Well, congratulations on making several of the biggest decisions of your life thus far: you found the right girl, dropped a suitably impressive amount of cash on a shiny-ring-thingy, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with you.
Not too shabby. Think you can just kick back now? Think your fiancée will do all the heavy lifting and you can just show up, best buddies (technically called “Groomsmen”) in tow on the big day, wearing tuxedos that magically appeared at your doorstep, nursing a truly epic hangover from what had to be the world’s BEST…BACHELOR…PARTY…EVER? Ohhhh… think again, Grasshopper.
Even if your Bride-to-be is one of those girls who has been planning her wedding day ever since she was 5 years old, rehearsing vows with her Barbie and Ken dolls…NEWS FLASH: You actually have a pretty important To Do list for the big day. And guess what? YOU actually have TO DO it.
What’s the worst thing that could happen from you not completing your “To Do” list, you ask? Oh, just you ruining the single most important day for the love of your life. Oh, just you making a complete jerk out of yourself in front of all of her family, your family, and every cousin, friend, and weird uncle in between. If those don’t exactly sound like things you’d like to live down for roughly the next 50 to 60 years, then suit up, kid. Time to get in the game.
1. Pick your crew (Best Man, Groomsmen)
This could either be the easiest box to tick off from your entire list, or, depending upon the maturity level of some of your “buds,” this could be a major recurring Sit down with your fiancée and choose (realistically) how many Bridesmaids/Groomsmen you will each have. You will also need to pick your Best Man. This guy is going to have almost as much responsibility as you do with planning that this whole wedding goes off without a hitch, so choose wisely. If your closest bud is one of those play-Xbox-all-day, barely-maintain-a-part-time-job-to-keep-the-power-on-so-he-can-play-Xbox-all-day type of guy, well, we know you love him, but he may not be the one to shoulder this kind of accountability (help choose the tuxes, arrange for fittings, keep track of scheduling, organize a Groom’s gift from the Groomsmen, and yes, planning and pulling off the Bachelor party). And quite frankly, once you clue your best buddy in on all those things, he might just take a pass and opt for being just one of the Groomsmen (which would allow for more time on FIFA 16). Time frame: As early as possible after setting the date for the wedding.
2) Find Wedding bands
Once you and your fiancée pick out your wedding bands, you will arrange for them to be sized. That just leaves picking them up and paying for them. Once you have them in-hand, they are given to the Best Man the day of the ceremony (See? This is where that much-needed responsibility factor comes in). Time frame: At least 5-6 months before the wedding (you will hold onto them until the day-of, when you will give them to the Best Man).
3) Plan the Honeymoon
Think of this as your reward for all the stress and checklists and headaches that you will have put in as a Groom-to-Be. This is where you and the Mrs. will get to relax, have fun, and yes, have sex… hopefully, lots and lots of sex. You need to plan when the trip will be, how long it will be, where you will go, any excursions/adventures you will have while there, necessary travel documents (passports, visas, etc.), travel insurance (always a good idea), travel money (it’s advised to travel with a bit of extra cash in the currency of your destination, which you can actually order online to be delivered to your home before you leave), booking (airfare, hotels, car rental), etc. Oh, and a few little surprises for the Bride will go a looooong way in that “lots and lots of sex” part of the Honeymoon (you should be able to arrange for flowers and champagne to be waiting for her in the hotel room, for starters). Time frame: 5-6 months before the wedding (the earlier the better, especially for your bank account, since you might need to place deposits on things).
4) Presents for the Best Man, Groomsmen, and Mother-In-Law
The Best Man and your Groomsmen have stuck by you through up or down, thin or flush, drunk or sober… so it’s customary for you to have small gifts of thanks which you normally give to them at the Bachelor Party or the Rehearsal Dinner (which would probably be a safer bet than the Bachelor Party). While you might like to believe that the best gift your Mother-In-Law could get is you being married to her daughter, it’s still customary to get her a little gift, to be given either at the Rehearsal Dinner or at the Reception. There are literally hundreds of Groomsmen gift ideas online, and they usually involve buying multiple of the same gift, so that should be easy. The gift for the Best Man is more meaningful and personalized, and is given whenever you two have some alone time, possibly even the day of the wedding. As for the Mother-In-Law gift, if you don’t know her well, it’s best to ask your fiancée for suggestions (even if you do know her well, you might want to run your ideas past the fiancée, just in case). Time frame: 3-4 months before the wedding (you will most likely be ordering one or more gifts to be engraved, so order well in advance).
5) Pick out and get fit for tuxedos
Your fiancée will have already picked out the colors for the ceremony, and she may or may not have given you guidelines on what she’d like for your tuxes to look like. If so, your work is mostly done with this one. If not, you and your Best Man will want to schedule a day to look over the possibilities at a formal wear shop. Time frame: Pick them out at least 3 months before the wedding, go back to be fitted 1 month – 3 weeks before the wedding.
6) Arrange transport to the ceremony for the entire wedding party
Yes, yes…a monster truck that blows flames from the 8 foot tall exhaust pipes would indeed be cool… but let’s come back to reality, shall we? A limo is a safe and classy bet to be the best mode of transport for the Bridal party the day-of. If you and your crew would also like to make a bit of an entrance, a limo would work for you as well, but most Grooms and Groomsmen opt for their regular cars as means of transporting themselves. You’ll be there earlier that most of the guests, so no need to add Pomp and Circumstance (unless you want to, of course). Time frame: 2-3 months before the wedding.
7) Prepare your speech for the Reception
If you hate public speaking, we’re not gonna lie…you’re really going to hate this. But the good news is, you will be speaking on one of the happiest occasions in your life, in front of your gorgeous Bride and a whole bunch of people who love you both (and who will most likely be neck-deep in a pretty good buzz by this time), so it won’t exactly be like that truly mortifying speech you gave on Ben Franklin when you were in 8th This speech will be a little bit of humor, a little bit of seriousness, and a whole lotta thanking…thank your wife, your families, your friends, your 8th grade Speech teacher, everyone who helped make the day the tremendous success it was. Time frame: 2-3 months before the wedding.
8) Present for the Bride
No, the gift of YOU is NOT Just think…she will be putting up with you for at least 40-50 years or more, so she deserves a thoughtful and, yes, romantic gift from you on the day of her wedding. In all seriousness though, the Bride/Groom gift exchange is tradition, and a good one at that. The gift doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive…just thoughtful. A gift given and opened in private, it could be something to be worn during the ceremony or the Reception, something for the Honeymoon, or something as simple as a nicely-framed, meaningful picture of the two of you. These gifts are typically exchanged the night before the wedding, the morning of, or once the merriments are over and done with. Time frame: 2-3 months before the wedding (earlier if engraving is needed).
9) Write your vows
If your fiancée and/or wedding ceremony is leaning toward the traditional side, you might luck-out here and not have to write your own vows. If, on the other hand, personalized vows are in your near future, then it’s time to buckle down. You remember all those late-night cram sessions in college, trying to jam as much information into your caffeine-and-beer-soaked brain as possible 12 hours before final exams? Yeah. Now is not the time to do that. Relax, take a deep breath. Think about this logically. You are telling the love of your life all the reasons why she is the love of your life… why you know the two of you belong together… why she is the best thing that’s ever happened to you. Even if you aren’t Robbie Romance, you already know all the answers to those things. Now it’s just a matter of writing it down on paper. So, take some time to yourself, turn off the cell phone, the computer (you’ll be too tempted to check SportsCenter if you write it on the computer), the TV, and Spotify. Just you, a pen, and a piece of paper. You can do this. After all, you love this girl. The rest should come naturally. Time frame: 1-2 months before the wedding.
10) Plan the Rehearsal Dinner
This one should be fairly cut and dry. You have the location for the wedding right? Well, look at restaurants in the area (if the actual venue, such as a hotel, doesn’t have a restaurant available) and pick one able to host your entire bridal party (plus a few extras). It’s not rocket science … now is not the time to book a party of 25 at the local sports bar. Pick a nice restaurant, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, but one without peanut shells on the floor would be a big plus. There is also usually a toast, so be sure to take a moment to thank all those present and raise a glass to the excitement of the day to come. Time frame: At least 1 month before the wedding, depending on the venue you’ve chosen for the dinner (fancier places might require more notice for larger parties).