Overwhelmed by the insurmountable amount of things to do for your wedding? Take a deep breath. Here are some words of wisdom with a five-step plan.
The scenario: You’ve booked your wedding and reception site and now you’re staring at a popular Internet site where a 150 point “to do” list awaits you. Though these sights can be very useful for research, advice, and much more, they can be overwhelming.
First step: Make a personalized wedding binder. As Michelle Gregory, Coordinator and Event planner at the Jones Victorian Estate, tells all her Bride and Groom’s is: make a “Wedding Fun Finder.” This fun finder is a binder that you create with sections for Budget, Wedding/Reception location, photographer/videographer, wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses, groomsmen attire, flowers/decorations, meal (including food choices, table/linen design, etc.), cake/dessert, Minister/Pastor, DJ/Band, gift favors, guest list (including hotels for out of down guests), invitations, rehearsal/rehearsal dinner, transportation, and honeymoon.
This helps you get into the mood of wedding planning. In between these sections, place some clear page protectors for samples, contracts, fabric/ribbon and magazine pictures (because it’s easier to show someone something than describe it), as well as five blank pages for notes and/or ideas. On the front of the binder, Bride and Groom’s can put pictures of themselves, their wedding date, and anything that makes it personalized.
Although binders at popular bookstores are beautiful, a personal touch adds much more to the experience and represents the two of you. Once you’ve finished your initial design and layout for your fun-finder, it’s time to take your time and find the gown of your dreams!
Second step: Finding your gown. Your gown is one of the most important aspects of your wedding because it denotes the style and tone of your wedding, whether it is traditional, edgy, whimsical, or contemporary, your gown impacts the style and design of your wedding.
Take your time when finding the perfect dress. Research. Pick up some bridal magazines and peruse their selection of wedding dresses, so you have a good idea of the style you would like and a favorite designer or two. Once you’ve selected some dresses from magazines, make sure to put your top five or ten into your wedding fun-finder for reference. That way when you make your appointment to visit the Bridal shop to try on dresses, you can show the consultant just what you envision yourself wearing.
When finding your bridal dress, remember: don’t settle! Though some Bride’s may have the budget to buy whatever gown she wants, many brides today don’t have a $5-10,000 budget for a bridal gown. If you are one of those Bride’s, don’t settle; be creative! If you find something you love, don’t rule out the possibility of finding that dress available at a sale (or as a sample), Ebay, auctions, or having it tailor made for you. But most importantly, find something you love!!
Third Step: Photographer. Finding the photographer early is important as many book in advance and pricing may vary. This is one item a Bride can give the Groom to research while she is looking for her Bridal gown, and then can help him narrow down the options to find one they will both love. Many venues and coordinators have a referral list, start with those. These photographers are known for their exceptional service and attention to detail, why not see if they can serve you?
Then, ask friends or family members for photographers who they have used and do some research. If you need more opinions, try searching the web for positive write-ups or blogs. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, meet with three to five. Here are some helpful questions to ask when visiting a photographer: What packages do you offer? Do you include engagement photos? Will you visit the site prior to the wedding to go over pictures opportunities? Do you have an assistant? How many hours are you on-site? Do you have a travel fee? What is your interpretation of all day coverage?
After deciding on the photographer whose style and attitude complement yours, reserve the photographer, fill out the paperwork, let your coordinator know who you’ve chosen, and move on. You have just accomplished another item on your list! Well done!
Fourth Step: Make a wedding collage on an 8 ½ by 11″ page. This page has textures, colors, ideas, themes, etc. Think of it as a compilation of ideas. For instance, you may find a page in a Bridal magazine with a gold dress, a jeweled purse, and a bouquet, or a page with an oak tree, fresh potted plants, and raffia. You can use this page to start your collage, or begin your very own from scratch and then add your own details such as a feather, picture, swatch, beads, etc. This will help you begin the design process.
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Remember, you do not have to complete this page, as you are just beginning planning, but getting a head start will help you start formulating ideas and colors. You can always add more ideas as you go along. If you don’t have a set idea or theme, don’t worry. Cut out anything that strikes your interest, attach them to the page, and soon you will see a theme coming together. Place your collage in the front of your “fun finder” to refer to during planning.
Fifth Step: Bridesmaid Dresses. While you may be tempted to look for Bridesmaid dresses while you look for your wedding dress, wait until you have finished the above items, especially the collage page, which will offer some color ideas. The Bridesmaid dresses do two things: they help set the color scheme of your wedding and accent your wedding dress.
When choosing a Bridesmaid dress, research. Find out what designs and fabrics would complement your wedding dress. If your Bridal gown is organza with a sweetheart neckline, you may opt for a strapless bridesmaid dress with Organza fabric for continuity. However, as the Bride, you may want to stand out and have a different style from the Bridesmaid dresses. The style and cut of your bridesmaid dresses are your decision though you can ask for input from your maids. Remember, when asking for suggestions from the bridesmaids, these are just suggestions and it is ultimately your decision because it is your wedding day. Whether you decide on a specific color and allow the Bridesmaids to choose the style, or you choose both, this is your day.
Make Bridesmaid dress shopping fun! Before choosing the five to ten dresses that you would like the Bridesmaids to try on, let them pick one of the oddest, most funny dress each and have a mini fashion show to create a fun mood. While they are trying on the dresses, select the dresses you would like them to model afterwards. Once you have chosen the dress, you are ready to move on to the planning stages of your event.
STOP: With these five items finished, take a few weeks or a month off. By taking some time off, you will have a fresher look at what you’ve accomplished and be excited to begin again. Remember, this is your wedding day. Take your time and enjoy the process! Happy planning!