Photo: Eric Vest Photography, Inc.
Sipping champagne in a bridal salon surrounded by gorgeous gowns. Sampling cake flavors with your partner. Picking out a far-flung honeymoon destination. Yes, some parts of wedding planning are truly as magical as everyone says they are, and you should savor every moment. But others? I’ll be straight with you: They can be downright tedious and annoying. But, your slightly-naggy-in-a-sweet-way future-mother-in-law is right—you’ve got to get through these less-than-glamorous tasks nevertheless.
Here’s a hot list of all of the wedding planning tasks you should cross off your to-do list as soon as possible, so you can get to the good part: Getting married!
Compile your guest list, complete with addresses
Thinking about dancing the night away with all of your family and friends? Amazing. Thinking about rounding up all their names and addresses into a living document that must be kept vigilantly up to date over the next year or so? Nightmare (for most of us, anyway). Still, the wedding wouldn’t be a wedding without guests (it’d be an elopement, which is totally an option, by the way), so you’d best get to the guest list sooner than later, because it’s a necessary evil. The easiest and fastest way to get it over with? Store yours online, so there’s no way it could get misplaced or deleted off your hard drive, and so multiple folks can access it whenever they need to, from wherever they are. Online guest lists also sync up with RSVPs and even address labeling, so you’ll be knocking out a few tasks at once by updating yours. As for figuring out exactly who’s coming in the first place? You need a venue locked down first—then just build your guest list based on its max capacity. Trust me, once you get started it’s a piece of cake! (And you’ll have your friends’ and family’s addresses for birthday cards and holiday packages for years to come!)
Meeting your vendors, IRL
This isn’t annoying per se, but making time for an in-person meeting when literally every part of wedding planning can be done over email these days can be a bit of a hassle (I get it, you’ve got a life to live!). But seriously, you get one wedding, and that one wedding hinges almost entirely on your vendors being people you like, trust and share a vision with. So, in the early stages of planning when things are still relatively calm and panic mode hasn’t yet set in, make it a point to arrange super-short meetups with all of the important vendors. It can be as simple as stopping by their offices to drop off a check in person and introduce yourself. Yes, it’ll be an interruption to your daily programming, but you’ll be glad you did it on your wedding day, when you’re surrounded by familiar faces who are more than just email addresses in your inbox.
Photo: Luma Weddings
Picking out the less-than-exciting details
While there are a few couples out there who are naturally detail-oriented and will love obsessing over everything from table linens to chair type, the vast majority of us will have no idea what we’re doing and therefore will find those wedding planning decisions pretty trying. Picking out a color scheme is one thing, but you don’t get to stop there as the couple of the hour—you literally have to decide what color your table linens will be, and your napkins, and your glasses, and your plates, and the smaller plates that go on top of those, and the picture frames that hold your bar menu, and... Ok, you get it. If you put these decisions off because they overwhelm you or bore you, you’ll be stuck making approximately 5,197 last-minute decisions on 2,127 different phone calls one week before your wedding, and you don’t want that! So, decide on every little detail the earliest you can. If you really don’t care and would rather someone else make the decisions for you, ask a trusted pal for their input, tell the vendor you’ll follow their lead, or take the plunge and hire a wedding stylist. Otherwise, it’s as easy as divide and conquer!
Setting the timeline of the day
This is one of those “Oh, I had no idea people actually had to do this?” wedding planning tasks. When you attend a wedding as a guest, they can (or should, anyway) flow so naturally from one phase to the next that it can seem like they’re abiding by some law of nature or something. But, no, all the phases of weddings—from the really formal weddings to the really laid-back ones—are actually meticulously planned. And, yes, you have to decide them. You actually have to decide… what time to get married? And then what time cocktail hour starts and ends, and then what time dinner should be served, and then when dancing should begin. And also, when each speech should go, and when the first dance should go. Once you actually sit down to plot out this schedule, it won’t take too long (promise!), but corralling all the people and info you need to get the schedule going can be a bit tedious. This is when it’s especially helpful to have a day-of coordinator or planner around—they can help make the schedule for you, and all you have to do is sign off on their timeline. But if you don’t have one, just start with your ceremony time and go from there—everything else will fall into place! And once you have the schedule done, lots of other tasks will be come soo much easier. It’s not glamorous, but an airtight schedule is the backbone of your big day.
Photo: Lena Mirisola Photography
Getting the scoop on all things legal
It’s so easy to get swept up in floral concepts and dress fittings, you might just forget to figure out how to actually get legally married in the state where your wedding will be taking place. Please do not forget this. Getting the details on who can marry you, what forms you’ll need to submit and how soon before your wedding they’ll need to be submitted and where is a boring and tedious task that couldn’t be less romantic, but people involved with your wedding will be asking for these details eventually, so you’ll be glad you’ve got them squared away! Two other people who will be glad you did your due diligence: you and your partner, who will actually be able to get married on your wedding day (instead of having to have a city hall ceremony weeks later because the paperwork didn’t go through in time!).
Deciding on your table assignments
You won’t be able to this early in your wedding planning journey—because you can’t really do it until you’ve got all of your RSVPs pretty much locked down—but as soon as you can get it over with, my advice is do it. This is perhaps the most difficult and strategic part of planning your big day, because it requires so much foresight and rearranging and compromise, and can’t be done until just a few weeks before. Yes, you could put it off till the very last minute—most venues and rental companies (i.e., the folks who will likely be setting up your tables and escort cards) won’t require table assignments till a few days before your wedding—but why delay the inevitable? The very best way to tackle this task is to gather your RSVPs, open an online seating chart tool, open a bottle of wine with your betrothed, and spend an evening hashing stuff out. If your parents have big opinions on who should sit where, ask them to set their own tables (it’ll take some work off your plate, and you won’t notice or care who is sitting where on the big day!). One last note: If this task sounds so stressful that you wanna ditch it entirely for a choose-your-own-seats plan, think again. Assigned seating is better for your guests and the flow of your evening. You’ll thank yourself later! (And so will your guests.)
Putting together a shot list for your photographer
Be ready for your photographer for ask for one of these—most do—but even if they don’t, you’ll be so glad you made one when it’s picture time on your wedding day and you’re surrounded by dozens of people waiting for their moment in front of the lens! A shot list is basically all the must-have pics you and your partner want from your big day—that is, every group pic with friends, fam and the bridal party, plus whatever you’re dreaming of for your bridal portraits that you don’t want forgotten. Will it be snooze-inducing to write an email to your photographer containing: “Mom, dad, grandma,” “Mom, dad,” “Mom, dad, brother” for an hour or so? Yes! But it’s one quick, painless and probably un-changing task you can get over and done with early, which will give you peace of mind that that sacred hour and a half of photo time on your wedding day will run efficiently and without any missed opportunities. Please do not skip this task, no matter how tempting it may be—you can’t redo your wedding photos (well, I guess you can, but that sounds like a much more tedious task!).