Move over Martha

Every bride dreams of a wedding both personal and perfect, but alas, the reality does not always match the fantasy. Small wonder, that. Most weddings are haphazardly thrown together, reaching the high-intensity, full-out frenzied planning stage for only a year or two before the big event.

Such a lackadaisical approach may have been appropriate in a past century when entire families dwelled in the same small village just a short buggy ride from the church, when the caterer was just a man quick to kill a pig and the bridal registry was done at the local feed store. "Look, honey, more seed corn." But times have changed.

If domestic doyenne Martha Stewart has taught us anything, it is how the delicious details enrich our life, and that we must seize upon those details with an unrestrained fury and convert them into our own unique style currency. Along the way, she has almost single-handedly spawned a floral-gown-industrial complex that dictates the current wedding ideal.

Today’s ultra-modern, ultra-divine weddings should be a grandiose and intricate operation, epic in scope and requiring more precision coordination and split-second timing than the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day.

So while Dame Martha helped us appreciate all that is staggeringly graceful, she doesn’t go far enough. If W-Day is indeed the most important day of a woman’s life, shouldn’t a lifetime be spent in its planning? Not just a year, mind you, but a lifetime?

It is with this in mind, that the Ultimate Wedding Countdown Planner Timetable Checklist is offered. Clip it, laminate it and carry it with you at all times. Only by adhering to it faithfully will you be guaranteed a thoroughly scripted, unspontaneous, flawless wedding. And isn’t that what truly matters?

30 Years Before Wedding

If you have not already done so, now is the time to plant the trees which you will harvest for pulp, then convert to paper stock for your reception cards -— the seating, place and menu cards. A mixed stand of deciduous and conifer, hardwood and soft, will prove the most resistant to disease and insects and provide pulp for all grades of paper stock and pasteboard.

Also, now is a good time to begin teaching yourself the ancient art of calligraphy, as well as, cake decorating, flower arranging and veil making.

20 Years Before Wedding

Time to make several friends. How many depends on the size of the wedding party you envision. If you plan to use 5 attendants, make 10 friends. A good rule of thumb is to cultivate two friends for every bridesmaid required, since you’ll have to allow for some fallaways due to spats, transfers out of the country, incarcerations, etc.

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time with these people over the next couple of decades, try to connect with compatible personalities. It will make things ever so much smoother. Tip: often times common interests can help form the basis of a friendship.

Yet never lose track of their primary function, which is to precede you down the aisle in a parade of pastels, a swirl of taffeta. They are visual foreplay to your magical entrance and altar-glide. So you’ll want friends who are vivacious, cute (but not upstaging cute) with hair and eye coloring that coincide with your color palette. If fuschia is part of your theme, don’t get chummy with any redheads.

15 Years Before Wedding

Begin scouting potential honeymoon sites. You can’t trust the brochures. Anyone can print a brochure. These are places you must visit yourself, no matter how exotic or far flung the locale. Circle the globe if you must. Then one month before the wedding book your reservations at the Super 8 in Branson, Missouri. Be sure to request the Honeymoon Suite. It includes Toaster Strudels with your continental breakfast.

10 Years Before Wedding

Anyone can release white doves or butterflies at their ceremony. But by implementing your captive breeding and training program for a full decade, you can pick and choose from all the animal kingdom has to offer. Select a species, totally unique, one never before considered for release outside a church. Pileated woodpeckers, for example. Or flying squirrels, least weasels or spider monkeys.

And by choosing animals that are on the endangered species list, you may qualify for federal funding. That money could translate to extra tiers on the wedding cake.

9 Years Before Wedding

Make your gown now. What, you were just going to buy one? Martha Stewart would roll over in her grave. Except, of course, thanks to daily injections of fetal goat blood and massive uploads of vitamins and soy gelatin, she’s achieved a level of modified immortality. Thank heaven.

8 Years Before Wedding

Do a hair and makeup run-through (with headpiece). Many wedding planners suggest doing this 4-8 weeks before the wedding. That is insane. Your hair and makeup run-through should become a monthly ritual up until the ceremony. No one is ever, ever too well coifed.

7 Years Before Wedding

Write thank-you notes for anticipated gifts. Leave spaces blank for names and specific items. Duh.

6 Years Before Wedding

You’ll need a ring bearer and a flower girl, young enough to be adorable, old enough to follow directions. So now is the time to encourage family members to conceive well behaved children. At least one of each gender, please.

3 Years Before Wedding

Decide on a style of music, then select performers. Auditioning groups won’t give you enough information. To be on the safe side, you should tour with different bands. This will give you a chance to gauge audience reaction as they perform night after night in different venues.

But remember, no matter how lonely it gets after months on the road, you are a bride-to-be, not a thrill seeking groupie. Keep the binge drinking and the tattoos to an absolute minimum.

2 Years Before Wedding

How’s that hair thing coming along?

1 Year Before Wedding

Hire a photographer. If Pulitzer Prize winners are all booked, don’t panic. Collect a DNA sample from deceased landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, (here’s where having made those friends pays off because this is so not a one person job) and initiate the cloning process.

8 Months Before Wedding

Choose and book officiant. If they are not of your faith, now is the time to convert.

6 Months Before Wedding

Send announcements to local paper. Don’t let them bury it inside. Insist it run as a front page exclusive, above the fold.

2 Weeks Before Wedding

This is important. Go to a coffee shop, bookstore, laundromat or bar. Find an attractive, employed man. Flirt with him until he proposes. Accept marriage proposal. Show your newfound fiancée the china pattern you have picked out and schedule a tuxedo fitting for him.

Wedding Day

Get married. The dream is yours. Now aren’t you glad you planned ahead?

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