Bride and groom are all smiles, looking towards a new future. (Photo by Getty Images)
With another round of newlyweds just around the corner it's important for everyone involved, from the bride down to the ushers.
Contact guests who have not responded; give the final count to the caterer; go over final details with all professional services you have engaged.
When it comes to planning your wedding, some determining factors that influence the date are the time of year you want to be married, the size and formality of your wedding, the availability of the location you want, and your work schedules. These all play an important part in coming up with that special date.
Since most brides prefer to be involved in the planning process of this special day, you can surprise her with the proposal at some prior time, then jointly plan the surprise wedding for family and friends.
Inform them of any changes; give photographer the list of pictures you want; give the videographer a list of shots you would like included in the video.
Give all musicians the list of music for the ceremony and reception; plan the seating arrangements; arrange for someone to assist with last-minute errands and to help you dress; practice having your hair done to make sure it comes out properly and determine the time it will take; practice using your make-up in the same type of lighting you will have on the wedding date; keep up with the writing of your thank-you notes; pack your suitcase for the honeymoon; make sure you have the marriage license; make sure you have the wedding rings, and that they fit; make sure all wedding attire is picked up.
Have a rehearsal with all participants, reviewing their duties; attend the rehearsal dinner party. Stay calm and enjoy yourself.
If you love gardening, incorporate edible flowers into some dishes or on the cake.
You can enjoy ethnic food that reflects the ancestry of you or your spouse. Many companies offer wine with personalized labels. Provide each table with a specially labeled bottle of red and white wine.
If you're planning to marry in a foreign country, contact its consulate or tourist board, or write to the American Embassy in that country.
Allow plenty of time because the marriage application period may be lengthy.
Rose Petals: If rice is not allowed or preferred, have friends help you collect rose petals the month before the wedding. Dry the petals individually by placing them on a cookie sheet at a warm temperature in your oven. Store them in plastic bags until the wedding day (you may add a few drops of jasmine, rose or geranium oil for fragrance).
The day of the wedding, they can be placed in silver bowls and handfuls passed out to the guests. But maybe you may want to wrap the petals in 6" circles of nylon netting gathered with a satin ribbon, which may be placed at each table setting or passed to guests just before the bridal couple's departure.
If the traditional rice is to be thrown, why not add a little color to it. Simply mix one cup of water with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of food coloring (depending upon how much color you want). Add 1-1/2 cups of uncooked rice, let stand for five minutes.
Drain, then spread the rice in the bottom of a baking pan and place in the a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes on 250. Stir occasionally, remove and place on paper towels to dry. Colored water may be used for a second batch. Each batch will fill thirty-six 6" circles of nylon netting which can be gathered with a satin ribbon.
Saving Tips: Share floral cost with another bride. Find out if there will be another wedding at your church or synagogue on the same day. Maybe you can arrange to share the cost of floral decorations.
• Use flowers in season. Avoid exotic, expensive flowers that may have to be imported, or flowers that are not in season, but most of all enjoy planning your special day.
Be prepared to gather endless documents and certificates. Some that probably will be required could include: proof of citizenship; notarized birth certificate; or, other legal documents stating neither person is currently married; blood test; proof of divorce or death certificate, if it pertains to your situation. If you find the documentation and time requirements too much trouble to deal with, consider having a legal marriage at home immediately before traveling to the foreign country, where a ceremony and reception can then be held.
Couples who have their hearts set on marrying aboard, but have found requirements by foreign countries to do more than they care to handle, should consider Hawaii, the United States, Virgin Islands, Jamaica or Puerto Rico as alternatives. You'll find them much easier to deal with.
• When it comes to thank-you notes and bridal party gifts, it is important not only to remember those who attend, but also those who helped celebrate.
After the Wedding send announcements and wedding picture to the newspaper; mail other announcements; write and mail thank you notes.
Choosing a Gift: For those who may not be tying the knot this season, chances are you'll buy at least one gift for a couple getting married. In fact, Americans spend a whopping $20 billion on wedding presents each year.
If you're not interested in buying yet another toaster, a new travel trend allows friends and family to give something the couple could really use, a honeymoon. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is partnering with WeddingChannel.com, to offer couples the chance to register for honeymoons at its hotels and resorts.
Couples can register for honeymoons at any one of Starwood's 740 hotels and resorts around the world, including romantic destinations like Bora Bora, Venice, Italy and Kauai, Hawaii.
Once they've chosen their destination, soon-to-be newlyweds simply register their honeymoon on WeddingChannel.com so that friends and family can contribute "honeymoney" to their once-in-a-lifetime trip.
A personal "honeymoon concierge" can help them plan their dream vacation and arrange for everything from dinner reservations to massage appointments.
In the past, the groom's parents traditionally paid for the honeymoon.