A Month-to-month Guide To Planning Your Wedding

By Chandra Orr

April 18, 2008 6 min read

STAYING ON TRACK

A month-to-month guide to planning your wedding

By Chandra Orr

Copley News Service

Planning a wedding doesn't have to be overwhelming. Take control of the planning process, and you'll stay ahead of the stress.

"Weddings may appear flawless or seamless on the big day, but behind the scenes they've been perfectly orchestrated," said wedding planner Joyce Scardina Becker, president of Events of Distinction in San Francisco and author of "Countdown To Your Perfect Wedding: From Engagement Ring to Honeymoon, a Week-by-Week Guide to Planning the Happiest Day of Your Life," (St. Martin's Griffin, $17). It's all about taking baby steps that lead up to the big day. Choose just one task a week to focus on, but be flexible and don't procrastinate.

"If you put your energy and effort into staying organized and completing the tasks in a timely fashion, planning a wedding can actually be a lot of fun," Becker said. "It should be all about having a great time - not just on the day of the wedding but during the entire planning process."

Follow a timeline and you're sure to get it all done - with plenty of time to rest up and relax before the big day:

12 MONTHS BEFORE

- Savor and celebrate the proposal

- Select an engagement ring

- Announce the engagement, but not the date

- Decide whether or not to hire a professional wedding planner

11 MONTHS BEFORE

- Start a file system to keep track of important paperwork throughout the planning process

- Gather inspiration and ideas to design the day of your dreams

- Make a guest list and check it twice

- Narrow down the big day to a season, but not a date

10 MONTHS BEFORE

- Create a budget

- Decide on the location for the ceremony

- Select a reception site

- Choose your wedding party

9 MONTHS BEFORE

- Reserve rooms and air transportation for out-of-town guests

- Design and purchase "Save the Date" cards

- Choose your wedding gown

- Request caterer proposals

- Select a beverage service and bartender

8 MONTHS BEFORE

- Research and select a photographer and videographer

- Find a florist

- Decide on music for the reception

7 MONTHS BEFORE

- Choose an officiant

- Hire a professional calligrapher to address invitations

- Arrange transportation for you and your guests

- Select musicians for the ceremony

6 MONTHS BEFORE

- Order invitations

- Choose a cake baker

- Select attire for bridesmaids, moms and flower girls

- Get garments for the guys

- Consult a travel agent about the honeymoon

5 MONTHS BEFORE

- Pick out rental items, including tables and chairs, tents, linens and tableware

- Make appointments with hairstylist and makeup artist

- Reserve the rehearsal dinner location

- Finalize the ceremony program and music

4 MONTHS BEFORE

- Start a bridal registry

- Choose and order your wedding rings

- Purchase the guestbook, toasting glasses, cake serving set and favors

- Shop for your shower, rehearsal dinner and honeymoon clothes

3 MONTHS BEFORE

- Meet with the catering manager for a trial meal

- Order your ceremony program, escort cards, place cards and menus

- Have the engagement portrait session with your photographer

- Purchase gifts for your attendants and out-of-town guests

- Mail wedding invitations

- Send invitations to the rehearsal dinner

- Stuff, but don't send, announcements

2 MONTHS BEFORE

- Meet with the bandleader or DJ to finalize the reception music

- Take dance lessons

- Walk through the reception site with the caterer and florist

- Meet with the florist to finalize the floral arrangements

- Meet with baker to finalize the cake design

- Have a wedding gown and bridesmaids dress fitting

- Begin preparing your wedding day timeline

1 MONTH BEFORE

- Obtain a marriage license

- Contact invited guests who have not responded

- Determine reception seating arrangements

- Send timelines to all vendors and your wedding party

TWO WEEKS BEFORE

- Give a final head count to the caterer

- Deliver the final rental quantities to the rental company

- Give a final guest table count to the florist

- Reconfirm travel arrangements and pack for your honeymoon

- Make final payments to all vendors

ONE WEEK BEFORE

- Reconfirm details with vendors and your wedding party

- Deliver toasting glasses and other essentials to the catering manager

- Drop off gift baskets for out-of-town guests

- Get a manicure and pedicure

- Attend the rehearsal

- Get ready to relax and enjoy the big day

Checklist from "Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding: From Engagement Ring to Honeymoon, a Week-by-Week Guide to Planning the Happiest Day of Your Life," by Joyce Scardina Becker (St. Martin's Griffin, $17).

? Copley News Service

Visit Copley News Service at www.copleynews.com.

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