How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What! (Part I)

So you’re engaged… now what? That’s the beginning of the wedding planning process! A friend of The Wedding Lens recently got engaged and was asking questions about time frames. So here we go!

Because engagements take place for different lengths of time, I’m not going to specify how long before the wedding date you should do each action. But this is generally the ORDER of things. Where possible, I’ve linked to other related blog posts on the topic! (And here’s just a list of things to do for wedding planning, if you just want that) Also, be sure to check out our Cheap Wedding Tips and our Green Wedding Tips, both of which have great ideas to help you out during different stages of the planning process!

First Steps

  1. Create a budget! This means taking a list of everything that you know you’ll have to spend money on and deciding how much you can dedicate to each portion. Check out our Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget — which specifies which costs are fixed and which depend on the number of guests.
  2. Pick the wedding party. This seems early in the process right? True! But the wedding party can help you with the tasks that you’ll have to do. Pick early, they’ll help early!
  3. Divide tasks! After reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll get a full picture of everything there is to do: from marriage license to centerpieces.  Once you have that list, divide up the tasks however you see fit.

Things That Shouldn’t Wait

  1. Marriage license.  Every state has different rules on the time frame needed to apply for a license and to get married. Make sure you know what you need to do before you get too close to your wedding date!
  2. Find a venue, date, and officiant. This is sort of circular because you need the venue and the officiant to be available on the same date. But keep in mind that you may have to pick two venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Just be sure they’re both available on the same date! Here’s how to pick a wedding date. Also, make sure you look at how to find a venue AND the questions you need to ask each venue. With officiants, think about whether you will have a religious officiant or a friend. Find out any state requirements if you want a friend or family member to officiate.
  3. Create the guest list. Sometimes it’s hard to limit the guest list, so consider having A lists, B lists, and C lists. Here are our tips for the guest list. Also, be sure to decide whether you want kids to attend or not.
  4. Themes/Styles/Colors. The earlier you select any themes, styles, or colors, the earlier you can get started with some of the other aspects of planning. After all those three aspects will impact the dress selections, the flowers selections, etc. Here’s some help on how to pick your color scheme.
  5. Wedding dress. The wedding dress should be purchased earlier in the planning process because it might need to be fitted several times. Depending on how long your engagement lasts, this should be done ASAP. Plus the bride will want her dress before the bridesmaids get theirs! Here’s how to choose  the right wedding dress and some ideas for colorful wedding dresses.
  6. Save the Date.  The save-the-date (or STD) should tell guests when & where you’re getting married. When should you send the save-the-dates? It depends on when you’re getting married, but generally, send them as soon as possible. If you are ordering save-the-dates that you want to look similar to your invitations, there are companies that give you package deals. Here is a timeline of when to send save-the-dates and when to send invitations. Here are some creative save the date ideas and how to address the save-the-dates.
  7. Order your online photo album from The Wedding Lens. By ordering your online photo album from The Wedding Lens early, you can start telling your guests where to upload photos AND you can include your engagement photos in the album or any other older photos to share your memories with your guests.
  8. Wedding website. Obviously put as much information on here as you can, but here’s what to include on your wedding website.
  9. Find vendors. This means finding vendors for everything you might want. Here is how to find the right vendors for you (and each category that follows links to a blog post that will help you narrow down what will be best for you in that area). Photographer (engagement photos and day of), videographer, florist (selecting flowers), caterer, DJ/band/music, bakery, wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Any other kind of vendors you might want (eg if you want to have wedding entertainment such as a photo booth, cigar bar, or silhouette artist) can usually wait a bit longer in the planning process.

Stuff That Can Wait a Little Bit

  1. Invitations! What goes inside, when to send, how to tell your guests that no kids can come, RSVP cards. Remember, there are specific rules on how to address invitations, so make sure you check those out (yes, there will be a blog post coming!)
  2. Attire: Groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Here’s everything related to helping you select wedding attire!
  3. Hair & makeup for the bride and bridesmaids, if you would like.
  4. Rings! Dont forget you both need to exchange rings on the day of the wedding. Here are some green tips on picking the rings.
  5. Decorating: flower arrangement (or alternatives to flower bouquets), centerpieces, plates/napkins/glassware, guestbook, favors, place cards, menu cards, cake toppers, chair rentals/chair covers, other entertainment)
  6. Guest-related: Accomodations, transportation, and out of town bags!
  7. Get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the perfect time in the planning process to get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens! When you share the information on accomodations & transporation with your guests, you can also share the link to the album and remind people to bring their digital cameras to your wedding. Plus people can start uploading old and new memories of you & your fiance(e)!
  8. Menu planning: buffet vs sit-down meal; alcohol – open bar, soft bar, signature drinks. Here are all things food & drink related to help guide you through this!

Final Steps

  1. RSVPs
  2. Ceremony planning: walking down the aisle, vows, readings — and whatever else you want to take place.
  3. Seating chart: who will sit where during the reception? Here’s how to create a seating chart!
  4. Music (song) selections for band or DJ, both during the ceremony and reception.
  5. Remind your guests to bring their cameras to your wedding day so they can capture memories for your online photo album.
  6. Planning the timeline: This means planning the timeline of who arrives where at what time, what order things occur, and who transports what where. It’s meant to be distributed so that everyone is on the same page about what’s going on.
  7. Programs: This lets your guests know what is going to happen & when! Here’s the information on writing your programs.

So that’s everything you have to do…. Next blog post will cover what comes up on the day of and any other last minute things and miscellaneous things you should be aware of! (Like gift registry, thank you cards, wedding insurance, things people forget, staying calm…. all coming up!) 

Good luck! Remember, if you have questions – email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

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Asking Your Wedding Party to Change….

Just a photo of a wedding party! No ties to this post! Photo from The Wedding Lens

I recently saw this question posted somewhere: “Is it fair to tell bridesmaids to lose weight or cover tattoos?” It made me think that this must come up a lot — where brides or grooms do not want their wedding party to show too much skin or expose a tattoo or piercing.

If you read this blog at all, you can probably guess what I think about that! I generally feel that people should come as they are.  If you selected someone to be in your wedding party, presumably you are close friends and you have some amount of unconditional love for them. It doesn’t matter what they look like or what they wear, it’s that they are there to support you!

Some people strongly believe that it’s important to hide tattoos, especially on your wedding day — meaning that the bride and groom should hide them too! Others think that tattoos are a part of a person’s personality and the wedding day should be no different. Just for the record, I think there’s a big difference between asking someone to put a bandaid over an ankle tattoo and asking somone to lose weight! As in, asking someone to lose weight is more intrusive and makes people feel badly about themselves.

Suffice it to say, my advice is to always BE REASONABLE. Take yourself out of the mentality that this day is a “perfect day” where nothing can be amiss. You are surrounded by your friends and family! You are surrounded by love! There’s no reason to start nitpicking at your closest friends/family in your wedding party about their bodies.

What do you think?

~ Natasha

Wedding Attire Roundup: Wedding Dresses, Tuxedos, and the Wedding Party’s Clothing

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

When it comes to selecting the clothing options, there’s a lot of information out there. I’ve written a lot myself! In case you’re looking for all of it in ONE handy dandy location…. here you go!

Photo from The Wedding Lens!

See anything I didn’t cover? Let me know! Email me: natasha@theweddinglens.com

~ Natasha

Don’t Forget the Programs

Everything is done – the attire, the catering, the music, the decorations… whew! But there’s one more thing: the programs!

Programs are often the last thing people do. It’s usually the quickest, least time consuming aspect of wedding planning. Some people believe this is NOT optional – for reasons I will explain below. The two things to think about are form & substance!

Form: What do they look like?

Wedding programs can look however you want. They can be simple pamphlets (like you would get at a graduation or concert) or they can be creative, like a fan shaped program or one that has photos of each of the members of the wedding party.

Substance: What do they say?

The two most important things that the program says is: 1) who is in the wedding party and 2) what is happening.  Guests like being able to figure out who is who and how they are connected to those getting married.  Guests also appreciate knowing what is happening and what comes next (eg. if there is a reading, then the vows, then a hand ceremony).

There are also optional things that can be on the program. First (and some people think is isn’t optional either) is that you can thank your guests and wedding party for sharing the day.  Second (also not optional for some) is that you can give directions or explain where to go afterwards, if your reception is located elsewhere.

You can include a quote or a poem – something that is uniquely you. You can commemorate people’s memories, so that close friends or family who have passed are remembered on that day.

How?!

If you don’t want to work with a printer, you can easily create programs yourself – with a computer and a copy shop! Design it yourself, proofread it, and print!

Are there other things you think programs should include?

~ Natasha