1. Who does the planning?
a) The bride and groom
The obvious advantage to this option is that you will have a better control over all the planning. However, this can be too great a burden on the couple, keeping things from working as well as you’d like. Also, the workload may prevent the couple from enjoying their wedding as much as they should.
b) A professional wedding planner
The experience of a wedding planner can come in handy, helping you navigate any issues that may arise. However, this obviously comes at a cost and added value isn’t a guarantee – if you plan things well (with our help!) a wedding planner may be dispensable.
c) A trusted friend
A close friend knows you well, and can help you organise your day.
This is also a great option. You can understand each other well, but this is still a burden on your friend. In a worst case scenario, this could even hurt your friendship! Remember to be kind – they’re helping you, but you should make sure you don’t let the pressure that you’re feeling make you trample them.
2. Wedding theme
You need to pick a theme for your wedding, or specific colors. Some people are more bold and pick themes like “Hawaiian”, or “The Fifties”, but you can also pick a general theme like “Classic” or “Pink”. You need to think about how your choice will be perceived by your guests, how easy it will be for your theme to come to life, and how much work it will all involve!
We advise you to pick a theme that is related to you as a couple. The theme can be “old movies”, if that’s what you watched on your first date, or “wonderland”, if you are both known for being dreamers, or even “under the sea” if you are ocean lovers. Anything that people can relate to you.
Once you have a theme, keep it in mind when choosing your invitations, cake, decoration, gifts for the guests and even some of the games/activities you might want to organize.
Everyone gets invited to many weddings; if you want the type of invitation that people keep in their shelves, then make sure you do something unforgettable.
a) Have them made
As for invitations, the debate is mostly around cost and image. Having them made by professionals obviously comes at a cost, but will likely guarantee high quality and class.
Don’t settle for the first ones you like though, make sure you compare prices and find the best ones – original, elegant, not too pricey and most importantly customized ones, that represent you as a couple.
Also remember that you can order them online.
b) Do it yourself
You can do them yourself if you want a more personal option, but don’t think that this’ll necessarily be cheaper. We looked into it and DIY options can run you down more than professional invitations! Plus, there is a LOT of work involved, and you can run into unexpected surprises. There are plenty of horror stories of invitations gone wrong because the glue wasn’t very good or the ink faded, or whatever else.
If you do decide to make them yourself, make sure you do it well ahead of time so that you can experiment. Look online for your favorite invitations, and make one where you combine all your favorite details.
c) Via email
Email invitations are becoming more and more popular. They are great because the cost is basically zero, and they take little to no time to produce and send. However, a word of caution: some of the more conservative guests will find this option to be a bit too cheap, and maybe even tacky!
NOTE: If you have many guests coming from far away and you are running a bit late on preparations then it is a good option to send first an invitation via e-mail so that your guests can start organizing their trips and later on you can send a traditional invitation.
d) Be original
Remember that you can always do something more creative with your invitations, and add your personal touch! You can do a video invitation, send a CD, a comic strip, balloons, customised candy…
4. Guest List
a) First decision: small wedding or big?
This is a key decision upon which most other things in your wedding depend. Analyse the options, consider the costs involved, and arrive at your decision.
Always remember that at least 10% of your guests won’t make it.
b) Second decision: how to pick your guests?
Deciding what guests to invite can be one of the most difficult tasks in planning a wedding. Your Parents may feel that certain people MUST be invited, and you may disagree. No matter who you pick, someone will think you’ve picked someone too few or too many. We believe it’s important that the two of you decided what approach you want to take. Do you want to be flexible and yield to the wishes of others (namely, your Parents), or do you feel you want to make all decisions on your own? Once you figure this out, it’ll be easier to navigate everything else that will arise.
One strategy is to invite first those that you really have to, and if many of them can’t make it you can send a second round of invitations. Be careful though, don’t invite someone in the first round and their spouse in the second round – you don’t want to become a home wrecker.
5. Reception Venue
There are two main kinds of venues, listed below. You can be more creative and pick a beach side cafe, for example! The options are endless.
Keep in mind that the simpler the location, the more possibilities you have to turn it your own with decoration and flower arrangements.
a) Wedding estate
The two options have many similarities. However, a hotel may not feel as intimate as you may have some degree of interaction with others guests of the hotel (not least when using the bathrooms). Also, try to make sure that the hotel has experience in hosting weddings, as they might not.
6. Ceremony Venue
There can be many different choices. Here are three of the more common options.
a) Church or other religious temple
You may choose to hold your wedding ceremony at a church or other temple, which is a more traditional option.
b) Wedding hall
You may choose instead to have the ceremony at a wedding hall – just make sure your hosts have experience with having weddings. An other important detail is making sure that the venue is neither too big nor too small for your wedding. Also, make sure the atmosphere isn’t too different from your wedding’s tone, or it’ll have a strange feel to it.
c) Open air (garden; beach; etc.)
This is also a great option, but you should be careful with two things: 1) are you prepared to deal with inclement weather? 2) are you safe from the curiosity of bystanders?
7. Starting time
You can start your wedding in the morning, early afternoon, or late afternoon. Make sure you consider the following aspects in making your decision:
a) Number of meals (cost)
(An outdoor afternoon wedding can be too hot in the Summer, for example).
c) Time of start/finish
(You want to avoid starting the wedding too early or ending it too late – sometimes weddings will suddenly become slow and uninteresting because of the lateness of the hour).
8. Number of meals
This decision depends essentially on the cost. Wedding venues will usually offer you certain packages, which may include lunch, dinner, late night snack, and so on. The usual packages are listed below.
Also, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure that the package includes drinks outside the meals and coffee and tea. Some places charge you additionally for this service.
- If the packages are too pricey, you can ask them to exclude some of the items, especially in the initial cocktail – natural juices and alcohol are the most expensive. Soda should be enough, right?!
- If you don’t want alcohol to be served at your wedding, be sure you make this clear with the venue.
a) Initial cocktail and Lunch
b) Initial cocktail and Dinner
c) Initial cocktail, Dinner and late supper
d) Initial cocktail, Lunch and dinner
e) Initial cocktail, Lunch, dinner and late supper
9. Food and desserts
Weddings these days revolve around food a lot, and your options are basically the ones we list below.
Remember that you have the right to ask for tastings. Don’t be shy, ask for it and make sure everything tastes exceptionally good. While the bride and groom care about all the wedding details, most of the guests will keep vivid memories of the food.
This is a simpler option. It’ll ensure that the preparation goes well, and that the staff has experience in preparing the menu.
You may prefer a more personalised or unique menu. In some cases, couples will have someone teach the chef a specific dish that they would like to be served at the wedding, for example. While being more unique, this option has the downside of added work as well as risk of it not going so well.
10. Meals logistics
The main meals can be either served by waiters or buffet-style. Here are some aspects to help you make your decision.
Buffets don’t have the problem of different tables and guests being served at different times.
Served meals are more convenient as the guests don’t have to get up. However, it also means you have to wait for the different dishes, instead of having your food as it pleases you.
Buffets are practical and attractive, but let’s face it: served meals are on a different level of elegance.
11. Wedding cake
a) Where will it be made?
Do your hosts make cakes or do you have to make it separately? Make sure they have experience. Also, try to compare different bakeries, as prices vary a lot!
b) Pick the flavor
Chocolate? Vanilla? Strawberry? Pick your favorite!
c) Pick the shape
What kind of cake do you want? Flashy? Layered? With pearls? Do you want to have little figures representing the bride and groom? This is cute, but some couples forget that the figures can also be cut, or break, and it’s not the nicest thing for the figure of the bride or groom to lose its head during the wedding!
Why don’t you look online for ideas and then show the picture to the bakery? While most places don’t present this option beforehand, almost all will agree to it if you bring it up.
d) When/where to cut it?
At what point in the reception do you want to cut the cake? Make sure you pick a time that fits nicely with the rest of the program. Don’t pick a time that people will likely be too excited dancing, or a time so late that some people will have already left. Also, do you want any special location or effect? For example, cutting it by the pool, and with fireworks. You need to decide beforehand!
Don’t forget that you have to decorate at least two venues: the ceremony venue, and the reception venue.
Do you want flowers in your wedding? If yes, are you going to leave it in the hands of the venue or are you going to hire a florist? Usually you can find cheaper florists then the ones the venues work with.
b) Other items
Depending on the theme you have chosen – there can be thousands of different ideas for decoration. Be creative!
13. Gifts for guests
Sometimes couples will arrange for small gifts for their guests, as a memento of their special day. They will use the gifts as an opportunity to go around all the different tables and chat with their guests for a couple of minutes, to make them feel welcomed and appreciated. If you want to do this and want gifts, you have three options:
a) Buy ready made gifts
b) Have them made
c) Create something unique by yourself
You need to decide the following things about your wedding rings. One very important thing to remember is that you need to do this a great deal of time in advance (over a month, preferably), to make sure your rings will be ready in time.
a) Pick the shape
Simple ring? With stones? Other?
b) Pick color/material
Gold? Silver? Other? Make sure it’s longlasting.
c) Have something engraved
If you choose to have something engraved, make sure it’s something timeless.
d) Different rings for bride and groom or same design for both
Some couples may prefer to be united in their choice of design, and some feel different designs are fine, and unique.
e) Who brings them to you in the ceremony, and how
A common choice is a little child, but remember that there is a risk of them making a big fuss!
a) Pick the photographer
You can hire a professional, or pick a friend. A friend will be (obviously) cheaper, but may not be very professional. A choice that is becoming more popular is to hire someone who isn’t a professional yet, but is a pretty experienced photographer (university students for example). They can produce stunning work at very low costs.
b) Choose if you want only photos or also videos
Do you want a separate person to record videos of your wedding? If so, make sure it’s someone who won’t feel burdened by the task, and can make it fun and exciting for everyone, including your guests.
c) Decide which parts of your wedding you want to have recorded
Just the ceremony? The whole thing? This decision may impact the cost of the photographer.
Make sure that whatever you end up deciding, you have an easy way to share your photos with others. Try to ensure that you’ll receive a physical photo album as well as high quality copies of the photos – and that you’ll be allowed to distribute them among guests.
a) Do you want live music?
Live music is always fun, but it can also be a bit too much. Also, remember that you probably don’t know the band, and they may not be the most attractive show for your wedding. Sometimes couples will invite friends to play at their wedding, but this is risky as the guests may brush them off as mere background music, which can be uncomfortable for everyone, specially the couple and band.
b) Do you want to hire a DJ or have a friend take care of it?
A DJ can deliver quality, but at a cost. A friend, on the other hand, knows you and your tastes. A DJ isn’t necessarily good, but if he’s an expert you’re in very good hands, as music can set the mood for the whole wedding.
c) When do you want music, and what kind of music?
There can be music during the ceremony, during the entrance of the bridge, during meals, for dancing, and for the couple’s first dance. You can pick everything that’s going to be played, but you can also choose to trust the DJ – if he’s a professional, give him the freedom to do his thing, it’ll be worth it.
17. Entrance of the bride
a) Do you want this?
It’s a basic decision, but it has to be made. Do you want the attention? Will it fit with your wedding’s theme? Will you be too nervous?
b) How do you want to do it?
What music will be played? Will you have someone announce your arrival to the guests? Who will “walk you down the aisle”? One commonly overlooked aspect is that the walk may be more difficult than expected. Think about it: garden setting for example, brand new high heel shoes… You don’t want to fall on the grass right at the beginning of your wedding!
Bouquets can be very expensive, especially if the florist knows that you are a bride. But the truth is that you can get the exact same thing for a much lower price if you don’t mention that it is for a wedding. Trust us, it’s a simple trick but it works.
a) What color?
Make sure it matches your dress.
b) What shape?
It should match the tone of your wedding – it shouldn’t be overly fancy, for example.
c) Do you want to throw the bouquet for the single ladies?
This is one of the most common traditions – but some ladies find it humiliating and unpleasant.
d) Do you want to have a separate bouquet to throw?
Your own bouquet may have sentimental value to you, or it can be very expensive, and you might want to keep it.
19. Master of ceremony
You need to pick someone who is both close to you and experienced with MC’ing events. Also, make sure you convey exactly how you want the MC’ing to be done, so you’re on the same page and nothing goes wrong.
Do you want anything in particular to be read during the ceremony? It can be religious or not. You can also write wedding vows, which you may choose to read on your wedding or keep to yourselves. It isn’t a bad idea to share the vows with each other before the wedding, to prevent any surprises.
Decide who you’d like to have the mic – or choose if you’re going to allow flexibility. You may also choose to specify beforehand that certain topics are off-limits, so there aren’t any problems.
21. Words about the couple
If you want someone to share some words about the two of you, pick the person beforehand. You may also want to choose what is said, to prevent any embarrassments! Usually the people doing this are:
c) Close friends
a) Matching outfits?
Some may say that matching outfits are a bit too cheesy, but we disagree. Nothing like the elegance of good fashion sense!
b) Will you have bridesmaids?
This can be a major decision, and if you choose to have bridesmaids you need to decide what they’ll be wearing. Make sure it’s something that’ll look good on all their body types.
23. Dress and shoes
a) Buy them
You can purchase them at a specialised shop or, if finances aren’t too well, you can’t try second hand as well.
b) Have them custom made
This comes at a higher cost, but it’ll be exactly what you’re dreaming of.
c) Wear something you already have.
b) Wear what you already have – or borrow from family/friends
25. Make-up, hair, handnails
a) Professional make-up artist
b) Ask a friend to do it for you
c) Do it yourself
26. Seating arrangement
There are two main ways to pick seats for all your guests. You can either do it based on people’s personalities, or based on families/acquaintances. The second option is safer, but the first option can be much more fun and interesting for everyone!
27. Seating arrangement board
Sometimes couples will realise at the last minute that they haven’t thought of any way to put up the list of tables and seating arrangement – don’t forget about this!
Venues usually provide the easel – ask them what size it is so that you can prepare the chart. Be original but don’t overthink it, it’s just a detail and not worth the fuss.
28. Main table guest list
You need to decide who sits with you at the table of the bride and groom. You can choose to include family, close friends, and so on. A word of caution: if you include friends, someone is bound to feel excluded.
29. Main table arrangement
a) Just like the other tables
This is the “friendlier” option, but it doesn’t highlight your table.
b) Straight line
This is a great option but can make you feel too exposed, and it may be difficult to have conversations at the table.
c) On a “stage”
Some venues offer a “stage” to elevate the bride and groom’s table. While this option can sound appealing, during the reception it may feel odd and create a distance between the couple and their guests.
30. Table identification
Are you going to just number the tables or give them names? Either choice is fine, but if you want to name them, make sure it’s something nice and meaningful about the couple. One couple decided to name them after all the cities that they visited together in their relationship, for example. Also remember to create little name-holders to place on the tables.
You may want to have some form of unique entertainment. Some of the more common options are: like a game, a quiz, a magician or live music.
a) A game
b) A quiz
c) A magician/theatre
d) Live music
32. Cute details
Some cute details can make your wedding more special and memorable, to say nothing of unique. Some ideas:
b) A video about your story together
c) A “photographs corner”, filled with pictures of the two of you – or even pictures with the guests
People tend to find it more interesting to look for their own pictures. Yes we know, it’s your special day, but your guests will still be narcissistic. Plus, it’ll be original!
d) Disposable cameras on every table
You’ll have your wedding recorded from every possible angle, and it’ll be super fun for the guests!
e) Have quizzes on each table, to see who knows you best
It’ll be fun for the guests, as well as a great ice-breaker at each table.
33. Legal details
Each area has their own procedures with regards to legal aspects. We have one single major advice: Take care of everything a lot of time in advance. You’d be surprised with how many weddings are jeopardized by delays with legal aspects. Sometimes, for example, one of the partners will be travelling from a different country and will require a Visa – which may take a long time to be granted, or even rejected! Don’t leave anything for the last minute.
34. First Dance
Do you want to have a first dance? If yes, make sure you pick your music, and that you both know how to dance it! You can also have someone call everyone to watch the dance – there’s nothing more awkward than the couple having their first dance and all the guests being too busy eating ice cream at their tables.
35. The end – give us suggestions!
That’s all for now! We hope you found our work useful and we kindly ask you to take a minute to write us with suggestions to improve our script. We feel we can remember EVERYTHING – but we’re not there yet! Maybe some day, with your help! Write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org !
- 1 1. Who does the planning?
- 2 2. Wedding theme
- 3 3. Invitations
- 4 4. Guest List
- 5 5. Reception Venue
- 6 6. Ceremony Venue
- 7 7. Starting time
- 8 8. Number of meals
- 9 9. Food and desserts
- 10 10. Meals logistics
- 11 11. Wedding cake
- 12 12. Decoration
- 13 13. Gifts for guests
- 14 14. Rings
- 15 15. Photographer
- 16 16. Music
- 17 17. Entrance of the bride
- 18 18. Bouquet
- 19 19. Master of ceremony
- 20 20. Readings/speeches
- 21 21. Words about the couple
- 22 22. Clothes
- 23 23. Dress and shoes
- 24 24. Jewelry
- 25 25. Make-up, hair, handnails
- 26 26. Seating arrangement
- 27 27. Seating arrangement board
- 28 28. Main table guest list
- 29 29. Main table arrangement
- 30 30. Table identification
- 31 31. Entertainment
- 32 32. Cute details
- 33 33. Legal details
- 34 34. First Dance
- 35 35. The end – give us suggestions!