Your wedding day is meant to be the most important day of your life. While it is sure to be memorable, it can prove to be incredibly stressful for both the bride and groom. Whether you are having an intimate wedding with only family in attendance, or a ceremony and reception for 500 attendees, anything can go wrong, making proper planning and preparation your best friend. From the time of year you are going to get married, to how long you are staying at the reception, having everything planned will help your day run much smoother and avoid some possible wedding disaster scenarios.
Once you are engaged and begin planning the wedding, the first thing you will need to do is decide when and where you want to get married. If you live in an area that has nice weather, it may be a great idea for an outdoor wedding as there may be six months to even all year round of fantastic outdoor wedding weather. Summer weddings are by far the most popular time of year, so if you have your heart set on a specific venue, locking it up sooner than later will take a lot of the stress out of the planning. Timing is everything so double check that your wedding date doesn’t coincide with any religious holiday if holding the event at a church. For example, Catholic churches won’t allow weddings during Lent. Also be careful about planning your wedding around major holidays that may conflict with traditional travel plans, like Labor Day, 4th of July, etc.
Arguably the most difficult and stressful part of wedding planning is finalizing the guest list for the ceremony and reception. Whether it is 50 of your closest family and friends, or 300 people, there will always be someone who is left off the guest list.
One of the best ways to handle this is by first deciding how many people your venue can accommodate, and have both the bride and groom make a list of all friends and family they think should be invited. Once you have this list put together, you can go through and either add to it, or make the necessary cuts to trim it down to size. The bride and groom are each given 50% of the guest list and should turn over the responsibility of sending out the invitations and handling RSVP’s to the bride’s parents. Choose wisely, everyone you invite will be mixing and mingling with your spouse’s friends and family. Remember, you can’t please everyone, so don’t feel bad about dropping someone from the list if you are on the fence about inviting them. You may also consider inviting some guests to only attend the reception if you feel they wouldn’t be a good fit at the ceremony.
Food & Drink
When it comes to the wedding day itself, the reception is one of the most important aspects of the day. Depending on what time your wedding is and the size of your guest list, selecting what kind of food you will serve is a big decision. While this part may all depend on the size of your budget, there are a variety of different options you have to choose from. A fully catered meal for all your guests will certainly be a popular choice, but could cost you a pretty penny in the long run. If a full meal is a bit out of reach, a sampling of hors d’oeuvres can get the job done just fine.
Alcohol is always a hot button issue at weddings, as it can play a big factor in the overall budget. If you can afford a full bar and have the guests to utilize it, this is a great feature for any wedding. Otherwise, you will likely be able to get by with a couple of kegs and some bottles of wine. While you may like to knock a few back on the weekends, make sure you set a limit for yourself on this day. No one wants to wake up the next morning and not remember half of what happened on their wedding day. Or even worse, possibly do something that may embarrass your new spouse or family.
Dancing and weddings go together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether you intend on hitting the dance floor much yourself after your first dance as bride and groom or not, it is very likely that a large majority of your guests will expect to get out there and enjoy themselves. To accommodate these guests, investing in a DJ, or at least one of your musically savvy friends to MC and run the music is always a good idea. Putting together a special dance piece for your and your bride to be can be very entertaining and special, but it’s important to know what you are doing. The last thing you want is to build the whole thing up, take the dance floor and then not know the steps or overdue the intensity and have the special dance become an utter failure. Make sure that if it’s a new dance for you both that you practice, practice, practice. Give it your best and have fun.
From the best man and maid of honor, to opening the floor up for family and the rest of the wedding party to say a few words, speeches and toasts can be a special thing for the bride and groom. If you don’t put some sort of time limit on people however, this can quickly turn into a never-ending cycle that gets off track. While you may want to have people share their stories, keeping the amount of people who can talk at a small number will keep your guests in a good mood and not drag the night out too long for those who may need to get on the road.
With so much going on before, during and after the ceremony there a few very important things that you cannot forget, if you want to avoid stress and potential wedding disasters.
Don’t forget the ring, whether its the groom’s wedding band or the bride’s diamond ring, make sure you know where they are and at least 2 others do too. This will avoid possibly the biggest possible disaster.
Don’t forget to acknowledge those close to you and how they helped make this day so special. If Aunt Stacey really pulled it together with the floral arrangements, let her know. Just a little appreciation can go a long way.
Don’t forget your manners. In such a high stress environment it can be very easy to accidentally be rude to someone, or short with the staff. At a wedding, everyone is watching the bride and groom and it would be a shame if all they remember was you getting upset at wait staff over some small issue.
Don’t forget the luggage. If you are leaving for the honeymoon directly after the wedding or the following morning, the last thing you want is to miss your plane to Jamaica because you had to go out of your way and pick up the suitcase you forgot at home.
With so much on your plate, planning a wedding can seem a bit overwhelming. Remember to enjoy the moment and put your own needs ahead of others. You won’t be able to make everyone happy, so make sure you are happy with the final outcome.
Written by James Maloney, ordained interfaith minister and lover of all things tennis. When he’s not attending weddings across the NorthWest he can be found shaping the life of local youth athletes.
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