Getting engaged is one of the happiest moments of our adult lives, along with the actual wedding itself. But while countless people are getting engaged each day, few know how to prepare for their wedding.
When all the excitement of your engagement wears off, preparing for your wedding is actually a lot of work. Not only do you have to book the perfect venue but you also have to get a dress, invite your guests, and sort out your legal documents. This can be a lot if you haven’t ever thought about throwing a wedding for your friends and family. That’s why most wedding planners recommend preparing for your wedding at least one year in advance. This will give you — and your guests — ample time to make room in their schedule and, quite literally, save the date of your wedding.
If you’re stuck wondering where you should start, here’s a simple wedding day checklist designed to make preparing for your wedding a piece of [wedding] cake.
14-12 months before your wedding
Right after you get engaged, the planning should begin. Most couples usually give themselves a little more than a year to start preparing for your wedding. This is a realistic timeline for you, but it also ensures that your guests aren’t thrust into a sudden large event for which it is difficult to plan.
Choose your wedding date. Picking your wedding date is the first step for preparing for your wedding. Keep in mind that wedding season typically starts in late May and lasts all the way through early October. As such, it’s important to do a little research on the most popular wedding days.
There’s nothing worse than choosing a wedding day that everyone else has chosen. This could seriously slim your guest list and maybe even ruin your chance to attend a friend’s wedding who has had their special day planned months in advance. Before you book your venue, do a little research and ask your friends if your ideal date works for them. While not everyone will be able to attend your wedding, it’s important to choose a date for the vast majority.
You should also check to make sure that your wedding day doesn’t fall on an important local event. Anything from a local parade to a busy trade conference can clog hotel availability and make it more difficult to throw your wedding. This is especially important for folks who have disabilities that might need access to 24 hour care options. Do your research and make sure that both the location and the dates that you have chosen are in line with the needs of your guests.
Streamlining your health. While you certainly don’t need to do anything you don’t want to do, many betrothed couples want to look their absolute best on their wedding day. For some, that means it’s time to hit the gym and lose a few pounds. For others, however, it might be the perfect motivation to invest in Invisalign to straighten their smile, especially if you’ve been putting it off. Invisalign starts to straighten your teeth in the first months of use and most people are done with their treatment within a couple of years, making it far more streamlined than traditional braces. If you want to improve your smile before your wedding, Invisalign braces might be the perfect, subtle way to straighten your teeth in the months leading up to your big day.
Determine a guest list and set a budget. Now is the perfect time to set your budget and actually work on sticking to it. Your guest list will typically determine a vast portion of your budget, so it’s essential to get this list locked down as quickly as possible. After all, a wedding of 500 people will cost far more than a wedding of 100.
The average wedding costs about $20,000 but few people have that kind of pocket change lying around. Analyze your current financial situation and make compromises on expenditures to start saving more for your wedding. For example, it might be better to clean up your yard on your own instead of hiring professional landscapers for a few months. Contact them for harder tasks, like tree pruning, but raking, weed whacking, and shrub trimming can all be done by you.
You should always budget a higher price than you think since last-minute changes can add up when you least expect it.
11-10 months before your wedding
It’s time to book your venue! Now that you have a couple of date options before you, booking your venue — as long as it’s in line with your budget — should be a breeze. Look for handicap accessible locations and other amenities to better accommodate the needs of all your guests.
You should also take your location into account before you decide on a venue. For example, hurricane season begins in late summer if you’re planning on having your wedding at this time. Ensure that your wedding location has a back up power generator so the party can stay rolling all night long. You’ll also want to ensure that the parking lot is close to the venue location so that older guests don’t have to walk too far.
You don’t have to go glitz and glam when it comes to finding the perfect venue either. Many families will pressure the betrothed into getting a vast venue with full-service catering and gorgeous amenities as a part of their business branding. While this can certainly streamline some aspects of your wedding planning, there’s no harm in choosing a smaller venue and looking for outside caterers if that’s what works better for your vision — and budget.
If you’re really stuck when it comes to preparing for your wedding, now is the ideal time to hire a wedding planner. With a specialist like this, making your dream wedding a reality is easy! It might cost a little extra but a good wedding planner should be respectful of your budget and help navigate the ins and outs of wedding planning that you might not have thought of. For example, wedding venues that are designed to hold both the ceremony and the reception will need to be prepared for day time and evening festivities. If the location is not prepared with curtain and automated window shades, your guests might be blinded when the sun starts to go down.
The last thing you should do in this time frame is hiring a caterer, florist, and any other entertainers that you might need. Be sure to be respectful of any allergies that your guests have before going all out on peanut-infused appetizers. It might seem difficult, but there are many caterers available that respect food allergies and sensitivities. For example, you can request that caterers only use berry powder to color their frostings and foods to avoid any coloring sensitivities. If you’re vegan, it might be worth it to get half vegan and half “normal” food to accommodate all of your guests’ needs. At the end of the day, it’s your party, but you have to think about your guests. Instead of thinking of their needs as a limiting factor, try to look at it as an opportunity to be creative and inclusive on your special day. The dinner and drinks menu is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning, so be sure to have your ducks in a row when it comes to accommodating everyone’s needs.
9-7 months before your wedding
Creating a website for your wedding has become an essential component of wedding planning. This will serve as the informational hub for your guests — and yourself. Here, you can include your gift registry, establish important dates, talk to parcel pricing experts to ship gifts, and provide essential links for guests who might have trouble finding the venue or RSVPing to the event.
Your website can also offer cute information about how the two of you met and highlight important family members, like the betrothed’s parents. This is great information to share with the rest of your guests since you will likely have friends who only know a few members of your family. This can also be a great way to make your bridal party and groomsmen feel a little more appreciated by giving them a section to introduce themselves. While these tips aren’t vital for your wedding’s success, it’s just one way to make your guests feel more excited about your special day.
Pruchasing your wedding outfit should also happen at this time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to gain or lose much weight in the next six months and this is a good timeframe to practice maintaining your weight, too. This also gives your tailor enough time to fit the dress or suit or jumpsuit (or whatever!) to your exact proportions. No one wants to go wedding dress shopping at the last-minute. Getting it done sooner than later will ease your stress.
6-4 months before your wedding
Now is the time to start thinking about your honeymoon, shopping for bridesmaid/groomsmen outfits, and nailing down the final guest list. It’s also a good time to start planning your wedding shower (if you plan on having one). Not only will a wedding shower help get the burden of opening gifts out of the way, but it also can build excitement for your big day.
Preparing the rehearsal dinner is also key at this time. This will allow you to experiment with your wedding playlist, nail down the ceremony proceedings, and set a date to practice with your wedding parties. While you’re not going to have your rehearsal until the wedding is closer, this aspect of planning is essential for the wedding and the big day. Talking to your wedding planner can also help nail down points that you may not have considered before.
Booking hair and makeup artists is also vital for your wedding’s success. These professionals are in high demand during wedding season so getting them booked sooner than later will ensure you get the artists you want. You might want to consider going through a company if you want every member of your wedding parties to get their makeup done professionally.
3-2 months before your wedding
Finalize everything. In the last months leading up to your wedding, touch base with every caterer, wedding cake baker, florist, makeup artist, and photographer on your list. You want to nail down dates, save emails, and make lists in case anything goes awry. You can also use this time to discuss what kind of photos you’d like to see with your photographer. Throw a bachelor/bachelorette party! This is one of the more fun aspects of preparing for your wedding, especially since it’s usually the job of the best man/maid of honor. If you’re not one for tradition, combining these parties is a great way to save some money and enjoy more time with your betrothed and introduce wedding parties to one another. You can all ride in a limo and get to know each other! Many limo services rely on state of the art equipment to offer a luxury ride, like Mercedes Benz original parts. Many people think that the bachelor/bachelorette parties should occur the day before the wedding, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sew your wild oats a few weeks before the wedding to let loose some stress without impacting your big day. This will leave you plenty of time to start preparing for your wedding without any distractions. After all, assigning seats and setting up a plan for the venue takes a lot of brainpower.
In the last month leading up to your wedding
Preparing for your wedding takes a lot of time, but we’re finally in the home stretch! Now is the best time to write your vows, solidify any hair color changes you want, and confirm the times for your professionals to show up.
You should also pick up your wedding day clothing, break-in new shoes, and set up wedding favors.
Now, all that’s left to do is decorate the wedding venue and say, “I do.”
Everyone’s wedding will look different, but this checklist can make preparing for your wedding a little easier. Rely on these tips when you want a little help preparing for your wedding.
Did COVID-19 throw a wrench in your wedding plans?
You’ve been planning your nuptials for over a year just to learn that your dream wedding might be impossible in the face of the current pandemic. While it might feel like a disaster, fear not; you have options.
First, you could postpone your wedding, rebooking your venue, caterer, etc. for the following year in hopes that the global health crisis will be contained by then. Most businesses in the wedding industry will be understanding and accommodating. You might be wondering, “But what about postponing wedding after invitations are already sent out?” Your guests, too, will likely understand; simply send out “Save the (New) Date” cards, informing friends and family of the date change.
If you just can’t wait to get married (and who could blame you?), consider holding a small intimate backyard wedding with a very limited number of guests. You might be asking how to plan your wedding guest list for such a small wedding — won’t uninvited guests be upset? Our advice is to stick with immediate family and/or very best friends only. Let all others know that you’re not cancelling your wedding or “uninviting them”; you do still intend to throw a big party to which they’ll all be invited once the pandemic has subsided.
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