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wedding planner



Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding

Step by step guide to plan your wedding. Image credit: Getty

A step-by-step guide to help keep the stars in your eyes, your feet on the ground, and your wedding plans on track. Congratulations! You're in love, you've said 'yes' and soon you will be married. Between the romance and the ritual, however, you must survive a potentially life-changing challenge: planning your wedding.

Women who tackle wedding planning pragmatically as if it were a work-related project tend to survive the process with greater ease.

Think of yourself as a project manager. Establish an overall framework for completing the work, and set specific intermediate deadlines, schedules and goals. Taken one small step at a time, the detail-laden job becomes less overwhelming.

Here is our suggested timetable for the steps you should take in the months, weeks and days leading up to your wedding.

My wedding date is in: Nine Months | Six Months | Four Months | Three Months | Two Months | One Month | Two Weeks | One Week | Tomorrow | Today!

   Nine months before your wedding

Choose your wedding date. If you plan to be married in a church or temple, clear the date and time with your clergy.

Announce your engagement in local newspapers.

Set your budget. Take time for a heart-to-heart talk with your fiancé about the budget and style of your wedding, reception and wedding-related parties, and who pays for what.

Enlist help. Consider hiring a bridal consultant. If your budget won't stretch that far, don't despair. Enlist relatives and close friends to assist you in specific tasks - selecting a dress, interviewing caterers - especially in areas where you feel you need support.

Compose your guest list. Let out-of-town guests know your wedding is in the works so they can make travel plans.

Reserve your reception site.

Choose your wedding attendants.

Select your wedding gown, shoes and accessories.

Decide on bridesmaids' dresses.

Determine the theme or mood you'd like to establish with the food, table settings, flowers and entertainment at your reception.

Interview suppliers such as caterers, musicians, florists, photographers, videographers and cake makers. Get written estimates of their costs. Keep track of your discussions and their bids in a notebook or with wedding-planning software.

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  Six months before your wedding

Choose your caterer. Remember to get a written contract.
Choose your musician(s).
Book your photographer and/or videographer.
Select your baker and order the cake.
Choose your florist.
Decide on your color scheme. 
Shop for wedding rings with your fiancé.
Decide on your honeymoon destination. Work with a travel agent to book your travel and accommodations.
Select your wedding invitations. Don't forget to purchase personal stationery for the thank-you notes you'll need to write.

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  Four months before your wedding

Register for gifts at one or more bridal-gift registries.
Help both mothers to coordinate and shop for their wedding-day attire.
Select music for your ceremony and reception.
Choose readings for your wedding and write your wedding vows.
Plan a rehearsal dinner for members of your wedding party, your family and out-of-town guests. Reserve the location.
Arrange hotel accommodations for members of the wedding party who live out of town.
Reserve a block of rooms for other out-of-town guests, and let them know the rooms are available. Remember to ask for any group discounts or special packages.
Reserve your wedding-day transportation and any other wedding-day rental needs.
Make appointments for gown fittings.
Check the requirements for a marriage license.

Make sure contracts and arrangements are complete with all of your service providers.


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  Three months before your wedding

Carefully prepare directions, including simply drawn maps, if necessary, to help guide guests to the wedding and reception, and to hotels. For guests who will travel a long distance to your wedding, consider assembling an information package on fun things to do and see in your area.

Begin addressing invitations and announcements. Select a special stamp at the post office. Invitations should go in the mail six to eight weeks before your big day.
Give the caterer or other food suppliers a close idea of the number of guests you expect.
Make sure all reservations are in place for honeymoon travel.
Check with bridesmaids to make sure they have their gowns and are getting them fit.
Shop for gifts for your bridesmaids. Offer to help your fiancé select gifts for his attendants.
Select your "going away" outfit and special items for your trousseau.
Make a date with your photographer for any formal portraits you desire.
Make an appointment to have your hair done just before your portrait session and again the day or so before your wedding. Consider including your bridesmaids in a "day of beauty" before your wedding, with manicures, hair styling, massages and makeup sessions.

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 Two months before your wedding

Mail out your wedding invitations and announcements.

Have wedding portraits taken.
Send bridal portrait and wedding announcement to newspapers.
Finalize the music selections that will be played during your wedding ceremony.
Meet with musicians who will provide entertainment during your reception and orchestrate precisely what you want and when you want it played. Don't be shy to voice your preferences, down to the volume, favorite songs you'd like to hear, or even songs you don't want played.
Plan your rehearsal dinner and a brunch or fun activity for out-of-town guests to enjoy on the day following your wedding.
Purchase special accessories for your wedding-day attire.
Plan a luncheon for your bridesmaids.
Make appointments for a hairdresser, makeup artist and manicurist.
Finalize honeymoon plans. If you're traveling overseas, check again that your passports are current and that you have any necessary visas.
Gather necessary birth or baptismal certificates you may need for your wedding license.

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  One month before your wedding

Get your marriage license.

Have a final fitting of your gown and make sure your attendants have theirs.
Check that your menu selections and service plans are locked in place with your caterer.
Purchase a special book to keep track of wedding gifts as they arrive.
Keep writing those thank-you notes on a daily basis!
If you plan a formal dinner for your reception, it's time to draw up a seating plan and make up place cards.
Check with your florist to confirm dates and times of flower deliveries.
Review your wedding-day transportation plans and make sure drivers are clear about addresses, times and number of passengers.
Make name or address changes official on documents, including driver's license, Social Security forms and financial accounts. Fill out change-of-address forms at the post office.
Meet with your photographer to specify the formal shots you want taken of the bridal party, as well as specific, candid shots you'd like taken during the reception.
Review the video plans with your videographer.

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 Two weeks before your wedding

Keep writing those thank-you notes for wedding gifts!
Pick up your wedding rings. Make sure any special engraving appears precisely as you wished.
Begin packing for your honeymoon.

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  One week before your wedding

Make final checks with all your vendors: officiant, musicians, florist, photographer, videographer, limousine or other transportation provider, caterers and baker.

Ask a friend or family member to arrange for wedding gifts that may be brought to your reception to be delivered to your home or another safe spot.
Wrap gifts for bridal attendants and have them ready for the rehearsal dinner.
Purchase travelers' checks and reconfirm honeymoon travel and hotel plans.
See that checks are written and ready to be handed out to vendors at the agreed-upon time.
Inform your caterer of the final number of guests. Confirm that out-of-town guests are set with hotel accommodations, transportation and wedding-day directions.

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The day before your wedding

Take time to relax and enjoy a massage, manicure and pedicure.
Traditionally, this is the day for your rehearsal ceremony and rehearsal dinner. Have fun!
Turn in early for a good night's sleep.

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Your Wedding Day

Allow plenty of time for dressing, makeup and hair styling.

If you plan on photography before the ceremony, allow ample time so you're not rushed.
Relax, and remember: This is your special day, the result of all your careful planning.
Now it's time to enjoy. Take a deep breath. Refuse to let any glitch get to you. Savor every moment of this sacred day.
Let your joy and happiness shine through. Best wishes!

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