Planning Your Wedding: The Mi10 Biggest Pre-Weddingstakes

Even the smartest, most on-top-of-things couple can make mistakes during wedding planning. Here are the 10 things you should keep an eye on before saying I do.
1. Blowing off your budget
It costs a lot of money to put on a wedding. Many excited brides start booking vendors and making purchases without having a real budget, and then they're shocked to discover they've spent all of their money (or their parents' money) and still don't have half the things they need. If you bounce checks, don't have the money to pay your deposits, or make your final payments past your vendors' deadlines, your wedding will not happen as you have planned. The flowers won't be delivered, your cake will not be decorated, and the band will not play all night -- unless you pay up. Planning a wedding is serious business. Make a budget and keep track of your expenditures.
2. Ordering the wedding gown and/or bridesmaid dresses late
If going for a traditional bridal gown, brides need to place their orders six to eight months before their weddings. Most gowns are made to order; if you wait too long before your wedding date to make your selection, the gown simply may not be ready in time. Bridesmaid dresses should also be decided upon during the same time period, but only after the gown has been selected. You want to make sure your ladies have enough time to get measured and find accessories.
3. Procrastinating on that prenuptial...
It is a reality these days that people -- even brides -- have assets they want to protect. (This is particularly prevalent now that there are so many second marriages where a bride or groom may have children to whom they want their assets to go in case of death.) Leaving the discussion of a prenuptial agreement until the week before the wedding is a sure-fire way to increase the stress level by ten thousand percent -- and endanger the impending marriage. So deal with this potentially sticky issue months in advance ( Editor: this applies equally to any provision that the groom or bride may want to include in the marriage contract).
4. Messing up the marriage license
There are so many rules around marriage licenses that brides are bound to make mistakes. Be sure to investigate time restrictions well in advance of your wedding date. Get your license 31 days before in some states -- and you won't be able to legally marry on your wedding day because it may be valid for only 30 days. Go for your license the day before your wedding and you may not get it in time, because some states have a 48-hour waiting period. Another common mess-up if you're remarrying is not having official divorce papers in time to get the certificate.
5. Booking guest hotel rooms too late
Brides often leave blocking out hotel rooms for out-of-town guests until the last minute. If you're marrying in a city (particularly one where conventions take place) or in a resort town and you don't investigate hotel availability in advance, you can literally end up with not a single room for any of your guests to stay in. Your wedding might go on -- but no one will be able to attend. Reserve a room block as early as possible, up to a year in advance.
6. Inviting too many guests
Make sure your guest list and your reception site match numbers-wise. You can't invite 400 people assuming only 250 will RSVP with a yes -- because if 300 happen to say yes, you may have to turn 50 away at the door. Sites can't just add 10 more tables, as fire laws limit the maximum number of people in any room at one time. To avoid this, assume eighty percent will respond yes and limit your guest list accordingly.
7. Last-minute beauty blunders
Many brides think that scheduling chemical peels the week before their weddings will leave their skin looking angelic on their big days. Others think having their teeth bleached within days of their weddings will leave those pearly whites sparkling. Thinking of tanning the day before your wedding? Think again: You may end up with blisters instead of sun-kissed skin. Last-minute beauty treatments can lead to breakouts, mistakes, or -- even worse -- serious infections. Start a long-term beauty regimen months before the big day and focus on natural and common-sense measures such as eating a healthy diet and exercising, or you could risk ruining all the hard work you've done to make your wedding -- and photos -- perfect. (Never mind putting your health and happiness at risk for the most important day of your life.)
8. Underpaying postage on invites
You'd be surprised how many brides just stick a stamp on their invites and drop them in a letterbox. All but a few wedding invitations require additional postage. The postal service will not take pity on you -- your invites will be returned (and rubber-stamped with that ugly "insufficient postage" message) -- and it will take at least two weeks (never mind the additional $$) to get them back out the door. Be sure to get one complete invitation weighed at the post office before purchasing all your stamps.
9. Ignoring religious restrictions
If you plan on marrying in a house of worship, you need to abide by the rules. Wearing inappropriate attire or not completing pre-wedding requirements is grounds for your officiant to stop your wedding before it begins. As soon as you get engaged, be sure to contact your house of worship to find out about any potential issues. Some houses of worship won't let you marry on certain holy dates; make sure to check your wedding date with your officiant before putting down any deposits for your reception site or vendors.
10. Ignoring weather warnings
Brides marrying outdoors often test fate and just wish for the best when it comes to bad weather. Always have a backup plan -- you may not have a place to marry at all, or your guests (and you) may be in misery at the hands of Mother Nature. Temperatures normally around the balmy 70-degree mark may unexpectedly turn into a boiling 100-degree debacle; be sure to have outdoor air-conditioning. A hurricane, flashflood, or gale force winds may visit on your wedding day; make sure you have an interior alternative or a tent as a back-up location.