March 26, 2012
First comes love, then comes marriage. But between those comes the day most women dream about their whole lives: the wedding day.
Even if you have yet to find Mr. Right, chances are you've spent more than one boring lecture or slow day at the office daydreaming about the designer gown you'll walk down the aisle in, or the beachfront property where you'll say your vows. A wedding is not only the celebration of a lifetime, but for many it's also the biggest party they'll ever throw. So beyond the fantasy of those (hopefully) once in a lifetime nuptials, there's also the reality that a wedding takes a significant amount of planning and preparation.
On average, this glorious one-day affair requires 1,600 hours worth of prep time and comes with a median price tag of almost $30,000. Sound overwhelming? Well, it doesn't have to be. By keeping some simple tips in mind, the planning process can be just as enjoyable as the big day that it leads up to.
Try to start the planning process at least 9 months in advance of the wedding date. This will give you plenty of time to think through what you want your big day to look and feel like, while giving you ample opportunity to research venues and vendors that can help execute your vision.
Establish a realistic budget
The budget is the very first thing you should think about when you start the wedding planning process. It affects EVERYTHING, from how many guests you can invite to the type of venue you should select. So once you have the ring, before you do anything else, sit down with your fiancé, parents and anyone else that may be contributing and establish a realistic budget. Once you know how much you have to spend, plan accordingly.
The phrase "you can have it all," doesn't apply when it comes to planning a wedding, unless you're on Platinum Weddings. Take the time to think about the elements of your celebration that matter most to you and your groom. For example, if you want to include a certain number of family and friends in your special day, you may have to cut back in other places like food selection. But just think, when all is said and done, having your college dorm mates there will be a lot more memorable than whether you were able to serve beef instead of chicken.
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With so many moving parts, it's vital that you set up a system to help keep you organized. You'll accumulate a lot of important paperwork and contracts during the planning process, so purchase a three-ring binder with tabs and sheet protectors to store key documents. Create an electronic folder in your email account to keep track of all important wedding correspondence. Keep a monthly checklist of items that need to be accomplished and enter important dates, like dress fittings and tastings, into your planner.
Rally the troops
While we pride ourselves on being super women, a true Made Woman knows when to delegate as well. Don't attempt to do everything on your own. Enlist a team to help you carry out the many tasks required to pull off a successful event. Mothers, friends and bridesmaids are typically eager to lend a helping hand and are especially valuable on DIY projects like assembling programs. If you have the money, hire a good wedding planner. Enlisting the help of a professional during the early stages of the planning process can really save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run.
Keep your eye on the prize
At the end of the day, remember that the wedding is truly about celebrating the love and commitment between you and your groom. Don't spend so much energy planning the wedding that you forget to nurture your relationship. Over the months of planning, regularly and intentionally carve out time and schedule activities that are wedding-free. Ultimately, a wedding is nice, but a healthy and happy marriage after all the guests are gone should be the true focus leading up to the big day.