My Main Advice? Before you start planning ANYTHING, sit down and discuss what is really important to each of you. Pick one or two CORE things, and make the rest of the decisions in such a way that they support that core purpose. Our core ideas were that we wanted to be surrounded by friends and family, and that we wanted all of our guests to be comfortable. We were also determined to stay within our budget. Our key words when it came to the ceremony were Serious & Joyful. Once you make those decisions, the rest fall in line. Bright yellow flowers for everyone, some grown at home? Joyful, and good for the budget! :)
How Much Will It All Cost? This is an interesting calculator that may or may not be helpful. Our favorite game was to go through the list and see what expenses we could chop!
2. Next? Organize all your data. We used This Workbook, but a dear friend recommends The Google Document System. Looking back, I wish we'd used Google Documents as it would have been easier to upload / download all of our (laboriously entered) pile of addresses. That said, my favorite part of the entire wedding planning process remains the evening that we shopped through 5 stores in search of the perfect address book in which to merge our lists of family and friends.
3. Figure out what you'll promise. I spent a LOT of time thinking about the ceremony, the readings, and the vows. After all, they're what make it a wedding, regardless of what you're wearing. My most frequently visited resource were the IndieBride discussion boards. (Yes, I know it says bride in the name, but it has info for everyone!) My biggest worry in recommending this website is that it seems to be nearing the end of its active life. That said, the depth of the discussion boards is quite helpful, and the tone is generally positive and inclusive. And hey, maybe posting it here will help revive it! (The Offbeat Bride seems to be an offspring of the IndieBride site. Enjoy!) 3.5 About those readings, here is another good resource: Poets.org
4. Mind your manners. Weddings tend to exacerbate the inner etiquette maven we all try to deny we possess. So, knowing that this is the biggest party you'll likely ever throw, go ahead and educate yourself. That way, when folks start nattering on about "You should . . ." you'll already know what is considered "proper." Then go ahead and do what you want to do! Here's a great book: Wedding Etiquette Hell: The Bride's Bible to Avoiding Everlasting Damnation, and the equally wonderful website.
4.5 Addressing the invitations: despite my best intentions, we ended up sending double-enveloped invitations, with all the drama that entailed. Here's your reference website. Yes, people notice. Take the time and do it right. You'll feel good in the morning!
- Do It Yourself Massive site. Enjoy!
- Ruffled Blog (but if you choose to do the project the link will take you to, I'll smack you. I really will!)
10. One Last Piece of Advice: Don't Open a Gift Unless You're Ready to Write the Thank You Note! (pen, note, stamp, and time all ready!) Yes, this may mean a pile of un-opened gifts may accumulate, but that's ok. Opening a gift is always fun, and that makes the note painless to write. The more traditional route of creating a list of who gave what and opening everything at once may seem efficient, but I guarantee it won't be as much fun, and it'll take a LOT longer. We started out following our system, and then ended up being pushed into opening a large stack without taking the time to write notes as we opened. It was fun at the time, but dealing with the list of notes to be written was *ahem* not as much fun. Note: when you get stuck, freshen up your phrases with a google search. It'll help keep you from feeling like a robot!