We’re adding our 2014 First Communion dresses and accessories to the site this week, and are excited to share our thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and more on the blog while we’re at it.
To get the ball rolling, let’s start at the beginning: planning a First Communion. We’ve provided the following printable checklist to help you get organized and on your way to a memorable event for your family. Simply click on the image, print it, and get to it! We’ll talk about each of the tasks in detail below.
Determine event date, time, place
Likely you’ve already been in touch with your church and have already been notified of the date and time set for this year’s First Communion event. Most parishes hold First Communion only once or twice each year, and the dates are set well in advance. Preparations for a spring First Communion often begin in October-November of the previous year.
Help your child with spiritual preparation
Religious education is a requirement of someone wishing to make their First Communion. It is your responsibility to make sure your child is attending the necessary classes. It’s also important for your child to receive reinforcement by your example as well as instruction at home, to help them understand the importance of what they are doing. Watch for teaching moments in the months leading up to the big day, and discuss what your child is learning with them frequently.
Plan your after-event activities
This special event is a perfect time to gather the family and friends who have come to support your child and celebrate together! Here is where you get to make a bunch of decisions: do you prefer a simple gathering with a small refreshment? Or do you want to pull out all the stops and have a grand old party?
- Venue: where will your guests be most comfortable? Keep in mind that if you will be booking a location other than your home, it’s wise to do so far in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts.
- Theme/Colors: this is where your creativity can fly–anything goes! Pick an element that is meaningful to you or your child and build around it. The symbols of communion are a great place to start, or a favorite color, bible story, animal, etc. Check out our First Communion Pinterest Board for inspiration.
- Decor: this is really an extension of theme/color, but it can be involved enough that it merits its own bullet point. Can you use items you already have to decorate your space? Or do you need to shop for or make what you need? Even a simple gathering will benefit from some forethought here.
- Menu: will you be making the food or having it catered, or dining at a restaurant? Will you have a traditional First Communion-themed cake? Your theme and decor can help you with ideas for your menu. Don’t forget something to drink!
Designate and schedule a photographer
Whether you opt for a professional photographer or a trusted family member, it’s important to make sure *someone* is in charge of taking photos of your child and your family throughout the event. It’s a process that can easily be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the day, and it’s one less thing for you to worry about if you make it someone else’s job. It’s important to be sure such a special occasion is well-documented for you and for generations to come.
If you want a professional, be sure to book them well in advance! It can be very difficult to find someone available at the last minute. You may want to consider doing a separate portrait session of your child about 6-8 weeks prior to the event…these images are great options for invitations, thank you cards, etc.
If you want to have a friend or family member do the honors, be sure they have suitable equipment and charged batteries!
Shop for a suit or dress + jewelry + accessories
It’s a good idea to shop for First Communion dresses and suits at least 4-6 weeks in advance to ensure you have what you need in plenty of time. Many people begin much earlier to ensure availability. You’ll want to take into account your photography plans if you’re doing a portrait shoot before the event. Don’t forget all the accessories: will she need a slip? Does she want a veil or a simple hair accessory? Gloves (these must usually be removed during the ceremony)? Shoes and socks are important considerations as well.
Shop for gifts
If you wish to present your child with a gift or two, it’s nice to give yourself enough time to be thoughtful in your choices. Be on the lookout for items the child might need, items that will promote his or her faith, or keepsakes that will serve as a gentle reminder of a special day. Great options are personalized bibles, pretty rosaries, jewelry, and frames for photographs.
First Communion portrait shoot
Take a few minutes to think about what kind of portraits you’d like to see on your wall. Do you want a formal studio setting or a more laid-back outdoor look? Stay tuned for some great inspirational photos coming later this week on the One Small Child Blog!
Prepare and send invitations
Whether you have them printed or crafted or DIY, you want to have invitations in the mail 3-4 weeks prior to your First Communion.
Help your child complete any class requirements
Some parishes require the children to create first communion banners. Be aware of any assignments your child will need to complete before the event.
Finalize and execute decor and menu preparations
Before you know it, the big day will be upon you! It’s a good idea to sit down about ten days in advance and review your plans and identify what remains to be done. Clear a day or two in the week before the First Communion to devote to preparing your home or venue, gathering needed supplies, and preparing any food that can be assembled ahead of time. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment!