
27. Bachelor and Bachelorette parties
If your groomsmen and bridesmaids are throwing you parties, and they are ‘supposed’ to, then this is the time to do it. We won’t get into too much detail since this isn’t something you’re supposed to be planning, but just let them know this is when they should host the party. NOT the day before the wedding as some movies would have you believe.
1 Month Before
Just a little bit longer. You’ve got some very important things to do right now, like:
28. Check up on guests who haven’t rsvp’d
Give them a call and find out if they’re attending. Let them know that you’ll need to let your caterer and venue know, so it’d be nice to have a headcount. Also check on their +1s or guests.
29. Plate count
Once that’s done give reception site/caterer final guest head count. Include vendors, such as the photographer or band members, who will expect a meal. Ask how many extra plates the caterer will prepare, if any.
30. Last minute vendor checks
While you’re at it you’ll also want to do check back with all the other vendors and ask if everything is in order. If something is unavailable, like a particular dish, what kind of substitutes are they preparing? Confirm what their structural needs where, and if anything has changed since.
31. Location manager
Let the location manager know what vendors are coming and their specific requests such as a table for DJ or setup space needed for a florist.
32. Marriage license.
About a month before the actual ceremony, apply for a marriage license from your county clerk’s office and pay the fee. This is a document you must obtain from the county clerk before you get married, different from a marriage certificate which is a document that proves you are married. The license expires in 30 days, so you don’t want to get it too early. It also takes a few days to process, so you don’t want to get it too late either. Your county clerk or registrar’s website should tell you exactly where to go and what to bring. You may need to call for an appointment.
33. Seating arrangements
Taking the time to develop a plan will reduce your guests’ anxiety of trying to find a seat (and your involvement in mediating issues), and it ensures that couples who want to can sit together.
Bridal table: The newlyweds sit at a head table or round table at the focal point of the room. They may also sit at their very own sweetheart table. This table is usually set apart from the others by some type of decoration. Traditionally, the groom sits to the bride’s right and the best man sits to her left. The maid of honor sits to the groom’s right. Depending on how large the table is, the other attendants can also be seated near the bride and groom
Family table: The parents of the couple often sit opposite each other at a large family table, with grandparents, the officiant and other close friends. Another option is for the parents to head their own tables, with their family members and close friends. In the case of divorced parents, each parent may also host his or her own table, smoothly diffusing any awkwardness or discomfort.
Everyone else: Mix and match everyone else, trying to keep people who know each other closer together, so they’re comfortable. The idea is to mix groups of people, not individuals.
Children’s table: This is only important if you’ve got a lot of children present, and are doing something special for them. Otherwise it’s better they sit with their parents.
So how do you let everyone know where they’re sitting. You can use place cards (displayed near the entrance of the reception in alphabetical order, they usually include each guest’s name and table number. Once at the table, guests usually select their own seats.), escort cards (contain the guest’s name on the outer envelope, and their table number on the card inside. Place cards await guests at each table, designating their seats) and a seating chart (usually displayed alphabetically in a pretty frame near the entrance of the reception, list your guests’ names with their designated tables)
34. Rescue basket
Put a rescue basket together for the powder room and your dressing room.
Things like mints, extra bobby pins, and stain removers. Have some of the bridesmaids and groomsmen take them to the powder rooms. The best man and maid of honor should handle your own baskets.
A few more days.
Most couples take off for their honeymoon the same day as the wedding, so it’s important to get the packing done. Here’s what you’ll need to bring.
1. A travel outfit, which you wear while going to the venue
2. A dressing outfit, basically a dressing gown or robe that you wear while you’re getting ready.
3. Alternate undergarments
4. An after hour attire, so you can go out after the reception without wearing the full wedding ball gown or tuxedo
5. Day after attire, for the farewell brunch something dressy but not too dressy. Remember everyone is going to be taking pictures, so you’ll want to look good.
36. Tux and gown
Have the tuxes and gowns pressed and steamed. Then pack them up really carefully. You might not have enough time to get them cleaned again before the wedding.
37. More Packing
This time you’re packing for the wedding day. The bride should pack:
1. Alternate undergarments
3. Breath mints
4. Button-down shirt
5. Cotton swabs
7. Double-stick tape
8. Compact steamer for pesky wrinkles
9. Extra buttons
10. Extra copy of the bride’s vows
11. Extra pair of hosiery
13. Hair styling products and tools
14. Lint brush
15. Makeup and beauty tools
16. Nail file
17. Nail polish in the same color you’re wearing
18. Pain reliever
20. Safety pins
21. Small sewing kit
23. Stain-remover wipes
25. Toothbrush and toothpaste
26. Water and a drinking straw
27. White ballet flats
28. White chalk for covering up dress stains
29. White gaffer’s tape to patch tears in your dress
And the groom should pack:
1. Breath mints
3. Compact steamer for pesky wrinkles
5. Extra bowtie or tie in case the groom or a groomsman forgets
6. Extra buttons
7. Extra copy of the groom’s vows
8. Extra cuff links
9. Extra dress socks
10. Extra handkerchief or pocket square
11. Extra shoelaces
13. Hair styling products and tools
14. Lint brush
15. Pain reliever
17. Shoe polish kit
18. Small sewing kit
20. Stain-remover wipes
21. Toothbrush and toothpaste
And finally you’ll want to get a few last things out of the way. Specifically
1. Wedding bands to the best man and maid of honor,
2. officiant’s fee envelope to the best man,
3. site manager introduced to best man and maid of honor,
4. someone to collect and return all rentals,
5. someone to send bride’s dress and groom’s tux for cleaning
6. Thank you notes for especially helpful vendors and guests
Ideally this is all done and ready at least 2 days before the wedding so you don’t run into any last minute problems.
39. The rehearsal
The rehearsal typically takes place a few days before the wedding. Aim for friday night, 7pm so everyone has time to get away from work. The rehearsal dinner has become more of a celebration in its own right than just a formality, so you want everyone present and relaxed.
The point of the rehearsal isn’t just practice, it’s also a great opportunity for your two families to spend time together in a more relaxed setting before the wedding day. You’ll all be pulled in too many directions to put in quality time with anyone on the actual day.
The rehearsal is a smaller event, and you should invite your immediate families, and wedding party members and their spouses or significant others. You should also invite the officiant and his or her spouse to the dinner—they may not come, but it’s a polite and generous gesture to offer.
The rehearsal can be formal (banquet or garden party) or casual (outdoor picnic or barbecue).
The rehearsal involves a meet and greet, you giving out gifts for your parents and bridal parties, toasts, and last minute reminders.
Take the day off. Things are about to get hectic. On this day you’ll want to spend your time preparing. Go over everything else, and make sure you haven’t missed anything.
40. Setting up
As we mentioned in the reception timeline, if the wedding starts at 4 pm you’ll want to start setting up by 12, so there’s enough time. If you’ve hired experienced professionals they’ll come mostly prepared, but some things like flower arrangements may need a little tweaking on site.
You wouldn’t be expected to do much, but the bridesmaids and groomsmen need to inspect all the tables and make sure everything is set up the way it should be. Next, have someone place the placecards on every table.
41. Getting ready
You’re on a timeline, but it’s better for you to be late and look your best than be early and looked rushed.
You’ve got professional makeup and hair artists working on you, and they know what they’re doing, so you won’t have to worry too much about being ready on time.
Remember to grab some food before the reception starts, because you’ll be dragged in all directions during the reception, and won’t have much chance to eat.
42. The Gifts
Arrange for transportation of the gifts. Someone has to get them sent to your place. It could be the best man and maid of honor or the parents. Whoever is comfortable with the responsibility.
43. Enjoy the wedding
The only other thing to do today is to enjoy the wedding.
Congratulations on tying the knot.
44.The Marriage Certificate
Once you’ve officially tied the knot, you’ll want to get your marriage certificate, a document which proves you’re married. To do this, your officiant will send the signed license to the appropriate county office. Again, this info can probably be found on your county registrar’s website. To get a copy of your certificate, fill out a form and pay a small fee.
In many states, after your wedding, it is the responsibility of the officiant to make sure the license is recorded with the county where you were married. Generally, a few weeks after your wedding, you will receive your marriage certificate in the mail. That said, even if the officiant fails to file the marriage certificate, the two are usually still considered married.
45. The Dress
Take wedding gown and veil to a dry cleaner who specializes in gown preservation. Whether you’re keeping the gown or selling it, you’ll want it kept in the best possible condition.
You’ll want to take it to the preservers as soon as possible so they can remove any stains or discolorations before they set in.
46. The legals
Collect forms for name-change forms for driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, state and federal tax boards, banks, credit cards, etc. You can submit all these after the honeymoon, but it’s best not to wait too long.