It takes a lot of work to make a wedding look effortless, but it’s a manageable task with proper planning, organization and cooperation.

Colleen Bauer, founder and owner of Fairy Godmother, a wedding and event planning company, recommends using a systematic approach focusing on coordination, preparation and timing, along with a touch of magic, to a produce a flawless affair — and the sooner you get started the better. Here are some suggestions leading up to your special day:

One Year

Set a wedding date, but be flexible. You may find the venue you’d like to use isn’t available on certain days. You’ll need to consider the size of your event and set time aside to visit locales. Event planners can tell you which locations are best suited for the type of occasion you’re organizing, but you’ll have to do some footwork to check them out in person.

Start a wedding file and decide on a budget. Bauer says the average wedding costs between $20,000 and $25,000, but she’s helped clients with as little as $5,000 tie the knot.

This is the time when you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner because they can guide you through and partner with you to create a more flawless event. Bauer said some folks learn the value of their service the hard way.

Put your wedding announcement in the newspaper, choose your wedding colors and start shopping for a wedding gown.

9 Months

Select your bridal party and decide on the bridesmaids’ dresses. It’s advisable to order them together so they will come from the same die lot. You should also select your wedding officiate and caterer.

Be sure to ask about deposits and refund policies.

You’ll need to decide on either a band or a disc jockey and book a photographer or cinematographer early! Bauer says there aren’t many cinematographers in Bakersfield, and they go fast.

“When the wedding is over, you have photos and cinematography,” she said. “Cinematography is not videography – it tells the story of your day.”

Begin compiling a guest list for your event, sign up for a gift registry and plan the engagement party.

6 Months

Select a wedding cake and finalize the guest list. This is a good time to order invitations and thank-you cards. Make sure you have your wedding bands picked out and sized. A trip to the jewelry store is a venture best shared with your groom. Begin planning your honeymoon.

3 Months

Prepare and send out your wedding invitations about eight weeks before the ceremony. Be sure addresses and postage are accurate. Your wedding is fast approaching, so those last-minute details that may take some time need to happen now.

Select your wedding music, get the alterations finished on your dress and plan the bridesmaids’ luncheon, rehearsal dinner or other get-togethers. Make sure all male participants have been fitted for their formal attire.

Confirm your order with the florist and discuss the ceremony with your officiate, including your vows. Bauer says it’s a good idea to have everything done and arranged early, especially the little details.

“If the wedding is in June, let’s act like it’s in May,” she said.

And be sure to pick up the guest book!

1 Month

Choose wedding accessories, such as your shoes, a tiara or veil, and coordinate with your hairstylist so you know how your hair will look before the big day. Have the final fitting on your gown with your shoes on and visit a makeup artist.

Get your legal information updated to reflect your new last name. Don’t forget your driver’s license, Social Security card, vehicle documents, bank accounts, passports and insurance policies. Apply for your marriage license.

Design your wedding programs and send out invitations for the rehearsal dinner.

One week

Follow up with guests who didn’t respond to your invitation, do a final guest count to confirm with the caterer and pick up formal wear. Validate the reservations for the rehearsal dinner, then check rental, floral and other vendors, confirming time and totals, number of guests and costs. Get a manicure, pedicure and massage.

Traditionally the groom’s bachelor party takes place this week.

Bauer advises brides to remind their grooms to be on their best behavior!

Wedding day

Be sure to eat that day. You have a thousand things going, but you’re in the homestretch. Get your hair and makeup done and prepare for candid photos to be taken with family. This is your day – enjoy it!