Congratulations! You’re going to get married! It’s such an exciting time, and you can’t wait to get started planning a wedding. You’ve seen all the movies and TV shows, and it all looks straightforward. There’s nothing to it, right?
Well, yes and no. You can have a very simple understated wedding, where you and your partner meet with a witness, sign some papers, and that’s everything that is required. Alternatively, you might want to plan a larger family affair – and that’s when things start to get interesting.
When you get to the stage where you need to plan a wedding, you’ll realize there are three parts to it. There’s the build up to the wedding, the day itself, and the honeymoon.
The build up will including things like bridal showers, stag and hen parties, maybe weekends away with your best friends, maybe a photoshoot for the happy couple to show how they looked during the preparations. These are all quite simple to arrange.
The honeymoon will be relatively straightforward too. Pick a destination, book the tickets, and arrange transport to get you there – nothing too taxing.
Your most pressing concern will be the day itself and how everything fits together. Depending on the time of day that the wedding is scheduled for there may be slight variations, but the process is normally – wake up, eat (if you can), get washed/cleaned/dressed, make-up if needed, get to the venue, have the wedding ceremony, take photos, have a party, enjoy your married life.
There is a joining together of families, and lots of fun, but here are some things to plan carefully if you want to have the best day ever.
The Venue for the Ceremony
The absolute most important part of a wedding is the process of getting married. Without the marriage ceremony occurring, there is no wedding. Depending on the type of wedding you want, and on the basis of any religion you follow, you may be looking for a church, a mosque, a temple, an office, a beach, or even an airplane to jump from to get married whilst skydiving. This is the first thing you must plan, along with someone to officiate the wedding.
The Legal Aspect
The laws vary from country to country, but as a general rule you will need someone with legal standing to officiate the wedding to make it official. This is not always a religious leader – in fact, in many religious ceremonies, the actual legal part of the marriage ceremony is not conducted by a religious leader but rather someone from the local government.
You must ensure that the appropriate people are available on the day of your wedding to allow you to legally get married.
The Venue for the Party
You can have any kind of party you want, from a stately dance to a disco-themed extravaganza to a beach party. What you will need to consider is how many people will be there, whether food will be served, what kind of music you want – and if your venue is licensed to provide these facilities.
The venue also needs to be available on the right day at the right time. Remember, if it is being decorated in celebration of your big day, you’ll need to have early access to the venue, so your decorators can get in there before you and your guests arrive.
The Guest List
Speaking of guests, you’ll discover that guest list planning is one of the tricky jobs – who do you invite? Who do you leave out? Who is invited to the ceremony, who is coming to the party, and who is coming to everything?
You’ll need a table seating plan, and a lot of forethought. Which family members don’t get on? Who can’t be separated onto different tables?
Using an online tool to aid your guest list planning will certainly make things easier as you can move things around and simply try things out. Just making a list on a piece of paper is far less effective and won’t allow you to undo any mistakes you make!
And don’t forget to include a photographer or too in your plan – they might need somewhere to sit too.
Once the guest list is finalized, you can start work on your invitations. You might purchase some that are off the shelf, or have some custom made. What is important is that you invite everyone you put on your guest list, specify who you want to come with them (e.g. the person and their boyfriend/girlfriend, or just a set of parents without their children, etc.) as for most venues you will be required to pay per person attending. Those additional extras soon add up, and you may have a budget to stick to.
Each invitation must also specify which parts of the day people are invited too. It is traditional in some places to have a meal after the ceremony but before the party, and it is normal that only close friends and family are invited. Make sure everybody knows when they should be in attendance!
There are many songs about “getting to the church on time”, but wherever your venues are, you will need some way of getting there. You might be able to drive yourself to the ceremony, and maybe to the party too, but what if you have a few drinks at the party? Where is your next destination, and how are you getting there? It can be easier to have a pre-arranged driver, or even to book a taxi in advance.
As for your guests, they’ll need to get places too. While it is easier for them to arrange transport than the happy couple, it is not unheard of to arrange large vehicles seating 20 or more people for the parents of the couple, the bridesmaids, and so on. Depending on your choice of locations, this might be a simple solution for what could become a logistical nightmare.
With attention to detail and a bit of forethought, planning a wedding can be a stress-free adventure. Just make sure you use the right tools to plan the best wedding day you can.