MARRIAGES might be made in heaven but organising a wedding requires a far more down-to-earth approach.
Everyone naturally wants their special day to be memorable for the things that went right – not for shoes that pinched, the caterers that added an extra nought to the numbers and hoped no one would notice, or the wedding 'limousine' that looked rather suspiciously like a taxi cab with a bit of ribbon stuck to it.
There are endless points that need attention, beginning with that all important decision on the date and booking the church, chapel or register office. Saturdays are always popular so, if it's your intention to wed at the weekend, you'll need to fix it at least three to six months in advance.
For similar reason book caterers and reception venue at the same time, even if you're not sure of guest numbers.
Deciding how many people to invite is the next step and should be taken jointly by both families.
Tact and diplomacy are needed where one 'side' wants to import a coach load of thirsty, distant relatives but is unspecific about who is going to pay, likewise where a divorced parent declares "If she's coming, then I'm not."
Compromise, sweet compromise – "How about one of you coming to the service, the other to the reception?" Could be the solution.
Don't forget to arrange your honeymoon early – popular destinations are often sold out months ahead, and simply 'making do' with your second choice can be a lasting disappointment. Confirm your booking in writing and then re-confirm close to your departure date.
With the book-ahead-basics done, it's then time to choose your bridesmaids, best man, ushers and page boys – and to spend time on one of the nicest tasks; shopping for that wedding dress, and for dresses and accessories for both yourself and your bridesmaids.
Make sure you've got a picture of your wedding dress and headdress if possible – this will help your hairstylist.
Book the photographer/video company, cars, (or liaise with family and friends willing to provide transport) and beauty therapist for your wedding day make-up, and then order your wedding cake.
See the vicar again, confirm the Banns and consult him – or her – about the music, confetti, bells and the Order of service etc.
Send out invitations (at least six weeks before your big day), and remember to keep a list of who has accepted and who has refused. Book a hotel for the wedding night.
Arrange wedding stationery, including invitations ('Mr and Mrs James Smith request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter' etc) and Order of Service sheets.
Allow four to six weeks for this. Send invitations out at least six weeks prior to your wedding.
Draw up a wedding present list – this is one of the most enjoyable chores – so make sure you make the most of it.
Choose your wedding ring and going-away outfit; organise floral arrangements for the church and reception; order bouquets, buttonholes etc and send out wedding present lists to those who request one.
The final stages include: letting the caterers know the final reception numbers, having a full dress rehearsal of the wedding, checking all of the details again, and arranging for your honeymoon suitcases to be taken to the reception venue.
Finally, the day of the wedding arrives – make sure you set your alarm clocks – it's traditional for the bride to be a little late, but sharing a service with the next group in line isn't exactly the ideal scenario.
Make sure the best man has the ring and that the groom has his speech.
Don't forget to take a cheque book along to pay the church fees, and remember to take along the presents for attendants and parents.
Not surprisingly, some people leave everything to a professional wedding organiser. Yet most brides love the excitement of all the preparations. That's how it should be – but don't hesitate to get help if you need it and delegate tasks wherever possible.
WEDDING PLANNER CHECKLIST:
1. Set a date, and then make arrangements to see either the vicar or the registrar.
2. Book the caterers and the reception venue.
3. Draw up a guest list with the help of both families.
4. Book your honeymoon.
5. Choose your bridesmaids, best man and ushers.
6. Shop till you drop for that wedding dress, bridesmaids' dresses, accessories and those wedding rings.
7. Book all the transport required, the photographer/video firm, hairdresser, beautician, and order the cake.
8. Send out your wedding invitations.
9. Prepare your wedding present list.
10. Organise floral arrangements, bouquets etc
11. Keep track of who accepts/refuses invitations etc
12. Finalise numbers for the reception, notify caterers, hold a wedding dress rehearsal and finally, re-check all details from the cars to the cake and from the flowers to the photography.
By Katherine Loveday