What are the steps involved in planning a wedding?

Marriages, the second most wonderful time of the year, right after Christmas, provide all of us a giant sense of joy and happiness. In India, there are varieties of marriage celebrations depending on the customs and traditions followed by the people getting married and their families, however, they all have a few elements in common. Most wedding celebrations take a couple of months to plan since there are some aspects of the wedding that just cannot be handled spontaneously.

Legally speaking, it takes about two months to get a wedding registered in India. A marriage registration certificate is one of the most important documents a married couple needs. It makes paperwork a lot easier, especially if the wife is planning on changing her last name to match her husband. In India, weddings have to be registered under one of two Acts, the Hindu Marriage Act or the Special Marriage Act, which encompasses all religions that aren’t Hindus. A lot of documentation is needed to get this done and it takes time to process. While the Hindu Act takes about 15 days the Special Mariage Act takes about 60 to get done. Although this is the worst case scenario, there are chances it could get done sooner if all documents are in order and there isn’t a backlog.

As far as the planning of a ceremony, it's a much longer process. The first and most important item on your to-do list should be finding a hall. Make sure the venue you are working with is available on the date you are planning your wedding. If you are working with a generally popular hall, you might have to tell them in advance since they might be booked up. If you happen to be in Goa, there are a lot of options to pick from. Consider the location of the service so your guests do not have to travel too long between the service and the ceremony. The size of the venue should be able to hold the people being invited.

When picking the hall, you usually get the caterer and band as well. You are allowed to pick someone else if you are looking for a change but would have to discuss it with the venue. Although you might be provided with a band, you have to work out your song list depending on preference and do the same with the caterers and to get the right menu.

The second part would be picking your colour theme. This is quite important since it decides the colour of the decor at the reception and the clothing at the wedding. The bridesmaids and groomsmen usually were the same colour theme in some form or the other, whether the colour of the dresses, bows or ties. Furthermore, the decorators make sure the tables, chairs, and venue match the colour theme.

These are usually the main concerns that cannot be delegated and have to be selected by the couple tying the knot. The rest of the list comprises of minor stuff like making sure your wife or husband shows up, selecting the right shades of flowers, transportation, and similar smaller tasks. Don’t forget to finalise the guest list and make sure all invites are sent. Always get someone to help with the overall coordination since it tends to get very hectic on the day of the wedding. There are a lot of moving parts and someone, not directly connected to everything should help.

What should I do when planning a last-minute wedding?

Weddings are not small events like inviting friends for a dinner on a random evening, they need a lot of planning, and hopefully are a one-time affair that lasts a lifetime. Depending on the circumstances of a wedding, there are some that have to be done in a very short span, like if one partner has to leave to go to another country.

Here are a few things you need to know when organizing or assisting with a last-minute wedding.

Obviously, the circumstances of a wedding make the most difference. Marriages in India should be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act. Although these are not compulsory requirements, they definitely make the post-marriage documentation a lot easier. However, to get the registration done, it takes between two weeks to two months depending on their backlog of work. Also, account for whether the required documentation has been filled out and submitted thoroughly. If you feel this is going to slow down the marriage process, it can be handled later in the marriage.

Getting proof of the marriage and that it took place is also very important. You can get this done through the documents of your specific religion. The church, for instance, has their own records, with a witness, where they provide a marriage certificate as proof that the wedding mass did take place. Getting a date for a wedding mass might not take as long as a marriage registration but varies from church to church.

Organizing the reception is only done if you are within budget, with the right number of guests, after accounting for a hall, band, food and the rest of the smaller expenses. If relatives are being invited from all corners of the world, make sure they are given enough time so they can book tickets and fly down for the wedding. A reception hall is a worthy option for the ceremony. When finding the right hall account for its popularity and location and spend time finding its availability and whether it can accommodate the crowd. Account for the travel time between both, the service and venue since the attendees to travel.

There have been multiple instances where couples don't have a giant reception after the service, but instead, provide cake and wine and wrap up the wedding. This would definitely need the least coordination and other than ordering the cake, can be handled the fastest. The other alternative is inviting your close family for a smaller celebration.

The main aspect to remember is that marriage is for life. Even if you are in a hurry initially, you can always delay the wedding to a time better suited or have a grander party eventually. People usually throw giant parties for others to know how happy they are about getting married. Either way, coordinate thoroughly since you don't get a second chance at a wedding and it’s something that you would have to live with for the rest of your life.