You’ve said yes to that all-important question, you have the ring on your finger and you’ve joyfully called all your family and friends. Now it’s time to start wedding planning!
Umm…where do you start?
Wedding planning has its fun moments (Pinterest boards, cake tasting, music selection) and its not-so-fun moments (writing checks, family drama), but all of it can be incredibly overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, I’m here to help you out with this guide to get you started on your wedding planning journey.
Start considering dates
Friends and family members will start asking for your wedding date almost immediately after you announce your engagement, but don’t freak out if you haven’t planned anything yet. Your wedding date will depend entirely on your venue’s availability and can’t be official until you’ve booked your chosen location.
So, first things first: select a range of dates that work for you, your fiancé, and your immediate family, and closest friends. Determine what season you’d like to get married and how long of an engagement you want. Most engagements are at least a year which gives you plenty of time to plan your perfect wedding day. However, you may have other commitments that could require a shorter engagement. Once you have a general date range in mind, you’ll have a better idea of how long you have to plan.
Determine your priorities
Every couple wants different things out of their wedding. Maybe you don’t care much about the cake, but the music has to be perfect. Or maybe photography is your number one priority. (It should be!) Sit down and talk to your fiancé about what parts of your wedding matter most to both of you. There may even be some traditional items you can forego altogether, allowing you to save money or allocate more of your budget to the aspects of your wedding day that are most important to you as a couple. I personally offer Gift Certificates that family and friends can purchase to help you offset the cost of upgrades to your Heirloom Wedding Album, wall portraits and prints.
Settle on your wedding vision
Before you try on a gown or take a bite of cake, think about what you want your wedding day to look and feel like. Do you want an intimate ceremony with just your closest family and friends or a blowout bash with everyone you love? Will your wedding take place in a house of worship or in a beautiful outdoor location?
Determining your dream wedding can help you pinpoint your style and colors, which can also help you choose your venue: the first big decision you have to make. You’ll want to tour any potential venues in person to make sure they’re a good fit for the number of people you expect to attend as well as for your wedding vision. Once you find the right venue, book your date. Now it’s time to start figuring out all the details!
Set your wedding budget
Talk to your partner and your families about how much you can afford to spend on your wedding day. Determine if you’re paying for everything yourself or if your parents will be contributing, and be sure to understand exactly how much you have from each family. Once you know the amount you have to work with, you can start building out your budget and determining what you can afford for each item on your wedding planning list.
When it comes to wedding planning, organization is your best friend. Take advantage of Google Docs and Sheets to allow you to keep everyone up-to-date on your planning process and to help keep you organized. Put together a checklist of everything you need to do. This lets you easily cross items off as they’re completed. And who doesn’t love to cross things off of a list?! You may want a physical wedding binder to keep everything in one place or just a Google Drive folder. Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep as organized as possible so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Already overwhelmed? Consider hiring a professional wedding planner or coordinator to take things over from here. They will help you find local vendors that fit within your budget and make sure everything runs smoothly on your big day, taking a huge weight off your shoulders. Let me know if you want recommendations.
Map out your guest list
Before you hire a caterer, you need to know roughly how many guests to expect at your wedding. If you want to keep things small, you may have to talk to your family and friends about the necessity of keeping your guest list tight. A smaller guest list also fits better with a smaller budget, and most of your loved ones will likely understand.
Start your wedding registry
This is a fun part of wedding planning! You can go to physical stores like Target and Macy’s and choose items to add to your registry, or you can do it the easy way and create your registries online. See my post on Creative Registry Ideas here. If you don’t need dishes and towels but value your wedding photography, remember to let your friends and family know they can purchase gift certificates that you can use toward upgrades to your Heirloom Wedding Album, fine art canvases, and prints.
Book your vendors
If there are wedding vendors you absolutely must work with, like a specific photographer or local band, be sure to book them well in advance. Many vendors’ schedules fill up quickly, especially if you’re getting married in spring or summer, so the sooner you can book and lock in those vendors, the better.
Choose your wedding party
Another fun part of wedding planning is asking your closest friends to stand with you on your special day. Decide how you’re going to pop that special question and consider giving each member of your wedding party a special gift when you ask. After all, you want these friends to know exactly how much you appreciate them being a part of your wedding.
Start shopping for your wedding dress
Begin by looking at dresses online, whether on Pinterest or just through a Google search. You may even want to print out some of your favorite dresses and styles to take to your bridal appointments so you can find something similar. Be sure to research the different styles and cuts of dresses so you know exactly what you’re talking about when you go to pick The One.
Take breaks from planning
Wedding planning can sometimes feel all-consuming, especially if you’re doing it all on your own. Be sure to take time away from your seemingly endless to-do list and just enjoy being a couple. Have a date night out or just order your favorite takeout and watch a movie at home. Whatever you do, it’s important to get some relaxation time in throughout your planning!
As always, I am here to help answer any questions and can refer other vendors such as venues and florists if you’re looking for recommendations. Most importantly, have FUN as you plan the great Celebration of your Wedding Day!