Helpful Hints for the Bride and Groom
from Birchcraft Studios
In the many years that we have been in business we've encountered countless happy brides and grooms. Not all of them were calm. This is the most important and special day of your life and with careful planning and organization you can increase your enjoyment of not only your "big day" but all the days leading up to it.
Our hope is that this information will help all brides and grooms better plan their wedding and make it one of the most perfect memories of their life.
Six To Twelve Months Before Your Wedding
- Announce engagement. Use formal printed announcements and/or the newspaper.
- Select a wedding date and time.
- Choose size and style of wedding-formal, informal, special theme.
- Set a preliminary budget.
- Schedule a meeting with both sets of parents to openly discuss wedding expectations, costs, and responsibilities.
- Hire wedding consultant if you plan to use one.
- Buy a wedding planner or a notebook to remain organized and record decisions.
- Invite attendants to be in your wedding.
- Reserve the ceremony location.
- Choose the officiant for the ceremony.
- Reserve the reception site. Find out what services are included or available.
- Interview caterers, florists, photographers, videographers, musicians, etc. Be sure to taste food options, see the work of florists, photographers and videographers. Listen to or watch tapes of musicians. Ask for references and discuss deposit requirements and the cancellation policy. Hire as soon as possible.
- Create a preliminary guest list, including addresses. Ask all parents to do the same. Include the relationship (friend, uncle), this helps if the list needs to be shortened.
- Begin planning the wedding ceremony and reception.
- Write out directions and or a map to be included on a separate card with invitation.
- Shop for a wedding gown and accessories. Order your dress at least 6-8 months in advance.
- Choose and order attire and accessories for bridesmaids. Keep in mind the time of year and style of wedding.
- Start planning the honeymoon. If you are leaving the country, make sure your passport is up to date and verify any visa requirements.
Register for wedding gifts. Develop a system for recording gifts as they arrive and for recording when you wrote the thank-you note. (Return to top)
Three To Six Months Before Your Wedding
Two To Three Months Before Your Wedding
- Finalize guest list. Use a software program or a list to track responses.
- Order wedding and reception invitations, response cards, place cards, announcements, thank you notes, informals, at home cards, hold the date cards and accessories. Always order extra invitations and envelopes to allow for addressing mistakes and surprise guests. It is less expensive to order extras from the start.
- Send out Save-the-Date Cards so your guests can reserve your special day on their calendar.
- Address invitations and announcements as soon as possible.
- Arrange to have someone mail the wedding announcements the day of the wedding.
- Start making final decisions and arrangements for the ceremony and reception, including food, music, flowers and any rental equipment.
- Sign contracts and place deposits with caterer, photographer, videographer, florist, musicians and other service providers if you have not already done so.
- Plan rehearsal dinner. Time, menu and guest list.
- Arrange for wedding day transportation for important guests and wedding party.
- Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town members of the wedding party and guests. It is nice to provide a list of local restaurants and attractions.
- Order wedding rings and make arrangements for engraving.
- Have both mothers select their wedding attire.
- Confirm the delivery date for the wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses. Schedule fittings.
- Choose and order formal wear for groomsmen. Remind men to submit their measurements to your formal wear provider.
- Finalize honeymoon plans.
- Shop for trousseau and special attire for parties, showers and honeymoon.
- Write thank-you notes as gifts are received. If you are using preprinted thank you notes to immediately acknowledge that a gift was received, be sure to send a hand written thank you on your informal notes within two months after the wedding. (Return to top)
Six Weeks To Two Months Before Your Wedding
- Finish addressing invitations and announcements.
- Finalize the ceremony details with officiant.
- Finalize details with caterer, florist, musicians, photographer, etc.
- Order wedding cake.
- Finalize plans for bridal luncheon or any other wedding events.
- Check requirements for medical tests and marriage license.
- Schedule appointment to have a picture taken for newspaper announcement.
- Ask someone to be responsible for the guest book.
- Choose small gifts of appreciation for the wedding party.
- Collect the forms necessary to change your name (if you are changing your name) on your Social Security card, driver's license, insurance, etc.
- Continue to write thank you notes. (Return to top)
One Month Before Your Wedding
- Mail the invitations (six weeks is customary, eight is becoming increasingly common). It is not uncommon for guests to mail their response card without writing their name. To identify guests if this happens, assign each guest a number. Write this number very small on the back of their response card before you put it in with the invitation. An incomplete response card can now be matched to a guest.
- Use a software program or a list with each guest's name and address to track responses.
- Order wedding programs and reception accessories such as napkins, cake boxes etc.
- Make final menu decisions.
- Set rehearsal time and verify with all participants.
- Have first wedding dress fitting.
- Schedule to have formal bridal portrait taken two to four weeks before wedding. Make sure wedding dress and shoes will be ready.
- Make sure members of the wedding party have their fitting.
- Make an appointment with your hairdresser to practice your wedding-day hair style. Bring headpiece. Have a makeup consultation at the same time. Schedule hair and makeup appointments for yourself and bridal party on the wedding day. Schedule a manicure for the day before wedding.
- Give photographer a list of all pictures you would like taken, including pictures you may want of the tent, flowers, cake, etc.
- Give videographer list of all shots you would like included in the video.
- Purchase gift for fiancé, if gifts are being exchanged.
- Choose thank-you gifts for parents and any others who helped with wedding.
- Submit wedding announcement and photograph to newspaper. Specify date for publishing.
- Continue to write thank you notes. (Return to top)
Two Weeks Before Your Wedding
- Have your final wedding dress fitting.
- Verify that all members of the wedding party have had their final fitting.
- Get blood test and obtain your marriage license.
- Make sure you have all accessories, toasting goblets, cake knife, ring pillow, guest book, etc.
- Create a detailed wedding schedule for all attendants. List all events participants are expected to attend. Include date, time, location and any responsibilities. Give attendants the schedule two weeks before the wedding.
- Give musicians final music list for the ceremony and reception. Specify any music you do not want played. Have the music start 30 minutes before the ceremony.
- Prepare your wedding toasts.
- Pick up and try on your wedding bands.
- Confirm honeymoon reservations. (Return to top)
One Week Before Your Wedding
- Confirm final details with all wedding professionals you have hired. Confirm wedding night hotel reservation.
- Give caterer your guest count.
- Finalize seating chart for reception.
- Submit names for place cards to calligrapher or write out yourself.
- Give a wedding-day schedule to all attendants.
- Finish addressing announcements.
- Pick up wedding dress.
- Have your bridal portrait taken.
- Break in your wedding shoes.
- Fill out a change-of -address form at the post office.
- Arrange for someone to collect gifts brought to the ceremony and bring them to your home. (Return to top)
The Wedding Day
- Verify final details with all service providers. Inform them of any changes.
- Finalize the guest count, making necessary changes to seating chart.
- Confirm transportation for the wedding party.
- Confirm that the photographer understands the list of pictures you have requested.
- Confirm that the videographer understands your specific requests.
- Verify that all wedding attire has been picked up and fits.
- Confirm that all attendants know when to arrive at the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the wedding ceremony. Confirm that all attendants have a copy of the wedding schedule you created.
- Pack for your honeymoon.
- Stop mail and newspapers during honeymoon.
- Pay bills that will be due while you are away.
- Continue to write thank you notes, if possible.
- Pick up your marriage license. (Return to top)
- Be sure that both of you eat something.
- Try to relax and enjoy the day. If anything goes differently than planned, chances are you are the only ones who will notice. (Return to top)