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How to Plan a Wedding


It's easy to get bogged down in the details of wedding planning -- especially for aspects of the wedding that have so many components, like the rehearsal and the ceremony, and for the more mundane items on your checklist, such as transportation. Remember to keep the overall picture in mind, and always try to add a personal touch to each detail you both plan. Don't forget you can click on the links for worksheets to help you with each step.

The Rehearsal

The rehearsal is incredibly important, not only for obvious reasons, but also because it reduces the risk of ceremony surprises, tends to relax the wedding party, and gives his side a chance to mingle with her side. It also makes the reception even more fun and personal.


The worksheet link above provides a cheat sheet of everything you both need to remember about the rehearsal, including what you both should take along (such as the wine and the marriage license) that you will need on your actual wedding day.

Rehearsal Party

The rehearsal party immediately follows the official rehearsal. While the party is traditionally hosted by the groom's family, more and more groom's parents now choose instead to help with the overall reception costs, which, with the exception of the bar bill, were traditionally covered only by the bride's parents.

The rehearsal party is a chance for the bride and groom to mingle with loved ones and introduce wedding attendants from his family to wedding attendants from her family. It's also traditionally the time for the couple to give gifts to each wedding party attendant. 

Rehearsal parties can run the gamut. They can be quite formal or casual. They can be in a restaurant or a private home. They can include dinner or simply be drinks and appetizers. In other words, anything goes and anything is acceptable.

All members of the wedding party are included on the rehearsal party guest list, as well as their spouses. All parents, the officiant (and his or her spouse), and the coordinator (if any) are also invited. Some couples also invite other wedding vendors (the musicians, photographer, etc.) and out-of-town guests, but that is entirely optional.

The Ceremony

This is the time to acknowledge every fantasy and recall every wedding ceremony that has touched the bride's and groom's heart -- whether the ceremony was your best friend's, your Aunt Mabel's, or a scene on the big screen starring Audrey Hepburn. Indulge yourselves and your most romantic dreams. The only real limitations are budget and size. (In other words, you both want to make sure the ceremony site can hold all of your guests.)

The Ceremony Site

A ceremony does just as much to set the tone of the wedding day as anything else. If the bride and groom belong to the same church, synagogue, or temple and they want a traditional ceremony, choosing the ceremony site is simple. If, however, they want a more unique ceremony or if they do not belong to the same religious organization, then they may need to do a little hunting to find the perfect site.

There are four general ceremony styles for you both to choose from. Each of the four styles has plenty of room for personal expression.

  • Traditional: A traditional ceremony is performed in a church, synagogue, or temple by a religious leader. (A military ceremony is also considered traditional.)
  • Contemporary: This ceremony is most often in a historical building, museum, garden, or along a shoreline. There generally still are seats, an aisle, and a religious officiant.
  • Unique: These "extreme" ceremonies are held underwater, on mountaintops, in the air, or wherever your fantasy leads you. It takes a lot of courage to select this style, and you can expect more than the average number of regrets. If it's your dream, though, go for it!
  • Private: Reserved women fall in love and get married, too -- they just don't want to be on center stage. For these people, a private ceremony at city hall or a small religious site is perfect. They can then have a large party, with lots of mingling and no spotlights, at another time.

No matter how extravagant or simple the couple's dreams are for the ceremony site, it's important they keep track of all the details, including such things as the maximum number of guests, fee involved, and attire restrictions.