Kansas University student Rachel Burchfield remembers an urban legend she heard about Danforth Chapel at her freshman orientation.
"People said to book a wedding there, you had to reserve it four years in advance," she says of the popular campus location. "Of course you don't. You can probably get a spot just three to six months in advance."
Now a student assistant for KU's Student Involvement Center, Burchfield is accustomed to assisting with reservations for the site. And like many other Lawrence sources, she says that if couples have their hearts set on a wedding or reception location, book it as soon as possible.
"We could take a reservation up to one month ahead," she says. "But weekends are popular, of course. It can fill up fast."
The time of year makes a big difference - prime months like April through June and July, and going into the fall, says Jackie Young, an assistant club manager for Alvamar Country Club.
"I'd book a reception at least six months in advance," Young says. "It's busy in warm months, and we have golf tournaments, too."
And a phone call usually isn't all that's required. Most vendors need a contract signed and money down to commit to your wedding.
"When we have your payment, that's when we put (the reservation) down," Burchfield says. "You can't just call and reserve a date."
For couples who have the time, the ideal time to start planning a wedding would be about 12 to 14 months before the wedding. What follows is a general wedding planning checklist from www.theknot.com to help couples plan their day. Those who do not have as much time as is shown in this time line should follow the checklist in much the same order according to whatever time they have, according to the Web site.
1214 months prior to the wedding:
¢ Pick a date for the wedding that is sometime in the next 12 to 14 months. Also decide what type of wedding you want to have and the budget for it.
¢ Book the wedding church and the reception hall. These facilities are usually booked more than a year in advance, so don't waste time or you may not get the place that you wanted.
¢ If you want to hire a wedding planner, then now is the time to do that.
¢ The bride should start looking for a wedding gown. It may take you this long to find just the right dress for that special day.
812 months prior to the wedding
¢ Start on the guest list.
¢ Announce your engagement formally.
¢ Review your budget and make any required adjustments.
¢ Choose your bridesmaids or the best man and ask them to do the honors.
¢ Finalize the theme of your wedding and the reception, if any.
68 months prior to the wedding
¢ Plan a celebration with the members of your wedding party.
¢ Ask for time off from work for the wedding as well as the reception.
¢ Book the musicians, the pianist, or soloist for the wedding.
¢ Select the gifts that you may need and register with wedding gift registries.
¢ The bride should start putting together her trousseau.
¢ Make a start on your honeymoon plans.
36 months prior to the wedding
¢ Prepare your final guest list and determine the number of invitations that you will need.
¢ Select and order the invitations and thank you notes.
¢ Choose and order the wedding party favors.
¢ Order the wedding cake.
¢ Select the food and wine list for the wedding.
¢ Attend fittings for your wedding dress and have your bridesmaids do the same.
¢ Order the wedding rings and give instructions for any engravings.
¢ Give advances or deposits to all service providers such as the photographer, musicians, caterers, and florist and finalize the necessary details with them.
¢ Finalize your honeymoon plans and make ticket and hotel reservations. Get any needed visas.
2 months prior to the wedding
¢ Send out the invitations. 6 weeks for local guests and 8 weeks for out-of-town ones.
¢ Begin any legal matters that may be needed such as changing the beneficiary on life insurance policies, having a joint account, etc.
¢ If you decide to change your name, see that the necessary documents such as driver's license, bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance etc reflect the change in name.
¢ Determine any legal requirements that need to be completed before the wedding in your state.
1 month prior to the wedding
¢ Prepare the wedding vows and the wedding toasts.
¢ Make appointments for hair and makeup for yourself and your bridesmaids for the wedding day.
¢ Make appointments for a day at the parlor for 1 week before the wedding to pamper yourself.
¢ Try the wedding rings to see that they fit.
¢ Have your final fitting for the wedding dress.
¢ Double check everything with all service providers.
¢ Confirm the dates and time of the wedding with the church and hall.
¢ Finalize all plans for the rehearsal dinner.
¢ Get your blood tests done and obtain the marriage license.
¢ The bride should get a physical exam and also decide on birth control measures with her fiance.
2 weeks prior to the wedding
¢ Make out all the checks to the different service providers and to the church and reception hall.
¢ Pick up your tickets and reservations pertaining to your honeymoon.
¢ Go through everything in your mind and see if you have missed anything.
¢ It is a good idea to wear your wedding shoes indoors for a few hours every day from here on so as to 'break them in'.
1 week before the wedding
¢ Have a nice and quiet evening with your family.
¢ Make sure that your wedding dress or tuxedo fits, and also those of the rest of the wedding party.
¢ Make necessary arrangements for while you will be away on your honeymoon. Write any checks that may be due while you are away.
¢ Pack for the honeymoon.
¢ Confirm number of guests with your caterer.
¢ Make sure that all the attendants know their duties.
¢ Finalize the seating chart.
¢ Confirm transportation for your family and the wedding party.
12 days prior to the wedding
¢ Give the rings to the best man.
¢ Make sure the ushers know whom to seat where.
¢ Ensure that out of town guests are properly taken care of.
¢ Attend the rehearsal dinner and make sure everyone in the wedding party knows the proper times of the weddings and their duties.
¢ Keep your wedding outfit, jewelry, and other necessary accessories in one place.
¢ Try and get a good night's rest.
The wedding day
¢ Enjoy your big day!