Just Engaged And Completely Overwhelmed? Read This Now!
Lose the Laziness
One mistake that many couples make is basking in the glow of their engagement until 4-6 months before their wedding date. Then they try to cram all of the planning into a too-short period of time. Of course you should just sit back and be thrilled about your engagement for a while, but then you've gotta get cracking!
Buy a Calendar or Datebook
Once you determine your wedding date, set specific dates by which you want to get things accomplished. For example, you got engaged in June, and your wedding date is April 24. On August 31, mark in that you want to have the ceremony location and reception hall reserved. Try to get as much done as possible in the first few months so that the last few months won't be hectic.
Set Aside Time
Choose a day of the week when you'll focus on the wedding details, or several days if you're pressed for time. Sit down together and plan. This eliminates confusion -- i.e., the groom thinking he's supposed to call and check on hall rentals when the bride already has it narrowed down to what will suit their needs.
This is the best way to get things done. You both should be involved every step of the way. Make a list of details to be taken care of, then divide the list in half. Each of you choose what you want to do. This will make grooms want to be involved, instead of making them feel like they have to help. Sure, your sweetie probably isn't concerned with exactly which flowers you carry. And maybe you're not picky about what tuxedos he and the guys wear (or maybe you are!). But involving your husband-to-be will make him feel that it's his wedding, too -- something he helped plan, not just something he has to show up at. Which brings us to...
Talk, Talk, Talk
We can't stress this enough. Be sure that if you're sharing duties that you're also sharing the details. It's okay to take care of certain things by yourself, just make sure you're telling each other about it so the caterer isn't contracted with twice!
Okay. So you really didn't want the groom/ushers in those tails and top hats. And maybe he doesn't want the cake to be lemon with pecan icing (!). Each of you is going to want things that the other doesn't care for, but flexibility is a must. Be willing to bend. If you really object to something, let your objection be duly heard and noted. Just give the other person a chance to explain why he/she really wants to arrive at the reception in a hot tub in the back of the limo.
Details, Contracts, and Negotiations
When dealing with wedding professionals (caterers, florists, etc.), be sure to clarify all the details and your expectations during the initial discussions. Make sure you get a contract specifically stating dates, times, and locations. Be sure to include what you feel is appropriate dress, and what you feel isn't. Spell out everything. Try to negotiate the best deal for goods and services, but don't sell yourself short on important things just to get a better price.
Most importantly, be sure to read the fine print on every contract before you sign it, and make sure you're aware of cancellation policies and fees. Also ask if there's a grace period to cancel just in case you change your mind or something happens and you need to postpone the wedding (you never know).
This one's pretty obvious! The more organized you are, the less chance there is that something will go wrong. Buy a notebook, and keep all your wedding information in it. Receipts, contracts, ideas -- everything. You might also want to get notebooks for your maid of honor/bridesmaids and the best man. Put info such as dates, times, locations, and duties. This will keep everyone organized as well, and minimize the chance of someone missing a fitting date or rehearsal time.