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.
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.
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.
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.