Arranging your big day requires great organisational skills and creativity, so keep on top of things with this guide…
A is for… aisle
Walking down the aisle, to be given away to your future husband, is a momentous occasion, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one as all eyes will be on you, the bride. First, you need to choose who should walk with you (it’s normally the father of the bride) and, as for musical accompaniment, you’ll also need to pick out just the right music or song.
B is for… bridesmaid dresses
It’s fun to go shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses with your girlfriends. They won’t all be the same size, so allow them to wear a dress that suits their shape – dresses can still look uniform, even if slight details are different.
C is for… carriages
If you’ve always fancied yourself as the modern-day Cinderella, complete with coach and horses, this is the perfect day to make those dreams come true. From limos to black cabs and London buses – you can arrive at your wedding however you want.
D is for… dress
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Trust your instincts and don’t get caught up in other people’s expectations. Take time to shop for your dress and bring along someone who’s honest, knows you well and whose opinion you can trust. A wedding show offers the chance to buy a dress and pick up ideas. Keep an open mind – that fluffy meringue you’ve always rejected could be the one.
E is for… entertainment
If your wedding celebrations will last until the late evening, choosing the right typeof entertainment to get your party started is crucial. The dancing queens among you will opt for a disco or live band, but if you’ve a wide age-range of guests, a barn dance is a great way to get everyone up on their feet.
F is for… flowers
Your choice of flowers should reflect your taste and personality. They will be a key part of your day and can tie the whole theme of the wedding together. Take a cue from the seasons; consider your setting, your favourite colours as well as your favourite blooms.
G is for… gift list
Most couples live together before they tie the knot these days and have already set up home. So, it’s a good idea to have a wedding list so you can get what you really want or need. Some couples ask for vouchers, money towards their honeymoon, or unique gift experiences. You could also set up a list with a charity and ask guests to donate gifts to people in need.
H is for… hair & make-up
If you don’t already have a tried-and-trusted hairdresser, now is the time to find one. Book yourself in for some trials so you can decide on the style you want for the day, bearing in mind the type of dress and accessories you’ll be wearing. Some brides opt for a mobile hairdresser so they don’t have to step foot outside, others find an early morning visit to the salon a welcome distraction. You can always apply your own make-up, since you’ll know better
than anyone how you like to look.
I is for… invites
The choice out there is a minefield: you can buy invites off the shelf, have them designed to say something specific about you both, or even make them yourself by hand. Send your invites out three months before the wedding and enclose as much detail as possible – accommodation, maps, dress code and even your gift list. And do order about an extra 20 – you may need these for last-minute additions to your guest list and for redoing any envelope-addressing blunders. Alternatively, why not send out an e-card – it’s easier to manage and greener.
J is for… jewellery
After picking a dress, you can decide on accessories. Consider the dress style, the neckline, detailing and choose matching jewellery. Choose one accessory, such asa tiara, as a focal point and keep other jewellery to a minimum.
K is for… keepsake box
Collect any cards, photos, colour swatches, napkins and invites and tuck them all away in a keepsake box.
L is for… lighting
This can totally transform a wedding reception. Hiring a professional means you can have designer lighting effects
– from spotlights on the dance floor, outdoor and mood lighting to a ‘starry-night’ effect on the ceiling. Or, if you’re on a budget, replace existing light bulbs with pink-hued ones to create a romantic touch.
M is for… menu
The food you decide to serve your guests will depend on your chosen venue, your budget and the time of year of your wedding. Traditional three-course meals are no longer so formal, with fish and chips, bangers and mash, as well as stylish barbecue buffets, all popular choices today.
N is for… nails
After your ceremony, you’re going to want to show off your new wedding ring. So make sure your nails are manicured – preferably with a clear or opaque polish.
O is for… other outfits
If you’re feeling brave, you can leave your husband-to-be to sort out his own outfit as well as those of his ushers, but
you might prefer to stay firmly in control!
P is for… photographs
After months of planning your special day, when it does finally arrive you may feel like it’s over in minutes, so having your wedding captured on film is priceless. It’s important you find a professional photographer you feel completely comfortable with, but also one whose style you think will best capture your day. Recommendations from friends are always a good indicator, as is having a browse through their wedding album. Disposable cameras on your tables are another nice touch. But some of these photos may not be of the best quality and once the wine’s flowing, guests may become increasingly inventive with their snaps!
Q is for… qualms
It’s perfectly normal to have some wedding-day anxiety. Any jitters hours before you’re due to tie the knot can be eased by doing some deep breathing, staying well hydrated (avoid too much caffeine, though), and eating dark chocolate, which releases feel-good hormones in your body. But if there are any serious questions, talk these through with friends or even a professional counsellor beforehand.
R is for… rings
It’s easy to overlook a crucial piece of jewellery on the day – the wedding rings. Many couples choose matching rings; some even like to add a bit of sparkle.
S is for… shoes
Many brides sacrifice comfort over style but try wearing your bridal shoes in,
at home beforehand. The chances are,
you might have flung them off before
the party gets started, anyway!
T is for… table settings
Creating individual table settings is the perfect way to involve your bridal party. Traditionally, favours are left on the tables for female guests – usually five sugared almonds to represent wealth, health, happiness, long life and fertility. Now, there are many quirky alternatives for your guests, which can double up as their place setting. Use retro jars of dolly mixtures, pebbles painted with their name or a Lottery ticket in a named envelope. The options are endless. And to keep your younger guests entertained, put a colouring book and crayons at each place setting.
U is for… ushers
These guys are responsible for escorting your friends and family to their seats as they arrive for the ceremony and helping with photos and taxis. To ensure things move on at a good pace, try to arrange to have at least one usher for every 50 guests.
V is for… venues
It used to be a straight choice between church or register office when it came to getting married. Now you can say ‘I do’ virtually anywhere. But venues can get booked up months, even years, in advance, so if you’ve set your heart on somewhere but don’t want to wait, why not consider a mid-week wedding instead? Far-out places to get hitched these days include football grounds, zoos, catamarans – even under water.
W is for…wedding cake
You literally can have your cake and eat it these days with so many creations on offer. Gone are the days where a white iced, three-tiered wedding cake was your only option. Choose from different flavoured layers to individual cupcakes for each guest.
X is for… xx kisses xx
Your wedding kiss might not be as grand as the Royal Wedding kiss on the balcony, but you’ll still get the chance to pucker up after exchanging vows. And you’ll need a lip balm handy throughout the day, too, with all the congratulatory kisses you and your groom should receive!
Y is for… your vows
While many follow tradition when it comes to wedding vows, writing your own can add a personal touch to the ceremony – and this has become an increasingly popular thing to do.
Z is for… Zzzz
According to reports, one third of newly-weds fall straight to sleep on their wedding nights. Ah well, there’s always the honeymoon to enjoy your alone time…
Lorraine says: ‘I loved my wedding day. It was a really glorious sunny day on 5 September 1992. I had pipers and a group of wonderful people who re-enacted some fighting scenes from the movie Braveheart.’
This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in May 2011. [Read the digital edition here]