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Make No Little Plans

Congrats, you’re engaged! You’ve got the ring, the guy and the dream of a perfect wedding—now it’s time to get planning! According to North Shore wedding planner extraordinaire Chuck Share of Wedding Inc./Event Creative, you can avoid stress if you stay organized. He helped us put together a 12-month planning guide for any North Shore bride. Just follow along, and you might find that planning a wedding can be as fun as the big day—well, almost.

12 months before your wedding: Hire a planner.
“It’s important that you find someone you like, and that they know what you want with your wedding,” explains Share. “This is the person that you’ll be talking to the most. He is your point person for everything.”

11 months: Choose a location.
Do this early, so you can see what days are available for your wedding. For many brides, that’s the most important factor in setting a date. “The country clubs are very good on the North Shore,” says Share. “There are also hotels: There’s the InterContinental O’Hare or the Westin North Shore; it just depends on what you’re looking for. Your planner can make appointments and walk you through the spaces.”

10 months: Buy a dress... and register!
By now, you know the when and where, and you’ve probably browsed a lot of magazines. For your dream dress, it’s not too soon. “I love Vera Wang on Oak Street,” says Share. “Dress shopping is always exciting.” And so is registering for your future lives together!

9 months: Choose your officiate.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Officiates can book up as fast as venues. “Most brides choose someone that means something to their family,” says Share, “either from a church or synagogue or a person that has special meaning to you.”

8 months: Hire a photographer and/or videographer.

Time to start thinking about photographers. Ask your friends whom they used, and
look through their photos. “Find someone whose style you like,” says Share. “The one we use the most is Phil Farber from Photo Images.”

7 months: Choose your save-the-dates and invites.
Save-the-dates should go out six months before your wedding, and if you’re going to have everything match, now is the time to order.
“With the save-the-dates, people start getting excited,” says Share. “Not that you have so much planned, but you can start building your website and telling people details about the wedding. Now you have things to talk about!”

6 months: Book the music.
“Think about what you want: a DJ or a band,” says Share. “For the afterparty, it’s always a DJ. I like Energy Productions; they do a lot of afterparties. I also like Michael Lerich, who has a band and an orchestra, for the main music.”

5 months: Start interviewing florists.
It’s important to do this in the later stages, so you can actually see the flowers that will be available on your wedding date. “The bride can talk about what she likes and doesn’t like,” says Share. “The florists will give you some visual aids, so you can get an idea of what your floral will look like.”

4 months: Have a menu meeting with your venue, caterer and planner.
“You will decide if you are having a sit-down dinner, passed apps, a dessert table—those kind of things,” Share explains. “You go through everything step by step. And now is the time to try all the food, which most brides and grooms love.” This is also the time when you can decide on your cake.

3 months: Do some trial runs with your hair and makeup people.
“You want to get someone who has been referred to you,” says Share. “You want to be connected to them, and know they will treat you well. Book them now because they get busy too, but trial runs are key.”

2 months: Big detail meeting with everyone involved!
Now it gets fun. “Get everyone together—planner, plus reps from the venue, photographer, caterer and florists—to talk through all the details and make sure everything is planned perfectly.”

1 month: Get your marriage license.
“No need to stress before your big day,” says Share. “Don’t wait until the last minute. They are good for 30 days, but there is a 24-hour waiting period.”