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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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The complete month-by-month wedding planning timeline

Wedding planning

Only a handful of brides have the unbelievable ability for successful short-term wedding planning. However, if you are like most women, you may take a year or more to sort out all aspects of wedding planning.

So, there is no exact timeline to plan a perfect wedding.

Nonetheless, you need a plan! Even if you are an easy-going bride who somehow gets things done in the nick of time.

If you have already planned a wedding, you will need some direction and guidance on what needs to be done.

Don’t you agree?

So, here is a practical wedding planning timeline and month-by-month checklist of all the different tasks that it involves. Use it as such or as a reference to create your own personalized wedding plan and you simply cannot go wrong.

Note: This wedding planning timeline is created for the “average” engagement period, which is a whole year. However, you can adjust it to divide and conquer all the relevant, tasks even if your engagement is longer or shorter.

When you have 12 months left

Wedding budget
Wedding finances

Freshly engaged and still reeling from the thrill of the beautiful proposal? Indulge yourself in the ecstasy of this milestone chapter in your life, for it happens just once.

Have a party, take a holiday; all you need to celebrate! Then, get down to business!

Start your wedding planning process with the following tasks.

Prepare the Wedding Budget

Weddings are expensive affairs, and this is the right time to discuss finances with your fiancé.

Calculate the maximum amount you can afford to spend. Then, divide the funds into different expenses. Some of the important factors to consider at this point are:

  • Who pays for the wedding? Are your families/other generous relatives contributing? If so, how much will they be paying?
  • What are your priorities—venue, décor, entertainment, food, honeymoon?
  • What tools will you use to jot down and track expenses? Do you prefer the pen and paper route, spreadsheets or a budget planning app?

This useful budget planning tool will help you create an estimate and break it down into different aspects.

Plan the guest list

It is never too early to sort out your guest list as the number of guests will determine important aspects like the choice of venue and food. So, you must have at least a rough idea of how many guests will be attending the wedding.

If your parents are contributing, it is only fair that they also get to invite some guests. Compile the lists from your partner, parents and yourself to get a total headcount. If there are more people than you can afford, this is the time to negotiate and arrive at a reasonable number.

To hire a wedding planner or not

Do you think you are better off entrusting your wedding planning or at least certain aspects of it to a wedding planner? If so, this is the right time to find an event planner.

Hiring a wedding planner is expensive. However, it may be the best option if you cannot dedicate time for wedding planning.

So, weigh your options and if you decide to hire someone, do it right away.

Fix the date, plan the theme and book your venue

Good venues get booked fast. So, don’t delay in making your booking.  

You can either choose a theme and tour venues that match the vibe or pick the venue first and then think of a suitable theme.

Don’t worry about the specifics at this stage of wedding planning. Instead, focus on finding a venue that will accommodate your guest list and falls within budget.

11 months left

Wedding decor

You still have plenty of time left. Tackle the following tasks during this month.

Choose your wedding party members

Don’t wait longer to choose your Maid of Honor, bridesmaids, best man, and groomsmen. Then pop the question to them and finalize your wedding party list.

Look for inspiration

You can now start planning the smaller details of your wedding. Turn to Pinterest, magazines and any other sources that can help you with this task. Prioritize the following tasks during this month:

  • Fixing the colors in your wedding theme
  • Narrowing down your décor and food choices

Work on your wedding website

A wedding website is a brilliant resource that will help you compile and share all relevant information about the wedding, with your guests.

You can inform them about the venue address, wedding day timeline, wedding registry information and even photos using such a portal.

Check out this post on A Practical Wedding website for the essential etiquette rules that you should stick to when designing a website.

Plan your entertainment, food, and décor

The following questions will help you with wedding vendor selection:

  • Do you want a band or DJ for the reception? And are there any specific artists you wish to hire?
  • What type of décor would you prefer? More importantly, think of the floral details you want it will soon be time to choose a florist.
  • What type of food should be served at your wedding? Do you prefer a full four-course meal a buffet? Accordingly, find caterers who can deliver to your expectations.
  • What type of photography do you like most? Read up on the different types of wedding photography styles and choose your favorite. Then look for photographers who specialize in your chosen style, contact them for their prices and move on to the next stage.

Start thinking about your wedding dress

Dress shopping is one of the best parts of wedding planning. However, wedding dress orders typically take six to nine months to be delivered. So, you will have to start shopping for your wedding dress shortly. Make the task easy by preparing for it.

Read up on wedding dress trends and familiarize yourself with wedding dress lingo. There is a ton of information online. So, use the resources at your disposal to become familiar with all that you should know about wedding dress shopping.

Also, use this time to shortlist boutiques that carry gowns in the price range you can afford. You can contact them right away and fix your bridal dress appointment in the coming month.

10 months left

Vendor selection
Wedding Vendor selection

By now, you should have booked or at least finalized the venue, decided on the type of entertainment, food, and décor you want and have a headcount for guests. Let us now move on to the remaining tasks.

Hire the wedding officiant, caterer, photographer, and other important vendors

Your officiant, photographer, DJ/band and caterer are crucial to creating great memories of your special day. So, it is important that you are comfortable and strike a good rapport with your chosen vendors.

Since good vendors tend to get booked quickly, make your choices quickly. Book a tasting session with the caterer if necessary. Similarly, ask for previous performance records from your DJ and band. You can also consider getting engagement photographs taken, to assess how good your photographer is.

Do your research, make your final decision and put down the deposit. You can then cross this task off your wedding list.

Work on your wedding invitation and send out save-the-date cards

Wedding invitations come in a stunning variety of styles. You can also have custom wedding invitations, but these involve a lot of time and effort. Decide on your preferences and start looking for suitable choices.

If your wedding is during peak season or it is a destination wedding, you can send out save-the-date cards right now or in a month, so your guests have enough time to make plans.  

9 months left

Wedding dress shopping
Wedding dress shopping

Your wedding is approaching, and it is now time to start planning the bigger (even game-changing) aspects of your wedding day. Let’s find out what they are

Go shopping for your wedding dress

Start your wedding shopping now and you will have ample time to complete the entire process. Not only should you be able to explore your options in different stores but you can also save on rush fees.

If you place your order at least 6 to 9 months before the wedding, you can conveniently schedule alterations and accessories selection. So, book your appointment and get on with it already.

Visit this post for all that you need to prepare well for the task.

Set up your gift registry

Your guests will begin thinking about gifts as soon as they receive your invitation. So, it will be helpful if your gift registry is set up by then.

To decide what should go on your registry, discuss with your partner about your personal preferences, hobbies and how you expect your lifestyle after marriage to be. Accordingly, plan your wedding registry and register yourself at your chosen retailers.

Also, add your registry information to your wedding website. This is a smart way to pass on the information to your wedding guests.

8 months left

Bridesmaid
Bridesmaid

You are nearing the half-way mark and you should ideally have tackled most of the time-sensitive tasks by now. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of work left to do.

Book rooms for out-of-town guests

Your guests will appreciate it if you can help them plan their stay if they are coming from far. Hotel rooms tend to be full during peak season. So, book your rooms well in advance.

Since your guests will be paying their own bills, it is a good idea to look for hotels in different price ranges. Share the details with them and block the rooms as soon as they confirm.

Contact rental companies

If you must need tables, chairs, music systems, lighting or anything else at the venue, this is the time to take quotes from rental companies and book their services.

Time to look for bridal party outfits

Now that you have placed the order for your own wedding dress, move on to outfits for the rest of your wedding party. Consult your bridesmaids or go with your instincts to choose the color, style, and other details.

Do your research on the places where the dresses are available at reasonable prices. Then book an appointment to explore your options.

Once you shortlist the dresses, you should take your bridesmaids along to see how they look in these dresses. You can then go ahead with placing the order.

Plan your honeymoon

Before you know it, you will too busy to plan your honeymoon. So, plan your honeymoon budget without delay and select a suitable location. Book your accommodation and travel, so that is out of the way.

7 months left

Florist
Florist

Here are the tasks to tackle this month.

Book the rehearsal dinner venue

Now is the time to plan the rehearsal dinner. Consult your fiancé to find a convenient venue for the wedding. Also, decide whether you want it to be a casual-style dinner or a formal setting.

Meet your wedding officiant

Some couples prefer to hire a professional officiant to oversee the wedding ceremony. Others keep it casual by asking a family member or friend to do it.

Either way, you should meet with them prior to the wedding and map out the ceremony. Also, check whether all the legal documentation is sorted out.

Arrange transportation

Plan and arrange transportation to and from the venue. Contact cab operators to hire a limo, vintage car or any other form of transportation. This is also the time to look for mini-van rentals, individual cab services or bigger vehicles if you plan to arrange transportation for your guests.

Meet your florist

By now, you should have a good idea of how your wedding décor will be. You should also be aware of the individual bouquets you will need for yourself and the bridesmaids. Share this information with your florist and ensure you are both in agreement regarding the plans.

6 months to go

Wedding rings
Wedding rings

You are the half-way mark and with very little time left. There is no time to lose!

Order your wedding rings

Shop for wedding rings with your partner this month. Remember that you will be wearing these rings all your life. So, make your decision wisely.

If you would like to have them engraved or custom-made, you still have plenty of time. Also, opt for durable and reliable choices that are not high-maintenance.

Shop for your groom’s suit

Remind your fiancé to go shopping for his wedding day outfit. Whether he is renting or buying, he will need time to go around and find the best options.

5 months to go

wedding invitation
Wedding Invitation

With just a few more months till D-day, it is time to get on with the more important aspects.

Collect and start addressing invitations

You will have to send out your wedding invitations next month. However, they will all have to be addressed before posting. This is a time-consuming task. Get on with it while you still have time to breathe. Simultaneously create an RSVP list, as it will help you to mark your guest replies later.

Time for premarital counseling

If you are getting married in a religious setting and premarital counseling is necessary, schedule it for this month. Even if it isn’t compulsory, attending a pre-marital session is often helpful. So, give it some serious thought.

4 months left

Wedding cake
Wedding cake

We are nearly there and there’s still so much to do.

Go shopping

You need to buy more than just your wedding dress. There are accessories, make-up and undergarments to shop for. You also need outfits for your rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party and honeymoon. Finally, you should get gifts for your bridesmaids. Don’t wait for the last minute.

Create a shopping list and schedule shopping trips for all that you need to buy.

Order your wedding cake

The wedding cake is a very important aspect of the wedding. And you have so many options to choose from these days. Selecting the wedding cake can be a demanding task since you not only have to choose the right flavors but also pick the design for it.

Get recommendations from friends and family and find a professional wedding cake. Remember that you will have to find time for cake-tasting sessions. It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

You will also have to attend a meeting or two with the caterer to discuss your design expectations and sign-off on the chosen design.  

Sort out the groomsmen’s outfits

This is also the right time to start looking for groomsmen outfits. If they will be renting their tuxes, they should make the booking now.

Plan the guests’ favors

You want to tie the wedding favors to the theme of the wedding and find those that fit your budget. Explore your options and start negotiating with vendors to find the best choices for your budget. Then place your order.

Some brides prefer DIY wedding favors. If you plan to take this route, remember that it will take time. Dedicate reasonable blocks of time in your calendar to the task, so you don’t end up overworking yourself at the last minute.

3 months

Wedding food

You are nearly there. So, let’s pick up the pace.

Finalize the menu

Now that you are so close to the wedding, you can inform your caterer of your final menu choices. You may also like to look at the seasonal ware to decide the best menu options.

Write your vows

If you will be writing your vows, it is high time to start thinking of it. Here is some help to come up with memorable and impactful vows. Once you complete it, you can also practice them. This will help you fine-tune it till it is perfect for when you must say it aloud.

Check on your vendors

By now, you should have everything in place for the wedding. You should have hired entertainment, photographer, caterer, florist, transportation, and cake. Confirm your bookings and make sure that there is no confusion regarding the date and schedule with each of them.

Send out invitations

Mail invitations at least six to eight weeks before the wedding. Also, set the RSVP date a month before the wedding. This will leave you enough time to plan the seating arrangement and also to accommodate for any last-minute changes to the guest list.

Create your schedule for the remaining days

You will have your wedding dress fittings, bachelorette party and meetings with vendors in the coming months. Avoid getting overwhelmed with all the activity by setting up a timeline for yourself where each activity is properly spaced out.

2 months to go

Wedding party

We are counting down now. Few more tasks to go!

Send out rehearsal dinner invites

It is just a few guests at the rehearsal dinner. Nevertheless, you want to get it right as it is a practice for the actual reception. Invite all concerned parties to the event and inform them of how formal it is.

Have your hair and makeup trial

Organize your hair and makeup trial with your chosen hairdresser and make-up artist. It is highly likely that your wedding dress fitting will also be this month if you booked it early. So, plan your hair and makeup sessions in such a way that it coincides with your dress fitting appointment. That way, you can see how the overall look comes together.

Start your wedding dress fittings

You should ideally have your first wedding dress fitting this month and the next one in the coming month. This will leave you plenty of time to get your dress ready in time for the wedding. Confirm your appointment slot and contact the seamstress to schedule your fitting.

Get your papers in order

Six weeks is a good time to apply for your wedding license. If you are getting married abroad, check for legal requirements and ensure the paperwork is taken care of.

Check with your wedding party on their dresses

Your bridesmaids should receive their dresses this month and schedule alterations.

Entrust the task of following up on the progress to your MOH or handle it yourself. Just make sure that nobody is left out and that there are no confusions later.

Finalize your wedding day songs or playlist with your DJ or band

Review the playlist with your DJ or band. If you have any last-minute ideas or changes to make, you can check with them right away.

They should still have enough time to accommodate changes if it isn’t anything major.

Just a month to go

Wedding planning
Wedding planning

In the last few weeks leading up to the wedding, you should be equipped to handle just the final closing details of the wedding tasks. Let us look at what they are.

Plan your seating chart

You should have the complete guest list by the first week of this month. Now that you know who all will be attending, set up the seating chart.

Arrange vendor payments

Whether you will be paying your vendors after the wedding or just before it, make sure that the funds are ready so you can settle the amount as and when necessary. Also, track the expenses to make sure that they are all accounted for and there is no confusion later.

When making payments in cash, entrust the task to a trusted aide who will handle the payment, so you can concentrate on being the bride.

Sort out your accessories

Don’t wait till the day before your wedding to finalize and arrange all your jewelry, accessories and make-up essentials. Put aside a dedicated bag or space in your room where you can neatly arrange them as and when time permits.

This way you will have everything set out when it is finally time to get ready on the wedding day.

Get your emergency wedding day kit ready

Find out all about what your emergency kit should contain in this post. Whether you decide to buy it readymade or collect all the materials yourself, have everything in place at least a week before the wedding.

Attend the final dress fitting and collect your dress

Your wedding dress should be perfect and ready to wear in the week leading up to your wedding. Take your bridesmaid with you to the final fitting, so the consultant can brief her on how to bustle the dress, in case it is required.

Once you collect the dress from the salon, place it in a safe, low-traffic area of your house where it isn’t prone to moisture, insects or stains.

Confirm all arrangements

Cross-check that everything is progressing as per plan with your vendors, wedding party and photographer. Confirm all arrangements and entrust responsibilities to designated wedding party members.

Run the day-of plan with the main crew at your wedding, so they are all aware of when and where to be and what to do.  Also, hand out wedding bands and other items to the responsible members of the wedding party and give them instructions about their responsibilities in this regard.

Pack your honeymoon bag

Since you will most likely be heading off on your honeymoon immediately after the wedding, keep your honeymoon bag ready and packed to go. This should be one of the final tasks to handle, but it is important nonetheless.

Put someone in charge of getting the gown to the cleaners

Your honeymoon cannot wait. However, cleaning your wedding gown cannot wait either.

Assign the task of taking the gown to the cleaners to a trusted bridesmaid, so it doesn’t have to wait till you are back from your honeymoon. Book your cleaning in advance, so the drycleaners have your slot ready. For more details, visit this post.

Make a checklist

It is a good idea to create a checklist for the wedding eve and wedding day and distribute copies to your MOH and best man. Assign relevant tasks to your wedding crew and brief them on their responsibilities.

Make sure that you have very few tasks to handle by yourself, so you can be fully involved in the wedding day activities and enjoy every moment to the fullest.

Break in your shoes and prep for your wedding day

Avoid the discomfort of wearing new shoes by breaking in your shoes during the last few days before the wedding. Also, book yourself a manicure, pedicure and facial to relax, de-stress and look great. This is also the time to touch up your hair color, trim your hair and do all your last-minute beauty prep.

To wrap up…

Follow this schedule when planning your wedding and you will not overlook any aspect. Finally, if things get too hectic or don’t go as per plan, take it easy, sit back and reassess the situation. You will mostly find an alternative solution that works out just as well.

Keep in mind that your wedding day will be over before you know it and it will be a pity if you were too busy to enjoy it.

For help with most aspects of your wedding, including the all-important decision of wedding dress selection, visit us at Best for Bride. We will help you celebrate this milestone lifetime event in the perfect dress of your dreams. Contact us today to book your appointment.