It’s the day that many girls dream of their entire young life: their wedding day. So many daydreams filled with ivory lace and bouquets of roses and hundreds of glasses of champagne – all of these dreams can finally come to fruition. Once the excitement of being proposed to wears off (who am I kidding, it never wears off!), the planning must begin. Though the planning phase is filled with joy and anticipation, there are a lot of things that must be taken into consideration – even some that most people overlook!
To make things easier for you and to ensure that you have everything planned down to the very last placeholder, I’ve compiled a wedding to-do list that includes most of the standard preparations that need to be considered for your special day. Whether you’ve been dreaming of an earthy wedding in the woods or a high-class soiree held in an old cathedral, it’s important not to leave any loose ends!
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- Determine your budget. Before planning out a huge, lavish wedding that you can’t afford, you’ll need to work out a realistic budget. Once you’ve worked out what your budget is, make a list of what you need to plan in order of importance. Is your dress more important than where the actual wedding is held? Is the food more important than the decorations? If you end up spending a little more on one aspect, you’ll need to determine where you’re willing to spend a little less.
- The time of year. Will you have a spring wedding or a fall wedding? Maybe you want to have your wedding right in the middle of the summer. The time of year that you want your wedding is an important factor to decide, since it determines whether you can have your entire reception outdoors or indoors. If you choose to have your wedding in the middle of winter so that you can have the beautiful snowy woods in the background of all your photographs, you’re going to need to take your guests into consideration. Most will not want to have to stand outside and shiver for hours, so you’ll either need to heat a particular area or choose an indoor location to hold the festivities.
- The location. After the time of year, this decision is, by far, one of the most important decisions you can make. The location of your wedding determines almost everything else that follows – the decorations, the type of music, maybe even the wardrobe of your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Do you plan on having a destination wedding, with only direct family and a few select friends? Or would you rather get married at a church in your hometown so that you can have a large party filled with all of your extended family and friends? Maybe your wedding will be held at a beach, or in a cabin in the mountains, or at a national park. Many popular locations will need to be reserved well in advance, so this one of the decisions that will need to be set in stone early on.
- The dress. Ah, the dress. The part of the wedding that everyone will ooo and aah over, and the part that can easily make you look back in regret ten years later. You’ll have your wedding pictures forever, so it’s important to choose a dress that makes you feel like you. And in some cases, this may mean that your dress isn’t the most traditional wedding dress. There are plenty of brides these days who are throwing the idea of a long, white wedding dress out the window and replacing it with something completely different. There’s no need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a designer wedding dress if you feel just as beautiful and comfortable in a vintage find. Whether your dream dress is long, white and lacy or short and sky blue, make sure it’s something that you truly love.
- The decorations. This is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. You can take your location and make it have whatever atmosphere you desire; it’s all about the decorations. If you’re trying to keep your budget low, there are an almost unlimited amount of DIY wedding ideas out there. From hand-painted placemats to lights made from mason jars, you may have everything you need to decorate your wedding lying around your house right now. With a little bit of creativity and help from your artistic friends, thrift store finds and craft store supplies can easily be transformed into elegant wedding decorations for cheap.
- The music. Will you have a DJ or hire a band? Maybe you and your husband-to-be simply want to create a playlist of all of the songs that have meant something to you throughout your relationship and play that throughout the wedding. Will you have a particular song for your first dance? It’s important to take music into consideration, as it will be the background of much of your reception.
- The photographer. You’ll want to cherish this day forever, so it’s important to hire a photographer who can capture every moment of it flawlessly. Even if your best friend has a fancy professional camera, that doesn’t mean that he or she is qualified to take wedding photographs. Don’t worry about offending anyone who offers to be your photographer; it’s important to shop around and look at portfolios to find the photographer who is going to suit all of your needs. If you have a friend who offers to take photographs for free, don’t turn them down! The more photographs taken of your special day, the better. Just make sure you have a main photographer who you know is going to come through with good prints.
- The invitations. The aesthetic appeal of your invitations is arguably as important as the rest of the decisions you’ll have to make. Whether or not you consider yourself a graphic designer, you’d be surprised what you can whip up after downloading a few unique fonts. Will you be including a photograph of you and your fiancé from an engagement session, or will the invitation be strictly text? Will you be printing in color or black and white? If you’re keeping the reception small, it may be a nice gesture to hand-make each invitation so that it is addressed to each guest individually.
- The food and drinks. Come on, you know you’ll have a handful of friends who are just going to come to the reception for the free food and drinks. Will you have an open bar, one free drink per person, or will everyone have to pay for their own alcohol? What type of food will you serve? Will you have an array of appetizers, or will an entire meal be provided? Are any of your guests gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan? Although this day is all about you, it’s important to have options that will sit well with all of your guests.
- Who your bridesmaids will be. As soon as you get engaged, there will be a flurry of conversation between your best friends, wondering who will get to be maid of honor and who will get to be a bridesmaid. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but don’t let this be a source of stress for you either. If you have siblings that are close to you, it’s common to let your sister be your maid of honor and then allow your best friends to be your bridesmaids. Plus, it’s your wedding, so you make your own rules! Who says you can’t have more than three bridesmaids or just one maid of honor?
- The bridesmaid and groomsmen attire. Depending on how formal you’d like your wedding to be, your bridesmaids and groomsmen may all be wearing matching attire, or you may let them wear whatever they’d like. If they’re all going to be wearing matching attire, will they pay for their outfits themselves or will you cover the cost? Will their outfits match the theme or decorations of the wedding, or will they be completely different? If you allow them to wear whatever they’d like, should they follow a particular dress code or wear particular colors? Even if you’re allowing them to choose what they’d like to wear, they should run it by you first.
- The wedding planner. While you can spend months planning out your entire wedding yourself, sometimes it can be easier to let a professional wedding planner do the job. After all, it’s your big day – you should be able to sit back and relax! By hiring a wedding planner, you can let loose at the reception and enjoy yourself instead of worrying about keeping everyone else happy.
All of the planning and preparation that goes into this special day is important, but it’s also important to remember that it’s not just about the amount of money you spend on decorations or how many people show up to your reception. This day is all about you and your future husband, so you should focus more on your vows and less on how much money you spend on catering. That being said, let the planning begin!