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Check box Wedding Checklist  Check box

You have a lot to do before your big day. You do not need to do it all alone. Choose responsible and trusted friends to assist you, including your fiancé. Use this detailed checklist to help you stay on track. Planning ahead is the key.

Delegate tasks to special friends and family members. Accept the assistance of others who offer, but remember, this is "your" wedding. Tactfully decline ideas, suggestions and advice that are not in line with what "you" want.

The importance of confirming and reconfirming all dates, times and locations with all vendors cannot be over emphasized. You deserve a wonderful wedding day filled with many happy, stress-free memories.

Consider this your master list of wedding preparations.

12 to 24 Months Before the Wedding

  • Select your engagement ring.
  • Announce your engagement
  • Schedule your engagement photography and call your local newspaper for guidelines.
  • Select a wedding date and time. Consider work schedules and holidays.
  • Determine your budget and the kind of wedding (informal, formal, theme, style, etc.); decide where the ceremony will take place.
  • Shop for bridal gown and accessories.
  • Interview and hire a premarital coach. A few states require premarital counseling. Premarital counseling is not necessarily for couples experiencing relationship problems, but often is a wise idea to learn more about the reality of marriage.

6 to 12 Months Before the Wedding

  • Changing your name? Click here for a reminder list of businesses, government agencies and financial institutions who may want to know your new name. Complete all the official documents and have them ready to send to the proper places.
  • Visit your minister/officiate with your fiancé. Select a ceremony that is you. Pay officiate a deposit.
  • If possible, plan your rehearsal "two" days before the wedding. There are several reasons for this. One, it's usually party time at the rehearsal dinner. Staying up too late the night before your wedding day can be exceedingly stressful. Two, it gives you a day to relax and take care of late-minute details before the big day.
  • Consider writing some of your own personal promises to read to each other as part of the ceremony. (Contact Larry James for some suggestions).
  • Plan a reception.
  • Choose your reception music. Discuss the type of music the two of you would like and begin making contacts.
  • Choose friends or professionals who will do special performances during the ceremony or reception. (e.g., read a poem, scripture, lyrics to your favorite song, sing a special song, etc.)
  • Choose your attendants.
  • Compile your guest list together with your fiancé. Determine the size of your list and compile names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Draw up your invitation lists; have your partner draw up his or hers.
  • Enroll with the bridal gift registry of your favorite department or specialty store.
  • Make a household "check list" for home furnishings that are still needed.
  • Select your dress, veil, undergarments, accessories and the mother of the bride and bridesmaid's dresses.
  • Consult a men's formal wear specialist. Tuxedos.
  • Plan your honeymoon. Decide the location. Confirm plans with your travel agent. Check out tips #1 and #39 on the "Miscellaneous Tips" list.

    Book the following:

    • Consider hiring a wedding consultant.
    • Choose and reserve your reception site.
    • Select a baker to create your wedding cake. Live in the Kansas City area? Click here for Larry James' favorite cake baker.
    • Select your floral designer. Bring color swatches to finalize your selection of flowers, centerpieces, rental items, balloons and favors. Larry James recommends Diane's of Scottsdale.
    • Select a photographer/videographer, deejay, musicians, church, hotel, bartender, etc.
    • Hire a caterer. Confirm the menu, beverage service and all the details.
    • Hire a makeover professional - hair stylist, makeup artist and nail technician. Some include the mothers and the attendants.
    • Choose, hire, book the date and pay a deposit for a wedding minister/officiant.

4 to 6 Months Before the Wedding

  • Order your invitations, personal stationery and notepaper. Consider ordering extras.
  • Begin working on your engagement announcement for the local newspaper.
  • Plan accommodations for your out-of-town guests.
  • Arrange for your rehearsal dinner.
  • Prepare an easy-to-follow map and directions to include with your invitations.
  • Make arrangements for accommodations for attendants that live out of town. If your wedding is at a hotel or resort, you may get a discount by reserving a block of rooms.
  • Plan accommodations for your out-of-town guests.
  • Be sure deposits are paid on time and all contracts are signed and received. Inquire about any restrictions and notify the appropriate vendors.
  • Shop for your trousseau. Purchase any special lingerie needed for your wedding gown and your wedding night.
  • Visit your doctor for a complete physical examination, set date for blood test (valid time periods vary from state to state).
  • Design and print the ceremony program.
  • If you or your fiancé don't dance, begin taking lessons. You will be expected to dance the first dance together at the reception. Make a list of the songs you would like played for the special dances; bride and groom's first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, etc.
  • Reach a decision on living arrangements. Will you buy, lease or rent an appartment or home?
  • Arrange for a bridesmaid luncheon or party.

    Book the following:

    • Reserve a block of rooms for out-of-town guests.
    • Hire a Calligraphy expert for your invitations.
    • Reserve fountains, ice sculptures, etc.

2 to 4 Months Before the Wedding

  • Address wedding invitations and envelopes.
  • Complete your list of people you are inviting to your bridal shower.
  • Choose gifts for your attendants.
  • Reserve rental items: candleabra, linens, chairs, tables, arches, etc.
  • Make a date with your fiancé to get the marriage license. (Check your state's law to see how many days/months a license is valid and also if there is a waiting period).

    Book the following:

    • Reserve transportation for you, your fiancé, the wedding party and the parents: limousine, carriage, trolley, van or car rental.
    • Buy wedding ring; size and order engraving.
    • Make appointment with hair stylist. Plan ahead. The good ones often book months in advance.
    • Purchase wedding shoes and begin breaking them in. You'll be on your feet most of your wedding day.
    • Buy gifts for the wedding party, parents, spouse, etc.

1 to 2 Months Before the Wedding

  • Have final dress fittings.
  • Plan how to handle traffic, parking.
  • Discuss the ceremony seating with your fiancé and ushers.
  • Mail your invitations no less than six to eight weeks prior to the wedding. Remember to use the correct postage to avoid "postage due."
  • Have a formal wedding portrait taken. Have it matted and ask your guests to sign the matte at the reception.
  • Attend parties in your honor.
  • Plan bridesmaids' party.
  • Devise a record-keeping method for gifts as received and thank-you notes. Write thank-you notes promptly.
  • Consider selecting special friends to read prayers or passages during the ceremony. Coordinate with the minister/officiant.
  • Confirm rehearsal plans with minister/officiant and attendants. Review procedures for your ceremony lineup, processional, recessional and receiving lines.

    Book the following:

    • Purchase ceremony accessories: unity candle, tapers, candle holders, guest book, pen, ring bearer pillow, etc.
    • Purchase personal accessories: garter, cake knife/server, ballons, guest book, aisle runner, birdseed - petals - rice, guest keepsakes, engraved toasting glasses, car decorations, etc.

3 to 4 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Send your wedding announcement to the newspaper.
  • Invite the wedding party, guests and minister/officiant to your rehearsal dinner. Include a map and directions from the wedding rehearsal site to the dinner, and confirm date, time and location.
  • Decide on seating assignments for your rehearsal dinner and reception.
  • Draw up a seating plan for reception; make cards for the bride's table. If you have invited the minister/officiant to the reception, remember to have a special place for him. If he will be presenting a wedding blessing, be sure he sits close to the bridal table.
  • Go over your personal trousseau and take care of any last minute items.
  • Have final consultation with caterer, florist, and photographer/videographer.
  • Give a list of the photos you would like taken to the photographer/videographer.
  • Make arrangements for your gown cleaning and preservation.
  • Make arrangement for your floral preservation. Request your floral designer handle this.
  • Arrange for your head-table seating. Have a professional calligrapher design special name plates.
  • Assign a responsible person to handle your guest book and determine its location.
  • Arrange to move your belongings to your new home.
  • If the bride has purchased new shoes especially for the wedding day, it is important to begin wearing them around the house so there will be less stress to your feet during the wedding.
  • Arrange for a responsible person to take all gifts from the reception to your new home.
  • Make a list of all announcements to be made during the evening along with your time schedule of events to the master of ceremonies. Coordinate your grand entrance and give the exact order of who will be walking in with whom, along with the correct pronunciation of difficult names.

    Book the following:

    • Pick up wedding rings. Remember to include your wedding rings in your insurance policy.
    • Make final payment to the wedding minister/officiant.
    • Confirm "all" details with every service you have hired: church, hotel, musicians, deejays, caterer, floral designer, photographer, videographer, bakery and reception facility. Note any changes or sensitive items to avoid.
    • Confirm out-of-town lodging for your guests with the reserved hotel(s).

1 Week Before the Wedding

  • Pamper yourself with a relaxing massage, a manicure and a facial treatment.
  • The groom will want to get a haircut.
  • Give final count to the reception facility, caterer and bartending service.
  • Remind men in the wedding party to pick up their formal wear and to doublecheck the fit.
  • Prepare your toasts of thanks to family and friends to be presented at the reception.
  • Make a schedule outlining the details of the wedding day and give a copy to each person in the wedding party at your rehearsal.
  • Pack for your honeymoon.
  • Mail "thank you" gifts to parents to arrive just after the wedding.

1 to 2 Days Before the Wedding

  • Attend the rehearsal with the minister/officiant, and wedding party.
  • Enjoy your rehearsal dinner with family and friends.
  • Set aside a quiet time to exchange gifts with your partner.
  • Take a long, soaking, relaxing, warm bath before going to bed.
  • Do your best to get to bed early the night before your wedding.

Wedding Day

  • Eat a good breakfast. It will be a long day.
  • Give envelopes with fees and gratuities to assigned person for distribution to parents and friends.
  • Make sure our headpiece and veil make it to your hair appointment.
  • Apply fingernail polish and give it adequate time for drying.
  • Allow plenty of time for your makeup to be applied.
  • Start dressing at least 45 minutes to an hour before you begin taking pictures.
  • Remember to pack an "beauty bag" to take to the wedding!
  • Important:  Have the best man be responsible for bringing the marriage license to the wedding. Make arrangement with the minister/officiant to sign your marriage license with two witnesses "immediately" after the ceremony. Invite the photographer/videographer.
  • Do your best to relax. If you are nervous, sit quietly alone for five minutes and take a few deep breathes and know that everything is going to work out great.
  • Enjoy your very special day!

Remember, it is wise to plan and "do" as much as you can - far in advance - so you can rest up the week before your wedding day.


Copyright - Larry James. All rights reserved.

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