Planning a white wedding – or any type of wedding for that matter – imposes one cardinal rule: time. When you’re getting married, the last thing you want to do is race against time and end up a total wreck on your wedding day. Plan early. We’ll say it one more time. Plan early.
How early? Ideally, 12 months. But then we know what can happen in 12 months, right? For example, lovers fight and decide to call the wedding off. Or halfway down the planning stage, husband and wife realize that it’s better to put a larger slice of the wedding budget towards a downpayment for a house. As a result they scale back on the wedding ceremony: diminished grandeur, fewer invitees, a less towering wedding cake.
So, to take advantage of the best of everything – parish and pastor, location, hotel, limo, cake and wedding favors, travel arrangements – aim for 3-6 months. At least this way, you have room to maneuver if things don’t go like clockwork. Invitations could get delayed, flights could be booked during peak season, and professional wedding planners become a disappearing breed at the height of wedding mania.
Why a White Wedding?
Planning a white wedding means the couple decided to go traditional. Another reason is that perhaps the bride and groom just like the color and has nothing to do with tradition. Or the bride wants the whole world to know that she has preserved her virginity.
We stumbled upon a funny poem on the Internet and we’ll give you an abbreviated version. It has to do with the color of the dress you pick for your wedding:
“Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true.” (author unknown)
The rhyming poem is actually longer with a few more colors mentioned but it looks like choosing white puts you in good stead. By having a white wedding with a white dress, you’ll be announcing to the world that you chose the right person to wed.
But choosing the right person entails doing the right planning as well. A white wedding is unique and has a special message.
Start with the Participants
If your wedding is a traditional one, a list of participants must consist of:
- Officiating priest or minister – he gets to pronounce bride and groom as man and wife and blesses them;
- Best Man and Maid of Honor – the best man must be the groom’s brother, close friend or anyone he wants to count on for support. The Maid of Honor can be the bride’s sister, close university friend, childhood friend or close cousin – again, the bride looks to her for moral and logistical support;
- Father of the Bride – this is a very traditional and very common sight in the church ceremony. The bride’s father usually marches with her towards the altar to give her away to her future husband;
- Groomsmen and bridesmaids – there can be just one or several groomsmen or bridesmaids who are expected to support the couple;
- Flower girl – the flower girl (there can be more than flower girl) spreads petals in the church;
- Ring bearer – traditionally, the young boy who will carry the rings. The rings usually sit on a satin cushion held by the boy as he marches down the altar.
During the church ceremony, the groom and his best man position themselves near the front of the altar to wait for the bride and her entourage.
Ushers escort the parents and grandparents of both bride and groom to their proper places – usually the front pews are reserved for close family members or the bridal party. Booklets and prayer books are distributed to church attendees. When the bride arrives with her party, she is escorted to the altar by her father and then the official ceremony begins. It can last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour and a half. After the priest concludes the ceremony and gives his blessing, bride and groom go to a special wing of the church to sign the marriage register. Not signing the register means no marriage took place.
This is when a white wedding can get tricky, especially when it comes to the bride’s white dress. Since there will be food and drink, the bride has to be extra careful so that nothing stains her dress.
Toasts are a traditional part of a white wedding (as in other types of weddings). The toasts can be solemn or humorous depending on what the bride and groom want.
The slicing of the cake by both groom and bride takes place during the reception. Almost always, there is music so guests are expected to dance after their meal. The first dance is usually by the father and bride, and then as a symbolic “giving away of the bride” the groom steps in and dances with his bride.
Things that Go Into Planning a White Wedding
Given that the white dress will be generating a lot of attention and conversation, decide if you want one off the rack or one that’s customized. Just remember the cost difference of made-to-order dresses versus off-the-rack dresses. Choose your lace and taffeta carefully, ensuring they reflect your personality.
Make sure the dress is comfortable (you’ll be wearing it for at least five hours) and that it isn’t too tight or gets in the way of movement when you start mingling with the guests and dancing during the reception.
The next thing on the agenda is your budget. Decide how much you want to spend. Don’t spend beyond your means. You don’t want to have your first born and find that you’re still paying off debts from your wedding. If your parents offer financial help, accept their help graciously, but do not expect them to spend an enormous amount for your wedding.
Create a TO-DO list of tasks with specific timeframes and who will be in charge of each task. This way, you don’t omit essential details. When you’re finalizing arrangements with providers such as the hotel, limo, band, flowers, invitations, favors, cake, photographer and videographer, get everything in writing and shop around. This need to shop around to get the best deals justifies the 3-6 month planning period we referred to earlier.
One thing that couples tend to overlook is that there are unexpected expenses that come up. These last minute details inflate your wedding budget so if you have financial constraints, shop around until you find the most reasonable deals.
Final note: since white is a very delicate color, brides can also choose beige, off-white or ivory for their wedding gown.