Well you heard through the grapevine your friends from school are getting married!  You should be expecting some invitations in the mail but you haven’t got a clue what to do.  Don’t sweat, there is a simple timeline you can follow to ensure you’ll have the best time there and the bride and groom will be proud to call you friend. 

                First you’ll be receiving your “save the date.”  This is NOT the invitation.  This is the prequel to the invitation, the invitation’s invitation if you will.  Basically this piece of paper says “you better start saving now because soon you’ll be spending a lot of money and making a lot of plans around us.”  Once this invitation arrives, start to prepare your finances.  You’ll need to buy a present about a month before the wedding, you may even get invited to special event parties such as bridal showers, bachelor parties, etc. in which case you’ll need more than just a gift.  You may have to chip in money for the stripper, the karaoke room or even buy a funny gag gift.  Put a little extra money aside just in case this happens.  You may also choose to give your only gift during one of these parties, just be sure to factor in that this gift will be given sooner than the wedding.  You’ll need money for a hotel, I’d suggest looking up rates in the area the wedding may be and saving an average of that.  You may get lucky and live close enough to the reception that you can drive home afterward but if there is an open bar involved I’d suggest getting a hotel regardless.  If it is NOT an open bar, plan on having spending money for that.  You may want to get yourself something nice to wear, if you already have something, Kudos, you don’t have to spend extra money.   If you are lucky enough to be invited to stand and support the happy couple, plan on spending triple digits for a tuxedo rental or dress and alterations, sometimes even, shoes, accessories, hair & make-up, etc.  Once you’ve figured out and set aside the proper finances everything should be smooth sailing.

                It is now 3 months before the ceremony.  You have received the OFFICIAL WEDDING IVITATION.  This should include information about location, hotels, maps, registry, and possibly even various wedding parties.  Within one week of getting this invitation, reserve your hotel room.  It is better to be safe than sorry and you don’t want your car to go back to on a night like that.  They don’t need any money; they just need a card number so you should be able to book a hotel without spending anything.  Next, ask off from work if you are scheduled to work that day.  I’d be sure and ask off for the next day as well if you plan on “having a great time.”

                Around 5 months before the date is when you’ll be renting your tux or purchasing your dress, but if you’re not standing, 2 months prior is a good time to start shopping.  If you already have something appropriate, you’re good to go.  THE NUMBER ONE RULE TO WEDDING ATTIRE: DO NOT WEAR ANYTHING WHITE AND/OR LIGHT IN COLOR.  Of course you don’t want to look dirty or skanky, this is dressy event, you will get an idea of the attire on the invitation but the main thing to remember is this is the BRIDE’S day to wear white. 

                It is now a month before the wedding date.  You may already have you’re attire, you may have already attended a party or two.  If you haven’t given them their gift, it is now time to purchase it.  On the invitation, the couple should indicate where they want their gift to come from.  Some want a donation made in their name, some pick places such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel or Macy’s.  Either way, everyone understands some of us can’t afford the biggest and the best.  Just make sure the gift is something within their registry.  If you plan on giving cash or a check, make the donation a little bigger than what you’d spend on a gift.  So, make a donation to their registry website, go to whatever place they registered and buy an item within your budget, or set aside the cash in a sealed envelope next to the invitation so you don’t spend it.  Once you get this taken care of, you’re practically set.  When it gets into the weeks before, you may find yourself going to the last minute bachelor/bachelorette parties, giving your gag gifts, pitching in for the karaoke room, etc. but that little extra money you saved will more than likely be utilized here. 

                It is now the weekend of.  If you have prepared, everything should fall into place.  You can check into your hotel with the money you set aside for your reservation, you’ve have the present you already bought beforehand and you’re new digs are pressed and hanging in your car ready to go.  A few more rules to abide by:  On the day of be courteous if you have to wait a little bit.  Bring tissue if you tend to be emotional.  Don’t forget the gift if you’re bringing it the day of.  Have your route ready so you’re not late to the ceremony.  Leave with time to spare in case you get a chance to check into your hotel beforehand.  Turn your cell phones OFF and keep your babies silent please, this is their moment; don’t ruin it with one of your own. 

                At the reception, also learn to be patient.  If they are taking pictures afterwards this can cause quite a delay and you may get restless, just be patient.  It may be a good idea to bring a bag of peanuts or something to snack on in case you get hungry.  Eat and socialize but pay attention when there are speeches, announcements, etc.  Dance your backside off but do NOT use this date as an opportunity to get drunk for the first time in a year, be warmed up because it will more than likely be a long night and no one likes to deal with a sloppy drunk at a wedding.  Please behave yourself and don’t complain, out loud.  Yes, we all have differences, we get it, you would have done it differently, but you didn’t because it is their day, not yours.  Last but not least, it is polite to stay at the reception until after the bride and groom have left.  It is not required, however, under certain circumstances.  Be prepared, be patient, be polite.

                These simple steps will assure you to have the greatest time at a wedding!