After working with hundreds of weddings in various capacities I’ve decided to help break down a wedding into its various components and make a checklist for any bride who wants to simplify their wedding day. This is not supposed to be an all-encompassing list that explores every facet of every possible angle, just a simplified wedding that will grant you very satisfying results. Everything you need right here in 10 steps!

Step 1: Planning A Date and Place

Talk to all parties who are involved, in fact a recurring theme you are going to read in this article is delegate, delegate, and delegate! Ask parents for input on the best location in terms of who can travel to which city in order to include the most friends or relatives, unless this is predetermined for other reasons, this is a great way to make family feel included.

Step 2: Setting A Budget

Traditionally the bride’s family foots the bill for the wedding. But these days very little is traditional about weddings so, make sure a budget is set early on. Ask the hard questions, “Mom, Dad, are you able and would you be willing to help out with wedding expenses? I’m setting up a budget and want to start this marriage out responsibly and not in debt to credit cards.”

Step 3: Planning A Theme

Choose 2-3 colors that you both love or feel are symbolic. If you’re not sure what you want look around on Google Pics on wedding websites to get some ideas. Or go with a movie theme! Really, it is your wedding, what are you into? My husband plays guitar professionally so we opened up with dancing and then live music from 3 different bands and he played a few songs in one of them. Theme your wedding around your own personal themes in life!

Step 4: Who To Invite And How To Get The Right Kind Of Help!

There are two types of friends that you want to include early on in your planning process, your close friends who are to be in the actual wedding as bridesmaids or groomsmen. But we all have that one friend, you know the one. Highly detailed, always on time, very particular about the oddest things… That’s the one. This is your friend who will act as your wedding coordinator. Unless of course you are completely unhinged and love living life on the edge; if this is you, then find your friend who always starts the parties, never arrives on time, and dresses crazy!

Step 5: Who Will Officiate?

Are you close with your church pastor or priest? Then it’s an easy call. Or is your family highly traditional? Then this can be a great win for you to give in on this one thing and let them choose. Or if you are one for the lighter side of things, have a friend become ordained and officiate for you! This can lead to lots of fun on your wedding day and you might even follow this theme to a really eclectic location for your wedding such as a boat, Light house, or ski lodge where you first met.

Step 6: Planning The Ceremony

Ok here is an example of most ceremonies:

  1. Prelude music plays and general seating takes place 15-30min before wedding starts
  2. Grandparents and parents are seated by the groomsmen; different music is played for this to let everyone know something new is going on.
  3. Officiant and Groom take their place at the front, now the groomsmen escort the bridesmaids to their places over new mood music.
  4. “All rise” and the wedding march is played as the bride is escorted by her father to the front
  5. Wedding vows are exchanged, and the new couple is pronounced man and wife, the kiss and…
  6. Wedding reception and after party take place.

Step 7: Planning The Reception

Timing receptions are often kind of awkward simply because of photographs. If you are the traditional type and do not want be seen before the wedding then this is the time to do your group wedding photos while your guests wait. Plan for this, have a DJ or MC take over the reception in your absence to keep your crowd entertained. Use an experienced photographer who will get all the pictures you want done quickly and efficiently and then make sure you actually sit down and plan your reception. A common list of to do’s might be:

  1. Grand entrance with an announcement and a receiving line to thank guests for coming
  2. First Dance
  3. Daddy-Daughter Dance
  4. Money Dance
  5. Wedding Cake Cutting
  6. Garter toss
  7. Bouquet toss
  8. Toasts
  9. Grand exit with rice toss

Step 8: Flowers, Cakes, Table Toppers, Little Chotskies

Here is another item that can easily be delegated to family and friends, make mention of your themes and let them create, hire, or DIY! Table toppers, flowers arrangements, even the bouquet can be crafted by hand by someone in the family who loves to make things. Great way to incorporate (read: distract) Moms and Mother-in-laws!

Step 9: Brides Maids, Groomsmen, Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

I suggest using as much family as you know you will be in close contact with in your newly adopted family. This creates memories and strong bridges of relationship for your future. If a friend gets left out, remember they are friends and if you explain they will understand… or I would question how good a friend they really are?

Step 10: The Honeymoon!

Often this gets left out, budget simply gets used up and the whole process of planning a wedding can overwhelm even the hardiest of planners. To overcome budget woes and to help distant cousins and friends who can come due to distance help them alleviate their guilt and your pocketbook by starting a kickstarter campaign or a gofundme campaign.

Planning your wedding can be fun or stressful; honestly you have to decide which it’s going to be before you even start planning. If you decide it’s going to be fun then every mistake, misstep, or mishap is a fun memory for you. If you decide that stress is unavoidable then rest assured every mistake, misstep, and mishap will be forever haunting, embarrassing, and a lifelong reason to hate whoever may have caused it. I say have fun, build fond memories and remember you’re just planning a party with all your best friends and family around you, the most loving people you know. Enjoy them!

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