You know it is coming. And it is sad to say that you are planning your wedding without any help. Sure, you have spare time, but unless you have a tremendous relationship with every wedding vendor in your city, disaster is looming. Don't let that dark cloud of disaster overshadow your dream day. Start planning your wedding by getting vendor references from friends and relatives.
A wedding vendor depends on its reputation to get referral work and a poor recommendation can go a long way to ruin an established vendor. Look for vendors that have been in business for a few years. If the business is relatively new or inexperienced, ask for references. Find out whom they have worked for and call that person! Get names, dollar-amounts, styles, attitudes, etc. Do your homework. Find out what your vendor will offer you and what makes them different from everyone else. Do they offer you little mints on your pillow, or a free 8x10" keepsake photo? Lastly, find out their terms. That means this: ask when they will expect their final payment. This frightens many brides because they expect to shell out thousands of dollars without seeing the fruit of the vendor's labor. Read your contract. If the photographer's payment is due 10 days prior to the wedding, don't expect him to show up on the day of the ceremony if you haven't sent his payment.
Next, make sure your bridal party is on the same page as you. Give them some instructions, but let them know that you expect them to be on time if they will participate in your nuptials. Give them a timeline with dates and times of the rehearsals, dinners, bachelor/bachelorette and/or bridal showers, photos, etc. Let them know how they are supposed to dress and how the bridesmaids should wear their hair and make=-up. Be as specific as possible - no one is a mind reader.
Find out what family members and friends are WILLING to do during for your wedding day and find out who is paying for it. If Aunt Mamie is going to help you coordinate the wedding, find out where she plans to be during the wedding day. I have seen some relatives who helped to plan the wedding not in attendance on the day-of the ceremony. If parents and relatives are going to pay for a portion of the wedding, find out which. Will Cousin Joe pay for the alcohol? Are Mom and Dad paying for the reception? Will the groom's parents foot the bill for the rehearsal dinner? Find all of this out ahead of time so there will be no disappointments when the wedding day arrives.
In coordinating the vendors, make sure each of them has all of your contact information as well as a finalized timeline where they can find out the time of their arrival, their allotted set-up time, and their estimated time of departure. Give the photographer a very detailed timeline so she will know where she is taking pictures of the bride and groom and when.
Make sure to have everything you will need for your wedding packed an placed by the door including: keys to your car, change of a $20, cell phone, the ring(s), marriage license, change of clothes, bridal trousseau, passport, driver's license or other ID, scissors, needle and thread, white chalk, makeup, toiletries, etc.
Even the most organized people experience some difficulty at their wedding. If you don't have the time or the stamina to plan your own wedding, consider hiring someone else to do it for you. It is no longer a luxury to have your own wedding consultant. A wedding consultant is there to help you make your day more special by managing the details of the special day while you are enjoying your husband and your other guests. It is an expense that is well worth it!