Sunday, January 21, 2007

Take the stress out of planning your wedding

This is the time of year when many women begin to plan their summer weddings. Don't let the planning for one of the most beautiful days of your life create the nightmare of a lifetime. The best advice any prospective bride can receive is plan, plan, plan!

The most valuable investment you can make before you get started is a good wedding planning book. I have chosen the most popular and highly rated wedding planning guides at Amazon.com, and placed them on a special page in my store just for you. For your convenience, I'll put a link to that page at the end of this article.

Instead of telling you how to plan your wedding, I'm going to tell you how to make sure everything goes smoothly and according to your plan.

Whether you want a large wedding or small, fancy or simple, start your planning well ahead of the wedding date. Some things need to be scheduled several months in advance, especially if you are looking forward to a June wedding. June is still the most popular month for weddings, and resources, especially popular reception halls and musicians, are booked months in advance for June appointments.

Depending on your family members (mostly the female ones) and your relationship with them, your relatives can be a curse or a blessing while planning a wedding. Everyone has their own idea of what a perfect wedding is and what one should cost. It's your wedding; only you get to define what "perfect" means. That doesn’t mean you can't compromise to please Mom or Grandma, or even your future Mother-in-law, or choose gowns that won't cost your bridesmaids a years' salary, but you have the final say on perfection. As for cost, unless you are paying for the wedding (and many couples do these days!), you really have to be reasonable and play within the rules of the financial institution (usually Mom and Dad); don't splurge on the "wedding of the century" if it puts their home or retirement nest-egg in jeopardy. That's selfish and irresponsible, and doesn't say much about your ability to compromise and live within your means, two skills you will need to hone for a successful marriage.

As you hire your musicians, reserve your reception hall, schedule the transportation, make arrangements for the food and the flowers, the gowns, the invitations, and all those fabulous little touches that make a wedding special, get everything in writing – everything! – and make sure your contracts are explicit down to the smallest detail. Cross every "T" and dot every "I." Overstating details in a contract is much better and safer than understating them. If you want a particular font or a special in k color on your invitations, make sure the name of the font or the color is on the order form. If you want a white stretch-limo that seats fifteen people, make sure your contract states that, as well as the correct addresses for pick-up and drop-off, the time the car should arrive, how long it stays with you, and any special amenities that must be included such as working air conditioning in the summer. If you expect the photographer or videographer to arrive at 11:00 AM and spend ten hours with you, make sure the paperwork shows the start and stop times, the locations, the lunch or dinner breaks allowed; be very specific. Make sure you understand your contract. If it has a substitution clause (for example, if you want that white limo and the company's policy doesn't promise a particular vehicle, just transportation), make sure that is alright with you, or hire a different service. The bottom line is this: If you don't have it in writing, you don't have it!

Deposits and payments should always be made with check or credit card so you have a "paper trail," a cancelled check or a credit card statement as proof of date and payment amount just in case there is a problem such as the musicians brought the wrong music, your vanilla cake turned out to be chocolate (which you're allergic to!), the wedding party melted because it was one-hundred degrees outside and the car or the reception hall had no air conditioning and that was in your contract. If a product or service provider requires you to pay in cash (and personally, I would take a hard second look at anyone who insists on cash payment anyway), always get a receipt for your deposit or payment. If you cannot get a receipt, do not leave the money. If you choose to pay someone "under the table" because it's less expensive, a situation where there typically is no written contract and certainly no proof of payment, you don't have a leg to stand on legally if anything goes wrong with the product or service and you must go to court to get a full or partial refund. Always have proof of payment, and keep your receipts and statements in a safe place until all services have been fulfilled to your satisfaction, especially services that are usually completed well after the wedding day such as the photographs and wedding albums.

Have a fabulous and beautiful wedding day, and a long and happy life!

Click here for your wedding planning resources from Living Stress-Free ~ Naturally! at Amazon.com.

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