Fort Dodge Regional Bridal Associates Frequently Asked Questions - Planning Tips

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Simple Tips

10 Wedding Planning Tips

How do I know if a store or on-line company is an authorized dealer for certain lines of bridal attire?

What is the advantage of buying from a local store compared to buying your bridal attire over the internet?

Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Invitations

Etiquette Inquiries

Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist


Wedding Checklist

12 Months Before

Announce your engagement to family and friends and plan an engagement party
Place an engagement announcement in your local newspaper
Sign up for a wedding website to keep your guests informed about event details, area information, etc.
Work on the budget
Consider purchasing wedding planning software to organize everything, or hire a wedding planner to help secure contracts, etc.
Choose a wedding date - select a few days in case your first choice is booked
Choose a location and reserve your ceremony and reception site(s)
Begin a rough guest list and compile current addresses
Decide on who you'd like to have as your attendants, including your maid of honor and best man
Begin shopping for your wedding gown
Attend a local bridal show or two and jot down notes about any vendors you really liked
Purchase a wedding planning organizer or calendar to keep track of important dates and appointments (fittings, showers, etc.)

6-9 Months Before

Research and choose one or more bridal gift registry
Order your wedding gown and buy undergarments that you will wear with it (bring these to all fittings)
Order other bridal accessories - shoes, gloves and veil
Begin shopping for bridesmaids dresses
Find an officiant who will perform your ceremony
Research vendor websites and blogs, schedule appointments and book ceremony musicians, a wedding band or DJ, photographer, videographer, caterer and florist

4-6 Months Before

Select and order your wedding invitations, invitation envelopes and thank-you cards
Hire a calligrapher, if desired (check with a local stationery store for referrals)
Select and purchase wedding favors and wedding favor accessories - boxes, personalized wedding ribbon, labels, etc.
Purchase any desired ceremony and reception decorations - unity candles, vases, aisle runner, etc.
Start researching wedding cake pictures and local bakeries for ideas
Book your honeymoon and verify that you have any necessary travel documents including passports and visas
Book a room for your wedding night, if you will be leaving for your honeymoon the next morning
Book hotel rooms or arrange other accommodations for out-of-town guests
Finalize your guest list and send out save-the-date cards, if using
Print out directions to the ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner and hotel(s) for guests
Compile a list of area information and things to do for out-of-town guests
Reserve transportation for you and your wedding party to and from the wedding, as well as a bus or trolley for your guests (if necessary)

2-4 Months Before

Find out what your state's requirements are for obtaining a marriage license and get blood tests done, if required
Order tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen
Meet with your caterer to discuss the menu and your bar/liquor needs
Meet with your officiant to discuss ceremony details, wording and wedding vows
Select wedding readings
Order your wedding cake
Buy thank-you gifts for your attendants, flower girl and ring bearer
Shop for a gift for your new spouse-to-be
Select and purchase wedding rings, and have them engraved if desired
Coordinate and choose a location for the rehearsal dinner
Contact party rental companies for tents, tables, arches, etc. if necessary
Book any other specialty services – ice sculptures, photo booths, etc.
Purchase luggage and other travel necessities and attire for your honeymoon
Order/renew passports if necessary, leaving ample time for them to be sent back to you
Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you'd like to have your teeth whitened or cleaned before the wedding

1-2 Months Before

Mail invitations out to everyone eight weeks prior to the wedding date and send accommodation info to your out-of-town guests
Compile and complete name change documents or purchase a bridal name change kit online which contains all of the necessary forms to file
Fill out a change of address form at the post office, if necessary
Pick up your marriage license
Have ceremony programs printed
Purchase a guest book, pen and other wedding accessories including toasting glasses, cake knife, ring pillow, etc.
Keep your wedding web site updated with directions and event details
Choose your hair and makeup stylists and schedule a trial for both; also book appointments to have your hair, make-up and nails done on the day of the wedding
Review insurance information with your fiancé and check with employers to see what documents need to be updated once you are legally wed (car, home, medical, etc.)

2 Weeks to 1 Month Before

Create a seating chart for the reception and make table numbers and place cards (or have your calligrapher work on these, if you have hired one)
Contact your caterer with a final guest count
Print out a timeline of events for your wedding party and vendors - include contact information and cell phone numbers
Meet with your photographer to finalize your wedding photo list of any must-have photos
Contact your florist to confirm your final flower order (bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, etc.) and go over any decor details or venue logistics for the big day
Finalize your ceremony and reception music and song lists for your wedding band or DJ
Confirm lodging reservations for out-of-town guests
Place a wedding announcement in your local newspaper
Plan a bridal luncheon or dinner with your bridesmaids
Pick up wedding bands and make sure the fit is good
Schedule a final wedding dress fitting
Write rehearsal dinner toasts

1 Week Before

Write out final checks to your wedding vendors (each organized in an envelope) and let your wedding coordinator or one of your attendants to distribute at the wedding
Pick up your wedding gown
Confirm limo or other transportation reservations
Pack for your honeymoon and confirm travel arrangements
Have your post office hold your mail, if necessary, while you are on your honeymoon
Treat yourself to a spa day -- you deserve it!

The Day Before

Welcome out-of-town guests as they arrive
Take a yoga class or go for a walk during the day
Schedule a hair appointment for prior to the rehearsal dinner
Attend the rehearsal and enjoy the rehearsal dinner!

The Wedding Day

Wake up early and do some easy exercise, or just go for a peaceful walk outdoors and try to soak up the beauty of the day ;)
Set aside some time before the festivities to share gifts with your bridesmaids or close family members
Eat a healthy breakfast - you'll need your energy for the big day ahead!
Enjoy it; it's finally here and everything will be wonderful... Congratulations!!
Free wedding checklist created and updated by The Little Wedding Guide. Questions or suggestions? Please contact us.

Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Invitations

Like many parts of wedding planning, sending your wedding invitations can be incredibly stressful. With so much wedding invitation etiquette to remember, many couples lose track of what's really important when sending out wedding invitations—making sure that all of your family and friends know when and where the ceremony is, and that this vital information is delivered in a stylish and elegant way. When you sit down to send wedding invitations to all your loved ones, make sure you follow these simple, commonsense tips for wedding invitations first and foremost:

1. DO send your wedding invitations early. The sooner your guests receive their wedding invitations, the sooner they can RSVP!

2. DON'T send wedding invitations to anyone and then assume they won't be able to make it. You might have to be accountable for every single person on your guest list, so make sure you plan accordingly and only send wedding invitations to the number of people you can comfortably accommodate.

3. DO send response or RSVP cards along with your wedding invitations. These sleek little stationery inventions will help inspire a perfect headcount in a stylish way.

4. DON'T forget to proofread your wedding invitations. Read over the information at least three times, and then hand it off to a trusted friend to do the same!

5. DO remember that this celebration is all about fun and family. Make sure your wedding invitations reflect your cheerful spirit along with your sleek and sophisticated style.

Copyright © 2004-2011 | Wedding Paper Divas |

Etiquette Inquiries

Addressing invitations has become quite a challenge these days. Here are some of the more typical scenarios.

Married Couple: Mr. and Mrs. Allen Smith

Married Couple, each keeping their own name: Ms. Stacy Jones and Mr. Allen Smith
Ms. Stacy Jones
and Mr. Allen Smith

Married Couple, doctors: The Doctors Smith OR Doctors (Drs.) Stacy and Allen Smith

Married Couple, only husband is a doctor: Dr. and Mrs. Allen Smith

Married Couple, only wife is a doctor: Dr. Stacy Smith and Mr. Allen Smith OR
Dr. Stacy Smith
and Mr. Allen Smith

Married Couple, wife is a doctor AND kept her maiden name:
Dr. Stacy Jones and Mr. Allen Smith OR
Dr. Stacy Jones
and Mr. Allen Smith

Living Together, but not married:
Ms. Stacy Jones
Mr. Allen Smith

Same Sex Couple:
Mr. Jeffrey Jones and Mr. Samuel Smith
Ms. Lola Peterson and Ms. Deidra Hanson


Courtesy of Jodi R.R. Smith Copyright © 2000-2006 Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.


Stuck on Planning Your Own Wedding?
Get Unstuck With These Simple Tips!

Whenever I see searches or questions regarding "planning a wedding on a small budget", it seems I usually bring up a lot of information about tips on saving money like booking off-season, not booking on Saturday night, etc. What I don't see a lot of is the actual planning and organizational part of the wedding. While I really like those list of money saving tips, to me the actual planning a wedding and staying organized from the very start goes a long way on also planning your wedding to stay on budget!

So this article is much more important than a list of money saving tips. You should think of this article as wedding planning help for you to really stay organized AND stay sane!!

Okay, so let's start!

To start off with, here are the materials you need:

* three ring binder (white or black)
* three ring hole punch (surprisingly not all materials have three holes punched in them)
* dividers for your binder, preferably color tabs, preferably already punched!
* a labelmaker comes in handy

Start labeling the dividers appropriately - this alone will help you really get organized for planning your wedding.

* wedding budget
* wedding checklist
* wedding timeline
* wedding venue
* reception venue
* wedding catering
* wedding favors
* bridal gown
* groom tuxedo

...and so forth.

Now here's one important key. There are TONS of wedding planning guides and binders available. If you already bought one or were given something "fancy" like this to use, feel free to use it. I prefer the normal office binders over wedding binders.

This is subtle but makes a difference in my experience and here's the important key:

When it comes to wedding planning, of course you have to be organized. You also have to, when trying to stick to planning your wedding on a budget, think of it more like a business and not something to get emotionally involved in.

Let me say that again: Think of it more like a business and not something to get emotionally involved in.

That is kind of tough, because you want to be emotionally involved. It's your wedding! But if it's important for you to stay on budget, if you need to keep your wedding say under $10,000 instead of the average $30,000, you have to realize that being emotionally involved is what allows not only wedding vendors to boost their prices up so high but also for you all to pay those inflated prices! Wedding markups can be as much as 200%!!

The average price of a wedding, $30,000, though average, is OVER-INFLATED because brides accept this and will continue to pay OVER-INFLATED prices.

You need to think of it as a business you need to keep on a budget. That is why I prefer the normal binder (emotionless) versus the fancy wedding binder (fancy and FILLED with emotion).

The bottom line is if you don't have an organizational system working for you already, and you're not one of those organized types (like me!), you NEED to be one or need to find a friend who is one (like me...) to help you plan your wedding on a budget.

That's it. The rest, after you have the binder set up, will actually all come into place naturally. I will definitely write more about that, but this to me is the important first step to starting on planning your own wedding.

About me: I'm quite the organized, bordering on compulsive, type "A" person. As such I have been asked quite a few times to help organize weddings for friends (and acquaintances!). I'm not a professional wedding planner. I actually work in a realtor's office and do a lot of arts and crafts on the side. I would say that I'm definitely am a planner, an organizer, a Google documents diva, and a bargain hunter. I also love to write!

My friends keep telling me to write a book (and call it, yup, "Best Wedding Planning Book"). Well, I figured I'd start at least with the blog and see how it went. Come and stop by my blog here: Best Wedding Planning Book for some good tips and a few free downloadable eBooks too!


Article Source:


10 Wedding Planning Tips

Weddings are probably one of the most important events in one's life. Nevertheless, you should also know that weddings can (and most likely will) also cause you lots of stress and many sleepless nights.

The reason for this is that there many aspects to a wedding that you cannot leave to others and have to take care of yourself. Weddings are such a magnificent affair these days that people put everything into the planning of it. You will however definitely need the help of others.

Below are some wedding tips that you can use to enjoy your wedding, rather than ending up doing everything yourself:

1. Time is very important. Make sure that you start planning your wedding early, and in most cases, this will mean a year in advance. This is even more important if you are planning your wedding at a distant location.

2. The wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses are also something that will take time. Start searching for your dream dress as the moment you become engaged. This will give you enough time to search for that perfect dress and make alterations if needed. You will also have enough time to sort out the bridesmaid dresses.

3. Send out invitations to all your guests as soon as you have finalized the guest list.

4. If you intend to use a wedding planner, ensure that they are available to you in time. Most of the good wedding planners are booked well in advance of two years. Book your wedding date based on the availability of the wedding planner.

5. If you plan to have you wedding at a remote location, try to go there are least once before your wedding to check out the accommodation and wedding packages available. It is essential, as remote weddings will always be more expensive. Also, organize a wedding coordinator for the day, so that they can be your point of contact for all the arrangements that needs doing.

6. Arrive at your wedding venue a few days earlier to make sure you will be able to take care of the last minute wedding preparations.

7. Take a break to a spa. It might be hard to do so in the week of your wedding, but might also be the break that you so desperately need.

8. Do not expect perfection. Some small things are bound to go wrong, but do not let it spoil your day.

9. Ask someone to check all the smaller details with you - this can be a close friend or family member. They can serve as a consultant on small details to you.

10. Make sure that you hire the right DJ for your special day. It will help a great deal to create perfect atmosphere. Interview the DJ you decide on beforehand, and phone some of their previous clients. If you have the right DJ, your wedding day will surely be unforgettable.

By Derek Jansen of DerekJay Entertainment, specialists in Wedding DJ and DJ Hire in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Article Source:

How do I know if a store or on-line company is an authorized dealer for certain lines of bridal attire?

Go to the designer's website. All designer's websites have an Authorized Retailer section to tell you where to find their lines. If you are planning on buying from someone who does not appear on their list of authorized retailers, then chances are you are not getting what you think you're getting, because the are not an authorized retailer. Chances are also high that you may not get your ordered gowns.

What is the advantage of buying from a local store compared to buying your bridal attire over the internet?

There are several advantages to buying from a local business for your special day.

  1. Designer's do not guarantee merchandise that's not purchased through an authorized retailer
  2. You do not have to measure yourself, the authorized retailer will measure you and help you determine your size
  3. Every designer's size chart is different, as well as construction of the gown and only an authorizes retailer will know how to order your specific gown(s)
  4. Most shops require only a 50% deposit down; not the whole payment up front
  5. You will not have to look for a seamstress - not an easy task - when purchasing from most local businesses
  6. You will not have to press or steam your dress yourself
  7. You know what you're getting from a local, authorized retailer

Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist

Sixteen to Nine Months Before

Start a wedding folder or binder. Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration.
Work out your budget. Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own.
Pick your wedding party. As soon as you’re engaged, people will start wondering who’s in.
Start the guest list. Make a head count database to use throughout your planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information. (Want to keep costs low? It may be brutal, but the best way to do it is to reduce your guest list.)
Hire a planner, if desired. A planner will have relationships with—and insights about—vendors.
Reserve your date and venues. Decide whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, factoring in travel time between the two places.
Book your officiant.
Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. Keep their contact information in your binder.
Throw an engagement party, if you wish. But remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well.

Eight Months Before

Hire the photographer and the videographer. No need to talk specifics yet, but be sure that the people you hire are open to doing the shots that you want.
Book the entertainment. Attend gigs of potential acts to see how they perform in front of audiences, then reserve your favorite.
Meet caterers. If your wedding venue doesn’t offer its own catering service, look for one now and hire the service this month or early next.
Purchase a dress. You’ll need to schedule time for at least three fittings. Veil shopping can be postponed for another two to three months.
Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Pick three hotels at different price points close to the reception venue.
Register. Sign up at a minimum of three retailers.
Launch a wedding website. Create your personal page through a free provider such as Note the date of the wedding, travel information, and accommodations. Then send the link to invitees.

Seven to Six Months Before

Select and purchase invitations. Hire a calligrapher, if desired. Addressing cards is time-consuming, so you need to budget accordingly.
Start planning a honeymoon. Make sure that your passports are up-to-date, and schedule doctors’ appointments for any shots you may need.
Shop for bridesmaids’ dresses. Allow at least six months for the dresses to be ordered and sized.
Meet with the officiant. Map out the ceremony and confirm that you have all the official documents for the wedding (these vary by county and religion).
Send save-the-date cards.
Reserve structural and electrical necessities. Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs if you need them, lighting components, and so on.
Book a florist. Florists can serve multiple clients on one day, which is why you can wait a little longer to engage one. Plus, at this point, you’ll be firm on what your wedding palette will be.
Arrange transportation. Consider limos, minibuses, trolleys, and town cars. (But know that low-to-the-ground limos can make entries and exists dicey if you’re wearing a fitted gown.)
Start composing a day-of timeline. Draw up a schedule of the event and slot in each component (the cake-cutting, the first dance).

Five to Four Months Before

Book the rehearsal and rehearsal-dinner venues. Negotiate the cost and the menu. If you’re planning to host a day-after brunch for guests, book that place as well.
Check on the wedding invitations. Ask the stationer for samples of the finished invitations and revise them to suit your needs.
Select and order the cake. Some bakers require a long lead time. Attend several tastings before committing to any baker.
Send your guest list to the host of your shower. Provided you, ahem, know about the shower.
Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
Schedule hair and makeup artists. Make a few appointments with local experts to try them out. Snap a photo at each so you can compare results.
Choose your music. What should be playing when the wedding party is announced? During dinner? To kick off the dancing? Keep a running list of what you want—and do not want—played.

Three Months Before

Finalize the menu and flowers. You’ll want to wait until now to see what will be available, since food and flowers are affected by season.
Order favors, if desired. Some safe bets: monogrammed cookies or a treat that represents your city or region. If you’re planning to have welcome baskets for out-of-town guests, plan those now too.
Make a list of the people giving toasts. Which loved ones would you like to have speak at the reception? Ask them now.
Finalize the readings. Determine what you would like to have read at the ceremony—and whom you wish to do the readings.
Purchase your undergarments. And schedule your second fitting.
Finalize the order of the ceremony and the reception.
Print menu cards, if you like, as well as programs. No need to go to a printer, if that’s not in your budget: You can easily create these on your computer.
Purchase the rings. This will give you time for resizing and engraving.
Send your event schedule to the vendors. Giving them a first draft now allows ample time for tweaks and feedback.

Two Months Before

Touch base again with all the vendors. Make sure any questions you or they had on your first draft have been answered.
Meet with the photographer. Discuss specific shots, and walk through the locations to note spots that appeal to you.
Review the playlist with the band or deejay. Though you probably won’t be able to dictate every single song played, you should come prepared with a wish list.
Send out the invitations. The rule of thumb: Mail invitations six to eight weeks before the ceremony, setting the RSVP cutoff at three weeks after the postmark date.
Submit a newspaper wedding announcement. If you’re planning to include a photograph, check the publication’s website: Some have strict rules about how the photo should look.
Enjoy a bachelorette party. Arranging a night out with your girlfriends generally falls to the maid of honor. But if she hasn’t mentioned one to you by now, feel free to ask—for scheduling purposes, of course!—if a celebration is in the works.

One Month Before

Enter RSVPs into your guest-list database. Phone people who have not yet responded.
Get your marriage license. The process can take up to six days, but it’s good to give yourself some leeway. If you are changing your name, order several copies.
Mail the rehearsal-dinner invitations.
Visit the dressmaker for (with luck!) your last dress fitting. For peace of mind, you may want to schedule a fitting the week of your wedding. You can always cancel the appointment if you try on the dress then and it fits perfectly.
Stock the bar. Now that you have a firm head count you can order accordingly.
Send out as many final payments as you can.
Confirm times for hair and makeup and all vendors.
E-mail and print directions for drivers of transport vehicles. This gives the chauffeurs ample time to navigate a route.
Assign seating. Draw out table shapes on a layout of the room to help plan place settings. Write the names of female guests on pink sticky notes and the names of male guests on blue sticky notes so you can move people about without resketching the entire setting.
Purchase bridesmaids’ gifts. You’ll present them at the rehearsal dinner.
Write vows, if necessary. 
Get your hair cut and colored, if desired. 

Week of the Wedding

Reconfirm arrival times with vendors. 
Delegate small wedding-day tasks. Choose someone to bustle your dress, someone to carry your things, someone to be in charge of gifts (especially the enveloped sort), someone to hand out tips, and someone to be the point person for each vendor.
Send a timeline to the bridal party. Include every member’s contact information, along with the point people you’ve asked to deal with the vendors, if problems arise.
Pick up your dress. Or make arrangements for a delivery.
Check in one last time with the photographer. Supply him or her with a list of moments you want captured on film.
Set aside checks for the vendors. And put tips in envelopes to be handed out at the event.
Book a spa treatment. Make an appointment for a manicure and a pedicure the day before the wedding. (You might want to get a stress-relieving massage, too.)
Send the final guest list to the caterer and all venues hosting your wedding-related events. Typically, companies close their lists 72 hours in advance.
Break in your shoes.
Assemble and distribute the welcome baskets.
Pack for your honeymoon

See the original article on Real Simple

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