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10 Steps to a Successful Wedding
By Bonni George

The man of your dreams has just proposed on bended knee. Immediately following your tearful acceptance, reality sets in. "What do I do next?" You have envisioned this wonderful event since girlhood, but don't have the first clue how to pull together this vivid picture of elegance and romance.

In your dreams you have seen shining white satin, demure black tuxedos, aromatic blooming centerpieces, pews filled with tearful onlookers, rose petals gracing a white runner lain carefully for your grand entrance, delicious delights that would put Martha Stewart to shame, a mesmerizing spring quartet poised for your first dance as husband and wife, and of course the supremely decorated wedding cake lovingly topped with tiny fresh flower buds and a simply elegant porcelain wedding couple.

In reality, you know that if you plan this grand event yourself, you may very well end up with an ill fitting gown, groomsmen in jeans because nobody was assigned to pick up tuxedos, gleaming fishbowl centerpieces (who doesn't like goldfish?,) more empty pews than full, a torn and crooked runner void of any rose petals because the flower girl is running about the church screaming, finger sandwiches and juice prepared lovingly by the "local church ladies," and the teenage D.J. from down the street that your Uncle highly recommended. The "coup de grace" of the entire vision would be the homemade wedding cake rising 7 layers into the sky, topped with the most stunning blue artificial rosebuds money can buy and tasting suspiciously similar to dried up bread with a hint of dish sponge mixed in.

Well, it seems you have a problem. But do not despair. By utilizing some of the tips listed below, you can forgo the nightmare and continue with the dream, making it a memorable reality!

1. Set the date ~ allow yourself ample time to plan.

Time is your friend in this case. I suggest 3 months or more. Also consider that your guests are more likely to "pencil you in" if given plenty of leeway and a weekend ceremony.

2. Sit with your fiance' and write a "general" guest list.

The purpose of this list is to simply get an idea of how many invitations to order. You can hash out the exact names and counts with your parents later.

3. Decide on your colors.

This shouldn't be too hard as you have had this vision since girlhood. Right? Wrong. Remember what season you are having your ceremony, and plan accordingly. Getting married in June? Black and red won't do. One thing to stress here is that too many colors can make your decor crazy and your guests dizzy. Stick to three colors (one being white or off-white) and in general, your fiance' doesn't care about this aspect of the planning so don't waste your time.

4. Location, location, location.

Get out your phone book and start calling. Yes, this process requires cold calling! Indeed a worthy cause! Maybe you are lucky enough to have access to a church already and this part of the planning is no big deal. Just call to get it reserved, and double check with them several times to ensure they have the right date in their book! I cannot stress enough at this point how helpful a wedding planner can be. Wedding planners can get pricing that you cannot and they often have amazing locations up their sleeves that you would never have thought to call.

5. Now that you have a location, date and colors it's time to get those invitations made.

Again, a wedding planner is crucial to this process, but if you are a do-it-yourselfer there are many avenues you can take. The internet is a great source of premade invitations that you just plug your information into, or you can take your "cutest couple ever" engagement photo into your local office supply store and let them do all the work for you. You will want to have these ordered, received and back into the mail about one month prior to the wedding date. Be sure to include an RSVP phone # so that you will have a general idea of how many invited guests will attend.

6. The dress.

Start looking online and through wedding magazines to decide the style you want. If you are one of those brides that has been blessed to have a body that is "true to sizing" then you can order a gown online and take it to a local seamstress for exact fitting. If not, you will need to find your style and start visiting wedding gown shops. If you have plenty of time prior to your wedding, you can even plan to attend a wedding show in your nearest large city~there are countless gowns at these large events to choose from! Start to finish on this process can take as much as 6 months depending on which avenue you decide to take.

7. Delegate and ASK questions.

Start asking people that you know, who they used and what process worked well for their own ceremony. Don't worry about actually using the advice they will surely give, you are just gathering information at this point. You may actually find an expert in the mix that you will be thrilled to use and happy with the outcome. This is where delegation comes into play. Did you know that your second cousin was a caterer? It's amazing what you will find by just asking questions. Did I mention that a wedding planner can be of great help here as well?

8. Flowers.

You have your colors, so the flowers should be easy. Just open your wallet. Yes, flowers are expensive. I will reveal one of my biggest secrets to you now...Costco. Go and talk to the person at Costco that orders the flowers. I have never had a problem with them when ordering flowers. You tell them what you want and they will give you options that are available and what days of the week they receive flowers. You are often limited in variety, but not color. I have put on some pretty amazing weddings using flower arrangements that I have crafted from Costco flowers! For larger weddings, your local wedding planner will have wholesale connections to flower growers which will save you bundles.

9. Send your fiance' and his groomsmen to handle the tuxedos.

You'll want to go along the first time to pick style and color, just to ensure that they don't show up in sky blue polyester tuxes! But they should handle it from there with frequent reminders from you.

10. In your questioning and delegating process you should have unearthed information on photographers, bands, caterers, cake designers, decorations, party rental, and justice of the peace types.

Now is the time to decide on one of each and get them scheduled. The remaining planning should go smoothly if you have taken the appropriate steps listed above. Lots of phone calls, visits and reminders will be in your near future. Write everything down in a "planning book." Delegate the decorating once you have decided on supplies. That is a very stressful step that happens just prior to the wedding and you need to spend your time preparing to be a "blushing bride."

Follow these simple tips and you are sure to have that "dream" wedding you have always wanted! As far as "happily ever after," well that's up to you.

Feel free to visit my site for valuable resources: http://www.southernUTeventplanners.com

Bonni George is the owner/operator of Southern UT Event Planners as well as amateur writer/blogger covering real people and real subjects. For more information on our event planning business go to: http://www.southernUTeventplanners.com

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