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Getting Wed: A to Z Planning a wedding? Know someone who is? Here's the basic training.

illustration of A thru D

Attendants (a.k.a. bridesmaids)
Their matching dresses should be ordered months in advance and are traditionally shiny, if not blinding (think Ice Capades). Remember: You can always keep it simple and opt for just having a maid of honor.

An adult version of loot bags. Gifts for your guests, such as truffles, angel-topped candy dishes or bubble-blowing bongs shaped like a bride and groom.

Avoid fondant -- glassy icing that makes your cake look (and taste) like it was baked at Madame Tussauds. White buttercream is far more edible and looks stunning strewn with fresh flowers.

Or Mikasa. Even Wedgwood or Lenox if you're hardcore. As a courtesy to your gift-buying guests, you should register.

illustration of E thru I

Etiquette (for the reception)
Best man toasts bride. Father of bride toasts couple. Maid of honor toasts groom. Groom toasts all. Oh hell, let's drink.

Be ready for the question: "What are your colors?" Some couples go bold (red, white and blue for a Fourth of July wedding), while others choose subdued (gold and earth tones for the fall). Build around what's in season.

Guest list
When drafting the guest list, take a deep breath, think of three good things about your future spouse, and hide the steak knives. Also, decide what size wedding you want and resist encroachments from Camp In-Laws-To-Be.

Hotel rooms
Book them for out-of-town guests, ASAP. Even just one competing wedding can fill up accommodations in an area.

If your engagement survived the guest list, you will now have to paw through dozens of sample books and choose an invitation. Before you send out the invites, make sure the venue you've chosen can accommodate all your guests.