Gone, it seems are the days when people get engaged and then plan for a year before the big day. Okay, I correct myself. They ARE waiting a year and sometimes even two, however many a wedding specialist can attest to the odd trend of brides waiting until the very last minute to book major parts of their wedding day. It used to be that we would give deep discounts for brides who booked with less than 3 months to go, however since this seems to be the MO of many brides for the past two seasons the discounts are going away more and more as specialists get more savvy to the times. The true sadness that I am seeing are brides who really wanted to use my services but they waited until too late and I am already booked on their date. Chalk it up to the economy and people’s uneasiness about booking too far out with little security for what the future holds, but I am still a traditionalist. I like my clients to do it right. Why? If you book late AND your photographer happens to have your date available you will miss out on several really wonderful rights of passage as an engaged person. There is little to no time to do an engagement session with an announcement and photo in your local newspaper and what about doing a bridal session? Your wedding gown will likely be the most expensive and beautiful dress you will ever own. Do your hair and makeup trial along with having your photographer capture you in all your glory when you are not rushed on your wedding day. These are time honored traditions that seem to be the first to hit the round file for brides who book late. Here is my recommended time table from the moment he pops the question to the moment you walk down the isle.
Immediately After the Engagement:
– Discuss a budget, the size and style of the wedding.
– Decide who pays for what.
– If you will be using a wedding consultant, enlist their services.
– Meet with officiant; schedule pre-marital counseling.
– Reserve wedding/reception sites; make initial catering contacts.
– Register at local bridal registries.
– Contact photographers; hire one.
Six Months or More Before:
– Compile the guest list.
– Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
– Choose wedding rings.
– Send your engagement announcement to newspapers.
– Select and order wedding gown.
– Select the attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen).
– Choose and order bridesmaids dresses.
– Select one usher for every 50 guests.
– Check out videographers. Hire one.
– Make arrangements for the music at the wedding and reception.
– Check out bakers for your cake. Get estimates. Book the date.
– Plan beauty preparations (nails, diet, hair, skin care, and makeup).
– Make all transportation arrangements for the day of the wedding.
– Complete all honeymoon plans.
Four Months Before:
– Complete the guest list and confirm final details with the caterer.
– Order invitations and personal stationery or “Thank You” notes.
– Order napkins and purchase any other items needed.
– Check with the caterer to see what he/she includes.
– Get estimates and order flowers and floral arrangements.
– Get estimates and order decorations and favors.
– Book room for wedding night.
Three Months Before:
– Order wedding rings. Allow time for any final engraving.
– Order tuxedos for the groomsmen and fathers.
Two Months Before:
– Mail invitations (6 weeks before wedding; 8 weeks to out-of-town guests).
– Make appointments with the hairdresser for the bride and attendants.
– Buy a wedding gift for your future spouse and gifts for attendants.
– Finalize arrangements of accommodations for out-of-town guests.
One Month Before:
– Choose all accessories, shoes and lingerie for bridal gown.
– Have final fitting for bridal gown and bridesmaids’ dresses.
– Have beauty consultant do a trial run with bride’s hair and makeup. Schedule this appointment on the day the bridal portait is taken.
– Contact the photographer again to discuss specifics.
– Have bridal portrait taken.
– Have groomsmen registered and measured at the formal wear store.
– Check with the newspapers on wedding announcement requirements.
– Finalize plans for rehearsal dinner.
– Plan seating arrangements for the rehearsal dinner and reception.
– Complete change-of-address information for post-office.
– Keep current with “Thank You” notes.
Two Weeks Before:
– Get the marriage license. Be sure to bring all needed documents.
– Inform those who will attend the rehearsal and dinner.
– Inquire about a dressing room for you and your attendants.
– Walk through the entire event in your mind. Consider things like parking, access for handicapped guests, etc.
– Confirm all transportation plans.
– Check in with vendors to confirm all arrangements.
– “Break in” wedding shoes at home.
One Week Before:
– Appoint someone to be the “organizer” to handle any last minute issues.
– Give a final guest count to the caterer.
– Review final details for those in the wedding party.
– Confirm honeymoon arrangements.
– Pack for the honeymoon. Know what you’ll wear from the reception.
– Enjoy a day with your friends. Visit a day spa and relax.
One Day Before:
– Attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and give gifts to attendants.
– Give the rings and officiant’s fee to the best man.
– Organize gown, accessories, etc. to go to ceremony.
– Mail wedding announcements.
– Get hair, makeup, etc. done.
– Enjoy the day!
Copyright © by Jen O’Sullivan http://www.jenosullivan.com
Southern California Wedding Photographer, Jen O’Sullivan is a boutique wedding photographer who specializes in portrait journalism.