When planning a wedding, important decisions must be made well in advance.

Countless people will become involved in the planning strategies, including family, friends, church staff, florist, photographer, caterer and too many others to list. It is vital that each one knows what is expected and what he or she can expect from the others.

Some brides rely on the expertise of their mothers and close friends to do the planning; some, who want to be free of the burden, prefer to employ professional wedding planners and coordinators.

Other future brides, like my new daughter in law, Sara Critcher Norris who is beyond organized prefer taking it all into their own hands and moving forward with gusto.

Sara began planning her wedding immediately after Garrett, my son, proposed. Lacking a few weeks from the full year some experts say is needed, Sara’s Internet research gave her more information and options than she would possibly ever use.

As she and other future brides easily discover, with more than 2 million wedding related websites currently available on the Internet, the process can be overwhelming.

Today’s brides have more resources available at their fingertips than any before them could begin to imagine.

Sara was able to sort through enough of the information to come up with a step by step organizational timetable that worked for her.

She rarely veered from her plan, unless it was to get things done before the “recommended” time.

All the while, Garrett was trying to figure out why she needed so much time and why all those “little things” needed to be done so far in advance.

On that lovely June 4, 2011 afternoon, as family and close friends gathered by the ocean side to witness the marriage of Garrett Norris and Sara Critcher, it was evident that someone had planned well.

Few people knew that just a few hours earlier, the lovely bride was putting the finishing touched on her own wedding cake and helping prepare food for her reception.

Nine to twelve months prior to the wedding:

  • Formally announce engagement
  • Determine your wedding date
  • Begin looking at rings
  • Discuss your wedding budget
  • Choose bridal party
  • Determine style and formality of wedding
  • Begin to compile guest list
  • Reserve site foe ceremony and reception
  • Meet with clergy

Six to Nine months prior:

  • Plan details of ceremony
  • Decide upon color scheme
  • Choose bridal gown and attendants’ artier
  • Choose caterer and plan reception
  • Choose florist and discuss bouquets and arrangements
  • Select bakery for cake and discuss preferences flavors, tiers, designs (unless, like Sara, you have a mother who does it better.)
  • Line up musicians. Photographers, and printers for invitations
  • Make honeymoon plans, consulting a travel agent if necessary

Four to six months prior:

  • Finalize guest lists with both families
  • Order all invitations, RSVP cards, imprinted napkins, wedding favors, etc.
  • Pay deposits as requested
  • Shop for mother’s dresses
  • Buy wedding rings
  • Schedule fittings for all wedding attire

Two to Four months prior:

  • Address invitations
  • Plan rehearsal dinner with groom’s parents,
  • Plan bridesmaids’ luncheon
  • Review all details with wedding director and/or consultant
  • Review ceremony schedule with church staff/clergy
  • Purchase gifts for bridal party

Four to six weeks prior:

  • Mail invitations
  • Finalize arrangements for flowers, reception, photography and limousine service, if applicable
  • Confirm honeymoon/travel plans
  • Make appointments for health and beauty needs, i.e. Physical examination. Manicure, hairstyle, etc.
  • Obtain wedding announcement form from hometown newspaper
  • Order tuxedoes for groom and made attendants

One to two weeks prior:

  • Review all details with entire wedding party and those assisting you
  • Confirm all wedding events and services; rehearsal dinner, church availability, receptionist caterer, florist, photographers, etc.
  • Delegate last minute details to trustworthy friend or relative
  • Pack for honeymoon
  • Host party for bridesmaids

One day before the wedding:

  • Spend uninterrupted time with your fiancé, mother, father and mail of honor (best friend), separately
  • Visit briefly with out of town guests
  • Arrange gown, veil, shoes, etc., checking to make sure hosiery and necessary cosmetics are easily accessible
  • Enjoy the rehearsal/dinner as the guest of honor that you are. Bask in your moment in the spotlight and remember, this should be the most magical time of your entire life
  • Go to bed as early as possible and get a good night’s sleep

* This is just a basic outline to help in the planning process. There will be other areas that will require your attention, as well, based upon individual needs, desires, type of ceremony, etc

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