Monday, March 9, 2009

Countdown to Your Wedding Day

THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL WEDDING away is to plan early. To help you get off to a good start, wer've put together a checklist that covers all bases of your destination event, including when to order the wedding invitations, book a photographer and schedule the wedding dress fitting.

A Year to Six Months Before the Wedding

  • Decide on a budget.
  • Determine the style (formal, informal), size (wedding party, guests), and setting (church,garden, beach) for the ceremony.
  • Target a wedding date.
  • Select a destination - check the internet or contact a travel agent.
  • Create a file for contracts, notes of conversations, and other wedding-related information.
  • Research the marriage license requirements of your destination. If possible, request an application ahead of time from the foreign consulate, chamber of commerce, or tourism department.
  • Call or send for information on wedding sites; wedding-package details from hotels, chapels, consulates, and tourism departments; and consultants who can assist in legal matters and coordinate the ceremony site, officiant, flowers, music, and other details.
  • Evaluate wedding packages and select a wedding service or consultant who can assist you with long-distance arrangements.
  • Choose a maid of honor, best man, and other attendants.
  • Develop an invitation list, then send a save-the-date note.
  • Select wedding attire.
  • Sign up with a bridal registry and select gifts.

Four to Six Months Before

  • Negotiate and finalize ceremony and reception details with your wedding service providers, independent consultant, or onsite coordinator, communicating any items that will personalize your wedding.
  • Make sure to collect signed contracts that confirm the arrangements.
  • Finalize your guest list.
  • Order wedding invitations, announcements, and thank-you cards.
  • Negotiate and arrange air, hotel, and ground transportation for the wedding party. Make additional arrangements for the honeymoon.
  • Confirm your arrangements with the photographer and videographer.
  • Buy wedding rings and have them engraved.

Two to Four Months Before

  • Obtain necessary legal documents, including passports and/or visas if traveling to a foreign destination.
  • Get any necessary inoculations.
  • Choose gifts for the maid of honor, best man, and other attendants.
  • Address and mail invitations.
  • Begin composing your vows (if you want to write your own).

One to Two Months Before

  • Have your final dress and headpiece fittings.
  • Have a formal wedding portrait taken.
  • Send a wedding announcement and picture to your hometown newspapers.
  • Shop for your travel wardrobe.
  • Consult with a professional shipper if you are shipping your wedding dress.

Two Weeks Before

  • Contact necessary offices for name change forms (driver's license, social security, etc.).
  • Confirm travel and wedding arrangements.

>One Week Before

  • Review final details with the hotel, photographer, videographer, florist, musicians, and others involved in the wedding.
  • Arrange to meet with your officiant before the ceremony.
  • Make sure everyone's wedding attire is in order.
  • Plan guest seating if needed.

Upon Arrival

  • Visit with your consultant and/or officiant.
  • Apply for the marriage license.

The Wedding Day

  • Focus on the important things--each other--and try to stay flexible about everything else.
  • Have Fun!

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