Roadmap to the Big Day

Here's our step-by-step guide to everything you need to know, from the minute you're engaged to the moment you say "I do."

Maiden Voyage

When choosing your attendants, follow these tips:

  • Explain to prospective bridesmaids what the job requires, like planning the shower and paying for their attire.
  • Tell each ’maid that you will need her to commit the necessary time and energy and if she can’t, it’s fine for her to decline.
  • Choose as many or as few bridesmaids as you want.
  • Give your closest friend or relative the maid of honor position.
  • Include a female relative of your groom in your bevy of bridesmaids; it’s a diplomatic move that can only strengthen family relations.

Attire Advice

It’s not strictly necessary to know wedding place and time details before you shop. Whereas fashion guidelines were more rigid in the past (not wearing a glittery sheath for a daytime wedding, for example), the rules are looser now. But check with your house of worship; some require covered shoulders or heads. Start shopping whenever you feel pumped—and don’t forget to send your groom to rent formalwear for himself and his groomsmen.

On the Money

Pieces of the Pie

No matter what your wedding budget may be, here’s a rough idea of how much is typically spent in each category. Keep in mind that the numbers are not hard and fast. Some couples may, for example, choose to spend more on photography and less on flowers. It’s up to you!

Reception: 40%
Engagement rings and wedding bands: 6%
Photography and videography: 10.5%
Invitations: 2%
Wedding attire: 7%
Flowers: 5%
Music: 5%
Miscellaneous: 10%
Honeymoon: 14.5%

Wedding budgets have a way of expanding like a balloon. Keep yours from popping (and give yourself some wiggle room for those unexpected expenses or must-haves) by reining in spending. Here, six smart saving tips:

1. Borrow. Did you totally love the tiara your sister wore? Borrow it for your ensemble! You can borrow jewelry (just like the stars do at Oscar time) and other accessories, honeymoon luggage (no reason to splurge on new suitcases if your parents have good stuff), vases for centerpieces (if you’re doing these yourself) and so on.

2. Use people’s DIY skills. If your aunt is a sewing whiz, she can create a veil or even do alterations on your dress. A skilled artist can create wonderful personalized invitations. A crafty pal can come up with a fun favor. An avid scrapbooker can put together an album for you. Just tell them this is their gift to you.

3. Create a signature drink. If you’re tempted to save by having a cash bar, stop! Instead, cut down on liquor costs by offering one signature drink (like pitchers of a gourmet martini) along with beer, soda and juices. Another idea: Buy cases of a local wine and serve just that.

4. Limit the limos. It’s nice to pull up to the ceremony location in a sleek limo or classic car, but consider skipping the rides elsewhere to save money. Instead have your brother or a cousin act as chauffeur to the reception for you and your new hubby.

5. Don’t go flower mad. There are plenty of ways to keep your bill from blooming: Buy flowers wholesale and give them to a florist to work with or create centerpieces that use candles and just a few beautiful blooms.

6. Avoid impulse buying. Got everything on your list? Then stop shopping. If you’ve already bought your bridesmaids lovely shawls, and you see pretty pocketbooks that would match… ooh, and sparkly earrings… put them down.