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Before The ‘I Do’s’ Checklist

wedding bride black and white

The proposal has happened, the happy tears have flowed, you have the ring on your finer, so now what? As you begin to prepare for one of the best days of your life, there are several areas that brides must consider in order to ensure their dreams come true! The decisions leading up to the wedding can feel overwhelming and time-pressing, so make sure you are looking and thinking long-term in your planning as you embark on your new married life as a couple.  

On top of the traditional to-do items, you can find advice surrounding some of the bigger picture pre-wedding decisions you will need to make.  Learn how you can ease some of that bridal stress and feel confident in locking down plans.

Life insurance

Although your life insurance needs may not seem like the most exciting part of your pre-wedding planning, it is nonetheless a vital part of your long-term financial wellness. As a couple, it is important that you have the proper coverage in the unfortunate event that there is an unexpected passing. As this type of insurance functions as an income replacement, make sure to take the proper steps in obtaining a reliable life insurance plan. There are many different companies and ways to shop for this type of insurance, so review your options and research what is right for you as a couple.

While you may feel inclined to neglect this expense as a result of upcoming wedding costs, it is important for couples to remember that your life insurance rates take into consideration factors such as your age and health. Therefore, it can be beneficial to look into getting a policy earlier rather than later in order to lock down more affordable rates to help save money down the road, even after the wedding.

Nutrition and fitness 

Feeling your best on the day of your wedding includes more than just your hair and makeup. For many brides, this will also involve setting health goals. As stress can build up in the days leading up to the wedding, finding ways to channel and release some of this stress in a healthy way can reduce anxiety and keep you feeling energized to prepare for the big day.

The months leading up to your wedding will most likely leave you with little room in your schedule, so consider planning out your meals ahead of time with healthy meal prep recipes. Not only is this an efficient use of your time, but it can help you reach your goals, so you look and feel amazing when it’s time to say ‘I do.” Different foods provide different benefits and can act as a motivation to stay on track for your health goals. For example, foods like tomatoes and avocados help skin glow⁠—so find the perks within your favorite nutritious foods!

Similarly, your fitness goals might be something you want to include on your pre-wedding to-dos. Whether your goals are weight-loss related or you simply want to get a good sweat in, working out before your wedding can help combat jitters and relieve some of the pressures associated with planning a wedding. There are even special ‘bridal boot camps’ that are aimed to specifically help brides get in shape and toned for the big day.

Self-care

It might seem unnecessary to incorporate this into your bigger picture pre-wedding checklist, but your mental health is something that everyone should make time for. It can be stressful just trying to keep up with the many mundane tasks that your wedding will call for, make sure to set aside time to show yourself some love. When you are the best version of yourself, you are able to give more love—and what a great mindset to begin your new life as a married couple.

There are several ways you can practice self-care, and what methods or practices work best will vary from bride to bride. Spa visits and massages are great ways to reduce stress, but as a soon to be bride—you might be looking for a more affordable option to include in your daily routine.

Practicing meditation has many benefits, including lengthening your attention span, which can come in handy as you discuss with your partner the smaller wedding details. There are meditations that can be completed under twenty minutes, so even finding a small window to work this in can help boost your mood and help you feel refreshed.

Vibe of the wedding

Anything from the bridal dress you select to the color scheme you decide, every little detail of your wedding will contribute to the overall vibe you are looking to achieve as you lock in your commitment to your forever person. When you start to make big decisions, like the venue or the wedding date, be sure you have a clear vision and mutual understanding with your partner on how you are picturing this day. Try to consider each other’s wants and needs on this special day and enjoy making these decisions as a couple. 

Whether you are hoping for a luxurious, glamorous, whimsical, unconventional, or anything in between, the feel of your wedding will be something that you will feel long after the day is over. The season you pick to get married in, the people you invite, and how you decorate and celebrate all play a part in making your idea come to life, so be thoughtful and selective when making these decisions.

Often, it can seem harder to organize and plan all the small details yourself, so keep in mind the different resources you have available to help seal the deal. Wedding planners are great resources for something looking to take many tasks off their plates, and with their expertise in the industry, they can help offer special tips and tricks. While this might be out of the price range for you, also don’t forget about the free information available as well. Pinterest boards and online influencers can offer inspiration and can be a great place to reference when it comes time to make some of your own plans.

Your relationship

Isn’t this obvious? While the entire point of wedding ceremonies and receptions are about coming together and celebrating finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, ironically, the wedding planning process can cause unwanted tension within relationships. As statistics show that the average American engagement lasts 15 months, which leaves over a year of time you could spend during this engagement period.

Setting aside quality time to focus on your partner and getting closer to them during your engagement can help prepare you as you take your relationship to the next level. Although you might find yourself disagreeing about certain aspects of the wedding, learning to overcome these challenges and effectively communicate with one another can be an important skill to take with you in the years to come.

Discover what type of bonding experiences work best for you as a couple, and try not to sacrifice this time despite your busy schedules. While you may have to cut back on costs while you save for the big day, there are still ways you can get creative in showing your love to your fiance, continuing to grow closer. For example, spending an evening reminiscing about the journey that has brought you to this point is a sweet and simple reminder of what truly matters.

Name change

If this is not something you and your partner have previously discussed, it is most definitely something you will want to talk about earlier rather than later in your planning process. It’s becoming more common for individuals to keep their maiden name, having an open and honest discussion with your fiance on your stance on this subject is significant. Since this can influence your save the dates, invitations, and, more importantly, your upcoming legal documents that will need to be changed, spend time reflecting on what the right decision is for you and your partner. 

If you choose to take your partner’s last name, remember that several items will need to be updated, including your passports, loans, your employer documentation, driver’s license, and more. This can be a time-consuming process, so starting to make these changes ahead of time will reduce stress as the actual day of the wedding approaches.

On the other hand, if you or your partner are hesitant about changing last names, there are different options and discussions you can have so that you are both comfortable with the outcome you choose. You can discuss last-name change alternatives or see if there is room for compromise. No couple is the same, so how you navigate this in your relationship can be just as unique as the love you share for one another.

Honeymoon plans

Possibly just as important as your actual wedding day itself is what you have planned right after! The honeymoon is the perfect opportunity to enjoy your new spouse with uninterrupted alone time and decompress from months of hard work and planning.

The reason behind looking into these travel plans upfront is because of how you will need to incorporate them into your wedding budget. In order to make the most financially responsible decisions to ensure your long-term financial wellbeing, you will need to decide how much you will prioritize your honeymoon and allocate funds accordingly.

With couples spending an average of $4,466, it is still something that couples need to factor into the costs. Whether you opt for a beach trip or sailing the seas, the opportunities are endless. Another consideration to think about is when you want to take your honeymoon. Some couples choose to postpone their honeymoon to a little after the wedding to alleviate some financial pressures, so this could be a discussion to have with your partner to see what works best for your situation.

Wedding song

Finding your wedding song can be a lovely break from some of the other grueling tasks you are trying to accomplish. While there is no right or wrong way to go about this, there are certainly a few tips you can follow to help you select the perfect first dance song.  From reflecting on your love story to actually deciding how it will be played at the reception, these are all factors that brides shouldn’t neglect. A wedding song is also a great way to have a piece of that day to relive in the long years to come in your marriage, so opting for something timeless and representative to you as a couple can have a meaningful impact. 

Similarly, if you are planning for other dances with moms or dads of the married couple, including the relatives in the process can be a touching experience. As your options can vary from genre to different versions of songs, your options are endless.

On top of the actual song, how it will be performed is another area to consider. If you have a live band or musician booked, going through a dry-run of how it will sound on the big day can help you better make your selection. Furthermore, this provides the perfect opportunity to practice your first dance and release any jitters you both might have about your performance!  

With these many considerations and areas to take into account, you’ll have lots to think about as you prepare for your big day. Although it may seem slightly overwhelming now, rest assured that you have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and at the end of the day, this comes first. 

Check our blog for more ideas for your wedding planning.

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How I Had a Socially Distant Wedding during COVID-19

bridal dress

2020 has created some extraordinary tales. Following is the story of how the pandemic affected my wedding.

March 2020 was supposed to be the most important month of my life. It was the month where I’d get hitched with the man I love. The man that makes me whole.  

Daniel popped the question in the last week of January. Today, it seems like a memory from another world. The bar was buzzing with people, there were no social distancing protocols in place. People weren’t afraid to shake hands, hug and kiss one another. 

That day, Daniel drove me to a local bar in what I assumed would be a casual Wednesday night date. 

It was our favorite place in town that we regularly visited. This was also the bar where Daniel slipped me a napkin that said, “I like you”. We were friends who liked each other but never dared to express it. Daniel took the initiative in the only way he could. 

Five years later, he once again handed me a napkin. Only this time, the text read, “Will you marry me?”. It got awkward real quick. He jammed the ring in the wrong finger. Just as I was putting it right, our friend showed up to congratulate. I am sure someone spilled a drink too. 

The Wedding is delayed 

We had planned the wedding on 21st of March. Everything was going according to plan. I spent weeks picking what I think was the perfect wedding dress. The venue was booked. Invitations were sent out. All that was left to do was for us to walk down the aisle, exchange vows and begin our lives as a married couple. 

A week before all this, the pandemic caused the whole country to go in isolation. Businesses started closing and states issued stay-at-home orders. We knew our dream wedding couldn’t go on as planned and had to be postponed. 

As a couple, Daniel and I had seen our fair share of tough times. But never in a million year did we think a pandemic would come our way. The worst thing was not knowing when things will go back to normal and we would be able to wed in front of our loved ones. 

Unfortunately, things never went back to normal. At least not the normal we were expecting. 

Our Wedding in the “New Normal”

Knowing the pandemic will not be over anytime soon, Daniel and I decided to go ahead with the wedding. Fortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak in our state is under control and the government is allowing people to go on with their lives while advising some precautions. 

Keeping this in mind, we changed the venue of our wedding from a local church to a getaway house in the countryside. It was a large enough establishment to host a socially distant wedding. 

The pandemic didn’t adversely affect our financial situation. We had it better than most people. But still, we made a conscious decision to reduce the wedding expenses. Having an extravagant wedding while many others are struggling to make ends meet just didn’t sit right with us. 

It’s hard to have a wedding on a budget. However, I was able to find online guides that help me significantly reduce my wedding expenditure. Meanwhile, I also utilized websites such RetailMeNot and EMUCoupon to find discounts on everything from decorations to the drinks that were to be served. 

We also made sure to keep everyone safe. The list of guests was cut down to only our immediate families. Our friends watched via live stream. There were sanitizers on every table and all guests were asked to wear masks. 

wedding decor

Some tables were left deliberately empty to remind people they needed to exercise precaution. Looking back, these empty tables did make the atmosphere a bit gloomy. 

wedding decoration

Our revised wedding venue has hosted several marriage ceremonies. It came with extraordinary wedding decorations that added a taste of royalty in the ceremony. 

wedding decor

The guests were served cupcakes baked by the groom’s mother. Suffice to say, there were more than enough for everyone.

bridal decor

We chipped in with some of our decorations as well. 

wedding dress

It’s not easy to be the bride when you’re trying to interact with as little people as possible. Since I’m not that skilled with a makeup brush, I had to take my chances with a stylist. She did a swell job though.

wedding gown

Being all dressed up for my big day, all I wanted was to be surrounded by my best friends. Unfortunately, the bridesmaids were not there physically but joined in via Zoom.

wedding hair

A bride is not a bride without some pearl in her hair. This is the same accessory my mom wore at her wedding. I think I have started a nice little family tradition here.

bridal dress

Finally, the bride and the groom, bridal dress. Despite everything that has transpired in the last few months, I have held onto my sanity thanks to my now-husband. He has been my rock through every up and down. Even though the wedding wasn’t as big as we planned —what matters is that it happened and now, I am one with my true love.

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5 benefits of having a long engagement

This article on the Huff Post reveals that 40 percent of couples have a long engagement of anywhere between 13 to 18 months. We’ve been witness to very short engagements, very long ones and those that are just long enough to plan the perfect wedding day. A long engagement that lasts for a year, or slightly longer, is what we feel is the best choice. Here is why!

 

Engagement
Image Credit: Tom French, via Flickr, [CC BY 2.0]

You have time to book your dream venue and book the best caterers

Since you aren’t pinched for time, it is easier to choose a date when your dream wedding venue is available. After all, getting married in the perfect place is a dream come true. Similarly, it is easier to work around vendor dates and get the best of everything from food to flowers. The bonus is that you have enough time to first do your research, shortlist the right vendors and finally book them after all the discussions are over.

You have time to get the perfect wedding dress

Let’s face it, wedding dress shopping is not a breeze. The thousands of attractive designs out there only make it more difficult to choose from. When you have plenty of time, you can scan through the options, consider what will look good and what will not, and finally choose a dress that is just right for you. If you begin at least six months before the big day, you will have plenty of time to get your dress altered to fit you like a glove, shop for the best accessories and bring your look together perfectly. And, the longer you are engaged, greater the chances for a sale coming up when you can bag your dream dress on a discount.

More time can mean less stress

This is because it allows you to chalk out and organize every detail of your wedding, with sufficient time to work on your plans. A short engagement will have you rushing from one vendor to the other, and trying to make sense of the hundreds of arrangements that you have to take care of. Unlike this, a longer engagement gives you time to ponder over decision and go with those that you love most.

You can nail the guest list

Just like you, your guests will also appreciate time to make their plans and confirm their attendance. You will have plenty of time to send out your wedding invitations, receive RSVP’s, calculate the head count and plan your wedding accordingly. There is less chance for last-minute cancellations when your guests have marked your wedding on their calendars well ahead of the actual day, and have time to adjust their schedules to fit it.

You can enjoy the engagement and plan your honeymoon at leisure

Let’s face it, your engagement will be a whirlwind of activities. Many couples realize that they have no time for each other, once wedding planning begins. You can escape from this stressful approach if you have a long engagement. There is plenty of time for date nights, honeymoon plans and time to be a couple in love, when you have a long engagement. It also gives you enough time to sort out your future plans and get started on the best foot.

What do you say, are you a fan of long engagements or do you prefer short and sweet ones?

To shop for your wedding dress, and for all your other wedding related needs, come visit us at Best for Bride, and we will help you make your wedding a success.

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5 Things to remember when signing Vendor contracts for your wedding

You will have to work with a number of people for your wedding– your photographer, venue agent, caterers, florist, dress makers, band or DJ etc. It is necessary that you back up your arrangement with all these vendors with a solid contract that outlines the details of their services.

The benefits of having a written contract are many, the most important being that

  • a contract controls your expectations on what you get
  • it allows you to take legal action, should the products or services not be delivered as per description

Remember the following 5 points when signing your vendor contracts, and you can avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Write it all down

The easiest way to avoid or solve any dispute, is to have every relevant thing written and signed. Never settle for a verbal understanding; have it written into your contract and you can enforce it. If there are changes to plan after you have signed the initial contract, make sure these are also incorporated into the contract, so there is no confusion later.

Spare no detail

Rather than just signing a contract that outlines the arrangement, make sure that you put all the specific details in writing. This will clearly let both parties know what exactly was agreed upon, and you will not have to entertain any mix-ups.

For example, if you want your band to be formed of the specific musicians you heard on the tape, make sure it is included in the contract. If your floral centerpieces are to be designed in a specific manner, write that down in your contract. Should there be an issue at a later point, an outsider who looks at your contract should clearly understand why you weren’t satisfied.

Take time to read and understand every word

Make sure that you clearly understand your vendor contract. So, read it thoroughly. Go through the clauses on emergency situations, cancellations and additional fees, in detail. If you do not understand anything, ASK!

Don’t assume that a vendor’s contract is standard—if their terms are not acceptable, you can always negotiate. If they refuse to make changes, or add the precise terms of your agreement to the form, you may have to reconsider whether you want to work with that vendor.

Specify the payment schedule and details

Make sure the contract contains details on when the amount will be settled and by whom If the amount will be paid in parts, make sure this is specified in the contract and you are aware of it. If your parents or your in-laws are bearing the expenses, make sure the contract is drawn up in their name and they sign it.

Get a contract copy and obtain receipts for everything

For your contract to be valid, you need to have a copy with you. Make sure you save a copy of every contract you sign, and that your vendor counter-signs every additional change you make. Also, obtain receipts for any deposit you make on the final amount, or any payment you complete.

Contracts may seem like a huge headache, but they are a necessary evil. To keep your wedding going just as you planned, a simple contract is certainly better than none at all.

For more wedding tips and planning advice, visit us at Best for Bride.