From announcing your engagement to setting a budget, here's what you need to do!
You're getting married. And now it's time to tell the world.
• Tell your immediate families. Do it together, in person.
• Get both sides of the family together for a meet and greet.
• Spread the word: 1) via Facebook, Twitter and email; 2) via newspaper announcement; 3) with a too-cute-for-words website.
• Book an engagement portrait.
• Friends and family may throw you an engagement party, so start your registry now.
You want the venue to be comfortable and appropriate for the wedding concept and theme you decide upon. Other things to consider when selecting venue include:
• Will it be indoors? Outdoors?
• Do guests and family have to travel to attend?
• Make a list for day-of needs and ensure that the venue attends to them.
• Are there other events at the venue on that day that could impact your timelines?
• Check on parking options. You don't want guests watching your ceremony from their cars!
Hot tip! If you're thinking outdoor wedding, great. But don't assume Mother Nature will cooperate. Have a contingency plan for how everyone is going to keep dry during a downpour. That way, no one smashes into the wedding cake "November Rain" style.
Are you going to have a theme wedding? It works in Vegas; it can work at home. Everybody loves the classic something-borrowed-something-blue thing, but you'd be surprised at how much life you can kick into the event with a little creativity. Whether it's a formal affair or an informal bash, make sure whatever you choose is a mix of the personal, the meaningful and the fun-tastic. It'll make it more memorable for all.
THE WEDDING PARTY
The wedding party is a way of honoring close friends and family, and offers support for planning and executing a large celebration.
• Give plenty of notice so potential attendants can consider their roles and book travel and time off work, if necessary.
• Don't worry about symmetry: If there are more bridesmaids than groomsmen, it's no big deal.
• Make sure that those asked actually want to be in the wedding party. It's a lot of responsibility and financial commitment. Be upfront about your expectations.
• Thank all attendants, preferably with a gift.
WHAT EVERYONE DOES
Maid of honor and best man
• Help out with wedding plans whenever possible.
• Arrange a bachelorette/bachelor party. A Jack and Jill party is another fun option. Just be sure to: 1) Involve the bride/groom in the plans for their respective parties. 2) Clear any risqué entertainment. 3) Offer choices or stages to the party (people show up when they like). 4) Arrange transportation if alcohol is involved. 5) Ensure that the bride/groom has a memorable, enjoyable party.
• Attend all parties prior to the wedding, including the rehearsal dinner.
• Help the bride organize the bridesmaids' dresses/help the groom organize tuxedo rentals.
• Attend the ceremony rehearsal, if scheduled.
• Help the bride/groom with their preparations on the morning of the wedding, and keep them calm with their favorite things (magazines, TV, gossip, videogames, mimosas, a morning Scotch).
• Ensure all the bridesmaids/groomsmen are on time at the ceremony and that they have their bouquets/boutonnieres.
• Check bride's gown/groom's tux one final time before the ceremony.
• Take care of the respective rings until handing them over during the ceremony.
• Hold the bride's bouquet as she takes her vows. Don't forget to have a tissue or two on hand!
• Sign the register.
• Stand in the receiving line at the reception, at bride's/groom's request.
• Give toasts or assume the role of MC, at bride's/groom's request.
• Ensure all tux rentals are returned.
• Keep a record of gifts given at the bridal shower and other gatherings.
• Distribute pay envelopes to service providers after the ceremony, as requested.
• Provide moral support. Planning a wedding can be stressful, so just being there for your friend -- and maybe even treating her to a mani-ped -- goes a long way to relieve the pressure.
Bridesmaids and groomsmen
• Assist whenever possible.
• Be available for fittings.
• Help out at pre-wedding parties.
• Attend rehearsals.
• Participate in ceremony and help seat guests.
• Greet guests in receiving line, at bride's/groom's request.
• Help guests find their places at the reception.
Flower girls and ring bearers
• Flower girls can scatter petals down the aisle.
• Ring bearers can carry rings tied to a pillow.
• Seat parents in plain sight of their child during the ceremony. They can provide encouragement to the young's -- or intervene in case of tears/tantrums!
• Make sure to get parental permission before discussing a role with a child, and tailor the role to the child's abilities. (Remember: They're kids, not adults! So be mindful of mealtimes, bedtimes and nap times.)
Hot tip! There are no hard-and-fast rules about selecting a wedding party. For example, if the groom wants his sister in his wedding party, no problem! Select those who you really want to be there for you.
THE WEDDING DRESS
This is one of the best things about getting married. And don't worry: You don't have to wear a designer gown to stun your friends and family.
• Flip through bridal mags or browse related websites or apps to get an idea of styles and accessories.
• Take the time to shop around.
• Ask at least one trusted friend (like the maid of honor) to help. But don't bring your whole entourage (you've seen enough sorority-infused disasters on Say Yes to the Dress to know why).
• Bring the right undergarments with you to the fitting. Bridget Jones-style granny panties and lace don't mix!
• Above all, make sure you love the dress. It'll be one of your longest lasting memories of the day. So think hard before you say "I do"!
• Usually the bride and groom invite half of the total number of guests and each set of parents invites one quarter.
• Collect your guests' contact info and keep it handy in case you need to get in touch with anybody. Master lists are your friend!
• Will all of your guests be attending both the ceremony and the reception? Be certain.
• Fewer guests mean a not-as-pricey wedding (but also fewer gifts!).
• Track: Who's going to which events, dietary restrictions, special needs, gifts received and thank-you cards sent.
Hot tip! The initial guest list you draw up is going to be way too big. So, while you will have to whittle it down, don't cut it all the way as you won't get a 100 percent RSVP return rate. Expect a 70 to 80 percent RSVP return rate.
• Research styles in catalogs and online, then decide together on the look and feel.
• Choose a stationer.
• Choose a design and concept that reflect your personalities and styles.
• Ensure that the invitation matches the style and formality of the wedding ceremony and reception. Puppies and ducks are cute, but just don't go with a solemn church or synagogue wedding.
• Ask about matching stationery for save-the-date cards, thank-you notes, menu cards, etc.
• Give all the pertinent info: date, times and addresses of the ceremony and reception, location maps (if enclosing) and web addresses.
• Make sure to enclose self-addressed stamped envelopes or postcards for RSVPs. (Unless of course you go green-friendly by setting up a website where guests can RSVP online.)
• Ask about payment details, including the amount of the deposit that's required.
• The wedding hosts' names (and not necessarily the people who are paying for the wedding) should go at the top of the invite.
• Dates and times are spelled out, including the year.
Hot tips! For a personal touch, consider the old-school letterpress printing style for your invite, where the ink is applied to raised type that's stamped on the paper. It gives a real antique flavor! For a coordinated look, make sure to order your thank-you notes at the same time as the invites.
PAPERWORK AND RED TAPE
• Check out your city's marriage licence requirements. Research online or by phone.
• Will either of your names change? Notify friends and family, and make sure the MC knows how to introduce you so there are no missteps on the big day.
• Will citizenship change?
• Are you thinking over-the-top celebrity-esque wedding or low-key? Whichever way you go, your spending choices should reflect your individual style (and available funds!). Focus on the things that are most important to you.
• Keep in mind that the little things do add up: things like postage stamps, marriage licence, service tips, etc. Build some leeway into your budget in advance, and stay on top of it. You don't want to overlook anything.
WAYS TO SAVE
• Have your wedding on a weekday or during off-season.
• Order food that is in season. Local food also lopwers your wedding's eco footprint.
• Host the ceremony/reception in the same venue at a family or friend's property (i.e., restaurant, backyard).
• Create your own centerpieces and wedding favors. Be sure to put thought into them -- think crafty and get creative!