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A wedding is a ceremony to celebrate the joining together of two people in marriage. Wedding traditions and customs vary widely between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. However, most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of rings and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or celebrant. Special wedding garments are often worn, and music is commonly played.

Planning a wedding can be a big undertaking, especially for first-time brides and grooms. The best advice is to give yourselves plenty of time to get everything done—a year is a good goal. And be sure to involve your partner in the process—your wedding should be a celebration of you both, after all!

Choosing the venue is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, and touring spaces is a must. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s important to review contracts carefully, and ask lots of questions if you have them. It’s also a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends, family members, and other couples who have recently tied the knot.

If you’re having a large wedding, create an initial guest list, and begin sending out save-the-dates. Keep in mind that you may receive regrets from guests who can’t make it, and try to invite only as many people as your budget and venue can accommodate.

This is a good time to start booking your vendors, as well as creating a wedding website and finalizing the menus, seating charts, and music. Ask for referrals from trusted friends and colleagues, and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or negotiate prices. It’s not out of the ordinary for vendors to expect a 10% gratuity from their clients, so be sure to discuss this with them before hiring.

Finalize the music for your wedding day (from the first dance to the final song at your after party). This includes picking songs for the open bar, parent dances, and processional and recessional hymns. Your DJ or live performer will also likely want to know if you have any “must-play” songs and don’t play lists.

Create a seating chart for your wedding, and write out any other ceremony details that you need to remember. Be sure to include your maid of honor or matron of honor, the best man, and other key people who will be participating in the ceremony. Also, make sure to order any additional decor items that you’ll need, such as wedding cake knives or ring bearer pillows.

Complete your registry, and drop off any gifts for overnight guests that you’ll be supplying (like hangover kits or customized travel bags). And last but not least, don’t forget to pick up your dress from the cleaners! And on your big day, try to enjoy yourself and relax. If you’re stressed out or overwhelmed, your guests will be able to tell. So be sure to take a moment to stop and appreciate this beautiful day with your new husband or wife!