1. Know what type of ceremony youd like: Church of England? Church of Scotland? Catholic? Civil? If you want a Church of England wedding you will need the Banns system explained to you by your minister. If you dont belong to the parish a special license may be required before your wedding. A Church of Scotland wedding has no residency requirement, and can be held anywhere as long as the ceremony is conducted by an authorized celebrant. For civil ceremonies, you can head to the registers office or have your ceremony at any place licensed under the Marriage Act.
2. Prepare information for out of town guests: A welcome gift basket is a nice touch if you can afford it. If you cant, simply prepare a brief list of information. Think about what you like to know when you visit an unfamiliar place. Include places to eat, fun things to do, local points of interest, and directions to all of the wedding events. You wont have to worry about your guests languishing in their hotel rooms, and you wont spend hours on the phone advising people on places to eat or where to get a decent cocktail.
3. Get ready with your bridesmaids: The hours before the ceremony are a great time to bond (and take photographs). Gather in one place to do hair, makeup, and get dressed. Serve bucks fizz and a small breakfast. The noisy chatter and distraction will help to alleviate pre-wedding jitters.
4. Feed your bridal party: Weddings start early and end late. Especially for those actually in the wedding. Provide breakfast and lunch, as well as high energy snacks to keep everyone going. If you can arrange for catering (less work for you) even better. Nothing is worse than a bunch of hungry crabby bridesmaids.
5. Hire a wedding organizer: Use a wedding organizer to make your day run smooth. These people get paid to stress out so you wont need to. Let your organizer deal with the arrival and set-up of your florist and ceremony musicians. She can handle the guest book, hand out programs, and ensure all last minute details are in place.
6. Designate a point person: Find a close friend to help coordinate the ceremony. This person can handle tasks in lieu of a wedding organizer (if you cant afford one) or can act as an assistant to your paid organizer. She is particularly handy to have for the transportation of items from the wedding site (programs, guest book, decorations, etc).
7. Have a schedule and stick to it: Provide the wedding day schedule to all members of the wedding party, both sets of parents, and key suppliers. Use the schedule to frame up your day. This way everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and when.
8. Bring emergency supplies: Come prepared to the ceremony and reception with a small bag packed with contingency items. Extra lipstick and perfume. Bring aspirin, any special medication, and something for an upset stomach. Other items you might want: nail files, tweezers, plasters, safety-pins, deodorant, hair spray, needle and thread.
9. Everything will not go according to plan: The key to a stress free wedding is to remain calm and stay flexible. Suppliers will run late. An usher may wander off. Your violin player may break a string during your grand entrance. Dont panic. Most of your guests probably wont notice whats missing. What they will notice however is you freaking out.
10. Have a plan B: You know everything wont go exactly as you planned it so have a backup. Is a portion of your wedding outside? Plan for rain. Do you know someone who can take photos in a pinch? Make sure they have a camera handy. If a bridesmaid gets sick do you have someone to fill her spot? Making sure you are covered for the unexpected will help you feel calm. For the ultimate security consider buying a wedding insurance policy.