Nine months before your wedding, you should have the major details out of the way. You should know where your wedding will be, what your budget is, and who will provide the services. Now it’s time to get down to some of the more detailed planning so that you will hit the 6-month mark ready to get down in the trenches of planning your wedding.
Nine months before your wedding, you need to pin down an officiant. Maybe your fiancé had the same minister the entire time he was a child and wants that person to perform the ceremony. It may be, though, that the two of you haven’t been dutiful in participating in any religion for a while, and you will need to look for someone. Now is the time to take care of this part of your wedding planning. A beautiful wedding is no good without someone to perform the ceremony, so get started now. Even if you attend a house of worship diligently and are certain the religious leader there will perform the ceremony, you may need to schedule pre-marital counseling sessions.
Meeting with the officiant means more than just getting the okay on the ceremony. You will need to sit down at one of your early meetings and discuss what it is that you want from the wedding. Ask this person if he or she has any special requests or needs from you. Find out about payment. Even if this person is your minister and does not ask for payment, you should plan to give a monetary thank-you gift to that person or a donation in her or his name.
Now also will be the time to get your registry together. The two of you should sit down together and make plans at this time. If you already live together, you have a better idea of what you have and what you need. You can ask for upgrades on items you already on as well. If you do not live together, you will need to come up with a list of the items that each of you owns. Figure out who has what and determine which items neither of you own. If you have mix-matched items, such as a pot from this set and a pan from that, you should ask for matching sets.
Don’t ask for items just because they’re standard. If you have no intention of ever using fine china, it’s not fair to ask people to shell out the money for it. Use this time to be selfish. What do you want? Ask for everything you need and want. A long registry gives your guests plenty from which to choose. You never know what you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to ask. You do need to remember, however, that you should include items from all price ranges. Some people may not be able to afford an expensive gift but will still want to get something for you, so those people should have plenty of options.
At this time, it is a good idea to purchase a wedding gifts book if you do not receive one with your registry information. You will need to record your gifts now. Try to send thank-you cards immediately when you receive the items. If you cannot, write down who gave you what. You will not remember these details later, so you will need to be sure to write it down.
Brides will need to select gowns and order accessories during this period. The bride’s attire is the centerpiece of everyone’s ensemble, so you must choose it at this time. If the gown needs to be ordered specially, you will need the extra months to make that happen. In addition to the gown itself, you will need to consider shoes, jewelry, a headpiece, and handbag. Order these items with your dress if possible so that they will match.
Next you will put together an invitation list. Most wedding planners estimate that about 80 percent of those people invited will attend your wedding. That number is variable, but it is a good estimate unless you have a large number of out-of-town relatives or obligatory, work-related invites. The two of you may want to write your lists separately and then get together to see where you are.
Before you sit down with your lists, you need to have an idea of how many people you can invite. Don’t forget children. You may write down the invitation as “Aunt Sally,” but if she comes with Uncle Arthur and three children, you need a five by her name to indicate such. Now also is the time to think about guests for your wedding. In some places, bringing a date to a wedding is not appropriate, but in others, it’s standard. Find out the accepted behavior where you are. If you get down to it, though, and cannot allow guests, don’t budge. There’s no reason you should have someone you don’t know at your wedding just because your little sister doesn’t want to show without a date.
If you will invite guests, you can address the return card to the person you invite “and a guest.” The situation is a bit more complicated if you do not invite a guest, though. One way around this situation is to pre-print the RSVP cards. If you are inviting a single person with no children, put “1” in the slot asking for the number of people. That should give the hint, but if you receive the card returned with the 1 altered, you can call and explain that you cannot allow guests.
Finding yourself 50 people beyond your invitation limit can be a difficult task. There are some ways to pare down the list, though. Go through each person and mark as a must-have or can go guest. If the must-haves are larger than your permissible guest number, then you could have some serious wrangling to do. It is likely, though, that the can go folks are the ones who will put you over. Go through those names one by one, deciding why you are inviting that person and whether he or she can be cut.
If you had to cut Linda in accounting and she asks why, be upfront. Explain that you had to limit the number of guests and after including your relatives and a few very close friends, you couldn’t invite anyone else. Thank her for wanting to come, though, but move on. This wedding is yours. You need to be happy about it and going over budget isn’t the way to do that.
The final task for this period is to begin making plans for your honeymoon. You should get an idea of your budget for this time. Then you should visit a travel agency or look at websites. Come up with five or six options. Order brochures so that you may consider them more at-length later and write down a list of all of the activities you can do while you are there. You don’t want to cram activities into your honeymoon, but you should have an idea of what will be available to you. Besides, after all of this planning, you should get great joy from looking over the brochures and pondering what you will do on your vacation.
As a recap, the 9-6 months pre-wedding period should include nailing down someone to perform the ceremony, completing your registry, making your invitation list, and gathering options for your honeymoon. These are all large tasks in the scheme of planning your wedding, so getting them taken care of now will save you time – and stress – later.