Guide for Planning Your Special Day: Wedding Ideas

Ding-dong, ding-dong. After months of wedding planning and reading through various "how-tos" and bridal guides, it's all come to this. Oh....

Church bells to signal yet another wedding held in a small church in a small town. The sky is blue. Not too hot, not too cold. No rain, no snow. The perfect man walks you down the perfectly decorated aisle so you can be with that other perfect man, that your parents totally approve of, for the rest of your life. WAIT!!!

That's not how it really works! You don't want the church and you'll be married in December in Alaska to a man that you're parents just tolerate as a presence in the room.

Okay, okay .... Let's just calm down, shall we. It's not the end of the world. The fact is, in today's world, you can have a wedding anywhere, anytime of the year - well depending on location of course - to, well maybe not any man you want, but at least a man who you love and loves you and, most importantly one that gets along with your parents. Just kidding. As long as you're both in love and it's real, that's all that matters.

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But, lets get down to the nitty-gritty. First off, when you want to get married is really dependent upon location. One thing to make sure of is that the location is not just fitting for you and your hubby-to-be, but also for your guests. I know you may be thinking that it's not their wedding, so why should you care what they think. Well, let me put it this way: if you have a wedding on the top of a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean and plan on inviting people with young children who want to have a future in rock climbing ... they're probably not going to show up or they'll show up and 20 minutes later so will the ambulance.

So, you really need to have a location that is compatible for you and your day, but also one that is accommodating to your guests. A good example of this is a campsite where you can do pictures outdoors and hold an outdoor wedding, while having a reception inside to keep everyone cool. Especially those in-laws. Ha, ha, ha. But, not really. We'll get to that later.

Okay, so you've chosen your location. Congratulations! One out of one million things you have to do before the big day is done. Now, when should you or want to get married. Well, anytime of year is great. If you live in the southwest, like California, you can really have a great outdoor wedding without too much hassle from the weather in the summer. If you live up north, there are great oversized cabins and hotels that winter would compliment.

On the east coast fall is said to be wonderful with the leaves all changing color. And In the spring, almost anywhere in the country is great, depending on the weather. A great way to search for spots to get married is by just typing wedding locations or places to get married, into your Google bar. There are many state parks that have incredible buildings and outdoor areas where marriages take place. Your local state park agency, most online, can help you find where, when and how much.

Well, with that taken care of, now you're onto the hard part of your wedding. That includes choosing colors, choosing bridesmaids and how many. You need to pick a photographer, DJ, caterer, a cinematographer, wedding planner (although those can run pretty chi-ching if you know what I mean) and or course you need to meet with your in-laws. For a lot of people meeting the in-laws is not a horrible thing. Some have known them for many years and already have a stable relationship.

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But, for some there is a very nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach based off of things friends and his family have told you. Watch "Monster-in-law" with Jennifer Lopez and if you feel things couldn't get that bad between you and her, then I'm sure you'll be just fine. Just remember that any advice he/she give you, no matter how much you may not want to hear it, just listen politely and say something like "Thank you. I'll have to take that into consideration." You're respecting their advice and still letting them know you're an open minded, independent thinker. This avoids many fights and bad feelings.

So now you're ready to choose your wedding party. Many people may think it wise to put out a wedding announcement at this time, but I strongly advise against that. You don't want to put an announcement out and then find out half of the wedding party can't make that date. So, make phone calls and write emails and once you have your wedding party down, then you're ready to make your announcements.

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One note too on the wedding party. Sometimes people do back out at the last minute, so it's a good idea to have some back ups. You don't have to necessarily ask them to be back ups, especially if they already committed to the date you chose. Also, making sure you have a Minister or Rabbi or whomever will be performing the ceremony is a good idea at this point. You wouldn't want to leave that until the last minute. Because you can get everything else done, but there'll be no point if there's no one there to marry you.

Announcements aren't something you need to spend a ton of money on. Especially if you don't know a lot of people in town, you may just want to send out an email to let your friends and family know you're getting married. You can make very nice announcements using your PC or, if you're not tech savvy, get someone you know to do it for you and then send it over your email.

The colors of your wedding are really up to you. Don't let anyone tell you differently. You're most likely to get suggestion after suggestion, not just about your colors either. But, it's good to have a firm hand in these matters because these kind of details are going to live with you for the rest of your life on film and in photographs. You want to choose colors that complement each other and you as well. Go to a make up artist or someone you trust in color knowledge and ask them their opinion. Look at old photos of yourself and see which colors you wore that make you look really amazing.

Even though you're probably not going to be wearing any of those colors, your bridesmaids will and in the photos the colors they wear should be to your liking and make you look good. Flowers are very nice at weddings and also very expensive. If you're on a budget, find a store that has life like flowers and then take them to a florist so they can make your bouquet to match out of real flowers. It's a good idea to find flowers that match your colors with little blooms here and there of multiple colors that complement those as well. As for the bouquet, there are just too many to choose from now. Between the colors and styles and types of flowers .. . I'll leave that one up to you.

Here's a really tough subject for any bride to be: Bridesmaid's dresses. It is so crucial, just to keep the girls around, to make you and the girls happy. So, do yourself a favor and take them to a wedding show and then to an outlet store since they'll be paying for this themselves. Give them a few choices and then let them discuss amongst themselves.

That way you can never, I repeat, never be responsible for the feelings of resentment when the wedding photos come to their door. While at the wedding show pay attention, not only to the wedding dresses, but also to the shoes. Even if you have a long dress, your shoes will be seen when he's trying to remove the garter off your leg. And I really would stick with white here, unless you really want to do something different.

Wedding shows are a great resource for you because there are all sorts of vendors there just dying for your attention. Everything from honeymoon agencies to ring guys. And the best part is, it is free for the bride to be: everyone else has to pay. How awesome is that?! While you can find a lot of vendors there for photography and DJ's for hire, it really is best, unless you have unlimited funds, to do a search on your own or have a friend help you find someone.

Sometimes all you need is to go to Itunes, pay for a bunch of songs and have a friend or acquaintance announce what is next at the reception. They can decide what to play by using a PC and plugging huge speakers into it. Bands are really easy to find. They're everywhere. So, if you're unwilling to search and don't have the time to listen to countless auditions, you might want to stick with the DJ and internet music downloads. There are some companies that have photography and music packages that can save you loads of money. After all, what's better to have: incredible music or a wonderful honeymoon. I'll let you figure that out yourself.

About three months, maybe six if you want to give people a lot of time to plan for your event, you need to send out wedding invitations. Before you send them out though, be sure to register. Now, don't go bananas and register for everything under the sun. Figure out how many people you think are coming for sure and then use that number, add 20 and register for that amount at two different stores. Choose one that has really nice stuff, but that is priced decently and then another for really awesome stuff that might cost a little more.

You can make the invitations yourself or have a professional do them. I strongly recommend making them yourself. It's something you and your groom can do together with family members and you'd be surprised at what you can come up with. When they're ready to go into the envelopes, get your assembly line together. One writes the address. One stuffs the invite. Another adds the registry information. Then there's the stamp licking (you might want to provide that one a glass of water and some gum for afterwards, he, he, he) and finally a return envelope with the final lick to seal the deal!

There are much more little fun things you get to decide on for your wedding. There's a bridal shower you get to attend and for you lucky ladies there's the bachelorette party to go to. Woo hoo! Don't do anything I wouldn't do. Of all these details to plan there is one thing and one thing only that you alone are allowed to have a say in. The dress. I will not go into any details about what your dress should look like, because you're the one who will have to wear it in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

So do yourself a favor and really invest some time into it. My sister got married and found a gorgeous wedding dress for under $1000. Yes it really can happen. I had mine made and while it looked good in the picture, I never really liked it all that much. There are countless stores out there who can sell you a great wedding dress for very cheap. As far as the veil goes, there are great seamstresses out there who could make your veil for you. Maybe some friends or family. Even if they offer to make that and anything else for you for free, you really should give them at least a gift card to a nice restaurant.

As far as catering goes, to save some money and still have a nice meal, check out the local delis. They can offer finger foods as a buffet for a late afternoon wedding and still offer meals for the noon or 6pm wedding. Although if you're having a noon wedding, be advised: you WILL be getting up very early.

There's one last thing left that is of importance and that is the finances. Who will pay for what? Is there a limit to what you can spend? Does the financers wish to have a say in things? This is something that you really need to know before you start setting your heart on a cake or a dress. Sometimes making a plan and outlining how much wedding scenario A and B will cost will go over easier than providing them with what you want, that just might be the most expensive thing.

And get the wedding party, including the groom, involved in making things that you would otherwise spend money on. Find a friend to do you make up and hair the day of the wedding. The night before have every girl chip in and stay in a really fancy hotel. Sometimes the best wedding you plan is the one you let others help you with.