Wednesday, February 6, 2013

First Things First

An engaged friend of mine started planning her wedding about two weeks ago. One week ago, I received an email from her about selecting a pair of shoes to wear down the aisle. I smiled and chuckled a bit when I responded:

“Hold up. Although we both know I’m shoe-obsessed, and despite the fact that I think these shoes are beautiful, there are so many more things to do before even beginning to think about shoes. For example, do you have a venue? What about a dress?”

Yes, brides, although purchasing wedding shoes is a very fun task, it is way down on the list of must-do’s, falling at about two weeks prior to your first dress fitting.

That is: first things first, dear brides.

Planning a wedding consists of taking a series of baby steps. For brides today, it’s very enticing to try and push ahead and accomplish the tasks that are the most fun first. Doing so, however, could have disastrous consequences, mainly for your budget.

Think about it, if my friend had actually purchased those shoes, she would then own a pair of fabulous, silver and gold, bow-adorned pumps and her wallet would be $215 lighter. That’s great, right? Not so fast, despite the fact that the shoes are fabulous, she has absolutely no way of knowing whether they’ll work for her wedding. For starters, she isn’t sure if her ceremony will be inside or outside - spike heels might not work so well on a beach. Next, without a wedding dress, she’s no idea if the style, heel height or color of the shoes will work for her gown. Finally, what if she changes her wedding’s color scheme at some point and decides she wants to wear red (or any other color) shoes? There aren’t too many situations in which silver, gold, bejeweled and gold-bow adorned shoes are appropriate.

Because it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to return those gorgeous shoes, if any of these events occur she’ll have $215 less in her budget and a pair of shoes that just don’t work for really, anything other than a wedding. In itself, that makes purchasing those shoes much less fun.

I must admit that I could have used this same advice when planning my own wedding. About two months into our eight-month planning deadline, I purchased my bridal party gifts. Although I didn’t overbuy or later change my mind on what I wanted to give, my husband hadn’t actually anticipated spending the money on those gifts when I did. Needless to say, he was a little surprised when the charge showed up on our card.

So how can a bride not jump ahead? By making a timeline. A timeline is a schedule of events that will occur on the day of your wedding (usually down to the minute),but it’s also a month-by-month schedule of what needs to be done when.

This timeline (which you can call a checklist, if you’d prefer) lists the items to be accomplished and the party responsible for its completion. Items are divided into months (March) or sometimes several months (March-April, for example), depending on the length of planning period. Because every bride’s wedding and planning period is different, this document must be created individually for each bride. It’s also important to leave some space for describing what was selected on this document – doing so makes it easier to provide a general overview of all plans made to date, which can speed up the planning process in general.

To all your brides, slow down and take your time. Wedding planning is a marathon, not a sprint, and it is important to ensure that you have the resources and energy to make it through that marathon.