Post Hen Party – 10 must haves for Planning your Wedding Day

“Marriages are made in Heaven”…maybe so…but weddings have to be carefully planned here on earth…
“Your Wedding Day” will need careful and meticulous organizing if it is to move gently through the various stages…culminating in the “Perfect Wedding Day”.

Thought must be given first to the ‘strategy’- the long term plan thoughtfully laid-out for your careful consideration…
24/18 months in advance is none too soon – 15/12 months may be cutting it too fine, that is really stage 2 and part of ‘tactics’.
1. Set the date.
2. Book the church or the (civil) ceremonial venue.
3. Consider the reception venue – hotel, home, etc.
4. Select and book hotel or caterers.
5. Select and book music, DJ or band, perhaps
6. Select and book wedding cars and/or carriage.
7. Select and book photographer.
8. Select and book video-producer.
9. Reflect upon the wisdom of booking “The ‘Complete’ Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies” for the full wedding day.
10. Consider booking a chimney sweep…just for luck!…and
11. Consider Wedding Insurance…just in case!

Wedding Fayres present an ideal opportunity for you to browse, peruse, and study; to ask pertinent questions and to receive valuable help, assistance and information from those whose business is “Your Wedding Day”. Fayres proliferate in the Spring and in the Autumn; and cater for long-term ‘strategy’ and short-term ‘tactics’. It will pay handsome dividends to visit them for ideas on almost every aspect of “Your Wedding”.

Having strategically planned the Wedding Day you must get down to the detailed planning, the ‘tactics’, approx 15 months in advance …to leave it any later is to court disaster and perhaps have to cope with disappointment too! And of course, tact is an integral part of tactics…you may well need diplomacy, discretion and delicacy; for now is the time to…
1. Choose your Chief Bridesmaid, Bridesmaids and Pages.
2. Choose your Best-man, Groomsmen and Ushers.
3. Compile your two guest lists:
(a) invitations to the Wedding Day, Ceremony and Feast
(b) to the Evening Reception only.
And of course do not forget yourselves in all this…’The Wedding Dress’ should be selected, finalized and ordered; the Bridesmaids and Pages outfits too. It is not necessary to order the men’s outfits yet but it should be decided whether or not the other principals (2 Fathers, Best-man, Groomsmen, Ushers and Chief Guests) know well in advance what is expected of them…if it is to be lounge suits then it does not usually necessitate any special orders…but it may do…check!

Having finalized the Wedding Clothes…and do not overlook the wishes of the two Mothers, particularly with regard to colour schemes…it would be wise now to book your honeymoon. If you have your hearts set on a particularly romantic exotic place-in-the-sun then don’t leave it to chance…book it! last minute bargain-hunting might save you some money but that’s no good if you land in the wrong place, or worse still you don’t land anywhere at all, honeymoons taken 3 months later at discount prices are just holidays…the honeymoon is really within the month immediately following the nuptials.

Before you put away you programme/plan…if you did not book “The ‘Complete’ Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies” now is the time to do so…Why? What do we want with a Toastmaster? You may well ask! His Presence will add so much to the Occasion…just the right touch of formality…and ensure that you can relax…safe in the knowledge that it is in his versatile and capable hands. As a Consultant on Formality his advice will be invaluable on problems of Address, Precedence, Protocol and Etiquette…and his assistance with Top Table placing, guest locations, speech format and guidelines, time estimates etc. priceless! Book him!

Now relax awhile! You can leave the next stage until 5/6 months prior to “Your Wedding Day” but meantime you must be most attentive to all that you have set-in-motion…making sure that those who should, do report back to you…if necessary chase them.

Now at 5/6 months prior it would be as well to convert your programme/plan to ‘weeks’ rather than months…it will, or it should, introduce the right sense of urgency, and the relevance of each item to “Your Wedding Day”.

No doubt in the months since you compiled your initial guest list there have been changes…some in, some out…for a variety of reasons which must of course remain your own…but at 20/24 week prior you must be…
1. Finalizing the two guest lists.
2. Arranging fittings for your Wedding Dress.
3. And those of your Bridesmaids.
4. Shopping for going-away clothes, lingerie etc.
5. Looking at Wedding Stationery.
6. Looking at Wedding Cakes.
7. Thinking about flowers.
8. Thinking about Wedding Rings.
9. Giving thought to ‘Thank You gifts’ for Parents and Attendants.
You may well have collected and accumulated leaflets and brochures galore…from Wedding Fayres and Shops…but the time is approaching (very fast) when you must make-up your mind exactly what you want and how you want it…then book it/order it/clinch it.

Whilst the ‘Guest lists’ are normally the prerogative of the Host and Hostess…the Bride’s Parents…very careful consideration should be given to the wishes of all the principals involved…the Bride and Bridegroom will obviously have their own personal and very special close friends to be included…the Bridegroom’s Parents will have their own list too…courtesy requires that they should be accommodated as far as is possible/practical.

Of course when and where the Parents of both are acting as Hosts, or when it is just the Bride and Bridegroom, then the responsibility changes somewhat, it becomes in the first case a shared responsibility and in the second case a sole responsibility.

However, irrespective of these two alternatives, etiquette and courtesy should always place the Bride’s Parents as Host and Hostess with the Bridegroom’s Parents as principal guests and the Bride and Bridegroom as Guests of Honour.

Formal Wedding Invitations are a specialist business, and advice on format and layout is readily available…suffice it to say that they are normally issued in the names of the Host and Hostess…the Bride’s Parents…separate invitations being required for evening guests only. Don’t forget to have two separate lists and to very carefully record acceptances against each.

There is no difficulty in defining the ‘Evening Reception’ but there is considerable doubt about the ‘Day reception’…officially it is still the ‘Wedding Breakfast’ a relic of the times prior to 1920’s when Weddings had to be solemnized prior to 12 noon, usually at a communion service with breakfast following.

Now-a-days this is the exception.. the ceremony is seldom before noon and more-often-than-not is early or mid-afternoon…Luncheon seems inappropriate and Dinner out-of-place the ‘Wedding Feast’ is both appropriate and fitting to the Occasion.

At 12/13 weeks prior you must take decisive action…you have considered, weighed-up, looked-at, and no doubt dithered too…but now is the time that you must…
1. Order Wedding Stationery
2. Order Wedding Cake
3. Buy Wedding Rings
4. Buy gifts for Parents and Attendants.
5. Organize Wedding Flowers
6. Confirm/Finalize details of the Ceremony
7. Confirm Reception details with Hotel/Venue/Caterers
8. Order Morning Suits if required.

At 8/10 weeks prior you must be sure to…
1. Post all Wedding Invitations against lists (a) and (b)
2. List acceptances and refusals as they arrive

About this time Wedding Presents will start to arrive, it is a good idea to send your ‘Thank You` as they do and to mark them up on your ‘Gift List’ as this may well preclude you from receiving a surplus of cruets, toast racks and breadbins.

Before you know it, it will be just 4 weeks away, time to change-down from weeks into days, to accelerate the mood of immediacy.

At 30 days prior it is essential that you…
1. Finalize numbers for the Hotel/Caterers
2. Prepare ‘Seating Plan’
3. Check! wedding clothes
4. Check! Headwear and book final appointment with your Hairdresser.
5. Practise any new make-up – book final appointments
6. Buy cake-boxes for those gifts
7. Prepare newspaper announcements, if required.

When drawing-up your ‘Seating Plan’…the Top Table of 8,10,12 is traditionally set:

Best Man
Groom Mother
Brides Father
Brides Mother
Groom Father
Chief Bridesmaid

Some however, do seat the Bride’s Parents together on the left, with the Groom’s Parents together on the right, (and may include Grandparents). If an odd number is seated at the Top Table…7,9,11 then the Bride must be central with an even number (to include the Groom) on each side of her:

Best man
Groom Mother
Brides Father
Brides Mother
Groom Father
Chief Bridesmaid

When you have finalized your Top Table then where and how do you seat the guests?

The correct order of proximity-to-the-Top Table is…

1. The Immediate Family of the Bride and of the Bridegroom to include the Grandparents; and in-laws too
2. Relatives of the Bride and of the Bridegroom, Aunties, Uncles and Cousins with in-laws too
3. Close Family Friends of the Parents of both the Bride and the Bridegroom
4. Close Personal Friends of the Bride and Bridegroom from school, college, social and business etc, with particular attention to the Grandparents, undoubtedly the proudest guests at any Wedding.
If space will allow, the best tables for the guests are ’rounds’ of 8/10 – this encourages the guests to ‘mix and mingle’, with conversation flowing more easily ‘around and across’ the table.
With the ‘Seating Plan’ it is advisable to draw-up an alphabetical guest list with table numbers, so that tables may be quickly located, with place cards too so that seating may be easily found.

Finally with just 10 days to go you must check, fasten and nail down everything that has so far been arranged, booked and ordered…and move on to…

1. Ceremony Rehearsal.
2. Check! Wedding Clothes.
3. Make a booking at a local salon for beauty routine, botox, hair, face etc.
3. Check! Going-away clothes and arrange transfer to reception venue.
4. Check! Hotel/Catering, cake, transport, flowers, photographer and video-maker
5. Check! Honeymoon bookings, tickets, passports, credit cards and money.
6. Liase with “Your ‘Complete’ Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies” on the Wedding Day’s routine and timings.
7. Arrange hen/stag parties, but not for the night before.
“The ‘Complete’ Toastmaster & Master of Ceremonies” will… attend the ceremony, arriving 30 minutes prior to co-ordinate and harmonize activities, assist the photographer and video-maker, with the crowd scenes, the family groups and the Bridal Party, liaise with the banqueting staff, look after the guests, take care of the gifts and cards, organize the Receiving line, introduce/announce the guests, seat the guests, the Top Table and then herald the entry of the Bride and Bridegroom, offer grace/thanks, initiate and supervise the cake-cutting (with ceremonial Samurai Sword), introduce the Speakers, announce the Toasts, and close the Wedding Feast with a sincere and cordial finale.

The Receiving line is traditionally:

Brides Mother
Brides Father
Groom Mother
Groom Father
Chief Bridesmaid
Best Man

it can of course be varied to match circumstances.

The Toasts are conventionally…

1. The Bride and Bridegroom – Prop. Father of the Bride or Uncle Godfather, relative or friend of the Bride’s Family
Response. The Bridegroom

2. The Bridesmaids (and Pages) i.e. The attendants – Prop. The Bridegroom
Response. The Best man

3. The Parents of the Bride and Bridegroom
Prop.- The Best man. Response. not usual but the Father of the Bridegroom may respond.

4. Just occasionally ‘A Vote of Thanks’ to the Host and Hostess (the Bride’s Parents) may be proposed by a guest on behalf of all present, for the hospitality etc, No response is called for.

On very rare occasions there are additional toasts, to grandparents, to absent friends, to others celebrating something special (such as an anniversary, an 18th, a 21st, an engagement) but none of these must impinge upon the three main toasts, they must follow-on and they do require the permission of the Host and Hostess and of the Bride & Bridegroom, if in doubt, then leave them out.

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