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By esmeralda dains

Eight Months of Prep, Four Hours of Bliss

A wedding is designed to be a spectacular day for the bride and groom. It is a celebration of two people – and two families – being joined together as one. But it can also be incredibly difficult to get everything ready, from decorations, food, dresses, invitations and favors and make it a special day. I have been there, and it is not that easy, especially when your fiancé is thousands of miles away from you during the preparation period. However, I survived and I loved every minute of it; it was a dream come true.

The other problem with getting married is sticking to a strict budget. Your job is to make it simple but beautiful. If you love crafts and DIY projects, your wedding well be both remarkable and personal. And your guests will be amazed at your creations. And you will save on a wedding planner, which can be both expensive and a disappointment when they do not meet your expectations.

Your first job is to make a plan. Print out a wedding planner checklist if you have decided to plan the wedding yourself; you can find lots of free, printable checklists on Pinterest or Google. You should start preparing between a year and eight months before the wedding. At the very beginning of that time, you should decide on a theme and how you will make the wedding memorable.

8 months before the wedding: First I designed my wedding invitation card. It took me two weeks to find an invitation card design. I used Photoshop to design our invitation, then printed it out after I finalized my guest list. But you can order some that come ready to print. There are some sites that do wedding invitations that are affordable, like (I like their designs), CVS photo and Etsy. Or you can call a friend who knows how to do graphic design. I am sure he/she will be honored to be a part of your wedding preparations.

Then after that it's time to contact or ask some friends and search for affordable food catering, a pastry chef, a florist and a wedding dress (I recommend renting).

7 months before the wedding: Meet with the food catering and pasty chef. I had an affordable wedding cake because I happen to know one and we go to church together. Instead of a three-layer cake, my partner and I decided to have a one-layer cake with cupcakes around it.

6 months before the wedding: Time to meet with the florist and find out which of their packages you would like. Sometimes they do the church and reception hall decorations, and they generally do the floral bouquet for the bride and bridesmaid and flower for the bridal car.

5 months before the wedding. Look for a wedding dress shop. I decided to rent my gown. For me, you cannot wear it again, so buying a wedding dress is not a good investment. Ask for their packages; sometimes they have an entourage dress package plus the wedding dress, which will make your wedding more affordable.

4 months before the wedding: Shop for wedding favors: you can find some in a local store and some online. If you bought it locally just print a tag to attached it.

3 months before the wedding: Check your wedding checklist to make sure you did not forget anything. This time, I did our own personalized guest book and printed it out.

2 months before the wedding: I did my part designing the candles we were going to use at the ceremony. I designed and made a bracelet corsage for the girls. Don't forget to find a friend who knows how to do makeup and hair dressing for your wedding day.

1 month before the wedding: Double-check your food catering, pastry chef, florist and photographer, and check if all the dresses fit those in your entourage. Hire a friend who will be master of ceremonies and at the same time do some finalization for the wedding day. Tell her or him your plan so she knows what to do. On your wedding day, you will not have time to organize things and follow up if something is missing.

2 weeks before the wedding: Get some time to relax. Write your vows. Gather some of your favorite songs for the wedding day. Contact people who will be in wedding rehearsal.

1 week before the wedding: Wedding rehearsal. Time to pick up the dress from the shop. Prepare all the things that are needed at the church and reception.

Wedding day: Today's the big day! It ks time to set aside all your worries. I know it is hard, but everything will be fine. It might not go precisely how you planned it, but that is fine. You already did your part in preparation. The most important thing now is to enjoy this day with your husband-to-be. Most of all, be thankful to God for the most wonderful day of your life.

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