Read an Excerpt
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Producing a wedding involves endless details, pressing deadlines, family drama, and -- far too often -- enough stress to kill any prenuptial honeymoon period. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner is a couple's secret weapon against such insanity. It's your cheat sheet -- telling you what you need to know and do, and when. It's your insiders guide -- giving you TheKnot.com's most essential expert advice in bite-size pieces. It's your security blanket -- the next best thing to a guarantee that you'll have a memorable wedding without losing your mind.
Here's how to get he most out of these jam-packed pages:
Don't Leave Home Without It
You never know when someone will mention this amazing caterer or you'll remeber a must-not-forget-name for your guest list. Take this book with you everywhere. Jot down all your wedding notes in one place (use the inside covers if you run out of room in the notes areas). Must-have accessories include a pen, a small spiral-bound notebook, and a heavyweight two-pocket folder -- label one side Research and the other Completed Contracts. (Since we're all on the go, we aren't fans of the fifteen-pound planner, but if you think you'll be tearing out tons of magazine pages and collecting piles of brochures, you may want a three-ring binder or accordion file.)
Use Your Imagination
Before you get overwhelmed by all the minutiae, sit down together and read Chapter 2, "Getting Started." It's meant to get your juices flowing with a worksheet to help you envision exactly what kind of wedding you want to have. Keep an open mind and have some fun with it; your answers will inform future detail decisions. You'll also need to finalize a budget before you spend a dime -- our easy worksheet will help you do it.
Stay on Schedule
Chapter 1 is an overall wedding-planning calendar and checklist that lays out the entire process and tells you what to do when. Read it all the way through before you begin to get a sense of the timing involved. To personalize it, backtrack from your wedding date and fill in the actual deadlines: one month before, two months before, and so on. The calendar refers you to the chapters in this book that get into detail on specific topics.
Do Your Homework
The worksheets at the start of each chapter will help you focus your thoughts and create a vision for each aspect of your wedding. Have everyone involved in the decision making help with these exercises to make sure you're all on the same page before you begin. Once you have an idea of what you're looking for, you'll need to find a professional to handle the task. Don't hire anyone until you've asked each and every question on the lists in each chapter. The answers will clue you in to how professionals approach their work -- and to whether their approach is appropriate for your wedding.
Take Our Advice
In each chapter we share out most essential Knot Knowledge -- what we've learned in our years of experience talking to wedding professionals and hundreds of thousands of brides and grooms. Read these essential tips and money-saving tricks; the peruse the "Ask Carley" sections for up-to-date answers to the most frequently asked questions in each category before you make any final decisions. For our comprehensive advice -- and unlimited ideas -- be sure to get a copy of our companion reference, the 450-page The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World, and, of course, log on to our highly acclaimed Web site at www.the-knot.com (AOL keyword: Knot).
Delve into Detail
The latter part of each chapter gets into the specifics of executing your plan. Use our checklists to make sure your contracts with each vendor are complete. Fill in the contact cheat sheet for each professional you hire -- you'll need easy access to their information as other vendors request it or when it's needed in an emergency. (Hint: Staple business cards to each vendor's contact page. it will halp you to turn to them easily.)
Have It Your Way
This book is about realistic guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Feel free to personalize the process according to your own priorities. If photography means everything to you, by all means, secure your photographer and spend 10 percent of your budget on your package instead of the suggested 8 percent (just make sure it all still adds up to 100 percent). Same goes for etiquette: We give you the guidelines, but you need to judge your own situation.
Enjoy the Ride
Okay, we admit it: planning a wedding can be a roller-coaster ride. But considering this is likely to be the most extravagant party you'll ever throw in your lives, you'd better have a blast -- from your first hour brainstorming right through the last five seconds of your reception. We'll help, of course, but you're ultimately responsible for delighting in every up and riding out every down. Some general advice: Don't drive yourself insane over every detail. Declare some days wedding-fee zones. And, most of all, maintain your sense of humor. Laughter will go a long way toward keeping th love bug alive throughout the planning process.