Wedding Guide: Planning makes perfect |

Wedding Guide: Planning makes perfect

Your wedding may seem an eternity away, but trust us when we say the time will fly by. Sticking to a calendar will make sure you don't forget any important details, and also help prevent unneeded stress and headaches as your big day approaches.

10 to 12 months out

■ Announce your engagement in the newspaper, on a wedding website with an e-mail sent out to all your friends or with mailed engagement announcements

■ Determine the theme and tone of your wedding: Formal or casual? Day or evening? Religious or secular?

■ Set your budget

■ Decide who's paying for the wedding or who's going to contribute

■ Start your guest list

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■ Select date and time (and have backup dates)

■ Select and reserve your ceremony and reception sites

■ Hire a wedding consultant, if you're using one

■ Choose and book an officiant

■ Choose bridesmaids, groomsmen and ushers

■ Meet with florists, caterers and musicians.

■ Arrange for a tasting with your caterer

8 to 10 months out

■ Shop for and order your wedding dress and accessories, including veil, gloves and shoes

■ Sign a contract with your wedding caterer

■ Book a wedding florist and choose arrangements

■ Book your musicians and/or DJ for ceremony and reception

■ Select and confirm your wedding photographer and videographer

■ Look into wedding insurance and decide if it's a good option for you

■ Plan your honeymoon

■ Shop for and order your bridesmaid dresses

■ If you're making your own wedding favors, start doing so now.

■ Meet with wedding cake designers or bakers and arrange for a tasting

4 to 6 months out

■ Send save-the-date announcements or call out-of-town guests to let them know the final date, time and location of the wedding

■ Purchase wedding favors

■ Start planning your rehearsal dinner. Give the host your guest list.

■ Examine your beauty regimen

■ If your caterer isn't doing it for you, reserve any rental equipment you'll need, including dishes, tables, chairs, linens and tents

■ Register for gifts

■ Select your wedding cake designer, and order your wedding cake

■ Arrange wedding transportation

■ Order stationery

■ Select a calligrapher, if you're using one

■ Select the groom's tuxedo or other attire, what the groomsmen will wear, and arrange to purchase or rent

■ Purchase your wedding rings

■ Book wedding night accommodations and accommodations for out-of-town guests

■ Buy gifts for your wedding party, parents and each other

2 to 3 months out

■ Give a list of must-take photographs to your wedding photographer

■ Discuss your wedding menu with your caterer

■ Meet with your officiant to discuss the wedding ceremony

■ Write your wedding vows

■ Attend any bridal showers

■ Mail your wedding invitations

■ Try out hairstyles and purchase makeup

■ Book your hairstylist and/or makeup artist, if you're using them. Meet with each of them to experiment with styles and colors.

■ Schedule your wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner

■ If your state requires it for a marriage license, make blood test appointments

■ If you're going to change your name, complete those documents

■ Send wedding announcements to local newspapers

30 days out

■ Apply for your marriage license

■ Have your final gown fitting. Have a bridesmaid with you to learn how to bustle your train and fasten any tricky buttons.

■ Check with your bridesmaids and groomsmen to make sure they've gotten their attire, confirm arrival times, and answer any last-minute questions

■ Contact your vendors (caterer, officiant, cake baker, photographer, videographer, florist, musicians, transportation, hotels) to confirm arrival and delivery times

■ Write and print your wedding program

■ Create welcome baskets or bags for out-of-town guests

■ Send change-of-address information to post office

■ Write thank you cards as you receive wedding gifts

■ Ask your mother or maid of honor to contact any guests who have not RSVP'd

1 to 2 weeks out

■ Arrange seating plan and write place cards

■ Give your final head count to your caterer, and confirm any last-minute details

■ Write toasts for the rehearsal dinner and reception

■ Try on your wedding shoes, and wear them on carpeted surfaces around the house

■ Arrange for someone to watch your pets/children/house while you are on your honeymoon

■ Pick up your dress

■ Send your travel plans and contact information to a family member and your housesitter (in case of emergency)

■ Finalize seating chart

The day before

■ Do something to relax and enjoy the company of your out-of-town friends

■ Assign responsibilities to your wedding party (handing out corsages and boutonnieres, greeting and seating guests, checking on vendors)

■ Confirm transportation

■ Have a manicure and pedicure or other pre-wedding spa pampering

■ Give your wedding party gifts

■ Rehearse ceremony

■ Hold rehearsal dinner

Day of the wedding

■ Give gifts to your parents

■ Enjoy your wedding!

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