The question was popped and the proposal joyfully accepted. Now it’s time to plan the wedding. Here’s a month-by-month checklist to make sure you don’t forget a thing.
12 months before
• Decide on the type of wedding you’d like (civil or religious, big or small)
• Determine the number of guests
• Establish a budget
• Pick venues for the ceremony and reception (it’s best to reserve early)
11 months before
• Make your guest list
• Choose a caterer (meet with a few first)
• Select your wedding party
• Hire a wedding planner
10 months before
• Start shopping for a wedding dress
• Decide on a theme for your wedding
• Choose an officiant if you haven’t already done so
9 months before
• Book a photographer
• Reserve a block of hotel rooms for your out-of-town guests
• Purchase a wedding gown
• Shop for the groom’s attire and purchase it
8 months before
• Meet with your officiant to plan your ceremony
• Book your entertainment (DJ, band, MC, etc.)
• Shop for and purchase your bridesmaids’ dresses
• Design and order the wedding invitations and save-the-date cards
7 months before
• Create a gift registry
• Hire a florist
• Plan your honeymoon
6 months before
• Send out the save-the-date cards
• Book your hair and makeup appointments for the day of (also schedule trial runs for both)
• Book a hotel room for the wedding night if necessary
5 months before
• Create a schedule for the big day
• Decide on dates for bachelor and bachelorette parties
• Shop for and purchase shoes, jewelry and accessories
4 months before
• Reserve wedding day transportation for the wedding party
• Select alcohol and other drinks for the reception
• Taste and choose your wedding cake
• Buy wedding bands
• Shop for and order the groomsmen’s attire
3 months before
• Purchase wedding favors for your guests
• If you’d like your loved ones to say or read something during the ceremony, let them know
• Write down your vows
• Decide on activities for the reception (photo booth, dancing, games, etc.)
2 months before
• Send out your wedding invitations
• Do trial runs for both hair and makeup
• Give your music selections to the DJ or MC
1 month before
• Finalize the schedule for the big day
• Choose a seating plan for the reception
• Break in your shoes
1 week before
• Visit the desired beauty professionals (hair colorist, esthetician, etc.)
• Practice reading your vows
• Write out checks to pay your vendors
1 day before
• Get your nails done
• Give the checks to someone you trust to pay the vendors
For the love of singing
You don’t need to have the voice of Pavarotti or Celine Dion to join a choir. All you need is a love of singing, because this is an art that can be learned. The voice is an instrument, just like the guitar or piano; all you have to do is learn how to use it. With practice, you can develop your musical ear and vocal abilities.
Some choirs are open to all who share a love of singing, regardless of ability. So, even if you are a beginner, it is possible to find a choir ready to welcome you. Singing in a group is also a great way to improve rapidly, as it allows you to draw on the experience of others. In addition, choral singing, unlike private singing lessons, develops a sense of harmony—both musically and socially.
There are choirs for all musical tastes. Some sing popular music; others sing from a liturgical repertoire, or classical or folk music. And if you loved Whoopi Goldberg in the comedy movie Sister Act, you’ll love singing in a gospel choir!
Singing in a choir is also an opportunity to share your passion for music, to work as part of a team, to socialize, and to surpass yourself. In a way, music is like a sport; it requires you to work your breathing and posture, it is excellent exercise for the back, and it is an activity that uses many different muscles in the chest and throat.
Do you like humming in the shower? Do you enjoy singing at the top of your voice during your solitary car rides? What are you waiting for? Join a choir!
You want to share your passion for music? Join a choir!
Science of VDOT: Highway Safety
Snowboarding 101: tips for beginners
Are you thinking about taking up snowboarding this winter? If so, here are some tips to make learning this sport a little easier.
• Take lessons. Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport to learn on your own. A professional will teach you the basics of skating (propelling yourself using one foot), turning, stopping and controlling your descent.
• Avoid crowds. Choose runs that aren’t too busy, even if they’re a little more challenging than the overcrowded bunny hill. Having more room to maneuver will allow you to learn at your own pace, without worrying about getting in anyone’s way.
• Wear protection. Frequent falls are to be expected the first few times you hit the slopes on a snowboard. Protective gear like helmets and wrist guards will help you avoid serious injury.
• Learn to fall. Besides wearing protection, knowing how to fall is the key to not getting hurt. If you feel yourself pitching forward, keep your arms close to your body and try to land on your elbows and forearms. If you’re falling backwards, crouch and put your hands behind your neck to protect it.
You probably won’t master snowboarding on your first day out, but that’s okay. Most people need a few sessions or even a whole season to be truly comfortable on a snowboard. Take your time, have fun and keep trying.
Cost of retirement: More expensive than you might think
The cost of retirement can vary dramatically depending on where you live and what choices you make before you retire.
Ideally, you want to have enough social security and investments to maintain your current lifestyle.
While investment advisors routinely say $1 million in investments will ensure a happy retirement, this is not necessarily true. In high-tax states with high cost of living, a big retirement pot is probably essential. But, in lower tax states with lower cost of living, retirees might need about a fourth of that amount.
The key question is how you prepare before retirement.
– Run the numbers. Check with Social Security for an estimate of retirement income. But, remember your medicare and taxes will be deducted from social security, so that number will be lower.
For other income, you will be paying cash for taxes. Look at all your expenses. Medicare plus supplements and prescriptions could run more than you think. For example, some prescriptions could cost $100-$300 per month, even with a prescription plan.
– Get out of debt. The best strategy is to be out of debt before retirement. Aim for zero credit balances.
– Pay off the mortgage. In some cases holding a mortgage might be financially wise, depending on how much your investments are making as opposed to the interest rate on your mortgage. But good general advice is to pay off the mortgage before retirement.
– Transportation. Plan to have a late model car that is paid off before retirement. A car payment soaks up retirement funds.
– Emergency fund. Build one with at least 3 to 6 months of expenses. Emergencies won’t stop just because you are retired and you won’t have money coming in. You must avoid credit card debt.
– Long-term care insurance. Plan early to buy long-term care insurance when prices will be lower.
4 tips for a hassle-free holiday
Are you planning a trip? If so, here are four things you can do to ensure your holiday goes smoothly.
1. Book everything early
Reserve your hotel, motel or campsite as early as possible. The same goes for all plane tickets and car rentals. By booking things in advance, you guarantee that you have the best possible experience at the lowest possible price.
2. Double-check your documents
Make sure your driver’s license, passport and travel insurance are all up to date and won’t expire any time soon.
3. Think about your health
Visit your doctor to make sure you’re healthy and in good enough shape to travel. Depending on your destination, you may need to get one or more vaccines to protect yourself against foreign pathogens. Also, it’s imperative that you have enough medication for the duration of your trip.
4. Make sure your home is safe
While you’re away, mitigate the risk of your home getting burgled. Put your lights on a timer and have someone pick up your mail and perform basic upkeep so the place looks inhabited. Alternatively, you can get someone you trust to housesit. You should also avoid sharing information about your trip on social media until you’re back at home.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.