Engaged? Stressing about planning your wedding? Most every bride looks forward to planning their dream wedding. But time constraints and the desire to please everyone on your guest list can quickly transform your jubilant wedding celebration into a stressful ordeal. Preparation is the secret to staying out of the ‘Bridezilla’ club. These wedding planning tips will help you plan the perfect wedding day, without breaking a sweat.

It’s All In Your Head

Start things off by visualizing how you want the wedding to unfold. When planning any event, you should first establish a clear mental picture of every stage of the celebration from a guest’s point of view. Then, make a list of each element, including time estimates. Planning for time beforehand will help keep your event on track, and ensure that your event flows smoothly.

Money Matters

Establish your budget right away, since it will have a big impact on the type of event you plan – from food, to entertainment, to your choice of venue. Unexpected costs can crop up with weddings of all size, so be sure to keep a little cash held back for unplanned expenses.

Home Or Away?

Depending on the size of your wedding and your budget, you may plan a quiet gathering in your family back yard, or a big bash at an upscale destination location. When booking a location, the earlier the better, since good ones can go quickly. A great tip to minimize the risk of paying for ‘no shows’, is to ask if you can book a minimum number of guests, adding additional people later on.

Be My Guest

People these days are busy all the time and social calendars fill up quickly. To encourage a solid turnout, send a ‘save the date’ card to everyone you wish to invite as soon as you nail down a date. You can even send email event reminder so people are sure to remember your event date. This is also a great time to request information on any special dietary requirements or allergies that you’ll need to consider when creating a menu.

Have A Seat

The seating chart plan requires some forethought, but it’s worth the effort to ensure that everyone gets the most out of your wedding, and that any awkward confrontations are avoided. Print out a large copy of the table plan to direct guests to their seats, and order or make place cards for the tables.

Set The Mood

Your theme is the heartbeat of your event. It should be incorporated into every aspect of your celebration, including dress codes for guests and servers, music choices, and your menu. Popular themes include black tie, rustic country, ethnic, and tropical.

What’s For Dinner?

Food can make or break any event, and your menu should be compatible with your theme. Don’t forget about your guests’ food allergies and dietary requirements. You’ll also want to decide how you wish to serve your guests. Do you want appetizers placed on the tables, or served by waiting staff? Would you prefer a buffet, or a three-course seated meal? Will this be a set menu, or do guests need to select an entrée? Always keep in mind that the more staff and service is required the more budget it will require.

Dance To The Music

If your wedding plans include dancing, great music is a must. For larger weddings, you may want to consider a DJ, musician, or live band. If you’re hosting a smaller event, an iPod hooked up to the in-house PA or a decent stereo system may be all you need. Just ensure that your speakers are loud enough, or add additional wireless speakers to the setup to keep the tunes flowing throughout the entire event.

Smile For The Camera

Memorialize your special day with plenty of photographs and even video. Even better, consider renting a photo booth. Your guests will have a blast posing with fun props and you’ll have fun memories to share after the wedding. Plus nothing helps immortalize your wedding than an album full of beautiful, professional photos.

Have Fun!

The point of all this planning is to allow you to sit back and bask in your new wedded bliss. Although you may have to deal with unexpected issues, should they arise, having a solid game plan will help you manage the situation as stress-free as possible. It is also good to introduce the staff, such as caterers and musicians, to a contact person that you have designated to answer any questions. Offering them food and beverages during the event is a nice gesture, and everyone will have a better time when you’re dealing with happy workers.

You’ll know it’s a party when the bride is having as much fun as the guests, and with proper planning you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the celebration as much as they do! Happy Planning!