Organization is key when planning your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
No matter how much time you have ahead of you, it’s important to plan ahead.
Here’s your month-by-month planning guide to keep you on track for the perfect day.
2-3 YEARS BEFORE
• Receive your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah date from your synagogue.
• Sign-up for Mitzvah Market Mail – it’s FREE! Now, you will be kept up-to-date on all the newest ideas in Bar Bat Mitzvah planning.
• Start thinking about what this rite of passage means to your family and what type of celebration you want to have.
• Talk to friends who’ve already planned a Bar or Bat Mitzvah for ideas, tips and contacts.
• Formulate a realistic budget so you can decide where you want to spend your money.
• Begin looking at venues. If you find a place you like, ask whether you can put it on a soft hold with a written agreement giving you the first right to that date. If you have to put down a deposit, ask what the refund policy is.
18 MONTHS BEFORE
• Make a rough guest list so you have an estimate of the number of people; this will help you choose your venue.
• Check out MitzvahOrganizer.com. This online tool will keep you organized throughout the planning process by keeping track of your guest list, RSVPs, Temple honors, favors, seating, gifts and so much more.
• Decide if you want to hire a party planner and begin interviewing them.
• Start thinking about a party theme. Many ideas are here.
• Brainstorm with your child about ideas for a Mitzvah Project. Many organizations who would like to be the beneficiary of your child’s project are here. Read other children’s Mitzvah Project profiles here.
1 YEAR BEFORE
• Sign contracts with a venue, caterer, florist, party planner and photographer.
• Interview and check out bands or MC/DJs. Sign a contract when you have chosen one.
• Plan the extra entertainment you want and sign contracts.
• Begin working on a montage or at least gathering photos and videos for the specialist you’ve hired.
10 MONTHS BEFORE
• Firm up your guest list.
• Book a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests.
• Send out a Save-the-Date card or email. This is especially important if your event is over a holiday weekend and for out-of-town guests who need to buy plane tickets in advance.
• Set up a Website with all the details of your party.
• Choose and order invitations.
6 to 8 MONTHS BEFORE
• Your child will begin tutoring to learn the Torah portion and prayers. Make time for those appointments, study sessions and meetings with the rabbi and cantor.
• Begin planning/booking other weekend events, including a Friday night dinner, kiddush after services and Sunday brunch.
• Order personalized kippot if your synagogue allows them.
• Work on centerpiece ideas.
• Begin shopping for clothes for the special day/weekend. (Hold off on alterations till later.)
3 to 5 MONTHS BEFORE
• Plan the menu and do a tasting with your venue/caterer.
• Get invitations to calligrapher if you are using one to address your envelopes and order personalized stamps or go to the Post Office to see what stamps coordinate with your theme.
• Order party favors.
• Order cake if you want a specialty design.
• Arrange for buses to transport guests to events.
• Plan the candle lighting ceremony. Many creative ideas are here.
• Arrange for a special photo shoot with your child if you want to blow up photos for decoration, sign-in boards, etc.
• Begin planning any entrance videos, special dances or other “Rock the Reception” type events.
2 MONTHS BEFORE
• Do a final weigh-in of the invitations with all enclosures to double check you have the correct postage. Mail the invitations. (Traditionally this is done 6-8 weeks before the date.)
• Make a play list of songs for band or DJ.
• Make a detailed timeline of your event. Work with the venue or party planner on this. Decide who will say the prayers over the bread and wine.
• Re-confirm all vendor, timing and any special instructions.
• Make arrangements if you are donating your centerpieces.
• Book a hairdresser and make-up person.
• Write speeches.
• If you are doing a program for your synagogue, have it printed.
1 MONTH BEFORE
• Do dress/suit fittings.
• Call any guests who haven’t sent in RSVPs and make a final seating chart. Print place cards or have calligrapher start doing them.
• Make a list for photographer of “must have” shots that you want.
• Put together welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.
1 WEEK BEFORE
• Have a dress rehearsal. The synagogue will usually arrange this so you know the sequence of events.
• Have everyone in the family try on their synagogue/party outfits. This is especially important with growing teens. Make sure everything fits and that you have all accessories.
• Have a formal photo shoot in the synagogue.
• Give the final guest count to venue/caterer.
• Finalize the seating chart.
• Do a final re-confirm with all vendors, including hair and make-up.
• Drop off seating cards at venue and welcome baskets at the hotel.
The Big Day
• Celebrate! Remember to relax, enjoy, and savor this special moment.
• Contact Mitzvah Market about a Mitzvah Family Spotlight story so you can share all your great ideas with our readers. More information here.