Book Review — and Giveaway — of “All Things Are Ready: A Bride’s Complete Christian Wedding Planner”

I’ve been wanting to write a review of All Things Are Readyby Amy Hayes, for a long time. But first we had a wedding. Now I can really tell you how much I love this book!

Those of you with young children may not need a wedding planner today. But you will tomorrow. 🙂  (You’ll need it a lot sooner than you think!) And you probably have some friends who could use this book right now. So, if you have the time, keep reading. (You’ll see a couple pictures from our youngest daughter’s wedding at the end!)

Christian wedding plannerFirst, let me tell you that Amy Hayes is the most amazing, calm, wise, and organized wedding coordinator a bride (and her mother 🙂 ) could ever ask for! I know, because she has graciously coordinated several of our own family’s weddings. She’s the kind of coordinator that helps make everything happen without you even knowing she’s doing it — no stress, no raised voices — just strong, calm presence.

So she has plenty of wisdom and experience to offer in this beautiful wedding planner! I was able to give it a test run this summer, and I can tell you first-hand that it works! Our daughter, Susannah, said yes to God’s-perfect-man-for-her in late May  and the wedding and reception for more than 300 people happened on September 14! We couldn’t have done it without this planner!

This planner is unique.

  • Amy speaks from a passionately Christ-centered, Bible-centered (not bride-centered) perspective.
  • She seeks (successfully) to help a Christian woman plan a wedding efficiently and with joy
  • She takes a serious look at what the Bible says about weddings.
  • She boldly states that it doesn’t need to take more than 12 weeks (yikes!) to plan a wedding (unless you want it to), and then goes on to give us all the help and tools we need to actually accomplish such a feat.
  • She offers a bride and her family strategies to plan a wedding they can actually afford
  • She reminds us that weddings are about rejoicing — and then does everything she can to help minimize the stress that so often overpowers the joy that should characterize our wedding plans and wedding day.

In over 300 pages, Amy accomplishes this with:

  • Step-by-step guidelines to help you prioritize expenses, choose your wedding date and venue, select wedding attendants and attire without offending people, figure out what mood and ambience you want to create with your music and decorations, plan the liturgy of your ceremony.
  • Checklists that help you think about every detail of apparel, food, invitations, venues, maid-of-honor and best-man responsibilities, a wedding and reception coordinator’s responsibilities and what you should discuss and provide for them, and even what agencies you should inform about your name change after the wedding!
  • Worksheets to help you compile your guest list, decide on your budget, interview photographers and caterers, create your photo list, figure out how many corsages, boutonnieres, and flower arrangements you need, design and organize your decorations.
  • Charts for contact information, guest lists, addresses, thank you cards, prioritizing.
  • Timelines that help avoid the panic and stress that often happen before a wedding, schedule the bride’s priorities and activities (relaxing and rejoicing) during the week before the wedding, and — here’s the best part — even a “12-Week Engagement Calendar” that makes it possible to actually plan a wedding in 12 weeks if you want to!

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  • Devotions especially for the bride, that gently help her take her eyes off herself, and instead put her focus on Jesus, and on giving joy to her groom and to the others around her. This is such a beautiful — and unique — part of this planner!
  • Creative ideas for those who would like to incorporate themes from Scripture in their wedding — ideas for verses, music, decorations, and more, for weddings that reflect on the Song of Songs, the Book of Ruth, Ecclesiastes and the Mystery of Love, Christ and the Church, or Family Heritage.

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All this great information is packaged in a beautiful 3-ring notebook, which allows you to add your own pages of notes and records, or you may also choose to transfer lists and worksheet pages into something more portable for shopping and planning trips. I found the entire 300+-page book too cumbersome to haul everywhere with me.

I can tell you that this planner will help anyone plan a wedding with less stress and more joy, less money and more beauty. I can speak from personal experience! While I was helping edit this book before it went to press, I firmly stated that I would never plan a wedding in 12 weeks. It would be way too stressful! Ha!

Because Peter and Susannah were committed to going on a mission trip to India in November, we agreed to plan their wedding in 16 weeks so they could get married soon enough to adjust a bit before launching off to India! Of those 16 weeks we had between engagement and wedding, at least three entire weeks were already committed to non-negotiables like family camp, speaking engagements, travel, and writing deadlines. We actually ended up with about 12 weeks to plan the wedding. (Never say you’ll never do something…)

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My big wall calendar, filled in with the tasks on Amy’s 12-week calendar, became my brain, and I just did whatever it said to do whenever it said to do it. Susannah and Peter’s wedding reception was insanely detailed with lots of challenges, and it all came together with the help of Amy “holding my hand” in this book.

And — at the wedding ceremony — Amy was gracious enough to be our coordinator, calmly, quietly shepherding us through the day. I thank God for her, and now you can, too!

SweetLife Photography
SweetLife Photography

For the rest of this month, All Things Are Ready is on sale for just $33, saving you $6 from its regular price. Buy it now and tuck it away, ready for when you need it, or give some copies away as a gifts!

We have one copy to give away!

To enter our giveaway, tell us one of your favorite wedding day memories or share a favorite wedding tip with us. You may enter more than one time, each with a separate comment. This giveaway closes at midnight, on Friday, January 17, 2014. The winner will be randomly selected at that time, and announced in our blog post on Tuesday, January 21. We’re looking forward to reading your comments and sharing this great resource with one of you!

By the way, as I post these pictures from the wedding, I realize I never posted anything else from this glorious, God-glorifying day! Peter and Susannah ran off to India before their pictures came back, and since they came home, I still haven’t seen a lot of the photos! We’ll have to remedy that! Stay tuned! It was a really fun day, and Amy’s wedding planner helped make it that way!

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Photo by Jesse Prentice



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  1. Wedding tip: don’t get so uptight and spend a ton of money that you shouldn’t, just to have the “perfect” wedding. A blessed marriage and starting off debt-free should be a #1 priority that God will honor. 🙂

  2. On our wedding video, our videographer, had secretly included a special message from both set of our parents. It was really neat to be watching it together (much later) and get those special messages from the ones who had invested so much love and sacrifice into our lives.

  3. To the groom: Be certain to verify accommodations for the honey moon. It is helpful to know if the summer cabin that belongs to someone’s friend’s friend, has only two twin beds. 🙂 Even if it did cost only $10/night.

  4. Love the Bible-centered, not Bride centered!

  5. My first daughter gets married Sat. Wow! I have had friends to help with ideas but from the start I felt in over my head. I would have loved this book! My best advice – don’t let the stress overtake you. Enjoy this time with your daughter. Especially the last week. Be sure to seek God each morning for the day.

  6. Our oldest son married in October 2013. When they announced the engagement I gave my future daughter-in-law a copy of this wedding planner. (I had bought it and was saving it for her) They had twelve weeks to plan and this planner made that go very smoothly. It’s beautifully written. I look forward to giving another one away to next of our children to marry.

  7. My best memory is being the Mai of honor at my cousins wedding sixteen years ago!

  8. Not much to mention of my wedding day, got married at the Queen of Hearts in Eureka Springs, AR. Wasn’t a Christian, but I am now! I am so thankful to my Lord Jesus Christ! My daughter is getting married in a year, and I would love to have this to give to her, because I don’t know the proper way to plan a wedding! I hope I win, but if not I am sure I will buy a copy! 🙂

  9. I am so thankful that our grandparents were able to be a part of our wedding. Now that they are gone, it is so nice to be able to see them on our video and also show them to our children.

  10. Memories: My dress was my Great-Grandmother’s, Cousins were bridesmaids, Pianist and Violinist played as their gift to us.

  11. Memories: My dress was antique white, bridesmaids wore peach. We had shoes dyed to match. Due to a typo on the order, I wore peach shoes while bridesmaids wore white. :o}

    Tip: Flexibility and a sense of humor are good. A close-up picture of our feet in a circle, showing our dresses, is one of my favorites!

  12. From all of the memories of our wedding day I have to say my favorite was cutting the cake and serving one another. We certainly made a mess in the process!

  13. Tips: My mom packed a wedding gift in our get-away car: a crock pot. I thought it was silly, until we arrived at the borrowed lake house for our honeymoon and found that neighbors had stocked the refrigerator with fixings for pot roast and a recipe for my new husband to follow!

  14. Tip: start a Pinterest board: Our daughter married after Christmas of 2012–after a 7.5-week engagement! During the engagement, our daughter’s heart–and mind–were a couple of states away with her fiancé. Thankfully, our other daughter knows her sister well, and she and I were able to pull things together with very little input from the bride. Since then, that other daughter has started a Pinterest wedding board so that, if her mind and heart leave home before her wedding, we’ll have a resource for her thoughts, ideas, tastes, and preferences.

  15. Tip: extended family and friends like to be a part of the process. We asked a great aunt to provide cookies that she makes especially well. You could also ask a friend with a knack with flowers to do the bouquets, boutonnières, or flower arrangements.

  16. I agree with the first tip posted: don’t spend a truckload of money. As wonderful and memorable as you want the day/evening to be, it is just one day; a lot of expense does not necessarily mean a wonderful time.

  17. Tip: Most important (and not always an easy achievement): God-centered, from courtship through wedding and on into marriage.

  18. Well, I don’t have a wedding tip and our wedding was a teeny tiny affair we threw together in only two days’ time. Hubby is in the Navy. 😉 My favorite wedding memory is simply that I married my man. Can that count as an entry? Lol! I know nothing about weddings and my oldest – a girl – is now eighteen, so I’m starting to feel pretty inadequate to help my girlies in the wedding season that is surely around the corner. Help! And thank you!

  19. Skip the florist – if you get married in spring, summer, or fall God provides so many beautiful blooming flowers and greenery for the bride’s bouquet, attendants, and for decoration. A few months before my wedding, my mom’s closest friends and sisters agreed to allow my mom have whatever flowers were blooming in their yards at the time of my wedding. The night before the wedding, a couple of friends who have an eye for flower arranging plus my mom and dad got to work arranging bouquets and making pew decorations. We had more flowers than we could use! The flowers were extra special since I knew they were grown with love by family and friends.

  20. One of my most favorite wedding memories is my friend, Sarah and her husband,
    Timothy’s wedding. It was the first Godly wedding I remember going to, and the first one where they saved their first kiss for the marriage altar.

    The message was about Cherishing the Treasure, and loving each other unconditionally, laying down their lives for each other as Christ did.

    Sarah was a beautiful bride, the most gorgeous one I’ve ever seen. Her golden, wavy hair with curls in it flowing down on her shoulders, her pure white dress with a long,long train, the matching jacket she made herself for the dress so it would be modest.

    The love and joy everyone shared in and felt for them and the family when Tim and Sarah came together. It was so Christ-centered. And just so beautiful.
    It was an exciting inspiration to me for the future!

  21. Money-saving on decorations for our daughter’s after-Christmas wedding: the church was still decorated with poinsettias. Also, we were able to collect from our farm and friends’ yards evergreen and magnolia greenery and red berries for decorating the reception venue.

  22. There are many talented hands at church that love to share their talents. One church member made my beautiful bouquet free of charge and another young woman did my make up.

  23. As my dad walked me down the aisle, my husband got a little too happy and started down the stairs towards me. Our pastor had to walk behind him and put his hand on his shoulder to remind him to wait just a few more seconds.

  24. 2 of my favorite wedding day memories are sharing a stick of gum with my soon to be husband a couple hours before the wedding, ending with a sweet little peck of a kiss, with his eyes closed 😉 no one even knew I snuck out to see him that morning 🙂 my second one is seeing his cousin, who was an usher in the wedding , smiling from ear to ear when I was stressing b/c my veil was forgotten at home (my uncle retrieved it for me). That smile relaxed me so much and I’m forever grateful 🙂

  25. We’ve been married almost 25 years, and we did manage to have our wedding ceremony video taped. Our videographer went around at the reception and asked people to give us a message on the video. It was very precious in that we had an evening wedding and did not have much time to visit with the guests.

  26. Find ways for lots of people to feel important and participate…greeting guests, making food, helping organize and/or transport gifts, handing out favors, helping with attendants’ children, serving food, etc. Everyone feels a part and has a lasting memory…

  27. What a wonderful giveaway!!

    One wedding memory is getting a nervous giggling fit as my groom and I stood facing one another while someone sang a song. The guests all thought I was crying 🙂

  28. One of my most endearing memories of our wedding was of the officiating pastor (a close family friend) choking-up with tears when my husband served communion to our parents and then to me.

  29. I love how this book focuses on the Lord and starting off a marriage honoring the Lord. Unfortunately, we did not do this! The Lord has been so gracious to us over these 22 years of marriage and taught us so much about Himself. We have six children now ~ almost 20 down to 7 years old. I’m excited to be a part of helping them start well.

    It’s important to remember the wedding day is only that ~ one day. Going into debt for a “fairy tale” wedding isn’t necessary and creates unnecessary stress on a new marriage. This book looks like it gives many wonderful ideas for making the day special without breaking the budget! Ideas for incorporating friends and family ~ especially many siblings ~ also look very helpful!

  30. I dont know if this counts, but I love watching our wedding video and thanking God for his faithfulness. He has brought us so far from where we were. I am so thankful for His sanctifying work done through marriage!

  31. My favorite wedding memory is from my oldest daughter’s wedding, just over 4 years ago. My son cried during the Father-Daughter dance. . .and a friend got a picture!! This was exceptionally beautiful because these two children fought a lot as children and my daughter was marrying one of my son’s close friends. . .

  32. I did a 12 week engagement too, but before Amy had published her book! I could have certainly benefited from her guide! Favorite wedding tip: type a list of duties for each person helping. For example, the person cleaning the church: where to take the decorations, what to lock, phone number of church contact, etc. Guys setting up chairs: what time to arrive, who is hauling what, etc. The helpers then do not need to ask the planner, or worse, the bride, what to do!

  33. My favorite wedding memory was probably that we did not let people clink glasses to get us to kiss, they needed to sing a song with the word “Love” in it, so it could’ve been anything from “Jesus loves me” to “Love Stinks” by J. Geils band or someone actually sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” We had a really great time at our wedding.

  34. My favorite (serious) wedding memory would be the tears my husband shed during the vows. That, and pulling up to our lovely historic hotel in full wedding attire. 🙂 The funny memory though is accidentally biting my husband’s finger during the eating of the cake!

  35. I never had a wedding, but my oldest daughter just got engaged and wants a summer wedding. Help!!

  36. My 18 daughter hasn’t “dated” but the first young man who caught her eye (and who also had the courage to talk to her) invited her father for lunch and a talk about what her father’s expectations were, and what he felt was the difference between dating and courting. She may need this book 🙂 Sweet memory: my husband’s parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on our wedding day, so we made them a cake (lemon) instead of having a groom’s cake.

  37. What a day flower girl sick ring barrer sick singer sick ice storm the day before. Doesnt sound like much a good memeory but with all that my huband and i have been married for 33 yrs. And we are very Happy!!!!! Oh yea by the time wedding was over guess who was sick……….Me

  38. My fave tip in planning my wedding so far is making everything God oriented. We’ve added verses in every aspect from the favors to our guest book. It shows our family and friends God is the center of our relationship!

  39. The lady who did our food for the lunch reception after our wedding was so thoughtful to pack a few containers of food for us to take with us when we drove off to begin our honeymoon. She knew, from experience, that the bride & groom often don’t get to eat much food at the reception because they’re so busy with the activities.

    Also, our friend who oversaw the reception, handed us glasses of water and encouraged us to drink during the receiving line.

    One of my favorite memories from someone else’s wedding was when their wedding party sang a song for the bride and groom during the ceremony. 🙂

  40. I had 3 months to plan my wedding, and that was the perfect amount of time. I used a planner for some things and made my own 3-month calendar so I could schedule things in. This planner sounds REALLY GOOD!

  41. Wedding Day tip: Keep in mind that this is only one day and though it is an important day it will not make or break your marriage! I know this to be true because our wedding day was pretty much a disaster! We laugh now and thankfully we were too much in love to really notice how bad the day was going! (We will celebrate 33 yrs in Feb.! )
    Our day started out with the church being lock up tight when we arrived to get ready and NO one knew who had a key.
    My husband and I both have divorced parents…My soon to be Father-in-Law upon seeing my soon to be Mother-in-Law (for the first time in many years did not recognize her) approached her flirtatiously and forcefully introduced himself! My poor MIL….She went and threw up…..
    My parents refused to share the same side of the church let alone the same pew, but all my grandparents failed to get the memo that they were not to be friends and they all sat together laughing and sharing stories! This cause my father great concern and he rush in to tell me 10 mins before I was to walk down the isle that there was (my words) too much happiness out there, and no one is sitting where (he thought) they should….oh well, I said.
    The next one to enter the chaos was the “wedding coordinator”…(Oh Amy! where were you!)…. she announced that the wedding cake had arrived and instead of light pink roses on the cake they were bright ORANGE! “What should I do?!” she said “It totally clashes with the color of the candles!” Oh well I said, change the candles to white…(duh) 😛
    I could go on and on, but to top off the day our wedding party – GOD bless them – used lipstick on the windshield of our car to write wedding blessing to us…we nearly died trying to drive in a rain storm to our disaster honeymoon location!
    🙂 LOL! GOD is good and we have been blessed with 33 years together, 5 children and 4 (so far) grandchildren….and I wouldn’t change a thing BUT I’m sure that this book could have helped me plan a better!
    (pick me! pick me!) 😉

  42. Tip: look for flowers that are in-season (we ordered roses in the winter…it was outrageous!). Tip: have finger foods that are kid friendly for little guests…I am trying to give you tips to enter. You can use these:).

  43. Tip: compare flower costs…like one flower variety may be a fortune, but another quite similar may be really cheap.

  44. My new husband and I ran through a large (and sweetly decorated) “Mr. & Mrs. ….” banner as we entered our reception and were introduced to the guests. That was certainly a unique memory for us and all who attended. It really set the tone for a fun, relaxed atmosphere. That was nearly 17 years ago now – amazing!

  45. There are many things that we loved about our wedding 25 years ago this coming September— but one that is still talked about by attendees was the PIE. We had a rather large wedding, and we did not want to spend hundreds of dollars on cake. We asked all of our aunts and cousins to make their best pies. My, oh, my was that a hit! Men going back and back to try the mountain blackberry, or blueberry etc. It was a wonderful way for our families to be involved, and it blessed us so much! All the men in our family love pies, so I would not be surprised if it becomes a tradition in future weddings.

  46. Our wedding day was wonderful! My parents had worked SO HARD to make it special. Through prayer, planning and lots of helping hands, We could enjoy the day without being nervous. I am especially thankful for the memory of feeling at peace that not only was I fully confident that I was marrying the man God intended for me, but our day celebration would be a peace-filled day of joy.

  47. Our wedding day was wonderful! My parents had worked SO HARD to make it special. Through prayer, planning and lots of helping hands, We could enjoy the day without being nervous. I am especially thankful for the memory of feeling at peace that not only was I fully confident that I was marrying the man God intended for me, but our day celebration would be a peace-filled day of joy.

  48. My daughter has met the young man God has been preparing for her and it has been a precious time for both of our families as we all are becoming best of friends. He has not asked for her hand in marriage yet, but I don’t think it will be long! I am beginning to feel the pressure of what is to come, so this planner looks like just the thing I/she needs. Fondest memory: At my wedding all our friends and family held hands and created a big circle of love. We stood in the middle and exchanged our vows. It was intimate and lovely, ushering us into our marriage in a stressless way.

  49. Remember to invest in the marriage not just the wedding day. The day may not go as planned; but remember it’s just one day. Laugh and enjoy yourselves. Make lots of little memories along with the vows.

  50. Don’t leave out the groom’s preferences and tastes. And don’t let it become the parents’s day, where mom (or whoever) is living out her dreams and desires, rather than letting the bride and groom “steer” (if they wish to).

  51. Tip: Order your own flowers online and make your own bouquets, corsages, and centerpieces! Invite some friends of the bride (especially women who are savvy at floral arrangement) over a day or two before the wedding and arrange the flowers together. You will be surprised at how much money you save by not using a florist!

  52. Tip: Avoid serving a meal by planning an afternoon wedding followed by a light refreshment/dessert reception. Too much of our allotted budget went toward providing lunch for over 100 wedding guests in a hotel banquet room. That was over 16 years ago… hindsight is 20/20!

  53. It’s more of a pre-wedding memory, but a group of family-friends gave us a holiday shower: guests gave us holiday decorations representing many different holidays. I was amazed at how creative this group was: a filing cabinet for April 15 (not really a holiday, but clever and needed), lots of patriotic decor, a tree for Arbor Day, a wooden cutting board in the shape of a pig and a salami for Groundhog’s Day. We also received Thanksgiving and Christmas items (we were married in November 1992). The party included the men as well as will always be remembered as the “Granddaddy of Bridal Showers.” I look forward to passing on this tradition. It was incredibly fun for everyone. I would love to have this book because I think we’ll need it soon. 🙂