Photo Credit: Embrace Life Photography
There’s the bride who spends two years planning her wedding. And the couple who weds mere months after becoming engaged. Most brides fall somewhere in be- tween, yet all three planning scenarios have one crucial thing in common: a two-week pre-wedding countdown time, crammed with unanticipated planning tasks, stress galore and moments of pure panic. When you get engaged, you experience an initial flurry of wedding planning, centering on when and where the event will occur. Once that’s out of the way, however, many brides are left with a quieter period of at least a few months. A number of things happen during this time — choosing vendors, buying wedding attire, sending out the invitations — but, inevitably, many of the most important tasks must wait until the end. Fortunately, there are ways that you can make a hectic time smoother, says Leah Ingram, author of Plan Your Wedding in No Time. “Try to avoid procrastinating throughout the planning process,” she says. “Otherwise, you’ll feel crazed just when you should be wrapping up your wedding plans and looking forward to a wonderful big day.”
Getting near the home stretch? Whether you’ve been Miss Organized all along or are just getting started, we can help.
First, Make a List
And check it, well, every day. Be as detailed as you have to be, writing down everything from “call caterer” to “pack nail file.” Says one recent bride, “I’m a naturally disorganized person, and out of anxiety I was constantly writing things on a list. The problem I had toward the end was that my list kept getting longer and more overwhelming!” To avoid this predicament, it’s important to...
Even if you’ve been a one-woman (or, okay, one-couple) planning show until this crunch period, it’s time to share the joy. Bridesmaids, mom, friends, whoever’s been asking to help should be pulled off the bench and pressed into service. They can: make phone calls to confirm times and ar- rangements with your band or DJ, photogra- pher and transportation company; help write escort cards; make and/or wrap favors and gifts; assemble programs; and lots more.
Make it Legal
It’s too bad you can’t get your marriage license early on in the process, but in most cases it is good only for a short period of time, meaning you have to head to city hall within a few days of your wedding. Be sure to call ahead to find out the fee and to be certain that you have all the documents you need.
Take Care of Business
If you’re changing your name, call your town or city’s courthouse to find out the process (usually there’s a form you can download). Don’t forget: driver’s license, passport, Social Security card, credit cards. Also, change your beneficiaries for invest- ment accounts and insurance plans. If you are moving, put in a change-of-address card at the post office, or do it online, at usps.com/moversguide.
If you are hosting out-of-towners, reconfirm any hotel or transportation ar- rangements. Assemble gift baskets for ho- tel rooms (this is a good task to delegate). And, it’s a pain, but it happens to almost every bride and groom: There are always guests who don’t respond by the RSVP date. Someone (again, delegate) has to get in touch with these laggards and be sure to get an answer out of everyone.
Give Your Caterer a Final Head Count
This very important task should be taken care of a week to several days prior to the wedding, so that the caterer can order the right amount of food and accurately tally your final bill. This is also a good time to appoint a reliable bridesmaid in charge of getting crucial personal items — the cake knife, toasting glasses — to and from your reception site. Put another bridesmaid in charge of divvying up tips into envelopes for vendors to give to them on the day of the wedding.
Double-Check All the Attire You'll Need
When you go for your final dress fitting, don’t forget to bring along the under- garments you’ll actually be wearing on your wedding day, just to be sure that, for example, there aren’t any potentially embarrassing bra or panty lines visible beneath a clingy dress. At home, walk around in your wedding shoes a few times to avoid big-day blisters that can really cramp your style. Also, consider other items of clothing that you and your groom will need. If it helps, write it all down, even the things you’re absolutely sure you would never forget. (We know of a groom who conscientiously packed all his underwear for his honeymoon and was left without a single clean pair to wear on the wedding day!)
Take Your Seats
With your final guest list in hand, start on the seating arrangements. Begin with the easy tables — parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, close friends in natural groupings (work, college and so on). Then, gather up the harder-to-place guests (single pals and relatives) and sprinkle them in empty spots throughout your tables, preferably, of course, with a few other people they already know.
Call to confirm all of your travel arrangements, pack (or, if you’ll have plenty of post-wedding time to do this chore, pull out the necessary clothes you’re taking along for your destination) and be sure all of your important travel documents are in a safe place. Also, be sure that both you and your fiancé know where they are. Two heads are better than one!
Put Together a Big-Day Emergency Kit
The kit may “contain everything from tampons, hairspray, extra pantyhose and combs, to pain relievers, antacid, clear nail polish, breath freshener, a small sew- ing kit, spare earring backs, safety pins and deodorant,” advises Ingram. “Even if brides never end up needing anything in their kits, having everything on hand al- ways seems to help them relax and enjoy themselves. It’s worth the trouble!”
Envision the Day
Sit down with your fiancé, your parents and the officiant to map out the big-day schedule so you can catch and correct potential glitches. Write down each step, if that seems helpful (many brides find this gives them a sense of control). Make sure that everyone in the bridal party knows exactly what their jobs are and where they need to be at specific times. One bride we know did this before her wedding, and suddenly realized that the chapel had no foyer, leaving no obvious spot for her dad and her to “hide” while guests were being seated. They came up with a plan: to linger for as long as possible at another location within walking distance until they got a signal from a groomsman that the time was right.
Don't Forget Yourself
- Date your fiancé. Most couples get so busy with wedding tasks, they forget to spend time together. Even a sneak-away lunch can make you feel romantic again.
- Hit the spa. Along with your pre-wedding beauty treatments, throw in a massage or reflexology treatment, and you’ve got a nice just-for-you package.
- Go to the beach. Or the park. Or wherever you can connect with nature. You may want to bring along a parent, a sibling or a girlfriend for some calm time together.
- Pick your night-before sleeping spot carefully. If spending the night in your childhood bed feels right, do that. But if your family’s going to keep you up, forget it. Get a hotel room alone or with a bridesmaid— or forgo tradition and stay with your fiancé. The point is to find the best place to get your beauty sleep.