1. Decide on the type of ceremony, ie, religious or civil.
2. Do have a selection of alternative dates in mind when organizing the ceremony. The first questions you will be asked is where and when; Everything else will depend on the date and time fixed for the ceremony.
3. For those considering a religious ceremony take a look at the Church of England web site this has lots of advice and suggestions.
Many people marry in their own local church, but you might like to marry in a church away from where you live because it has special significance for you through family or other connections. Thanks to a change in the law, you can now be married in a church of your choice, providing that you can meet any one of the following criteria:
That one of you:
Has at any time lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
Was baptized in the parish concerned or
Was prepared for confirmation in the parish or
Has at any time regularly went to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months or
That one of your parents, at any time after you were born:
Has lived in the parish for a period of at least 6 months or
Has regularly just gone to normal church services in the parish church for a period of at least 6 months or
That one of your parents or grandsparents:
Was married in the parish
4. For those considering a civil ceremony there is an abundance of choice from registry offices to sanctioned concessions, such as hotels and country houses.
5. Consider your budget – For a basic church ceremony the present cost is a little under £ 320. However, an organist, a choir, or bell-ringers will increase this cost. Usually the greatest expense is the reception and evening celebrations. As a rule of thumb, the more guests the greater the expense. Get quotes and decide what you can afford and where you may need to compromise.
6. Flowers tend to be governed by season and price. There are magazines devoted to bridal flowers with lots of ideas. When selecting a florist try to see their work before hand and show them examples of the ideas you have. It is also useful for the florist to visit your chosen venues if they are going to be dressing these areas for you. A photo of the wedding dress will also assist when selecting a shape for the bridal bouquet.
7. For your wedding dress, the average lead-time is around 4 to 6 months. Try on a variety of styles and take photographs of yourself in them. This will enable you to get other peoples opinions and compare different dresses. If you are planning to diet and change dress size before your big day – try to get as near the desired size as possible prior to purchasing your dress, for if an alteration is necessary after your dress is delivered, a one size reduction is considered okay , but you run a risk with anything more.
8. The men may choose to buy or hire their wedding attire. Again, options are many and varied. You may consider hiring a gener option!
9. Decide on a theme color or style for your day. This will help you pull everything together and make the day flow visually. You may want a bridesmaid, ushers and pages. A color theme will help here with dress selections and tie and waistcoat co-ordination.
10. Your choice of stationery is another opportunity to pull a theme together be it by color or style. There are many options, and it is possible to have everything personalized to your theme from Save The Date cards to Thank You cards.
11. Music is an integral part of the wedding day experience from the service to the first dance. The Church of England web site has a range of hymns and music suggestions including copyright information. In addition, there are helpful sites on the internet with music suggestions for every type of ceremony.
12. Consider what your guests are going to do for the reminder of the day after the ceremony. How do you want to feed and entertain them and for how long. Location is also important, how far are your guests traveling – will they need accommodation. You may want to factor in all or some of these issues when selecting your choice of venue.
13. If you are planning an evening reception there are various entertainment options from the disco to live bands, from casino tables to magicians. Think about what you and your guests may enjoy. Bear in mind the age ranges of your guests. Sometimes a quiet area with comfortable seating is good for older guests.
14. Bridal transport – well the skies the limit! A large saloon car is useful for those with large skirted wedding dresses, but anything goes from horse and carriage to helicopter. Check out local bridal car companies in order to keep costs to a minimum as most charge by the mile traveled.
15. Wedding cakes are another important part of the big day. Some choose cup cakes and others a more traditional cake made with fruit, sponge, or chocolate. When selecting a supplier, taste a sample, make sure you will like it. Consider if it needs to be cut and distributed to guests who will do this and when. Some cakes are not firm and not very easy to cut – this is something for you to consider before selecting your choice of cake style and baker.
16. The wedding photographer will be very important. It is down to this person to record your day for prosperity. You will need to trust and feel at ease with this person, the better the relationship the more relaxed you will be and the better the pictures. Looking at a photographer's body of work will help you decide if you like the style. Discuss with him / her how you want the finished work to be presented, for example on a CD, selected photos in a presentation album or a Photo book. Meeting with potential photographers is essential to ensure the right chemistry is there for a good working relationship.
17. On the day you may choose to have a hairdresser and make up artist. Ensure you meet these people in good time before the wedding day – do a dummy run beforehand so you can make sure there are no surprises on your big day
18. There are many options when considering bridal jewelery, from tiaras to necklaces and bracelets – you may even want to link your jewelery to your color theme. With regard to wedding rings, make sure you choose in good time before the day. There are so many options from matching bands to engraved bespoke pieces made just for you and your partner on this special day.
19. Traditionally a small favor is left on the table for your guests to enjoy. There is a myriad of options from sugared almonds, or personalized biscuits to lottery tickets! Think what you would enjoy to receive. Other gifts to consider are that of the best man, bridesmaids, pages and parents. Most people choose a small keepsake as a thank you to those who have helped with the wedding arrangements.
20. After the wedding you will probably want to get away for a honeymoon or minimoon. Be sure to tell the hotel or tour operator it's your honeymoon, very often these routes will do a little extra for the newly weds. Important! When booking flights make sure you book in the names that match your passports.
21. Research is the key to finding good services, and the right people at the right price. Use wedding fairs, bridal magazines and the internet. Write everything down in a booklet; keep a pocket folder for quotations and business cards etc. Make sure you follow up bookings before the wedding day, just in case! I have heard of many couples left in the lurch at the last minuet over some key supplier. Sometimes it pays to be a nuisance.
22. Lastly: The best advice I can give is this: Enjoy every minute of the day. One undeniable fact is, the day will be over in a flash.