Planning Ahead


Many couples plan their weddings a year or more in advance. Some ministers and rental locations need to be scheduled this far ahead. Couples should ask themselves if they really want to devote a year of their lives planning a wedding.  

Setting Priorities:   This is YOUR special day together as a couple.  Concentrate your efforts on what's important to you not what others may expect to suit their social needs and obligations.

Use these items and others you may add to decide what's most important to you. If a listed item is not important to you, take it off your list and don't worry about it. Give each remaining item a number, start with #1 as the most important to you.

1.         Following certain wedding traditions

            A.        Sending formal invitations   
            B.         Wearing traditional wedding gown and tux
            C.        Selecting bridesmaids and groomsmen and the appropriate number for your ceremony
            D.        Selecting a location venue
            E.         Traditional flower arrangements and bouquet
            F.         Providing a rehearsal dinner for all participants
            G.        Serving a wedding cake
            H.        Post nuptial wedding buffet or meal for all guests
            I.          Providing live music
            J.         Engaging a professional wedding photographer and D.J.

2.        Inviting friends and family from distant locations. Often people will travel great distances to attend your wedding if you invite them. You may have to help them both financially and time-wise in securing a hotel room or rental home for them since they most likely will not be familiar with your chosen wedding venue.

3.         Photographs. Do you want your ceremony to be one big photo opportunity orchestrated by the photographer? If not, give serious thought to when and how to do photos. The traditional “after the ceremony” is not done much these days.  There can be a “bride reveal”, with the photographer taking photos as the groom sees his beautiful bride for the first time, prior to the ceremony, then the photographer can continue with family photos and many of the traditional photos before the ceremony.  Most guests find it uncomfortable to wait an hour or so after the ceremony, to begin the reception.

4.        Learning about the hopes, dreams, family traditions, religious beliefs and lifestyle preferences of your spouse-to-be.

5.         Creating a ceremony with words that reflect your personal hopes and goals and vows that have special meaning to you.

6.        A memorable honeymoon.

7.        Wedding presents, showers and bridal registries.

8.         Financial planning to assure you will have the resources to make your dreams come true.

9.        Legal consultation, preparation of wills, updating insurance and retirement plans, identification of property which will remain separate and property which will be jointly owned.

10.       A big party with food, music, dancing and alcohol.

11.        Accommodating the expectations of family and friends, even if they are not your own.

 What Might Go Wrong?  Some things that frequently cause problems on the wedding day.

 1. Paperwork. You will need to sign the marriage certificates on the day of the wedding. I like to have the bride and groom and witnesses sign after the ceremony as many of your guests consider this a great photo opportunity and the signing often brings much joy and laughter to your guests.  The officiant will give you the ceremonial certificate to keep. 

2. Seating. There needs to be a plan concerning where people will sit or stand, even if the plan is that people can seat themselves & sit or stand anywhere. People arriving at the wedding want to know they are sitting/standing in the correct place, so there should be ushers (or a friend or two, who are assigned as greeters) near, to greet people & let them know what the procedure is for seating. If ushers are expected to show people to their seats, please rehearse with them how they are to do this. ALSO, It’s best that guests are escorted as far forward as possible as often, there are fewer guests than expected and photos of your beautiful day may show rows of empty seats..... THINK "PHOTOGRAPHS".

While it may be customary for gentlemen to offer an arm to the lady, many people are not used to this formality and aren't sure what to do. Help everyone out by deciding in advance how this aspect of the seating will be handled. If certain family members will be seated just before the ceremony begins, be sure their seats are marked and they have a comfortable place to wait while all the others are seated. Have a clear plan of how and when they will eventually take their seats.

3. Corsages and Boutonnieres. Someone other than the bride needs to know which people will be wearing flowers and have a clue how to pin them on so they don't fall off halfway through the ceremony. Despite what the dictionary says about "boutonnieres," do not try to fit the stems through a buttonhole. The flowers are pinned on top! Also, don't plan on flowers for the minister unless you know whether or not the officiant will be wearing a robe. Flowers are fine if the officiant is in street clothes but may damage the officiants robe…be sure and check with her to make sure that she’d be happy to wear a corsage.

4. When do we start? There is often confusion surrounding the question of when the ceremony will begin. The officiant needs to know when to walk to the center of the room or ceremony location. Be clear about whether you plan to start on time, after a 10 or 15 minute wait, or after someone looks over the crowd to see if all the important people are there. If you use this last choice, who will be the person to decide and how will he or she let the wedding party know? A wedding coordinator can be a tremendous help with this task and can be simply a friend who has been asked to take on this responsibility as a “cue” person, making sure that all participants are lined up in the proper order and start down the aisle at the correct interval from the ones in front of them.

5. Music. Music problems usually occur when there is recorded music and the person operating the equipment isn't quite sure what he or she is doing. Music should not be figured out at the last minute and the person playing the music needs to practice. Here are some questions to ask: How loud should the music be? Is it easy to find the required piece on the tape or CD? Will the music keep playing after everyone has walked down the aisle? Can you fade out the music, rather than stopping it abruptly? Will there be music after the ceremony? When will it begin? Music problems are usually minimal with a DJ or live musicians, since they usually have professional experience accommodating the needs of brides and grooms.
Deciding On Your Ceremony: … there are many options.

1.       Religious Ceremony, involving prayers of the denomination of the couple.

2.      Spiritual