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Bridal Guide

Congratulations!You're Getting Married

It's official. You're engaged. Now what? First, take a deep breath. It's time to get organized. No matter how much, or how little time you have to pull off the perfect wedding, you need a plan and a wedding binder to start and remain organized.

Create the Wedding of Your Dreams

Set a Budget

Creating a wedding budget could be one of the tougher things you will have to do while planning your wedding. Take into consideration the funds you are getting from other sources as well as your own. Don't forget to include everything you will need for the wedding day like the cost of your dress, his tux, bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts, wedding bands, etc.

Look Who's Coming for Dinner

There's no time like the present to determine who is going to be on the guest list. This could prove a bit stressful. Depending upon who is paying for the wedding, people you haven't ever met will end up on the guest list. It is important that you determine an approximate head count based on your budget as well as the size of potential venues.

It's a Date!

Set the date and find the perfect place to wed. Of course this is when you and the groom need to decide if you will have different locations for the wedding ceremony and the reception. Keep your guests in mind when choosing the venue, especially your out of town guests. Look into hotels close to your wedding venue and reserve rooms as soon as you can. Compare prices and services to provide your guests with the best and most convenient options.

Who's Making It Official?

Make sure to choose your officiate now. Once your venue is booked, you need to inform him/her of the date, time and location of your wedding to make sure they will be available for your special day.

Put On Your Dancing Shoes

It's time to start listening to different bands, Dj's etc. Music, entertainment, dancing…it's undeniably one of the key elements of a successful reception. Always keep your ears open for those entertainment groups that match your musical style. Keep a list in your binder with notes on the entertainment you like and why.

Smile. You're on Candid Camera

Book your photographer and videographer as soon as possible. They are in charge of preserving the memories of your wedding day and they need to be perfect. You might also consider putting disposable cameras on your tables to get your guests to snap their favorite moments as well.

What's for Dinner?

Talk with your caterer. Be sure that if the venue you chose does not have its own catering services that you book an outside source for all your food, drink, etc.

Say Yes to Your Wedding Dress

You want to make sure you have more than enough time to have your wedding gown altered to perfection so ordering your dress early is your best bet.

Tell 'em what you Need

Set up a registry at three or more different stores so the gifts you want are the ones you get. Be sure to include possible presents at a number of different price points so that gift-givers can choose items within their price range.

Decoration Decisions

If you've decided to create your own decorations it's time to get all the necessary supplies and start building! If you are using flowers, balloons or center pieces from outside sources compare prices, decoration options, etc. and book who & what you need to dress up both your ceremony and reception areas.

Hear ye Hear ye

Choose and purchase your save the date cards, wedding invitations and thank you cards. If you plan on using a calligrapher for addressing your guest correspondence lock one in as soon as you can.

In addition don't forget direction cards. Also start thinking about place cards, and look in books for ideas. (Hey you're already at the store.)

It's Dress-Up Time

Get all your bridesmaids together (or as many as you can) and go dress shopping. To save yourself a lot of time and trouble choose the color and general style of the dresses before you get started. Be mindful of the bridesmaid's budgets and body types to avoid tears and embarrassment.

The Vacation of a Lifetime

As the wedding date gets closer so does the honeymoon. Get your passports updated, make sure you have enough luggage and start planning where you want to go. Book your honeymoon as soon as you've found your dream destination.

Getting to the Church on Time

Arrange all the transportation, not only for you and those in your wedding party, but for out of town guests as well.

Practice Makes Perfect

Choose a spot for your rehearsal dinner and select the menu. Choose a menu that includes enough variety to please the guests but is mindful of your budget as well.

By now you should have seen samples of your wedding invitation and made whatever final changes were necessary to have them printed on time. If not, be sure to call and check on it today.

Have Your Cake & Test It Too

Arrange taste testing's with a few wedding cake designers and bakers. Choose your favorite cake builder, talk about designs and order it.

Color Me Beautiful

Hey, remember? You're the bride and it's time to focus on yourself just for a little while. Chances are you have started your dress fittings. Now it's time to purchase the wedding shoes and undergarments you may need to obtain the perfect fit.

In addition be sure to schedule a few hair and makeup trials. Choose different makeup colors and 'looks' before you makethe final choice. If you are thinking of changing the color of your hair do it now. If you don't like it you'll have plenty of time to grow it out.

Do Yourself a Favor

Actually do yourself a multitude of favors by tying up these loose ends as soon as you can:

  • Order your favors early. Perhaps you have a wedding theme that can you carry through to your favors.
  • Create those welcome baskets for special guests
  • Shop for ladies room baskets for ceremony and wedding venues. Include hair spray, feminine hygiene products, a sewing kit, mouthwash, spot remover, etc.
  • Put the final touches on your menu, flowers, and decorations
  • Have a face to face with your photographer to go over the wedding shots you want, and the one's you don't
  • Make a list of possible ceremony readings. Start thinking about the order of your maids, groomsman, etc
  • Get in touch with the entertainment. Provide a list of songs you want to hear, and any announcements you'd like made during the reception.
  • Create your wedding booklets, menu cards etc.
  • Choose stamps for your invitations, response cards, etc. Make sure you can get enough of the stamps you want for all correspondence.

It's Time for Dazzle

If you haven't already done so, choose your bands of gold. Yup, wedding band time. Add some bling with diamonds or gemstones, choose his and her matching bands, the choices are endless.

Purchase your wedding gown accessories with bridal jewelry and order the bridesmaids jewelry as well.

Return to Sender

Send out your invitations about two months prior to your wedding and watch the responses pour in.

More To Do's

  • Purchase bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts
  • Confirm all times with vendors
  • Make sure men have their tuxes ordered
  • Final fitting for bridesmaid dresses
  • Get your last dress fitting (fingers crossed)

The Final Four

During the last four weeks prior to the big day be sure to do the following:

  • Keep a list of all guest responses
  • Pay as many bills as you can to stay on track
  • Confirm times for makeup, photographers, venue arrival, etc.
  • Send out rehearsal dinner invites
  • Get haircolored and cut for the last time
  • Write your vows
  • Meet with your wedding officiate to make final arrangements

Sitting Pretty

Lots of people think seat assignments are the hardest part of all. To make the chore a bit easier draw out table shapes on a dry erase board and add names to each table. If it's not right, just erase and try again. Once it's done be sure to transfer your seating chart to pen and paper!

This is It – One Week Left

Hopefully you're still on track cause it's getting close…real close! Here's the final weeks to do's and one don't…don't panic!

  • Reconfirm everything. It's ok to be a bit of a pest. It's your day and you want it to be perfect.
  • Pick up your dress
  • Give the caterer and venues your final guest list
  • Ask for help. If you have a lot to pick up and need some assistance ask those closest to you for their help.
  • Relax – Wouldn't it be a lovely time for a massage or spa treatment?
  • Wear your wedding shoes. Break them in now or you'll pay for it later.
  • Organize the delivery of welcome baskets, favors, etc. to get them where they need to go.
  • Pack for your honeymoon. Pick up tickets for the trip. Don't forget the passports if you are heading out of the country.
  • Prepare tip envelopes for venue staff and other vendors

It's a Team Sport

Although this guide is directed at brides, the groom usually wants or needs to be involved in the decisions. Be sure to listen to each other. Oh, and most important, do try and get along with your future in-laws. Good luck.

  • Booking the wedding venue
  • Arranging wedding catering at their banquet hall
  • Booking their wedding coordinator
  • Booking their wedding photographer
  • Booking their wedding videographer
  • Booking their wedding entertainers
  • Buying the wedding gown
  • Buying the wedding rings
  • Arranging their wedding rentals