A Simple Guide To Planning a Wedding

Just married couple together in nature background

The Avenue Banquet Hall is the ideal location to have your wedding reception and wedding ceremony in Toronto.

You are getting married to the person of your dreams and you are feeling excited, happy, and full of love and commitment. Now it is time to plan the wedding, a special celebration to commemorate your eternal love for each other. At first, planning a wedding can seem overwhelming, but when broken down into manageable tasks, you can breeze through it like a pro. Just remember this is one of the most important days of your life. Relax, keep it simple, and enjoy every moment of the experience.

There are many types and styles of weddings in Canada, but most of these celebrations have borrowed traditions from the French, the English, and the Americans. Regardless of the style and design of your wedding, keep it a laidback joie de vivre affair and you and your guests will have a wonderful day to remember. Keeping this joy of living attitude in mind, here are ten organizational tasks to plan that perfect wedding.

Like any other major event, it is always best to have a year or more of planning, but you can still plan the ideal wedding in far less time. The easiest way to get started is to break down the event into groups of manageable tasks. The first task is to set the parameters of the event and the overall theme. The most important considerations are the date of the wedding, the city where you want to have the ceremony, how many guests you would like to invite, and the venue for the wedding and the reception. If you want to have your event at a location that is popular with other brides and grooms, you might have to adjust your date according to the availability of your first choice in venue.

After you have locked in your venue, it is time to plan your theme, colors, and calendar of events. Do you plan to have an engagement party, a wedding shower, trousseau tea, a bachelor party, a bachelorette party, or a rehearsal dinner? Once you have decided which events you want to have, choose tentative dates and mark them in a calendar and place the calendar into a three-ring binder. This binder will be your planner for all of your preparations, contracts, and notes for your wedding. Now you need to decide which of your friends and family would be ideal to host these events for you. Inviting your closest friends and family to participate in your wedding will be an honor for them and it will make your event even more memorable.

The third important task on your checklist is to focus on a realistic budget. How much money do you have to spend? Will you share expenses with your parents or the groom? This will determine the rest of the planning and will be applicable to all of your decisions regarding caterers, florists, musicians, your wedding dress, and the myriad of items that will have to be purchased for your big day. If you are on a tight budget, you may have to make concessions here or there. Write your budget on paper, rather than relying on your memory or “guesstimates,” and add it to your binder so you can refer to it often during the planning process. Surprises, especially financial ones, can cause added stress that you don’t want during this precious time.

Your fourth checklist item is to choose your wedding party and ask for commitments from each participant. Make a list of contact information for each participant and place this in your binder. How many bridesmaids and groomsmen will you have? Who will be your maid-of-honor and the best man for the groom? Do you want a ring bearer and a flower girl? Be sure to tell the participants what is expected of them and what it will cost. Do they need to buy bridesmaid’s dresses or rent tuxedos? Being clear about your plans up front will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings.

Your next checklist item is to start your guest list. Remember to consider your budget when planning your list of guests. It is difficult to accept, but cutting your guest list will reduce your expenses. Make a chart with columns for the name of each guest, the mailing address, gifts, thank you note sent, food preference, and RSVP number attending. This will be invaluable to you as you talk to caterers, plan seating arrangements, and write thank you notes for gifts received. Place this in your binder with the other items.

The sixth item to check off is to book your officiant, photographer / videographer, and musicians. Do you plan to have a minister preside over the ceremony, or a chaplain, a Justice of the Peace, or a friend? Do you plan to write your own vows or do you want a unity candle ceremony? Do you plan to have professional photographs taken, or will a friend or family member be recording this special day for you? Do you plan to have an organist for the ceremony, or a guitarist, or a singer? Will you have a DJ at the reception or a band? These are decisions that need to be made early in the planning process so that they can be booked and contracted for your date.

If you are planning to have an engagement party, then this should be planned and arranged at this time also, and if you want to place it in the newspaper, you should send the announcement and photos to the media. Traditionally the family of the bride hosts this party, but in this modern age, it really is up to you and your fiancé. The bride’s family can host, the groom’s family can host, the families can co-host, or the bride and groom can host it themselves. It is a special time for the two families and close friends of the bride and groom to get to know each other. Pick a date, choose a venue, and make a guest list. This party should be held a few weeks after the engagement is announced. When you send out invitations, if you would prefer not to receive gifts at this time, include a note with the invitation kindly requesting no gifts. If guests do bring gifts, open them privately after the party.

Now on to the fun part! The seventh item on your checklist is to look for that beautiful wedding dress made especially for you. Remember to plan on several fittings so that the dress looks its very best on you. You can purchase the veil at this time or you can wait until later. If you are trying to save money, veils are extremely easy to make and most large fabric stores have a selection of crown adornments to accent and anchor the veil. You might want to consider making it yourself. There are plenty of instructions on line. Plan a day out with your bridesmaids and maid-of-honor and pick your bridesmaids dresses. Even though it isn’t necessary, it is a great idea to choose dresses that can be worn after the wedding with a few minor adjustments.

Moving on to number eight on your checklist, it is time to meet with your caterers, florists, bakers, and limousine service. Compare prices, visit their shops, and carefully consider your choices. Place the contracts and information about each vendor in your binder. This is also a good time to order your invitations, mail out “Save the Date” postcards, and order custom photograph postage stamps. If you plan to have a program or embossed napkins or other items, the same printer can also handle these items for you. There are frequently discounts for packaged printing services. In this digital age of Internet and social media, you might want to set up your own wedding website or Facebook page. You can provide all of the latest information, gift registration, and details about the wedding, reception, parties, events, and travel directions on this site so that your guests will have everything they need at their fingertips.

You and your fiancé should also start planning your honeymoon, and if needed, make sure passports are up to date and vaccinations are current for any foreign ports of call. This is one of the most special times of your life. Consider where you want to go, what you want to do when you get there, and what you want to wear for all of those personal and public appearances! This is your time! Enjoy it to the fullest!

Item nine on your checklist is to send out the invitations, purchase your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts, and decide on the order of the wedding ceremony and the reception. You can address the invitations yourself or you can hire a calligrapher to make them more elegant. A nice alternative is to choose a script font and print them on your desktop printer. A portable Canon works especially well for this purpose. Mail the invitations six weeks before the wedding and request an RSVP response for three weeks prior to the wedding. As your RSVPs come in, enter them into your Guest List database.

As you are now very close to this special event, decide who you would like to give toasts at the reception. It is always a good idea to give the toaster advance notice so that he/she can plan what he/she wants to say on that day. If you want any special readings or vocal solos at the wedding ceremony, plan what you want read and what songs you would like to hear. Contact the people who will be doing this part of the service and share with them what you would like. With the help of the officiant, finalize the order of the wedding ceremony.  It is a great idea to send your schedule of events for the day to the officiant, the photographer, the musicians, and the vendors. This effort will make sure that everyone understands their part in the total schedule of events.

The final items on your schedule prior to the wedding are to check in with everyone, complete your public wedding announcement, get your marriage license, assign reception seating, and enjoy your big day. If you would like for your wedding announcement to be in the newspaper, local magazine, or online media, send out the information and any photographs to be printed. Take a break, cut loose and enjoy your bachelorette and bachelor parties. Then grab your sweetie and get the marriage license. Since it varies depending on where you live, be sure to leave enough time to get this done prior to the big day. Assign the seating for the reception based on your RSVP Guest List database. Check with the groom and make sure he and his groomsmen have rented their tuxedos and have had them fitted.

The time is now – it has finally arrived – the week of your wedding. Ask your friends and family to help you with the small tasks of the day, to help you dress, and to give you something borrowed and something blue.  If you are wearing new shoes, break them in before walking down the aisle. You want to be as comfortable as possible on your wedding day. Send driving directions to the drivers, final head count to the caterer, and final instructions to the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Breathe deeply … and exhale … the time has come … and you are ready.

With this day you are building memories to last a lifetime. No matter how hard you plan and how much effort you put into an event, it is likely that something will go wrong. Relax and go with it. Even though it may rattle you on this day, ten years from now when you look back on what didn’t go perfectly, you will smile and laugh at those treasured imperfect momf these.

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