Read an Excerpt
You are engaged. Best wishes to you and your fiance for all the happiness in the world--now and for always!
Now that the exciting and sometimes hectic fun of planning your wedding is before you, Check List is here to help with every aspect of this thrilling and often overwhelming endeavor.
If your engagement has not already been announced, please refer to p. 17 for a full guide to various ways to make that announcement, notify newspapers and attend to other preliminaries. If these activities have been taken care of, then on to the main event--your wedding.
Wedding plans equal lists, and lists equal efficiency. This checklist has been compiled just for you, giving you the perfect formula for your perfect wedding--correct, complete and in chronological order. Just follow the items of instruction one by one as they are listed, referring to the appropriate chapters in the book for information. When you have taken care of each item, check it off. If an item does not fit your plan, cross it off and forget it. When you have considered and attended to all the items, you will have achieved your perfect wedding with a minimum of confusion.
While this checklist is addressed to happy brides-to-be the world over, it is designed equally for the grooms, the mothers and any involved family members and friends. You will see where some sections seem to be directed to the bride and others to the mother. These are for the most part interchangeable; the most important aspect is to get the item completed and checked off when it needs to be!
My own role was that of mother of the bride, and I found that while the bride blissfully floated along on her personal cloud, many of the more earthly tasks fell to me. We have all attended many weddings, but we tend to overlook the details. This is as it should be. The machinery behind a carefully planned wedding is never evident, but it is always there.
How many mothers of a bride-to-be have awakened in the middle of the night startled by unanswered questions?
"How do I cope with Ted's mother and his stepmother?"
"What number can I give the caterer when so many guests still haven't responded?"
"What is Sue supposed to do with seven salad bowls?"
Having found the answers to these and every other question that needed answering, I noted them. I saved my checklist at the request of many friends who sensed that the serenity and beauty of our daughter's wedding could have been achieved only through meticulous planning. From my notes, followed by deep personal research, came the original edition of Check List for a Perfect Wedding.
It is my good fortune--and yours, too, I hope--that Doubleday approved the periodic revisions and updating that have taken place over the years. Continual research, questions from friends and strangers, and my question-and-answer columns have kept me in touch with a variety of problems and situations from diverse sources. Now on the way to two million copies, we celebrate with yet another newly revised, updated and expanded edition.
Brides and their mothers will know that by the wedding day it is too late to change plans, remedy mistakes or add forgotten details. Rely on this new book with confidence, and know that all will be done, and done well.
There are those rare people who thrive under last-minute pressure. They have the physical and emotional makeup that lets them work under that kind of tension, and miraculously, some get by. If you are like that, Bravo! and I hope your luck continues. Most of us learn to expect the unexpected, however, and that we must provide time for it. This leeway time is essential in planning a wedding and reception, when so many separate, isolated details must meld at zero hour--the wedding day.
How often do I hear, "Can you believe it? I've called four of the best photographers, and they've been booked for months!" Another wail comes from a bride-to-be who just discovered she was too late for delivery of the gown she "adored." Nine months to a year or more is none too soon to begin all your arrangements.
The traditional wedding in all its glory is more popular than ever. Make your plans, but always remember your objective--a happy, serene, memorable day, not a stage production.
Magazine and newspaper articles headline the high cost of weddings. Yes, they can be, and often are, but this is up to you. Feel confident that the elaborateness and cost of your wedding will not make it outstanding, so do not put a financial strain on your parents or yourself and your groom. With much thought and careful planning item by item, you can arrange your flawless wedding while staying within your means. You will find throughout Check List numerous ideas for prudently keeping expenses down; frequently the book will suggest workable alternatives. Never economize on effort and planning, however--they are the essential factors that will make your wedding beautiful!
In our diverse society, marriages sometimes bring together persons of different cultures. Each has something of value to contribute, providing the opportunity to incorporate customs or traditions from each culture. To do so is not a compromise but, rather, a meaningful addition to your ceremony, and to your lives together.
Toward the end of this book you will find chapters on second marriages, home/garden weddings and nontraditional weddings. These chapters were written so that Check List will be helpful to any bride in any wedding situation.
Since the original version of Check List for a Perfect Wedding was written, computers have become an integral part of almost all of our lives. Computers can be invaluable, with a variety of websites and software programs to help you with everything from guest lists and table seating to budgeting, gift registry and catering suggestions. All of these are available for referral, while you rely on the basic and trustworthy information found in this compact and portable Check List, your primary resource for wedding planning. Although there is no question that a lovely wedding can be planned without the use of a computer, our website, weddingschecklist.com, is available to complement your use of Check List for a Perfect Wedding.
Weddings should be fun, and yours will be if your nerves are not frayed by too many details. Go to sleep each night with the assurance that when you awaken the next day, you have only to consult your Check List. It will do the worrying for you. Relax. Enjoy the excitement and have fun.
Barbara Lee Follett
(MRS. BENJAMIN N. FOLLETT III)
With updates and revisions by Loulie Hyde Sutro
(MRS. JOHN A. SUTRO, JR.)
The Master Checklist
The following checklist is your secret to a perfect wedding. Keep this book handy--even carry it with you.
I want you to feel comfortable that everything you will need is contained here. Consider spending time browsing through the entire book to give you a sense that you are in good hands and "all will be revealed."
You will often use the sections titled "Important Contacts" and "Notes" as convenient places to record special names, addresses and telephone numbers.
The Checklist items in bold type are discussed in depth; just refer to the section of the book in which they are included, or look up key words in the index. Items not bolded speak for themselves.
ANNOUNCING YOUR ENGAGEMENT
(See pages 17 to 26.)
* Tell your parents and your fiance's parents.
* Arrange for your families to meet.
* Announce to your friends.
* Contact your local newspapers.
(See pages 27 to 41.)
* Decide what type of wedding you will have, the degree of formality and the approximate size.
* Engage a bridal consultant, if you wish.
* Set the date and hour for the wedding.
* Reserve the venue for the wedding and rehearsal, and make certain the officiator is available.
* If it is to be a church wedding, arrange a time for you and your fiance to talk with the clergyman.
* Plan church arrangements.
* Reserve the reception venue, one that is large enough to hold a 75 percent rate of acceptance.
GETTING YOUR TEAM IN PLACE
(See pages 42 to 60.)
* Engage the caterer and make preliminary plans.
* Engage the florist and set a date for a conference.
* Engage the photographer and a video camera person, if you plan to have one.
* Arrange for music at the wedding.
* Engage musicians for the reception.
Arranging the Wedding Party
(See pages 61 to 80.)
* Select the bridesmaids, maid or matron of honor, ushers, best man and others.
* Ensure the groom is aware of his responsibilities.
* Confer with the groom's family concerning their participation and responsibilities.
A LITTLE PAPERWORK
(See pages 81 to 94.)
* Copy all wedding party names, addresses, phone numbers, faxes and e-mail addresses into the back of this book and into your computer or card file.
* With input from both families as well as the bride and groom, begin to put together a guest list in your computer or card file; set a deadline for final lists.
* Make a detailed calendar for the months preceding your wedding date.
* Purchase a notebook in which to record wedding gifts as they arrive.
* Plan activities for out-of-town attendees.
* Announce your engagement in the press.
* Prepare your home for house guests.
GETTING INTO IT
(See pages 95 to 130.)
* If the reception is to be at a home, begin planning logistics, decor and any necessary refurbishing.
* Select and purchase (or order) your wedding gown and veil.
* Select and purchase wedding shoes and break them in.
* Select and arrange for attendants' dresses and headpieces; advise them about shoes, jewelry, makeup and accessories.
* Advise the mothers on dress colors so they may make their selections.
* Decide on the men's attire.
* Whether hiring limousines or using friends, contract (or arrange) all wedding party transportation to the ceremony and from the ceremony to the reception.
* Order stationery.
* Select and register for silver, china, crystal and housewares; list the stores in the back of this book, as well as in your computer or card file.
* Readvise all family members of the invitation list deadline.
* Select and purchase your going-away outfit and trousseau.
* Plan for your married living arrangements.
* Follow up with bridesmaids and ushers in terms of what they will wear and the fittings that will be involved.
* Make appointments for medical and dental checkups; have a blood test if required.
* Order wedding invitations and announcements.
* Calendar a date to mail invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding.
* Decide upon the particulars of your wedding reception.
GIFTS AND APPOINTMENTS
(See pages 131 to 144.)
* Promptly open and catalog all wedding gifts as they come in, and plan for them.
* Keep up with your thank-you notes.
* Check your calendar and pace the timing of your appointments, parties and engagements.
* Arrange for bridal gown fittings as necessary.
* Prepare guest lists for those who have offered to entertain for you.
* Schedule bridal showers and parties with your friends.
* Coordinate other parties
* Send a schedule of shower and party dates to the bridal party.
* Remind the groom to get a blood test if required.
* Select the groom's ring if it is to be a double-ring ceremony, and have it engraved.
* Select a wedding gift for the groom (optional).
* Select keepsake-type gifts for the bridesmaids, flower girl and ring bearer.
* Remind the groom to select gifts for his ushers.
* Order thank-you (hostess) gifts or flowers for those who entertain for you.
* Remind the groom to reserve rental suits for the male members of the bridal party.
* Check your luggage and plan your packing for the honeymoon.
* If you choose, plan a family champagne/wine tasting party to make appropriate selections.
* Change your name on all important business papers (insurance, credit cards, bank accounts, legal documents, driver's license), if applicable.
* See your attorney about making a will.
* Make an appointment for hair, manicure, pedicure and trial makeup early in the week before the wedding.
* Schedule hair and makeup appointments for yourself and your bridesmaids the day of the wedding.
IT'S GETTING CLOSE NOW!
(See pages 145 to 165.)
* Address and stamp wedding invitations and announcements.
* Research where you want your wedding publicized and the publication policy of each newspaper. (See pages 26, 87 to 89.)
* Plan housing arrangements for the out-of-town bridal attendants. (See pages 89 to 91.)
* Arrange for valet parking, shuttles and/or an off-duty policeman to direct traffic and provide security, if necessary.
* Keep the groom's family up to date on the guest list and wedding gifts received.
* Arrange a place for the bride and bridesmaids to dress on the wedding day.
* Arrange a venue for wedding photographs. (See pages 55 to 56.)
* If you are a member of the officiating clergyman's church, or if you know him, arrange for your mother to hand-deliver a wedding invitation to him and his wife.
* Calendar a time to go with the groom to get a marriage license.
* Arrange a bachelorette party for your bridesmaids.
* Save some ribbons from gift and shower packages for your bridesmaids to make into mock bouquets to use at the wedding rehearsal.
* Arrange for a rehearsal dinner party to be given the night of the rehearsal.
* Send reserved-pew cards to special guests and family members, or tell them to identify themselves to the ushers so they can be seated in front pews.
* Select a responsible person to handle the guest book at the reception.
* Design your wedding program and have it printed.
* Plan for something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue!
* Recheck all purveyors by phone, including caterer, florist, photographer, video person, musicians, stationer, drivers and parking attendants, wedding dress delivery, church arrangements, cake delivery.
THE HOME STRETCH
(See pages 166 to 175.)
* Deliver "weekend packets" to hotels where out-of-town guests will stay.
* Think about the wedding rehearsal and make your decisions as early as possible.
* Count acceptances for the reception and estimate the number of late responses; notify the caterer.
* If you are using them, be sure someone has alphabetized and properly arranged your seating cards at the reception.
* Gather in one place everything you will need to dress for the wedding; remind the groom to do the same.
* Remind the groom to arrange for the best man to drive the getaway car and check it for gas, or to order a car or taxi.
* Remind the maid of honor that it is her duty to inform the bride's parents and the groom's parents when the bride and groom are ready to leave after the reception.
From the Trade Paperback edition.