The A-Z’s of Wedding Planning
Article By | Sara McClaran Photo from | iStock
Your wedding aesthetic is one of the first things you will need to choose. It represents the overall look and feeling of your wedding day, while allowing everything – the décor, attire, and flowers especially – to look professionally put together. A good wedding aesthetic will complement the venue, the season, and the colors worn by everyone involved.
No wedding is complete without the Bride’s dress, but what about the groom, the attendants, and the guests? Weddings typically have a dress code, so letting your guests know what that is will relieve a lot of the stress of dressing. Will it be a Black Tie event? Formal, Semi Formal, or Casual? You can even have a theme, like Vintage or Tropical to add a little fun to the style of dress.
The bridal bouquet is an integral part of any wedding ceremony, and a good choice of flowers can really make a good wedding look even greater. Consider the shape, size, and color of your bouquet, and how they match your theme, and your attire. Most importantly, though, find something that makes you happy. After all, you’ll be holding it most of the ceremony!
Your bridesmaids are your closest supporters, your best friends, and your confidants. You can have as many or few as you want, but consider the size of your wedding when choosing who to stand beside you. More attendants means more details to organize, and there are already plenty as it is. Keep in mind there are other roles to be filled if you want to include people you don’t think could fit into your bridal party.
The purpose of a wedding is to celebrate marriage, but how do you plan on doing that? Are there cultural or religious traditions you want to follow, or people you want to honor? Figuring out what exactly you want to happen during your wedding will get you a long way toward getting everything planned.
While you certainly don’t have to dance at your wedding, a first dance between the new couple is a traditional event – along with a dance with the father and mother of the bride. If you decide you do want to dance, consider taking lessons or practicing beforehand – especially if you get nervous when people are watching.
There isn’t a whole lot you can do to plan before you pick a wedding date, so doing that early is a must. Many vendors will need to be booked up to a year in advance, and giving yourself that much time to plan will make things a lot less stressful. Consider any dates that are special to you, as well as the season and even the cheapest times to get married – typically March, April, and November, and during weekdays. Picking your date early will also allow your guests to plan transportation and take off work well in advance. To really stay on top of things, make a checklist of things to do, and have deadlines to follow.
Wedding décor fits closely with your wedding aesthetic, and creating a beautiful, cohesive look will take some work. Having a flexible color palette and matching your aesthetic will get you a long way toward that goal. Keep in mind how expensive you are willing to go, and what you are going to do with the decorations afterward – but let yourself have fun with the look of your big day!
We all know weddings can be boring some times. Give your guests a night to remember by hiring a live band, or even get creative with a caricaturist, magician, painter, or poet. Not only will you have more to remember the night by, your guests will enjoy watching an artist at work. There are so many unique forms of wedding entertainment to choose from, so keep your eye out for cool ideas!
Weddings are often focused on mothers, but fathers (or father-figures) play an important role, too. Will your father walk you down the aisle? Will he give a speech? Make your dad feel special with a heartfelt acknowledgement or an important role to fill.
Weddings can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. Set a realistic budget early on, and do your best to stay within it – your dream wedding doesn’t have to go hand in hand with debt. Consider whether DIY projects could help with the cost, or if that would actually add up more financially – and consider whether the added stress is worth the reduction in cost!
The groomsmen are just as important as the Bridesmaids, and their outfits should be planned just as meticulously. Consider suit color, tie color, and boutonnieres. Typically there are the same number of groomsmen as there are bridesmaids, so make sure the numbers match and your attendants work well together. After all, they will be the ones supporting you on your big day – you want them to be happy in their roles as well.
It may be one of the most dreaded parts of a wedding, but making a guest list is also one of the most important. Who do you want to come? Who will get offended if you don’t invite them (and does that even matter to you)? The smaller your wedding is, the harder this will be – but don’t be afraid to put your foot down. A wedding isn’t a miserable event, it’s a joyous one!
Where do you want to go after your wedding? It is important to plan this well in advance, because like wedding venues many popular honeymoon locations will need booking months in advance. You will want to arrange transportation, buy tickets, and arrange for entertainment while staying in your budget, so don’t leave the preparations to the last minute.
You might not think this is that important, but rings are expensive – don’t become one of those horror stories where rings get dropped in rivers, or lost down drains. Do your research ahead of time, and get an insurance plan that will benefit you in the long run.
After you pick your guest list, you will need to invite everyone to your wedding. Your wedding invitations will tie into your aesthetic as well as sharing important information with your chosen guests. You can choose pre-made invitation styles, or hire a designer to create an invitation that is unique to you – but the sooner they’re sent, the better!
There are a lot of things that need to be done both before and during the wedding, so use your powers of delegation to the fullest by getting other people to do them. Include friends who aren’t in the wedding party and there will be no shortage of people willing to help you out on your big day.
Maybe you want to send your guests home with something they’ll remember you by, or you are looking for things for your new family to remember the day by. Either way, this is something you’ll need to consider when you are planning the entertainment and the rest of the ceremony. Keep some of the flowers, have a poet commemorate the occasion, or find something unique to you that will make you look back on the occasion fondly for many years.
Your venue is just as important as your dates and your aesthetic. Make sure you book it well in advance, and keep in mind cost and arrangements for your wedding party. There are endless options for whatever type of wedding you want, from an opulent hotel to a lovely rustic chapel, so make sure you look at all of your options to find the best fitting.
To be married in the eyes of the law, you have to have a marriage license. You will need to fill out the paperwork ahead of time, so that you can receive the marriage certificate after the wedding. Typically you have to file your application in the county you are getting married in and many expire after 90 days – so plan when you are going to go fill it out.
Traditionally, a good portion of the wedding is about the mother of the bride – but don’t leave the groom’s mother out either. Make them feel special with special roles or dresses to wear, or honor them during the ceremony.
You are going to get a lot of gifts before and during your wedding. Don’t forget to write thank you notes to everyone who gifted you something – they took the time and money to do it because they care about your marriage and happiness. It will take a long time and a lot of stamps, but acknowledge their gifts with handwritten cards and they won’t regret their effort.
Finding someone to conduct your wedding should not be put off till the last minute. The right person will not only be there during the big day, they will work with you leading up to the wedding to ensure you are ready – and some even take engaged couples through pre-marital counseling. Find someone who is important to you, and who is confidant leading – and be sure they have the necessary licensing or the marriage may not be considered valid.
Some people tell their guests not to take their own photos, and some don’t care. Either way, you will want some professional photographs during and after the ceremony, so take the time to find a good photographer who can commemorate your big day in a beautiful way. If you have a friend who loves photography, this could be a great way to include them in an important role for the ceremony.
You have a lot to plan and a lot of stress on your plate in the days leading up to your wedding, but don’t forget to make time for you and your future spouse to enjoy time together. Relax and remember why you chose to get married – and don’t hesitate to lean on each other when things don’t work out like you wish they would.
People are going to get you gifts whether you like it or not. A wedding registry will ensure they get you gifts that you can actually use. This is something to do with your future spouse, and it is completely acceptable to make one as soon as you get engaged so those who want to send token congratulations can do so. It’s also okay to pick things catered to you. If you’ll use a sleeping bag more than a shoe rack, it’s okay to request that – but keep in mind how your lifestyle will change in the future.
You’ve already got an engagement ring, but what about wedding bands? If you will be wearing your engagement ring a lot, you will want to make sure the wedding band will match well with it. Make sure it is comfortable and works well with your lifestyle, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Etch the metal or get a braided band to make your wedding band really pop. You could also consider getting silicone bands as well, if you do a lot of things that could damage your ring.
You may want to give your guests free reign over where they are going to sit, but if you have a fancier venue or want to help people get to know each-other you may want to have a seating chart. Have a game plan for table size, enlist your parent’s help, and organize guests by groups and you’ll have seating down in no time.
Traditionally the best man, maid of honor, the hosts, and the groom give wedding speeches, but it’s really up to whatever you want. Keep in mind how long each speech will be and how many people will be speaking, or the guests might get restless.
More and more couples are doing pre-marital counseling, and studies show a significantly reduced divorce rate in couples that had counseling before marriage. It’s a great way to iron out problems that may arise before marriage and improve communication skills. If that is something you think you want to do, find a counselor who you know and trust and visit a few times before your wedding date.
You’ll want a reliable way to your wedding venue, and a reliable way to get to your honeymoon afterward. Arrange transportation ahead of time, and if you suspect your wedding party of boobytrapping your car, have a getaway car they don’t know about as well.
If you have elderly guests, ushers are a great way to keep an eye on them to and from their seats. It can also greatly reduce confusion if there are assigned seats, and provide a way to involve friends and siblings that aren’t in your immediate wedding party.
There are traditional wedding vows, or you can write your own. There are merits to both – if you want to be humorous and creative you can write your own, or if you want to be traditional or don’t like writing go with a pre-made version. If you do write your own, have someone proofread them ahead of time – and consider how long your future spouse’s will be compared to your own.
For many this is one of the most exciting part of the wedding preparations. Consider your budget, how many people you will need to feed, and what kind of colors and decorations you want – but if you find a good vendor your wedding cake will be gorgeous no matter what you decide.
You aren’t in this alone. Do your research, ask those around you for their opinions, and if you have a lot to organize hire a wedding planner. This is your day, but you don’t have to be the only one responsible for it.
Do you want children at your wedding? If you do, give them a way to entertain themselves during the boring parts of the evening. You can have them help as ushers, be flower girls and ring bearers, or help with activities to make them feel like an important part of the evening.
It was necessary over the lockdown, but don’t discount live streaming your wedding even now. If you do your friends and family who can’t come in person can still see your big day – a huge blessing to those who are older. It can also enable you to keep a small wedding while still sharing it with anyone who wants to see.