Cotswold Wedding Countdown

Once you've decided to get married the preparation and planning starts, but what do you do first? Here's a countdown to make sure it all runs smoothly...

Once you’ve decided to get married the preparation and planning starts, but what do you do first? Here’s a countdown to make sure it all runs smoothly…


�–  Formally announce your engagement by having both families meet. Don’t forget to notify the local newspaper and announce your engagement in print!

�–  Select the date! Consider a date that will accommodate your family and friends, such as the summer months when kids are out of school and when most individuals plan their annual holidays. Also, when considering a date near a major holiday, keep in mind that most reception locations increase their prices and are booked well in advance. If you set a date near a holiday or at least one year in advance, think about mailing a ‘Save the Date’ card to your guests so that they can make the necessary arrangements.

�–  Give notice of marriage. You can now give notice up to 12 months in advance.

�–  Determine your budget but be realistic. Determine who is paying for the wedding: the bride’s family, the groom’s family, the couple or a combination of each. Highlight the one or two items that mean the most to the both of you and budget the other items around them.

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�–  If appropriate, book the registrars. You need to make sure that the person you want to marry you both is available.

�–  Reserving the location of both your wedding ceremony and reception is one of the most important tasks that must be done once an engagement is announced. If the date of the wedding is in close proximity to a holiday, this task becomes even more pertinent.

�–  If you are considering using a wedding consultant, conduct your interviews now. Make sure you choose a consultant who is not only professional and a member of an accredited wedding consultant association but someone who is amiable and easy to work with.

�–  Purchase a handy wedding planner. You can’t plan a wedding without one – trust us! Make sure the planner contains pages onwhich you can take notes, a daily calendar to keep you on time and pockets to hold those ever-important receipts! In today’s technological world, consider a wedding planning software program as a helpful companion that will assist you in maintaining the guest list and tracking the ‘thank you’ notes. Some software programs will even help with the seating arrangements!

�–  Compile the guest list. Although this should be one of the fun aspects of planning a wedding, it often becomes the basis of many heated debates. Also, keep in mind that the length of the guest list is often in direct correlation with the budget.

�–  Select members of your wedding party. Honour your family and friends by selecting them to stand next to you both on your special day.

�–  Choose the caterer. If you are evaluating a caterer, make sure to sample their menu and personally meet with them. Obtain references and research their professional history.

�–  Book the photographer. Don’t take these professionals for granted, as good photographers are booked quickly! Ask the right questions and view their portfolio. Keep in mind that he/she is responsible for capturing the formal and candid moments of your day that will last a lifetime. Be picky!

�–  Book the videographer. More and more couples are opting to capture their wedding day on celluloid in addition to photo paper. Again, ask the right questions and view some sample wedding videos. Make sure the videographer you interview will be the actual professional who will be there at your wedding.

�–  Hire the florist. Considered to comprise one of the biggest shares of the budget ‘pie’, the florist makes it his/her job to assist you in colour coordination and bouquet arrangements.

�–  Order the wedding dress, veil, shoes and other accessories. The earlier you choose and order your gown, the better off you will be. You want to receive the wedding gown for final fitting weeks in advance, with time to spare.

�–  Book the entertainment for both the ceremony and reception. Evaluate demo tapes of the entertainment whether it’s a DJ, harpist, soloist, string quartet or live band. Make sure to discuss different music genres in their repertoire. Also, discuss which songs to play during the processional, ceremony and recessional.


�–  Purchase the wedding bands. It can be something simple or absolutely extravagant. Most importantly, the wedding bands are the tangible expression of your love for one another.

�–  Shop and order wedding party dresses and men’s formal wear. If some members of the wedding party live far away, tailor shops and bridal shops in their area can take their measurements. Have each member of the wedding party send their measurements to your bridal or tuxedo shop.

�–  Reserve rental equipment. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, make sure to reserve the tables, chairs and marquee now.

�–  Order the wedding cake. This is the fun part! Shop around and make sure you sample their ‘sweet’ perfections. Peruse their portfolios and consider referrals from others. Discuss the colours and design of the cake to match the look and formality of the wedding.

�–  Order wedding stationery: wedding invitations, RSVP cards, thank you cards, and place cards.

�–  Make honeymoon reservations. Make sure you have a current passport for international destinations.

�–  Make a doctor’s appointment, for vaccinations, if necessary.

�–  Book transportation. Reserve any special transportation needed on the day of the wedding: limos, horse-drawn carriage, classic cars, etc.

�–  Reserve accommodation for out-of-town guests. Most hotels will offer group discounts if you block/reserve several rooms.

�–  Book hairstylist and make-up artist.



�–  Finalise the guest list. Approximately 20 per cent of your guest list will not be able to attend the wedding.

�–  Meet with caterer and/or banquet manager. Finalise the menu and room decorations.

�–  Meet with the superintendent registrar or priest. Discuss any special readings for the wedding ceremony. Make copies of these readings and forward to those who you have asked to do the reading so they have plenty of time to practice.

�–  Arrange final dress fitting. Make sure you bring along the shoes and lingerie that you will wear on your wedding day.

�–  Arrange rehearsal dinner. The rehearsal dinner allows close family and friends from both sides to meet each other, some for the first time. The rehearsal dinner is usually a casual affair and never as formal an event as the actual wedding. You can host it at a family member’s home, a small restaurant or banquet hall.

�–  Purchase wedding favours. Contrary to popular belief, wedding favours (the gifts that each guest takes home with her to remember the day) are not essential. If you choose to provide these gifts to commemorate your event, there are many choices available from sugared almonds to small wine bottles emblazoned with yourpicture on its label.

�–  Purchase wedding party gifts. You can thank your wedding attendants by purchasing accessories they can wear on the big day such as cufflinks, earrings or handbags.


�–  Purchase a small gift for each other, just to say ‘I love you’.

�–  Purchase the guest book. Place the guest book at the entrance to the reception room so that each one of your guests can write a special message.

�–  Organise order of service sheets. More and more couples are creating them to hand out before the wedding ceremony. They outline the ceremony’s agenda, its readings and its participants. Most importantly, if necessary, it can assist those guests who are not of the same religion or faith.

�–  Change your last name. If you plan to change your last name, consider your driver’s license, passport, credit cards and bank accounts.

�–  Send wedding announcements to newspapers. Let the local newspapers announce your wedding.

�–  Send wedding invitations. Allow your guests enough time to make necessary arrangements.

�–  Arrange trial-runs. Meet with your hair stylist and/or make-up artists.

�–  Order thank you notes. You may receive wedding gifts well before the actual wedding day. Not only is a ‘thank you’ expected by the gift-giver but it also acknowledges the fact that you actually received the gift.


�–  Pick up wedding dress. Make sure the wedding dress is stuffed to preserve its shape and covered with a protective bag.

�–  Finalise seating plan. Involve both sets of parents. They can inform you of any rifts between family and/or friends.

�–  Inform caterer or banquet manager of the final guest count.

�–  Write speeches. A speech during the wedding reception is expected. A simple ‘thank you’ for those who have shared in the day’s festivities and who have come near and far to witness the love and commitment you have for one another should suffice, if you prefer to keep it simple.

�–  Address wedding announcements. Announcements are for those family and friends who were not able to attend the wedding.

�–  Confirm hair and make up appointment.

�–  Confirm details with vendors. Secure details with florists, photographers, caterers, videographers and entertainment.

�–  Pass out wedding day schedules. Make sure each wedding day participant is aware of the day’s activities and their role.

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