The Utimate Wedding Checklist

For those of you who haven’t heard already, I’m getting married. Yep, that’s right. Me, married. You may pick yourself off the floor now.

I want to elope. All over the place are these gorgeous bed and breakfasts with exquisite little elopement packages for less than $1000. I begged to elope. I planned an elopement. I’m fairly certain my own father had money down on the bet that the phone call would be “Dad, I’m married,” not “Dad, I’m getting married.”

But when I say “Let’s elope,” P says “Sure, we just have to invite J and Y and S and F and…and…and…and…” I’m thinking of framing a blown-up photocopy of Webster’s definition of “elope” for an engagement present.

It isn’t that I hate my friends and family. I don’t. I love them all. I just hate weddings. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t generic, boring, lame, trite, or just plain laughable. I’m not a romantic. I don’t like roses. I think the white beaded dresses look overblown. I think the grooms always look uncomfortable, the DJs are as hokey as humanly allowed to remain living, and I can never wait for it to just be over with. I’m not a big drinker, so even that escape route is closed to me.

But I love him. He wants a wedding, and he’s agreed to keep it small. So the circus of my life has begun.

The first thing that has to be done, since it was a rather unplanned proposal on his part, is to get a ring so I stop getting that look. You know, that look. The “that’s nice that he asked you, but what kind of a commitment is that bastard making if you only have a $30 silver claddagh on your hand?” I hate that look. And I don’t even like rings. I just want his ring.

Next begins the planning. Let’s forget for the moment that all my research is telling me I should have begun planning my BIG day months ago. I’m organized, I don’t really want to do most of the squicky traditional weddingy stuff, so I’m okay. But I’ve still got to set the date, pick the location, figure out the guest list, decide on apparel, vows, licenses…

Already this is way more than I can keep in my head. Since I am queen of the internet, I’m 100% certain some nice person has posted a planning checklist I can google, for newbies like me to at least get some semblance of an idea of what the heck I’m supposed to be doing.

This was the first sample I found. At first I thought, “Great! It’s in Excel, and I adore spreadsheets, so it will keep me on task. I can scrub the crap that doesn’t apply, add the things that are important to me, and go from there.”

And then I scrolled down. And down, and down, and down, and down. There are 143 rows of things to do. The minutiae were mind blowing. I panicked. Then I laughed. And then I wrote. (Please note: this is in no way intended to insult my bride-friends who may be doing some of these things. This is just my therapy.)

So without further ado, the highlights of some anonymous internet bride’s wedding planning checklist, and my oh-so unbridely reactions (the atrocities of English committed in the checklist items are all anon-bride’s, reproduced here for your pleasure/horror):

___Famillies to send Address list to Bride via email
No way. The addresses I need are the addresses I have.

___Purchase pre-wedding thank-you notes
UM, WTF? I don’t even know what these are for.

___Buy nice pens and envelope closer
Seriously, why would I waste MORE money? My pens aren’t good enough? A $0.10 sponge won’t work?

___Select and ask bridesmaids/groomsmen
Let’s see, “You are my favorite friend, you are my second favorite friend, you are my third, and so I will have you spend umpteen grillion dollars on useless shite. The rest of you – you are only good enough to eat my cardboard wedding cake and buy me atrocious, unnecessary gifts off my registry.

___Burn CD of ceremony music for approval
Whose approval? The Pope?

___Create and print Save the Date cards (60)
More wastage. How many trees shall I murder to ensure EVERYONE I know marks their calendars ages in advance of my BIG day?

___Address Save the Date Cards
Waste of time. Why are we still in the dark ages of mailing when it comes to invitations? I see nothing wrong with mail merge, and it’s certainly nicer to my postman than my handwriting.

___Mail Save the Date cards
This requires its own checkpoint, obviously. Because if you’ve gone through the trouble of creating, printing, stamping, and handwriting addresses, there’s not a chance you would remember to dump them in the mailbox without this line item.

___Buy shoes
I’m totally on board with this one. I have seriously contemplated shopping the sale racks at Ross for my peeeerrrrrfffffect dress, but I refuse to pass up the opportunity to splurge on some super fun shoes.

___Purchase underwear and bra for dress
She has failed to note what kind of underclothings. Should they be white and lacy? A full corset complete with an African handmaiden to strap me in, so that I can squish my excess lipid storage into the dress I was forced to purchase 9 years ago in order to have it delivered in time for my BIG day, except of course it doesn’t fit because I’ve been so stressed out over this BIG day and whether the napkins match the lining of my purse that I’ve subsisted on chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate?

___Select photographer
This is the one area I’m having a problem thinking about. P and I are both photographers, and I’ve considered doing some professional work. Almost every wedding photo I’ve seen has been: awful, boring, squicky, or a repeat of every other wedding photo out there. The bride from behind, looking over her shoulder, the close up of the ring fingers intertwined, the crying dad giving the daughter away. Just gross. I’d rather stick a Holga in everyone’s hands with some brief instructions and let it go from there. I don’t know what to do on this one, but I’m certainly not spending thousands of dollars on photos that are going to make me cringe.

___Color scheme – choose
Oh, yes, I choose lavender and aqua and burgundy. Those will be so lovely together. Hey, I should put it in the invites that every guest should wear one or more of these colors. I wouldn’t want anyone to clash! On that note, we should inform the ushers that if anyone DOES clash, they are to a) wait outside and be served hors d’oeuvres like dogs, or b) don one of the Good Will outfits we will purchase for just such a calamity.

___Alterations on wedding dress – begin
Yes, please, screw around with my $500k dress months in advance because there is no way I will gain or lose a single pound in that time. Also, if possible, I should take it to the millions of alterations places that will either lose, damage, or just plain forget about my peeeerrrrrfffffect dress until five minutes before the ceremony.

___Register for gifts
This is the best thing ever! I can fill my already overflowing house with more gadgets that I won’t open or ever use in the entire course of my marriage. I recently cleaned out my mother’s kitchen and found it full of items in their original boxes from her FIRST marriage thirty years prior. Let’s everyone waste money – the bride and groom shouldn’t be the only ones throwing their life savings down the drain for this BIG day!

___Select florist
I just cannot wait to choose my flowers in my color scheme, to design the bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets, to obsess over the bouts, to spend more money on this BIG day. Let me at it.

___Select DJ/Emcee
I must must must have that guy who has an endless list of embarrassing dances (let’s all gyrate around the bride and groom in a barely disguised attempt to ogle him as he plays along with a song directing him to fondle his new wife’s breasts!), who will ignore our instructions, force us to shove cake in each others’ faces, and shame us for not engaging in a chicken dance, bouquet toss, garter/peek-up-the-bride’s-dress toss, or the hokey pokey.

___Sign contract with DJ
Just to be sure he gets paid and you get the shite service he promised.

___Book block of rooms at 2 hotels for guests
Because we’ve invited so many people (remember, more guests = more gifts!) we need two Super 8s.

___Book day-of bridal suite and wedding night suite
So that everyone will know where I am, and where they can come bow down on their knees to me on my BIG day.

___Contact local papers and send engagement announcements
Because even though we didn’t invite EVERYONE in town, they should still feel obligated to send us presents. Oh, and this is a really good way of spending more money for nothing.

___Select gift table guard, ushers, guest book attendants
Whatever guest is on the bottom of our invite list gets to make sure the rest of our “closest friends and family” don’t steal the shit we require as cover charges!

___Sign reception location and meal/bar contract
Again, make sure we lock ourselves in to whatever heinous situation it will turn out to be.

___Choose invitations and associated cards
Here we go. How many “associated cards” go with an invitation? Let’s see, let’s kill one tree for the outside envelope, one for the inner envelope, the map insert, the “we’re registered here, buy us shit” insert, the actual invitation, the RSVP card, the RSVP envelope. Take that, life-sustaining forestry.

___Select invitation wording
Do our parents’ names go in? Since they’re not contributing a dime, I see no reason to acknowledge them. It’s like the movies – you only get producer credit if you shell out the cash or blackmail the studio. This is MY creation, folks, let’s get this straight. My mom and dad had nothing to do with the person I am today. They can suck it.

___Decide on grooms formalwear – style and colors
God forbid you let a man dress himself. He might not wear the matching lavender and aqua!!! It would ruin MY big day!!!

___Book rehearsal-dinner site.
Wheeeee! Let’s spend more money.

___Research photo samples of cakes and find a replica
I absolutely have to find the most fabulous, bejeweled, fruit decorated, raspberry and chocolate sauce drizzled, most dried up husk of a cardboard cake I possibly can. If it actually tasted decent, what would my guests think?

___Send deposit for reception
Get that money in first thing! If we send them money right away, there’s no moral way they can overbook/doublebook/go bankrupt/change management/fire the chef/get blown over by a freak MidWest hurricane before my BIG day.

___Provide photos of bouquets/swatch to florist
Lavender, aqua, and burgundy, bitch! And if my bouquet doesn’t make my attendants’ flowers look like wilted sticks, I will swallow your soul.

___Choose centerpieces
Two simple words: choose centerpieces. It should be easy, right? But no. I fully believe the completely made up (by me) statistic that 98.9% of internet traffic is brides searching, discussing, agonizing, and obsessing over centerpieces. Flowers? Vases? Beads? Candles? Pictures? Does it go with my theme? Does it match my colors? Does it look good with my dress? Should the guests take them home afterward? What if my guests steal them? Should they be self-lit? Why does my Swarovski crystal and butane-lighted design cost $50 per table?

I say guests should bring their own centerpieces. I’ve been to weddings where guests have to be guards, have to clean up the hall after the reception, have to fold and load 200 chairs between ceremony and reception, have to tie bows and chair covers on 300 chairs at the reception hall. Bringing their own centerpieces is a small favor to ask in return for allowing them to share my BIG day.

___Choose bridal and bridesmaids bouquets
As long as I look fab, and my ‘maids look drab, anything in lavender, aqua, burgundy, with baby’s breath, 6.5″ stems, wrapped with a bell and my grandmother’s tintype photo, matching my tiara and special wedding underpants is fine with me.

___Choose boutineers and corsages
See above.

___Choose mom’s corsages
One flower. The bitches get ONE flower. If they want more, they can pay for it. I’m not made of money.

___Choose large floral displays
Must show everyone I’m made of money.

___Order invitations and associated cards
Woohoo! I can finally check deforestation off my list!

___Purchase post-wedding thank-you notes (same as invites)
Everyone knows they must match. If a guest gets a thank you card a year after the invitation, and they don’t match, they might take back their gifts!

___Select bridesmaid dresses and order for bridesmaids
Just like the groom, I don’t trust my friends or relatives to dress themselves appropriately. Furthermore, I don’t even trust them to be able to follow instructions.

___Pay Photographer deposit
Sweet. Half my budget on photos I could do myself by just searching the internet for wedding pics, then cutting and pasting my face in.

___Book honeymoon and make travel arrangements
Shouldn’t this be number one? For once, I’m not being facetious here. I’m going to France for the Rugby World Cup on my honeymoon. Take that, Aruba.

___Pay DJ deposit
Lalala, I love writing checks. Lalala, here’s all my money. Please bring a mic, some malfunctioning equipment, the inability to play all my requested music, and some seriously cheesy MCing skills.

___Tasting at Marina Hotel
I don’t quite understand this one. From what I’ve heard, the bride never eats at her own wedding (how could she, all hog-tied into that dress). So who cares what the food tastes like? I mean, it’s only the guests eating it, and this day isn’t about them, it’s about ME.

___Brow Waxing dates (2-3) – set
With any luck, something horrible will go wrong, and I’ll have to run around on the morning of my wedding (better yet, I’ll send one of my minions-for-the-day) to purchase some eyebrows for me.

___Select readings, poems for ceremony
Yippee! More opportunities to a) bore my guests, and b) make them embarrassed for me.

___Provide quantity of flowers/types to florist
Because a florist can never provide their own flowers.

___Buy stamps for Invitations
Make sure they have a heart on them, or the word love, or some doves or something. Do they make stamps with a puking smiley on them?

___Book hair appointment and trial run date / Book makeup appointment and trial run date
This accomplishes two things: it lets me spend more money on memememe, and guarantees one more thing to stress over.

___Car for day of event
I already have one, thanks.

___Bridal shower – set date
Wouldn’t want to forget the one event where gifts are REQUIRED.

___Bachelorette party – set date
Let’s get hammered, wave a giant penis in the air, and formulate apologies for the drunken appearance on

___Bachelor party – set date
Because neither my future husband nor his best man can be trusted to plan their own debauchery.

___Determine menu
Does Whataburger count?

___Finalize invite list (us, parents)
“Us, parents” sounds like the whole guest list to me. That’s not difficult.

___Address Invitations
Haven’t we been doing this for like, 5 months already?

___Develop map and directions for guests and vendors
Is this a different map than the one for the invites? Why would I do this twice?

___Intermediate dress fitting
All right. I have to address the dress fitting shenanery here. WTF??? This could be a part time job!!! What is so wrong with a simple dress that fits to begin with? When purchasing suits, shoes, bathing suits, jeans, I don’t buy them 5 years before I plan to wear them, and then squdge on both my body shape and the dress size for months in some grotesque trial and error until they finally fit. It would be one thing if I were wearing the contraption every day for the rest of my life, but it’s a 3-hour garment, people!!! Any other event in your life where you are only going to be wearing an outfit for 3 hours, it’s made of toilet paper, and nobody cares if it fits. Wake up to real life here, buy a dress you can use again rather than a dress that must be enshrined for all of time in a bridal humidifier box.

___Attendants Timeline and packet of information
Otherwise known as “Do what I tell you, devotees, or I shall scream and cry a lot.”

___Family – day of for photos, where to be, etc for each family
Ditto. Because my family shares one brain cell between all of us, and I get it on my BIG day.

___Order table overlays
I don’t even know what these are.

___Select cake
Why does this take five months? Cake is cake. Betty Crocker pretty much perfected it like 40 years ago.

___Walk through reception location and create room diagram
Oooh, oooh, better yet, let’s purchase some $300 software to put on my pink iMac and detail the entire space out to the inch. Brides get a year’s leave of absence from work to do all this, right?

___Review vows and make changes, additions together
Together?!?!? What? There’s someone else involved in this? Whatever.

___Purchase bridesmaids gifts
Yes, a $40 token they don’t want really counteracts the hundreds they will spend.

___Purchase groomsman gifts
At least they get something booze-related to tide them over for the BIG day.

___Provide room diagram to caterer
Remember to point out that he/she does food. He/she might not remember their part in all this at this point, so I must continually give reminders.

___Create reception room plan to show all flower and table decorations; provide to reception site and to florist
Yay for the above-mentioned expensive software! I shall have this done, and very prettily I must say, in 120 manhours (including time to install, learn, navigate, scream at, call the help desk, and finally make do with its substandard programming). As opposed to the 20 minutes it would take to sketch it on a notepad.

___Select first dance song
“Brown Eyed Girl” would be awesome. Or something equally sappy and overplayed. Maybe I could get Bryan Adams to perform. He’s not doing much these days.

___Ask Dad to choose father/daughter song
Because Dad is really concerned about the peeerrrrfffffect song. He’ll choose Van Halen, and I will have to substitute at the last minute, claiming the DJ didn’t have it. I can’t let my own father ruin my BIG day.

___Select grand entrance song
There should be horns. And horn players. And fanfare. Perhaps I can coerce some of the guests to ask for my autograph or drop to their knees in convulsions of ecstasy.

___Select last dance song
Why bother? If all goes well, everyone will be too drunk to remember there was a last dance. With any luck, the best man will be tummy-rubbing with Aunt Petunia in the stairwell.

___Create yes and no play lists and submit to DJ
He will certainly abide by them. Uh-huh, yessirree bob.

___Photo list to photographer
Because my BIG day is not the day for him to be creative, nor the day for anyone to be spontaneous. I want my manufactured images of my BIG day, dammit.

___Buy wedding rings
Minor detail. After all, I already have a gazillion dollar ring that I can hock if it doesn’t work out.

___Groom’s and groomsmen’s tux fitting – first
Like they care if it fits. They get to discard most of it for the reception anyway. And they’ll still look good. Whereas if I dumped half my dress for the party, I’d be…still way overdressed.

___Write and create the program for inside the chapel (125)
As far as I know, no one on the planet has ever been to a wedding, and if I don’t TELL them what’s going on, they’ll never know. Bonus points for killing more trees.

___Guest Book – purchase
I want to know who shows up, so I can compare it to the gifts I get and decide with whom I still want to be friends.

___Mom to have dress chosen
Besides this being the best grammar EVER, I think I’m being fairly magnanimous in letting Mom dress herself. I must make a note that I have final approval, of course.

___TImeline of shots and locations to photographer
Why have a photographer? I think I could just set the timer on our digital, and get shots that are just as good. (Sadly, this is probably true.)

___Print the programs
Note: Must find super squickly love poem to print in bold red letters.

___Purchase table list holders
Yet another item of which I have no knowledge.

___Wedding day Timeline – develop and print (master copy for self and individual copies for families and bridal party)
I am the director of this day, bitches. You do not say a word, you do not go to get coffee, you do not pee in a toilet unless it is on the schedule or I give you written approval.

___Cardbox – purchase and finalize
AKA screw personal gifts, I’ll just take the cash, please.

___Print “reserved signs” for family in church, make list
Reserved for the people who contributed cash to this BIG day. Everyone else, sit your asses down.

___Purchase unity candle for ceremony
More $$$.

___Purchase guest book and pen
More $$$$.

___Purchase toasting glasses for Bride and Groom
More $$$$$. This is fun.

___Arrange for food and champagne in wedding night suite
Let’s get drunk and screw. Call it a preview for the rest of our lives.

___Garter – purchase
Mustn’t risk missing the obligatory crotch gaze during the reception!

___Select and obtain jewelry for Bride
Now we’re talking about ourselves in the third person. I wonder, does this somehow allow us to distance ourselves from the insanity represented by this checklist?

___Buy wedding night clothing
Because regular clothing just wouldn’t do.

___Make favors and have them all put together
This phrase is key “have them all put together.” Have WHO put them all together? Are there favor elves out there that I don’t know about, along with laundry gnomes and cleaning fairies?

___Final dress fitting
I. Just. Can’t. Believe. How. Many. There. Are.

___Fathers – tell them to write toasts and finalize
What? We’re not writing the toasts for our fathers? We brides get to micromanage EVERYTHING but this? This is a drastic mistake, as anyone who has ever heard a father speak. It will be nothing but flatulence jokes if you leave it up to these poor souls, who are barely holding it together as they have to spend the entire day looking at the man that they now know for sure is humping their daughter.

___Put together restroom kit for reception (men and women)
Because no one knows how to pee without a kit. How have we survived this far?

___Choose and obtain Groom’s accessories
While he perfects the ratios on his ass groove on the sofa. Does he know he’s getting married?

___Toasts – Groom and Bride – rehearsal and wedding – write
This is the point at which the groom says “toasts? Vows? Huh? Didn’t you do those already? What have you been doing all this time? Well, can we google them?”

11 thoughts on “The Utimate Wedding Checklist

  1. thank you thank you thank you!!! I was laughing so hard hubby came running from the other room thinking i was sobbing. I followed you from an indie bride link and I think i love you.

    The funny part is, it is all almost done – we planned it all in about a month. The vows, the ceremony, and the table decor are the last steps then (dare I say it) I think we’re done. Finally.

    I cannot imagine what would have happened if I didn’t decide to get married within 4 months of getting engaged. The men in white coats would be taking me away…

  2. Teresa,

    I hear you! We wound up being pretty lucky – we had the whole thing at a local B&B. The price included everything except food & alcohol.

    We did something that A)saved us a lot of money, and B)made the day extra special for us: we asked friends to help. Our musician/DJ, photographer, videographer, caterer, and officiant were all close friends. Others' gifts to us were the alcohol, and by paying for rooms at the B&B, the site rental.

    We had a gorgeous, heartfelt, fun wedding for under $5k. It was work, I won’t lie, but it was fabulous.

    Good luck – I hope yours is just as wonderful!

  3. I love this post! It’s so true. I want to elope as well, but fiance doesn’t want to. I’d rather blow thousands of dollars on a honeymoon to Japan than eating crappy food and listening to a dj play my humps all night. 🙁

    I’ve been wasting so many hours of my life trying to find a wedding location that is cheap but not a bbq in the backyard kind of cheap (if I’m going to do that, then I would just elope regardless).

    Would I get shunned for all of eternity if I got married in a garden and said, “all right guys, you are all free to go eat where ever you want now- wedding’s over-“? 😀

    The more I think about it, shouldn’t the guests be taking me out to eat? Why do the ones getting married have to foot the bill?

  4. melody,

    We were looking into going to the Oregon coast, and we found a lot of B&Bs that had elopement packages.

    So when you find an area you'd like to go, look into B&Bs there, and see if there are any elopement packages. I think I started out by googling for "elope Oregon" so that's a clue for a start. Good luck!

  5. Ha ha. I also followed the link from Indiebride. Dang that was funny. And long.

    But where are all those places with elopement packages? That sounds like exactly what I want. That and a kick ass party when we get back.

  6. Hel,

    Isn’t it crazy just how many brides now want to elope, and get “compromised” into having a wedding?

    My theory is that as we’ve been bridesmaids, sisters, etc., at others’ weddings, we know how much $#%^@ goes into planning and pulling one off.

    Guys, on the other hand, just think they have to get a keg and a minister, and all will be right. Guy-DER. So they push for the “party”, we wind up planning and executing it. They, of course, realize WAY too late that we should have eloped in the first place.

    Oh well. Happy wedding to you, as well!


  7. Followed a link from Indiebride and just had to say that I so needed to read that! 🙂 My partner and I have been given a little over a month to plan our wedding and it’s taken me nearly all of it to get my head around all the craziness that apparently goes into weddings. Nice to see I’m not the only one who gags at so much of this stuff! Eloping was my idea too, but oddly Mr-I-Can’t-Ever-See-Myself-Getting-Married is now all for a proper wedding which he naively thinks is just like inviting all your mates around at the last minute for a get together. Sigh.

    Best of luck for your own wedding 🙂

  8. thanks for making me laugh. I think we have the same checklist. weddings make me cringe too. No one really wants to sit around and watch you say your vows. They’re just waiting for the food and super-cheesy DJ. I hate that.

    by the way, craigslist is a life-saver. got my wedding dress for FREE! that really made my mom cringe.

  9. I love this. If I ever get married, I think I want you to plan my wedding for me. I have a feeling I’ll like your checklist much more.

  10. Awesome. It’s so cool that so many people are getting on board with the green thing.

    What’s been so happy-making for me (happy-making, that’s right, I’m a writer) is how much my family has expected my wedding to be this way, and how supportive they are. Too cool, esp for West Texas farm folks!

  11. HAHAHA This is great. (This is Thryn–hope it’s ok to leave comments…I didn’t see any others). Gift table guard?!?! I felt the same way about most of these things. Now I just look at the wedding as a big design project (since I’m a designer) and don’t do a single thing because someone/some company says I have to, only because I want to. Once I found sites like IndieBride and the I Do Foundation, and learned about green weddings, I realized there is a great community of people out there who don’t buy into the cookie-cutter-consumerist wedding industry.

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