Congratulations! You’ve decided to get married. Following close on the heels of this monumental decision will be countless other decision, both large and small – from planning your reception to ordering your invitations. Where do you begin? How do you plan a wedding?
Team up, and get organized. It’s much easier to agree on your priorities now than to agonize over each alternative that comes along. Here are the most important things for engaged couples to do when it comes to planning a wedding:
• Discuss your budget with your fiance and parents, since this will help many of your other choices fall into place. Also discuss wedding style – a big, elaborate ceremony with a formal seated dinner will cost more than a small afternoon service followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. If a particular wedding style is very important to you, you might compromise in other areas – the guest list, for example.
• Decide on the wedding and reception sites. Outdoors, indoors, hotel, mansion, loft, or garden – the possibilities are endless. Do some research by asking friends, or calling your local Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society for ideas. If you opt for a popular site, reserve it early since these places book up fast, or plan to hold your wedding at a less popular time (such as morning) or season (such as mid-winter).
• Visit a clergy member or judge with your fiance. Once you’ve agreed on a date for your wedding ceremony, you can begin coordinating the details of your service, and give him or her a chance to get to know you both before the wedding.
• Choose your wedding dress and accessories. Be sure to find a dress that suits the mood of your celebration, as well as your own personal style – you want to be breathtaking on your wedding day, but you also want to be comfortable. Order your wedding dress early enough to leave time for alterations, changes, and any slip-ups that might occur.
• Plan your color scheme. Select the color of one or two important items first – your flowers, your bridesmaids dresses, your table settings – then plan everything else around them. A celebration decorated in red roses and black velvet will have a very different mood than one where wildflowers, wicker and gingham prints prevail.
• Find your wedding music. Music will set the tone for your festivities, so choose styles that everyone can enjoy. Look for a versatile band or disc jockey. Listen to tapes or request a live audition before making your final decision.
• Register for gifts. China, silver, and crystal are the traditional wedding-gift choices, but if the two of you love to ski, why not register for new skiing equipment as well? And if traveling is your passion, request new luggage, travel alarms and cameras.
• Order thank-you notes with and without your married name. You’ll want to be able to thank people right away for their thoughtful gifts, and you should use your maiden name before the ceremony, and your married name after.
• Begin your guest list. You, your fiance, and your families should prioritize your lists into three parts: those who absolutely must attend the wedding, those whom you hope to include if there’s room, and those who will receive announcements rather than invitations.
• Consult a travel agent for honeymoon suggestions. Honeymoon is an integral part of any wedding planning. Travel agents are gold mines of great ideas. Be prepared to ask lots of questions, about everything from the local food to the weather – since even paradise gets damp during the rainy season.
• One final tip. Don’t take everything too seriously. Planning a wedding together is a great chance to learn how to compromise and negotiate toward your goals. Love and laughter are the most important ingredients for a perfect wedding – and a happy marriage.