Planning a Wedding: Four to Six Months Before
You and your fiance are now four to six months from your wedding date. Things from the previous hub, Planning a Wedding: Six to Nine Months Before, should be complete and you are ready for the next list of tasks. Ready? Here we go!
Reserve rental items needed for ceremony and reception
Do you need any item that you can rent rather than purchase for your wedding day? Renting items can often be much cheaper than buying those items outright. Items like tents, tables, chairs, and altars can all be rented to use for your wedding day. Ask your venue what will be provided and if you would be permitted to bring large ceremony or reception items with you.
Tips for renting items for the wedding day:
1) Be sure to shop around for prices so that you can get the best deal possible. Planning a wedding is all about maximizing your wedding budget and getting a great deal on what you put your money into.
2) Ask about set up and take down fees. Some rental companies will set up the items you rent from them and take them away at the end of the ceremony while others require you to pick them up and return them at the end of the festivities. Be sure you know what is required of you to rent what you need.
3) See the exact item you are renting. Be sure it is not tattered and worn looking. If there is a serial number be sure that is included in your contract so you are certain of what you are paying for.
Finalize guest list
Before you can order the invitations and wedding stationary you need to know how many people you are inviting. Finalize the guest lists with your parents and soon to be in-laws. Make sure no important family members are left out and that your head count is going to fit in your ceremony and reception areas.
Select and order wedding stationary - Announcements, Invitations, Thank You Cards, Programs, and Place Cards
After you know your final head count you can order your wedding stationary. It is important to know how many you need so you can order the correct amount. It is frequently suggested that you order about 25 extra envelopes and I think you should also order extra of anything that you will be writing on in case you have errors.
The announcements are used to let people know you are engaged and there is an upcoming wedding. These do not have to match everything else as they will go out first. Many sites sell cute magnets that you can send out as your wedding announcements, aka save the dates. We did not use these as we decided we did not want to spend the extra money on trinkets, but this choice depends on what you want and what your budget can afford.
The invitations are probably the first things people will see associated with your wedding. Take time selecting them and making sure they are what you want. By the time you choose your invitations you should know your wedding colors, theme, and location. These will all help you in the choosing of your stationary items as many invitations have a complete wedding set for you to order. Make sure you know what you are paying for with your invitation. Does it come with a matching RSVP card and envelopes? Are the ribbons extra? How much for the fancier fonts?
Programs are an important part of your wedding day because they let your guests know when things are happening and where they should be. These can be as fancy or simple as you would like them to be but they should have an itinerary for the day so your guests know when to be seated for the ceremony, find cocktail hour after the ceremony, and know what time to be at the reception.
Place cards help your guests find their seats at the reception. With place cards you should have table numbers to coordinate. Here is where you can have a little fun in expressing your theme or your personalities as a couple. We designed and printed out our own table numbers and place cards so they would go with our Scottish wedding theme. Each table was named after a scottish clan and each place card have the tartan in all four corners.
Thank you cards are probably the last thing people will see from your wedding. When the wedding is over you will be writing thank you cards to people who have given you gifts. It is important not to skip these and to let people know you appreciate what they have done for youand your new spouse. We ordered our invitations and thank you cards at the same time so they matched. I like this because both the first and last pieces of correspondence from your wedding match and reinforces your wedding theme.
Address invitations or hire a calligrapher
Once your invitations have arrived you can begin addressing the envelopes. This can be accomplished in several ways.
First, you could hire a calligrapher to hand write each address onto the envelopes. This adds an air of elegance to your invitations but can also be very expensive. Be sure to see samples of the calligrapher's work and double check all your spelling. This process takes a while and one error could set back your wedding planning efforts.
Another option is to have labels printed for each guest you are inviting. You can print them yourself or have a friend do this to help save money. Several websites offer to do the printing for you but you can also check with local print shops for these services as well.
Tips for buying your stationary:
1) Your stationary is a great spot for you to save some money because you do not have to order everything pre-made. The more you are able to make yourself the more you will save. The only things we paid for were the invitations, which we had printed with our words but then assembled at home, and the thank you cards.
2) One area you may want to spend a little extra money on is the option of having your address printed on the response envelopes. This will save you a lot of time and you won't have to worry about getting address labels or hand writing everything on. For the wedding invitations I suggest using the bride's name and address so she will receive the RSVPs.
3) Compare prices for at multiple places before you make your choice. Try checking the links for amazon below and these websites as well. David's Bridal, The Paper Orchid, Shutterfly, Exclusively Weddings, and Vistaprints are all great websites to get some wonderful stationary ideas!
Set date, time, and location for rehearsal dinner
Before you book a place to have your reception dinner make sure that your venue has that date available so you can do your rehearsal there. It is important that everyone in the wedding party is able to see the area they will be using and know where they are supposed to stand so your wedding looks effortless and beautiful.
Next make sure the important people are able to attend on the date you would like. This would include bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring-bearer, flower girl, father of the bride, and the officiant. Sometimes the officiant is unavailable but a wedding planner/coordinator is able to show you how the wedding will be run. We did this and it had no effect on the wedding by not having the officiant present.
Now that you know everyone can attend and your venue is available you can choose a place to have your rehearsal dinner. When looking at locations don't be afraid to ask the same questions of this location that you asked of your reception venue. Knowing price per head is very important here, you can easily blow your wedding budget if you don't know this ahead of time.
Rehearsal Dinner Considerations:
1) Types of food served- Keep in mind the time of day your dinner will be. Ours was later in the day and we served appetizers with the option of ordering a full meal. We made sure there was something that everyone would like, including the little ones.
2) Price haggling- Many places like to stay competitive with their competition. If you liked one place but another was more in your budget do not be afraid to discuss their competitor's prices and ask if they could lower, or even match their prices to the competition. You'll be amazed on how often they are willing to work with you if you just ask!
3) Private area of venue- This is where you could save some big bucks. Renting a private room for your rehearsal dinner could be risking blowing your wedding budget. However, if you choose to use a common area with a larger table you can still have a great time. We chose to spend more on the food and less on the space we ate in and I think everyone was very happy with the results!
Arrange accommodations for out of town guests
Now is the time to scout out hotels and find a nice one for your out of town guests to stay at. Be sure to take your time and get your guests the best deal on their room rates. Some hotels offer discounts for the number of rooms you block for your wedding, be sure to ask about this when you call for quotes. If possible, try to choose a hotel that has nearby attractions so your guests can find things to do before and after your wedding.
Things to be aware of:
1) Be sure to ask about booking fees, cancellation penalties, and deposits. Know when money would be due and how much is due.
2) You can block rooms in multiple hotels. Blocking rooms in multiple hotels will give your guests a choice of where they stay, but remember that this may cause you too lose discounts by booking fewer rooms in each hotel.
3) Ask about the amenities their hotel offers. Do they have a pool, gym, or arcade? If not make sure there are nearby places that can provide your guests with entertainment while they visit your area.
4) As an added perk you can have Welcome Baskets in their rooms when they arrive. Welcome Baskets can be anything you wish but I like the idea of these.
http://www.myfavoritecity.com/philadelphia-gifts.html - Since I am near Philly
http://www.myfavoritecity.com/lasvegas-gifts.html - For that Vegas wedding you've been dreaming of
Start planning your honeymoon
Six months before the wedding is not too soon to begin planning your honeymoon. Talk to your fiance and get an idea of where you could go that would make both of you happy. At this stage you simply are brainstorming about where you want to go and what you want to do. Here are some great questions that will help you figure out where the two of you should go, and remember to answer these together so both of you can enjoy your honeymoon!
1) Would you like to stay at a resort, Bed and Breakfast, hotel, or maybe a ship? All of these have their perks and appeal to everyone differently. Resorts are a nice choice because they are often all-inclusive and your package price can also include your airfare, they often consist of an entire compound which you generally stay within. Bed and Breakfasts are nice if you want to be able to avoid a hotel setting and still be able to access local sightseeing opportunities. Hotels are a great choice if you want to visit somewhere specific, say somewhere like Italy, for your honeymoon because it allows you to be within city limits. Another option is a cruise ship, which provides lodging and allows you to see multiple places during your trip.
2) Do you want to relax or go on adventures? The setting you choose will reflect this choice, some places offer zip lines that pass over a forest and others offer swimming with dolphins. Can you see yourself rock climbing or paragliding on your honeymoon? Or would you rather relax pool side and get that great honeymoon tan? Can't choose adventure versus relax? No problem, many places offer a little of both! Your honeymoon is a great time to build your first memories as a new couple, make this the experience of a lifetime!
Register for wedding gifts
Be sure to register for wedding gifts in advance so you are able to get things from your registry at your shower. As soon as guests know they are coming they will sometimes begin shopping right away. When you register for gifts you should try and pick at least two stores to give your guests a choice of where to shop. The general rule of thumb is to have twice the number of items on your registry as you have guests coming to the wedding.
Keep in mind that many stores will give you a discount on items left over after your wedding date. So if you want bigger ticket items don't be afraid to put them on, even if no one buys it you can apply your completion discount to it later! I had a friend that put a chain saw on their registry simply to get the discount after the wedding!
Purchase wedding shoes and accessories. Begin breaking your shoes in
Oh the wedding shoes! Fancy and full of frills, not your everyday shoe at all! When purchasing your wedding shoes keep in mind your budget, as many designer shoes can put you way over what you wanted to spend! That being said, there is no reason that you have to use top of the line designers, my wedding shoes were from endless.com and cost around 65.00. I like endless because you can search their inventory by both color and shoe size, making it much simpler to shop.
Some things to remember when buying your wedding shoes:
1) Do not get super high heels if you never wear heels at all. You will not be comfortable and can really hurt yourself wearing higher heels than you are used to. I will admit my heels were too high for me and for about a week after the wedding I could not feel most of my right foot, of course I also have an old injury on that foot so that could have contributed since my left foot was fine. Just remember, you don't need to cripple yourself for your honeymoon so you can look great on the wedding day!
2) You do not have to wear white shoes! Many brides, including myself, have opted for more colorful shoes. I wore a light blue, fulfilling the role of my something blue, but some women are wearing shoes that match their bridesmaid dresses. Pink, red, green, and orange are just some of the shade I have seen brides wearing and it makes for some amazing photographs!
If you found this useful please be sure to read my other wedding posts:
Home made place cards can save you a bundle. The templates come with directions and are very easy to use.