So you’re planning a wedding! Excitement is in the air;  a once in a lifetime celebration where your friends and family will celebrate like never before! Let the planning begin – the countdown is on! When it comes to a wedding, it seems as if there are thousand of decision to make. So it should not come as a surprise that one or two of the seemingly endless details might not come together as planned. Let me say this up front: WHO CARES?! At times, the planning process will seem downright daunting – even overwhelming. Effective time management will be a factor. Your career might be 40-50 hours a week and your wedding prep might consume the same amount of time. Yikes!

Here are just a few (Well, more than a few) of the decisions to be made:

  1. How much money is in the kitty? How much will be spent? How will you spend it?
  2. Based upon your personalities, what will be the “feel” or theme of the wedding? How will you put your personal stamp on the special occasion to make it uniquely yours?
  3. Who’s coming? How many?
  4. Who are the bridesmaids and groomsmen? How many on each side?
  5. What is your date? Where is the wedding and reception taking place? Outdoors or indoors?
  6. Do you need to send out “save the date” cards to your guests?
  7. The bride needs a dress. Time to start shopping now; finding one that is perfect for you.
  8. Jewelry and accessories?
  9. Gotta look like a million bucks. Who is doing makeup and hair?
  10. Your bridesmaids and flower girl need dresses. What style? What color?
  11. Is he wearing a tux or suit? What color?
  12. Who is your officiant? Don’t settle. An experienced officiant (like me!) can make your wedding fun, meaningful and engaging in 25 minutes or less. Your wedding ceremony can be awesome. Don’t skimp.
  13. Writing and exchanging your wedding vows is a great idea. How is that done? A good officiant will tell you exactly how to make them meaningful and fun.
  14. Hire a DJ. There is a huge difference between someone who can play music and a professional who has the ability to get everyone up and celebrating. Again, don’t skimp.
  15. If your venue does not have a “Day of” coordinator, a wedding planner is money well spent.
  16. What type of music do you want played at your wedding and reception?
  17. Memories from your wedding are essential. A photographer and / or videographer fit the need. Interview at least three.
  18. Flowers. What’s the budget? Will you hire a florist? How will arrangements be decorated?
  19. How about food? An elegant sit down prepared by a caterer, or another delicious option such as BBQ or Mexican food from a local restaurant?
  20. Drinks? Will you have an open bar? Have you chosen a venue where you can buy your own bar? Great idea!
  21. Hors d’oeuvres for cocktail hour? Pick your favorites!
  22. Who is sitting where for dinner?
  23. Time to go tasting for your wedding cake. What’s your favorite flavor?
  24. Will you ask for cash or register at your favorite store(s) and create a gift registry?
  25. Arriving in a limo? Nail down transportation.
  26. When will invitations be mailed? Will it be an “adults only” affair?
  27. Will out of town guests need a place need a place to stay? Time to block rooms at a discounted rate.
  28. When, where, and who is coming to your bridal shower?
  29. Bachelor and bachelorette party?
  30. If you have a large bridal party, you’ll want to have a processional rehearsal. When will that take place?
  31. If you have a rehearsal, it’s time to plan for the rehearsal dinner. Where?
  32. Will your guests be given token gifts as a way thanking them for coming?
  33. How about the bling? Don’t forget your wedding rings.
  34. Going on a honeymoon?
  35. You need a wedding license for your marriage to be legally binding. Where is the local county clerk’s office?
  36. How many invited guests do you need to contact because they haven’t RSVP’D. CALL (Don’t text or email) them.
  37. Are you tipping your vendors; thanking them for a job well done?
  38. What time is the reception ending? Is there an after-party?

 There you have it. The details. And I’ve probably forgotten more than a few. Right now you may be having thoughts such as “Let’s Elope.” But I wanted to take a moment to ease your mind. I have been a wedding officiant for 22 years – going through the process with couples over 800 times. Let me give you a few thoughts to remember as you plan your wedding:

  1. I have never, ever, ever, left a wedding thinking, “That was a disaster.” Your planning efforts will pay off. IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT. Please let this observation sink into your mind. I’ve performed over 800 weddings.
  2. You can be sure there will be cheers and tears if you’re planning a moderate to large wedding. It’s unavoidable. Some days you will have energy. Others days you will feel weak. Go with the flow. If you’re getting frustrated, “This too shall pass.”
  3. Hire the right team. Don’t allow a few dollars to separate you from hiring the best vendor. It’s worth it.
  4. Perfection SHOULD NOT be expected when it comes to the details, but excellence is required.
  5. Worrying is pointless and a waste of your time. Remember: I have never left a wedding thinking it was a disaster.
  6. As you develop your planning team, choose positive, upbeat, responsible, low maintenance people to help you. Stressed out or controlling people cannot be involved.
  7. Remember, it is YOUR wedding. If you need to remind certain family or friends of that fact, do so gently — choose your words carefully.
  8. You can’t see this now, but on your wedding day, the team you have hired will descend upon your venue and put your plan into action. Anyone who works in the wedding industry cannot afford to have a bad day. Rest easy. They will get the job done with excellence!
  9. Above all else, enjoy every moment of your wedding day. It will come and go like a blur. If you get consumed with the details, you will miss the greatest opportunity you will ever have to let loose and party like you’ve never partied before.

About Dean

Dean Merrill brings 22 years of experience as a wedding officiant in Southern California. His creative and professional approach to performing weddings comes from a unique blending of talents he utilizes in every ceremony in which he officiates. He is currently the preferred wedding officiant for Southern California’s #1 rated wedding coordinator, Bella Vita Events.