Weddings and receptions require planning, organization, and follow-through. The best way to keep track of everything is to have a checklist.
As the wedding day approaches, everything happens so quickly; it’s easy to forget or overlook something critical. It’s always a good idea to write everything down and cross it off the list as it gets done. Even if a wedding planner or bridal coordinator is involved, the bride and groom should know what is going on.
A Year Before the Wedding
Make decisions as early as possible. Interview prospective vendors and discuss with each other as well as family members who are involved in the process.
Informal versus formal reception Indoor or outdoor wedding and reception Number of guests Date and time of reception Reception budget Cake tasting Alcohol or not What type of music—band or DJ Transportation from wedding to the reception Interview photographers and videographers Establish wedding registries
Go ahead and make reservations once everything is agreed upon. Most vendors will require a deposit with the contract.
Reception location Caterer Bar service Band or DJ Limo service Photographer and videographer Baker for the wedding cake Florist Decorator
Many brides and grooms are setting up a wedding planning website and email list. This keeps everyone informed on the events as they unfold, without the concern of anyone being left out of the loop. If save-the-date magnets or cards are being used, send them four to six months before the wedding.
Six Months Before the Wedding
Some decisions need to be made in order to secure supplies and food.
Discuss the menu, linens, decorations, tableware, and glassware with the banquet manager or caterer. Decide how to serve the food—sit-down dinner or buffet. Go over the cake cutting and how dessert will be served with the banquet manager. Discuss the bar arrangements if alcohol is served. Decide what to give guests as favors, if any. Place the order. Order all stationery that will be needed for the reception. This includes menus, printed napkins, and any other paper accessories. Make arrangements for linen rentals if needed. All other decorations should be decided on and ordered.
If the reception is held outdoors, there are other important considerations.
Dance floor Tables and chairs Lighting—electric, tiki torches or candles Barbecue grills if not provided by the caterer
One Month Before the Wedding
Finalize plans and follow up with all the vendors to confirm.
Photographer Videographer Seating plan for the head table Seating plan for parents of the bride and groom and their families Seating plan for guests Band or DJ song list
Plan the schedule for all events at the reception.
Time and place of receiving line Introduction to the bridal party When to serve food Bar schedule When toasts will begin Who will speak Order of speakers When the music should begin Order of dances (bride and groom’s first dance, the bride and her father, etc.) Traditional dances Bouquet toss Garter toss Bride and groom’s getaway
A month before the wedding is also a good time to ask friends to assist with the guest book, guard the wedding gifts, and make sure the gifts are delivered to a designated location that is predetermined.
After everything has been decided, it’s a good idea to make copies for the bride, groom, their parents, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. If everyone is clear on their responsibilities, the event will run much more smoothly.