Do you find yourself overwhelmed by everything that is wedding planning? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve taken the liberty of breaking it down into three categories: before the wedding, during the wedding, and after the wedding. While this may seem obvious, during the wedding is going to be where the bulk of your time and energy is focused. However, it is crucial not to overlook the events that lead up to the wedding and those that come after you say “I do”.
Before the Wedding
Some typical pre-wedding events might include the bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette party, as well as dress & tux fittings. These events and appointments will likely occur in the year prior to your wedding day, but this does not mean you have to plan these first. There is no exact order to follow when it comes to planning, but most engaged couples like to get their wedding venue and photographers booked first. This will allow you to know what kind of timeline you have to get things done. It will also help you out when making decisions for decorations, themes, and even styles of wedding dresses.
- Bridal Shower. It is common for this event to occur 1-6 months before the wedding, but is truly up to you as to when you want to have it. Most brides opt to have their bridal shower about one to three months before the wedding, allowing themselves plenty of time between the two events for last-minute planning.
Start by determining the date you want your shower, it is common for them to occur on a Sunday afternoon leading up to the wedding. You will also need to determine a venue and catering too! Many brides will just have light snacks such as appetizers or hors d’oeuvres as well as mimosas or cocktails for their guests to enjoy throughout the party.
Lastly, begin putting together your gift registry, creating a schedule for the day, and making a guest list with invitations. Getting invites sent out as soon as possible is going to be crucial for your guests to have enough time to RSVP and order a gift from your registry. The RSVPs will help give you a good idea of who’s coming for food and games, and don’t forget to plan a time to open gifts with your guests. While you’re opening gifts, be sure someone takes note of who got you what. This will bring you some ease when it comes to sending out thank you cards afterward.
- Bachelor/Bachelorette Party. Most people dream of their bachelor/bachelorette party for years before it actually happens, it’s the last time you get to go out with your closest friends and family before tying the knot. Nowadays people are planning these extravagant getaways to places like Nashville, and Las Vegas, but this doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. This party can be a day or a weekend affair, but the most important thing is that you are with the people you love and doing the things you love. If you’re not so sure of what you might want to do, start by doing some digging online into tips for planning a bachelorette party and tips for planning a bachelor party.
Some fun bachelor/bachelorette party activities include wine tasting, shopping, laying on the beach, etc. For this party, don’t forget to rely on your maid of honor and best man to take on some of the planning and organizing. You’ve got an entire wedding to plan and as long as you’ve outlined the main things such as a timeline, budget, and activities it is perfectly okay to pass the torch to your right-hand man/woman to help take care of the logistics.
- Wedding Dress Shopping & Tux Fittings. While this may not be a formal event you have to plan out every little detail for, it is important to avoid waiting until the last minute. Finding your wedding dress can take a lot of time, it may be one of the most important parts of your wedding day, so starting your search as early as possible is crucial in allowing yourself plenty of time to find the one. Keep in mind that you will most likely have to make appointments with a seamstress to make sure the dress fits you perfectly.
Begin by planning time at your local dress shops or even attend a wedding expo or two! You’re not going to know for sure what you’re looking for until you begin putting dresses on. While it may be a stressful event, it is important you make the most out of it and invite close friends and family to share this time with you. Your mother, grandmother, sisters, and mother-in-law will all want to be part of this day. So be sure to include them in the hunt for your wedding gown.
When it comes to finding a tux for the groom and the groomsman, this is a less crucial step and can wait until closer to the wedding day. You’ll want to know what style and colors you’re looking for before going to the store, but allow them enough time before the wedding to get measurements and order everything. Having a bit of wiggle room is never a bad thing in the event that it doesn’t fit you’ll have time for alterations.
During the Wedding
While your actual wedding day might seem far away, this is arguably the most important part of the wedding planning process. Because of that, you may find yourself starting your planning here in order to make sure you’re able to take care of the crucial details up front that will lead to planning the wedding of your dreams.
- Ceremony. Of course, everyone wants to get to planning the party portion of their wedding day, but don’t overlook the importance of the actual ceremony as this is the whole reason for having a wedding. Planning and rehearsing are going to be key components of making this moment special for you and your soon-to-be husband or wife. So start by identifying who you want to be part of your bridal party and who will be on your guest list.
The people who are your closest friend and family will likely be in your bridal party and everyone else who is a part of your and your fiance’s life will be in attendance. Be sure the person marrying you also has a special role in your life and knows exactly what you want out of your ceremony. Will it be religious? Will you share your own vows? How long should it last? Sharing your answers with your officiant will allow them to create a ceremony that is unique and special to both of you.
- Reception. The transition from ceremony to reception will be important to plan out, especially if you plan to have a break here for photos of the bridal party and family. Give your guests hors d’oeuvres and champagne to enjoy while they wait for the entrance of the newlyweds. This time period is referred to as the cocktail hour.
Now it’s time for the party! You’ll want to have a solid schedule going into the reception and be sure you have a day-of coordinator who knows exactly what happens when and can keep the night moving. If you have no clue where to begin, start by thinking back to weddings you’ve attended in the past and lean on those people in your life who have had a wedding of their own to help you get the ball rolling.
The food, DJ, and photographers are all going to play a huge role in you and your guests enjoying the evening. You’ll also want to include some type of bar for those who are interested in enjoying a cocktail throughout the night. Depending on your budget, you can choose between an open bar and a cash bar where your guests can pay for their drinks themselves. Then just have fun, keep in mind that things happen and it may not all go according to plan, but the important thing is that you celebrate with the ones you love!
- Lodging. Lastly, don’t overlook planning out lodging for your guests. Whether you plan a destination wedding or not you are likely going to have people traveling to be a part of your day and it is your job to have rooms blocked at the nearest hotel for them to book. This will create ease in getting your guests to your big day, but will also give you some peace of mind when the evening ends that everyone has a place to stay. When contacting nearby hotels, remember to ask about shuttle services for some guests to take advantage of.
After the Wedding
After you tie the knot, your only focus is likely going on a relaxing honeymoon and spending some quality time as a married couple. While planning that trip may seem obvious, there are a few other to-do’s after the I do that you will want to align beforehand. This includes moving in together if you don’t already live together and combining finances.
- Honeymoon. Determining a budget and where you might want to go are your first steps, once that is aligned you will then begin booking your stay, flights, and any excursions you want to do while you’re gone. If you have no clue where you might want to visit, here are some of the most underrated honeymoon destinations to check out when deciding. Arranging things such as pet sitters and people to take care of everything from your wedding is also going to be smart to set up well in advance to avoid any unwanted stress when you begin your getaway.
- Living Situation. Now, this is going to be a much more time-consuming step if you have not yet moved in together. Start by deciding whether you will move in together before the wedding or after returning from your honeymoon. Then determine whether you want to buy a house or rent. Renting is the easier way to go as you will avoid the time-consuming aspect that is closing on a home, but either way, be sure to make the best decision for yourself and your finances and plan out every step of the way.
- Finances. Last and arguably the most important part of your post-wedding planning process is getting your finances together. Whether that means creating shared bank accounts or keeping them separate, you are now a family, and managing your finances as newlyweds is going to be a huge key to the success of your marriage.
Once you’ve determined and set up your new bank accounts, next it is time to think about your estate to ensure you have a plan set in place that you both agree to. The estate planning process encompasses many things including life insurance, banking information, real estate, etc. With all of these assets it is very important to outline what will happen should either of you pass away. Now, this isn’t the most fun thing to plan or discuss with your partner, but it is just as important in being sure your partner and family are taken care of.
All in all, begin your planning as early as possible and take it one step at a time. Outline the important things first then dive into the finer details and you’ll be sure to have a great experience doing so!