Whether you're the kind of gal who has never so much as thought about her wedding gown or you've been keeping a wedding scrapbook since grade school, planning for your big day is a massive undertaking. For many of us, an engagement feels like a dream come true, but turning that dream into reality can be a whole different story - filled with stress, anxiety, last-minute decisions and pressure from all sides about what kind of invitations or napkins to choose.
When it comes to your wedding, you don't want to let anyone down, but you also want to make sure that your special day is, well, yours. That means you don't have to cave in to your soon-to-be-mother-in-law's demands that you go with a long-sleeved wedding dress, but you should still take into account what your loved ones are asking for when it comes to your walk down the aisle.
Luckily, we're here to help you navigate this difficult task with a comprehensive guide to everything you need to be thinking about as the big day approaches.
1. The color scheme.
Everything else you do for your wedding - picking out flowers, centerpieces, bridesmaid dresses, invitations and so on - will depend on the colors that you choose for your ceremony.
There are literally thousands of options and combinations available when it comes to picking out wedding colors. Some people like a traditional black-and-white wedding, while others want vibrant pinks, reds and purples.
One thing to keep in mind when deciding on a color scheme is the season. Spring wedding? Pretty pastels are all the rage. If you're saying "I do" in the summer, bright oranges, greens and yellows could be for you. In the fall, you may want to opt for peach, champagne or crimson. And in the winter, jewel tones are to die for.
If you need a little more inspiration, there are many color boards available on the internet and in wedding stores to help you pick out a scheme that's flattering, unique and all your own.
2. The invitations.
You can't expect people to be present for your wedding if you don't invite them, which means the first step is mailing out invitations and save-the-dates to let your guests know that you want them present when you say "I do."
Picking out the right invitations can be fun, but it can also be a challenge. If you're all about simplicity and elegance, there are lots of traditional styles you can use that incorporate embossed fonts and pretty colors and patterns. If you're looking for something a little more out there, you can find plenty of non-traditional options that include pop-ups, tactile surprises and other little goodies.
Don't forget to match your invitations to your wedding's colors! And remember that you don't want to wait until the last minute to send them out - give guests a few months to make travel plans and accommodations for your ceremony.
And speaking of invitations, don't forget about thank-you notes. You can get a great deal on all kinds of wedding stationary with a Wedding Paper Divas promotion code.
3. The gown.
Ah, the wedding dress - one of the most iconic images of femininity in the Western world. Whether you want something timeless or you're looking to make a rock-star impression, there's a wedding dress for you.
For traditional brides who are looking for a gown that's modest and inoffensive, a long-sleeve gown could be the right option. Long sleeves will keep you warm in the winter or fall, and they're traditionally appropriate for religious ceremonies in churches where showing one's shoulders could be considered immodest. But don't think that a conservative gown has to be boring - some of history's most gorgeous brides have opted for long sleeves! Both Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton kept their arms covered when they said "I do" to their Prince Charmings.
For an outdoor ceremony, feeling the sun on your shoulders is a priority for many brides. Sleeveless gowns are especially popular these days, especially paired with ballgown hems that are enough to make any gal feel like a princess. If you prefer cap or sheer sleeves, many bridal salons can add them on to sleeveless styles, so be sure to ask about your options before you buy.
If you're getting married in the summer, you may even want to choose a short dress. There's no rule that says your wedding dress has to be floor-length, after all! A garden ceremony in June or July is the perfect place to sport a knee-length dress that's as sweet and adorable as it is feminine. And if you only want to show those gams for part of the wedding, some women opt for both a long and short dress and change in between the ceremony and reception.
When it comes to your wedding dress, the possibilities are endless - so don't give up until you find the perfect one.
4. The bridesmaids.
Choosing your bridesmaids is a difficult task for just about any bride. After all, you don't want anyone to feel left out - but you also don't necessarily have room for 14 other gals standing at the altar with you. If you're considering choosing from amongst your friends, you may want to take the family-only route - selecting only your own sisters, your fiance's sisters and your female cousins. If you know exactly who you want in your wedding - your college best friend, your sorority sisters, your childhood playmates and so on - be sure to ask them early so they can be sure to save the date. You can have as many or as few bridesmaids as you like, from just one or two to a dozen or more. And remember, you don't have to designate one a "maid of honor" unless you want to!
Once you've decided on your bridesmaids, you'll have to decide on their dresses. Bridesmaids dresses are notorious for being hideous, so don't fall victim to the allure of a dress that you like, but that's going to look awful on your more buxom best friend. And remember your wedding's color scheme - the bridesmaids dresses should fit right in.
If you've got stylish friends, you may opt to let them choose their own dresses. Non-matching bridesmaids gowns are trendy these days, so if that's something you want for your friends, just let them know what color family they should be looking for and let them hit the mall.
5. The venue.
Do you want to get married in a church? In a park? By the beach? In your parents' backyard? No matter where you dream of saying "I do," there's a venue that can make it a reality.
Some brides prefer a simple ceremony in a traditional place, like a church or a backyard. If you're luckily enough to have a childhood church that's gorgeous enough for your ceremony or a backyard that's big enough to hold all your guests, choosing a meaningful locale like these could be the right option for you.
Other brides want a lavish ceremony in a brand-new venue that's as elegant as it is gorgeous. Private estates and historic locales are great options for brides who want a lot of gravitas while they're exchanging vows.
Still others are all about nature - and they've always planned on getting married outdoors. Parks, beaches, gardens and vineyards are great options for a nature-loving bride who wants to feel the sun on her face throughout the ceremony.
Finally, for the bride who's all about adventure, there's the destination wedding. Paris? Peru? The Bahamas? Why not combine your wedding with your honeymoon?
No matter what you choose for your wedding - a winter ceremony in a church, a summer ceremony in a garden, a fall ceremony in Bermuda or anything else - the most important thing is that you're able to turn it into a fantasy come true. After all, this is one day that's all about you. But that doesn't mean you have to break the bank, especially with a The Knot Wedding Shop promotion code. Be savvy about what you buy, and your wedding day is sure to be a dream.
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