Planning the perfect day
Walking down the aisle isn't as easy as it looks. Behind the woman in white gliding effortlessly down a carpet of flower petals lies a game plan as carefully constructed as the Normandy invasion. While couples have always put a degree of thought into their wedding day, nowadays a quiet ceremony at the courthouse is about as passé as the trucker hat. Modern-day marriages, with their specially designed themes and luxurious receptions, are gala events. Whether you need a comprehensive guide to planning your ceremony, the perfect finishing touch, or helpful advice on getting hitched in a hurry, there's a book to suit your situation.
Know it all
For a comprehensive guide to planning a wedding down to the smallest detail, The Knot Complete Guide to Planning Weddings in the Real World (Broadway, $19.95, 432 pages, ISBN 0767916425) sets the standard. This totally updated second edition by Carley Roney, one of the creators of top wedding website theknot.com, goes from suggesting creative ways to announce your engagement to advice on honeymoon tipping and wedding night romance. Each section includes vital information for wedding novices, such as important questions to ask when reserving a reception site or hiring a caterer or florist. Do bridal gown store clerks seem to be speaking a different language? The chapters on clothing define such terms as mandarin, shantung and portrait neck, and clue readers in on who wears what. Wedding favors for guests, invitation wording and design, vow and toast suggestionseverything you've ever wanted to know about planning a wedding (and some things you didn't realize you needed to know) can be found in these pages.
If you want to have the kind of wedding whose original touches will have guests talking for months afterward, The Perfect Wedding Details, by Maria McBride Mellinger, is a must-have. This beautifully designed full-color book contains more than 100 ideas for finding the perfect finishing touches for your ceremony or reception. Best of all, these additions aren't budget-busting: they're all things you (or your family and friends) can make with easily obtained items. Divided into chapters covering floral arrangements, table settings and other wedding staples, the book presents its project suggestions in a cookbook format, with components listed to the side of detailed instructions. Ideas range from a children's table set with crayons and covered with craft paper for hours of artistic fun to champagne-cage place card holders and signature cocktails. The author of the guides The Perfect Wedding and The Perfect Wedding Reception, as well as an experienced wedding stylist, Mellinger is a marriage maven, and her excellent ideas are sure to make your ceremony or reception stand out.
Knot so fast
Couples determined to buck the long engagement trend don't have to forfeit the wedding of their dreams. Jennifer Shawne explains how to pull it all together in no time in Instant Weddings: From "Will You?" to "I Do!" in Four Months or Less (Chronicle, $14.95, 144 pages, ISBN 0811836878). The book's compact size ensures that you won't spend three of those four months searching for the information you need. Adorned with lighthearted, vintage-style illustrations by Mary Lynn Blasutta, this book contains helpful checklists for everything from food to decorations to the honeymoon, and sketches out a general timeline for couples on tight planning schedules. Interspersed throughout are stories of real-life couples who've tied the knot in four months or less, cost and time-saving tips, and ways to put your own twist on wedding traditions like DJs at receptions (burn your own mixed CDs instead) and invitation information (referring guests to a website with maps, links to your registry and your e-mail address can save time).
What bride hasn't been stressed out at some point during the planning stage? Give the gift of serenity with a special edition of Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul (HCI, $18.95, 382 pages, ISBN 0757301975). It's guaranteed to calm harried brides with its timeless, traditional tales of romance and love, and the padded cover and ribbon bookmark make it a lovely keepsake.