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You`re Engaged - Now What?

You`re engaged - now what? Okay, so the euphoria has suddenly given way to pure, unadulterated panic! So much to do, so little time, and on top of it, the voices of not one but TWO mothers that have been there, done that - and got all the answers. Planning a wedding can be a daunting task, but it`s time to put all those proverbial ducks in a row. Eliminate the stress by following this simple ten step plan.

The rings:
Not only a girl`s best friend, diamonds are also a wonderful investment and can even become a family heirloom. For this reason, American Swiss urges brides to consider the four C`s: clarity, cut, carat, and colour. Naturally, the more flawless the stone, the more valuable, and the same goes for size and purity of colour. When choosing a ring, shop around and try on various styles. The item will adorn your hand for many years to come, so you don`t want to choose something unflattering, or something you`ll tire of quickly. Once you`ve found the perfect ring, (or decided to have one designed especially) be sure to get three quotes from reputable jewellers. Remember that if you order the wedding bands at the same time, most jewellers will be able to offer a reduced rate. When to do: As soon as you are ready to make the engagement official.

Announcing the engagement:
This usually takes the form of an announcement in your local newspaper, and a party to celebrate the momentous occasion. The parents of the bride usually place the announcement in the paper, while the groom`s parents host the party. The engagement party may be as elaborate or simple as the couple chooses, and those who are invited do not necessarily have to be included on the guest-list for the wedding. While it is customary to have an engagement party, it is not compulsory, and many couples nowadays are foregoing these festivities in order to save money for the `big day`. When to do: Preferably once the engagement ring has been purchased - so you can show it off !

The Budget:
The following may be used as a guideline and adjusted to your personal needs. (* Indicates what the groom`s family are traditionally expected to pay for, the rest of the cost are usually paid for by the bride`s parents.) When to do: The budget should be discussed as soon as the engagement is made official.

The Service Providers:
As a rule of thumb, three quotes should be acquired from each of the services above and recommendations, as well as the track record and experience of each of the service providers, need to be taken into account. It is essential that you have a good rapport with each of the specialists, so that the channels of communication run smoothly. Some specialists (such as the photographer and the band) will be attending your wedding. Make sure refreshments are provided for them. When to do: Only once the budget has been agreed on by both families should the service providers be contacted. However, some of the more popular venues/specialists will need to be booked at least six to twelve months in advance, and a deposit will be required.

The Bride and Grooms` Attire:
These may be hired, borrowed, bought or designed especially. When choosing a gown, make sure you select a fabric that is not too prone to creasing, and a style that flatters your body shape. Before making a final decision, try on various gowns, cut out pictures from magazines and file them away. Approach your designer with at least two styles that appeal to you. A good designer will be able to work with you in finding a style that flatters your body shape and fits your personality. When to do: Preferably six months in advance for brides. Grooms can start looking at tuxedos and suits approximately one month prior to the wedding date.

The Retinue:
Choose your attendants carefully, and decide on bridesmaids` dresses that complement the style of your wedding gown. Don`t forget to consider matching shoes and other accessories. Remember, it`s the details that can make or break `the look`. Often, the bride pays for the fabric, and the bridesmaids pay for the making of the dresses. If possible, try to have their dresses made by the same person, as they will look more uniform. Also, if you intend on having a young child in the retinue, the minimum recommended age is not less than three years. The mother-of-the-bride and groom should agree on similar styles which match the retinue in fabric and colour. When to do: At least six months before the wedding date.

The Guests:
Narrowing down the amount of guests you have at your wedding is always tricky, and having a `reserve list` in case of cancellations, is recommended. The best way to gauge whether certain people should be invited or not is to ask yourself: "Have I seen or heard from them in the last year?" Naturally, if you haven`t, reconsider asking them! Some wedding co-ordinators maintain that at least 50% of the guest list should comprise the bride and groom`s friends, but this will have to be negotiated with the bride`s parents, who usually host the event. When to do: Lists from the groom`s family and the bride`s family should be submitted approximately four months in advance.

The Stationery:
Invitations are usually sent out six weeks before the wedding date, unless the wedding falls over Christmas or Easter Holidays. In this case, guests should be notified eight weeks in advance, in case they have made plans to go away. Guests travelling from abroad will require earlier notification, and mention should be made in an attached note that accommodation will be provided. When ordering invitations, always have 10% extra of the total amount of invitations required, as mistakes are always likely to happen! Don`t forget to order matching thank-you cards, as these will definitely be a big help. Once you have agreed to the quote, ask to see a sample before the bulk are printed, and examine the wording with a fine tooth comb. (After all, you don`t want to have to change the way you spell your name!) When to do: Two to three months prior to the wedding.

Legal Requirements and other documentation:
It is essential in these times of uncertainty to draw up an ante-nuptial contract. Consult with your lawyer and decide on a plan that best suits you. Ultimately, the contract that you choose should protect both you and your spouse in the event of death or divorce. If you are planning to marry on an island or in another country, speak to the embassy or tourism board to find out what documentation and identification will be required. Depending on your denomination, you may be required to produce some kind of confirmation proving that you belong to that religion. You may also be expected to attend classes on pre-marital counselling. Speak to your minister or rabbi to find out what is expected. When to do: Arrangements with the church / synagogue need to be made at least six months in advance. A lawyer should be approached approximately one month before the wedding.

The Gift List:
This is the perfect way to get exactly what you wish for, and you`ll find that most guests are so relieved that they don`t have to spend hours shopping for the ever-elusive `perfect gift`, that they are not offended by your requests. Make sure that there is a large selection and that the gifts you choose are varied in price.
The following are suggested items to include in your registry:
Towels and Linen
Kitchen utensils
Small and large appliances (kettles, toasters)
Decorative items such as candle sticks and photo frames When to do: Four to six weeks prior to the wedding.

Article source: LifeWorld



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