Many brides tell me that they've been "dreaming of this day all my life" — yet, whether you've already filled a binder with details for every event from the engagement party through the honeymoon or you're starting with a blank slate, there will be only about 13 months to plan your wedding and reception. Where to begin?
Set the Date
This is a great way to get the planning started as it can help steer you in a particular direction — outdoors vs. indoors, for example. Additionally, popular venues and vendors can book up well in advance, as can photographers, bands and DJs. Working backward from the date to prioritize which things need to be taken care of right away will help keep things progressing and keep you from panicking.
Choose Your Colors
Here's another decision that sets other important planning wheels in motion, including invites, flowers and bridal-party gowns. The wedding color palettes I'm seeing for spring and summer are beautiful muted pastels — think Caribbean Sea or pale, pale pistachio green. For a fall/winter wedding, think about deep, dark green or my favorite combo: dahlia red paired with slate grey. I'm also loving all the beiges like taupe, mushroom and cream. An easy way to envision your colors is to grab a few paint swatches from your local hardware store.
Hint: Determining both your wedding date and your color palette are two of the best ways to get your planning up and running.
Determine Your Overall Vision
Modern? Traditional? Romantic? Vintage? Just like setting the colors, once you have a clear vision, it will help you design your invitations, choose décor and select personal touches.
Pick the venue that most reflects you and your fiancé. Whether it's a formal ballroom or outside among nature, in a vineyard or beachside, look to an environment that reflects your personal style.
Once your date is set, start shopping. Finding "the one" (and going for follow-up fittings) takes time, so you'll want to get this important element crossed off your to-do list early. A trend I love is a gown with a dramatically low back — even more gorgeous when adorned with long, back-hanging necklaces.
You've chosen the gown, now start considering the perfect hair and makeup to complete your look. Get hair and makeup artist recommendations from friends and start exploring: updo or down? For a picture-perfect smile, tooth-whitening is popular with brides. Many of my brides are now taking it to the next level with treatments like Invisalign clear aligners, which discreetly straighten teeth without most people even noticing, letting you smile freely for every event leading up to the big day and beyond. Try a new fitness class or two. A new workout regime can be a great motivator if you're trying to drop a few pounds.
Go Snail Mail
It's traditional, classic and classy. No matter how tech savvy or environmentally conscious you are, make an effort to send all your guests a physical invitation. (And as the wedding gifts come in, be sure to follow up with written thank-you notes.)
Photos Are Forever
So it's key to find someone who will be comfortable shooting in the photographic style you seek. A major trend in wedding photography right now is less formal, more journalistic, capturing not only the bridal party, but also unique details such as rings, shoes, buttons or lace on the gown. Up-close shots featuring natural expressions are very popular too. And make sure you and your smile are camera-ready, as "selfies" and instant social-media sharing are sure to be part of your wedding day.
Don't skimp here. Your guests will appreciate a great DJ, band or other fun activities. Entertainment is one area that brings people together and creates experiences that everyone will remember long after the celebration.
Even if you have planned every detail (whew!), handing off the day-of logistics to a coordinator on the day itself will ensure your vision is carried out and allow you to take in the day and enjoy your guests. Cheers!
— Mindy Weiss
Check out more great stories from Bridal Guide:
- Groom's Wedding Vows to Stepdaughter Will Move You to Tears
- Wedding Ideas That Scream "Spring Is Finally Here!"
- 15 Wedding Ideas We're Loving For 2015
- The Ultimate Wedding Gown Glossary
- 7 Unique Ways to Use Your Engagement Photos