My Rules for A Successful and Memorable Wedding
The sooner the wedding, the simpler it should be
Plan the best party you can afford – give your guests great memories
Once you make a decision, stick with it and go on
Plan as much as you can before committing to any bookings
No matter what you plan, someone will not like it. It’s your wedding; your preferences should be what matters.
Keep a folder with ideas - don’t be afraid to tear the pages out of the bridal books!
A Basic Wedding
For even the simplest wedding, getting married at City Hall, you must pick a date, find something to wear, and decide if you want some flowers. Will you celebrate after the ceremony with a special lunch or dinner? Will you go away on a honeymoon?
If you want to still keep it simple but a little nicer than City Hall, the next easiest thing to do is have the ceremony and reception at the same location. This can be at home, or a hall. Many restaurants have party rooms.
Choosing A Date
Once you have decided to have a party, choose a date and a couple of alternates, in case the location you want is already booked. You may decide your wedding date around a honeymoon destination. For example, if you wish to go to the Caribbean, you may prefer to go in the winter rather than the summer.
The sooner the date, the simpler the wedding should be.
Set A Budget
Unromantic but practical, you still need to decide how much money you want to spend. The more you pay for yourself, the more control you have over the decisions. Quite often the person paying feels they have a right to say how the money will be spent!
How much you can spend determines all the rest of the decisions. Do you want a small wedding and the trip of a lifetime honeymoon? Do you have a dream of wearing a designer dress? Must you have 200 guests or are close family and friends more important?
Since this is probably the most elaborate party you will ever hold, make sure you provide the best you can afford. You want your guests to have happy memories! See our Budget page for spending guidelines.
Colour And Theme
Start thinking about the colours you want to use, and if you will have a theme. These ideas will influence your decisions about location and services, invitations and decorations. You are going to need these things anyway, so with just a little thought you can really have a wedding that will stand out from all the rest. For instance, if you were thinking of a nautical theme, you may want to investigate having your wedding on a boat or at a waterfront hall, your invitation could have a ship wheel design, your bridesmaids could wear navy dresses, and your decorations include some brass ships’ lanterns. See our Design Ideas pages for pictures of these ideas and more.
How many people are going to be involved? Is it immediate family or everyone you and your parents know? Will you have one bridesmaid or several? The simpler the wedding you want, the fewer people should be involved. This number will also influence your location.
Choose A Location
Once you know your date and budget, the next decision is where. There are many officiants who will travel to perform the marriage service, so a church wedding is not necessary. If you have the ceremony at a church, is it available on the date and time you want?
Many golf courses and halls have set up adjoining ceremony rooms and outside gazebos or lawns. Photos can also be taken with these backgrounds. Check their menus for the type of food served and the price per plate. Do they charge extra to rent the ceremony room?
How many people will the location hold? If you are only having a few to 50 people, many restaurants have rooms for rates that are much less than a golf course or wedding hall.
Choose An Officiant
Who will be performing the marriage ceremony? Are they available on the date you want? How far will they travel? Will they let you read your own vows?
Do they offer marriage classes? Chances are, if you are getting married in a church, you will be required to attend classes. You can get so involved with the Wedding that you can forget it is the start to a Marriage. It is worth the investment of time to do some marriage preparation, even if you have been living together for years. Spend some time and discuss these Marriage Advice topics if you aren't getting classes elsewhere.
Choose Other Services
Stationery – are you going have a custom order from a stationer, buy pre-printed packaged invitations or make your own?
Flowers – real or artificial, ordered from a florist or make your own?
Music – hire a band or DJ? Ask a friend to play their Ipod?
Photography – still photos and/or video? Hire professionals or ask friends? Digital images are available from most studios, at a premium price.
Transportation – hire a limo or arrange for friends and family to take the wedding party to the ceremony?
Cake – a simple cake from the grocery store or a five-tier cake from the gourmet bakery? The cake topper can be flowers to match your bouquet or a custom made figurine.
Decorations – will you decorate your church and hall yourself, or hire a decorator? Keep in mind you will be very busy the day before and on your wedding day, will you have time to do this yourself?
Gifts – many couples choose a favour to give to their guests, and it is always thoughtful to give a special gift to your attendants and special people who help out with your wedding.
Check that the services fit your budget, and that they are available on your chosen date.
If arriving in a luxury limo is important, you may choose less expensive stationery or only have the basic photo package and buy disposable cameras for your guests to use and leave.
The dress! Probably more time is spent dreaming about and planning the dress than any other aspect of the wedding. While the wedding books may have very elaborate and these days, very baring dresses, just about any style you can think of is available.
Jewellery that matches the bridesmaids’ dresses makes a wonderful gift to them. For yourself, pearls are always classic and rhinestones are always glamorous.
Attendant dresses may have more options than your wedding dress. Many brides choose the colour and leave the style to the bridesmaid. This works because of the different figure types. Girls with large arms may prefer to have sleeves. Dresses should be the same length and fabric – they can always be cut shorter later.
Don’t forget the men! Tuxedos are not always necessary. A good suit can also look very elegant, perhaps with a vest in your colour or theme.
You must arrange for a marriage licence. If this is a second marriage, proof of the dissolution of the previous marriage is required. Be sure to build in enough time to obtain the proper documentation.
Will you be changing your name? You can collect the paperwork before the marriage, but you will need your marriage certificate to complete most official documents.
Will you be getting a prenuptial agreement? If you have children from a previous marriage, one of you has substantial assets or if you expect to inherit property, you may find this to be a wise choice.
The Wedding Day
You may feel nervous, but most brides do feel that way. You’ve planned as best you could, and most people will not notice if little things go wrong. Don’t worry if your flower girl takes too long walking up the aisle – people will think it’s cute. Focus on remembering the bigger picture, that you are celebrating the beginning of a new life together. Relax and enjoy your day. If a big thing does go wrong, there is a whole group of people willing to help out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Where will you sleep on your wedding night? What will you do the next day? Many couples have informal at-home parties to open the wedding gifts before they leave on their trip. This also allows you to have a breather between the wedding and the honeymoon. Remember, the wedding day will probably start early, end late and be very emotional. The trip may mean leaving at an early hour to catch an airplane. Having a relaxing day in between can be very helpful.
After the Wedding
You’re almost done! Arrange to have your dress cleaned and the tuxedos returned. Do a bit of homework on your honeymoon – start working on your thank-you notes. Although etiquette says you have a year to do them, you really should get them out within 4-6 weeks of your wedding.
First Anniversary
You looked at your pictures when they came back from the photographer, and showed them to your family and friends. Now what? Why not get out your album and video and look at them every anniversary? It’s a wonderful reminder of your wedding and makes you feel just married again.



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