This is how my venue looked from outside the reception.
This is how my venue looked from outside the reception.
Create a spreadsheet that lists all of the contacts invited to the wedding, in alphabetical order by last name. Include everyone invited–even family. Provide a space for each contact to be checked off when the invite is mailed (preferably at the same time), a space for RSVP, for preferred meal if there is an option, address and phone number, whether they will have young children with them, any food or flower allergies and any other pertinent information you can think of. Use this spreadsheet to give your caterer the final count and special orders (don’t forget vendor meals for those who will be there the whole time like the photographer and DJ), to give the rental company a number for chairs and tables, etc. You can also include a space for gift received and what the gift was, then thank you note mailed. This way there are no forgotten thank you’s and it’s easier to keep track of gifts.
Bonus Tip: Thank you notes are generally expected by three months following the wedding, but the sooner the better. Start with monetary gifts first so that the giver isn’t worrying about whether you got it.
You can find a complete checklist of things to do from engagement to wedding day at the Designer Events website www.designerplanning.com but here are a few things you’ll want to know. First, expect to have all your planning done by two weeks before the wedding. This will give you time to fix all those little things that will present themselves last minute and you’ll be busy those weeks anyway.
Get your hair cut and colored a week to two weeks before the wedding and have a trial run for hair and make-up a few days after that. Remember to take your tiara, veil, headpiece, jewelry and anything that might make a difference in how your hair is done. Take many pictures, upclose and far away, and from all angles when you have your trials done in case your stylist or make-up artist can’t remember just how you liked it.
Spend time with friends and family during these two weeks. Leave a couple days between the bachelorette party and the wedding day. You don’t want puffy eyes and a red nose in your wedding pictures.
Drink half your weight in ounces for several days before the wedding to ensure glowing, healthy skin. Do NOT do anything drastic to change the way you look right before your wedding. Don’t color your hair something that you haven’t done before and don’t try a new self-tanner that you haven’t tried before. A few months before is the time to experiment with these things. Stay away from facials or scrubs for about a week before, because this could cause breakouts or redness.
Block out those last two weeks as the fun and games weeks! After some long months of planning and preparation, you finally get to relax a little and have some fun. And it’s all leading up to that very special day you’ve been waiting for.
Find a folder or binder or something that will help you organize your receipts, brochures, inspiration boards, magazine tear-outs, spreadsheets and checklists. Designer Events includes this as a free perk with some of our packages. It’s a good idea to include a pen and notepad so you can write things down when you think of them as you’re out and about. Also, include sleeves where you can keep business cards or brochures and write notes on the back as you decide whether or not to use those vendors and the impression they made on you. Keeping everything in one organized place will help you find what you’re looking for at a moment’s notice.
Hand out little jobs throughout the planning process to give yourself a little break. Your bridesmaids are there for this and there are usually many other friends and family who would love to be a part of the preparation. When people offer, make a note of that so you can call them when something comes up. Don’t be afraid to let go of the little things.
Chances are you will spend a lot of time looking for the perfect wedding gown. Before you even get out there, make a list of the places you’d like to visit. Put them in order, geographically so that you go to all the ones in the same area at once and you aren’t wasting gas and time driving around town. Then, make a list of the things you do and don’t want in your dress, including price, fabric, shape, neckline, length, compatibility with accessories, etc. This way, you will know what to tell the attendants at the dress shop when you get there. If you’re choosing from the rack, tell the people you bring what you want so they can help you look.
Don’t worry if you never get the “this is it!” moment. Not everyone does. Finding a wedding dress is not a magical moment. Sometimes it feels like it is, but really, just get what you love and think looks great. It’s a good idea to watch the reactions of both the people you brought with you and others in the store. This will give you a good feel for how it really looks.
After getting engaged, where do you start when it comes to planning the biggest party you’ll ever throw? I suggest you lay it all out and get organized. It will make everything easier down the road. First, let’s talk finances.
Depending on your personality, grab a pen and paper or a computer with Excel and create a spreadsheet that lays out your budget. Decide how much you want to spend on each category and give yourself a little 10% contingency cushion. Choose what’s most important to you and list all your categories from top to bottom in priority. Work from the top and as you get to the bottom, gradually running out of time and energy, you will be left with the things that aren’t as crucial. As you purchase or sign contracts for each of the categories, record the actual amount spent. If you went over your budget for that category, adjust some of the bottom ones and if you have some left over, put that into the bottom ones or into the contingency. Note: if you don’t use your contingency, you can use that on your honeymoon or new housewares for your home together. Here, the contingency was an added 10%. This could be a gift that you received early on, or just some extra that you’ve saved up. If you don’t have any extra, you can put the contingency in there as part of the 100% and adjust the other categories.
There you go! Now your finances shouldn’t seem as daunting. You know how much you have to work with and you know where to start.