Any “to do” list can be daunting. But when it comes to preparing for the most important day of your life, you want the planning to be fun, not a chore. You’ve probably seen the massive lists and timelines in various wedding magazines and online, which can turn the excitement of planning your wedding into one big headache. Just like with any big project though, breaking it down into smaller segments can make it a lot more manageable. Here are some tips on how to get started.
Starting Point – Everyone’s wedding visions and ideas are different, and circumstances vary. So, the wedding planning process will also differ from one couple to another. But no matter where you get married or what you envision as your ideal celebration, there are four major decisions all couples will face as they begin to plan their big day:
- Number of guests*
*Most vendors will need at least a rough estimate of the number of guests to give you an accurate quote for their services.
Once you sort out these main questions, it will be much easier to tackle the rest of that long list.
If you have trouble choosing a specific date, begin by selecting the time of year. When you know the general timing, you can start looking for your favorite venue and see what dates are available during that timeframe. It is also helpful to identify early on the level of formality and style of your wedding. This will help you make decisions as you go further in the planning.
Next Steps – Once you have selected the perfect venue as well as the date and determined your budget, you can start focusing on finding other vendors. Before you proceed though, make sure you check with your venue to see if they work with preferred vendors or have packages that include some of the things you might need, such as a wedding cake, a DJ, on-site catering, etc. The venue may also dictate how much you will need to decorate the space. Take that into account when you’re looking at your budget. If you have a very plain-looking ballroom, you might want to invest in lighting and draping to make it look more dramatic. But if you’re having your reception in a gorgeous space, such as a historical house or a museum, you might not need much other than table centerpieces to make the space look beautiful.
If you’re trying to decide on the order in which to book your vendors, consider this: some vendors—such as photographers, DJs, bands, videographers, etc.—can only do one event per day (or even per weekend). These might be the vendors you should book earlier on. Whereas vendors such as florists, bakeries, and hair and makeup artists can usually handle several weddings or events in one day and are generally more flexible in terms of providing you with the service that you need.
Final Thoughts – Most wedding timelines start at about the one-year mark before your wedding and will indicate that you should have the budget, location, and date sorted out at least 9 months in advance. I say, “The sooner the better!” If you’re aiming to have your wedding during peak season at one of the more popular venues in your area, then you might need at least a year in advance to book it. However, if you’re flexible about the time of year and location, you don’t need to worry as much about the timing. It’s still a good idea to have at least the ceremony and reception venues lined up so that you and your guests can plan accordingly.
Another approach to planning your wedding, once you have the main pieces figured out, is to identify the top three priorities for your ideal wedding. Let that be your guide into finding those vendors first to make sure you get exactly what you want. For many people, the top priority is good food, so make sure you find the right caterer and book them early on. If photography is a key ingredient for your wedding, then put that at the top of the list.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends and family, or hire a planner to take some of the stress off your back. Planning a wedding from start to finish can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task, indeed. But if you follow these basic guidelines, it will make the planning process much more manageable. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy it!
Anna Klimaszewska is a certified wedding planner through The Bridal Society and the owner of Anna K Events.
Top Image: Exclamation Imagery