"I just got engaged, and I'm so overwhelmed. Where do I even start to plan my wedding?" Are you in a similar situation? You are definitely not alone. Planning a wedding is probably one of the most stressful things you'll do. It can take a financial toll as well as an emotional and physical toll on a person. It shouldn't be that way. Your wedding will be one of the single most important days of your life. You want to make sure you can enjoy every minute of it. I've created some steps to help you with the planning process and hopefully lessen the burden that can go into wedding planning.
Create a Guest List
All your wedding plans will depend on how many guests will be coming to your wedding. From getting a venue, creating invites, hiring a caterer, purchasing alcohol if you choose, decor and centerpieces, etc. It all depends on your guest count. I recommend you create a general list to start and then based off of that list narrowing it down or adding depending on your budget. The more guests you have will obviously increase the cost of your wedding.
Figure Out a Style or Theme for Your Wedding
The reason I say to figure out a style or theme for your wedding after creating your guest list is so you can save time when looking for a venue and decor. If you already know what you're wanting then you are less likely to get overwhelmed with the selection of several venues with several styles. For example: If you know you want a rustic vineyard inspired wedding you won't be looking at urban venues, barns, fields, or the likes. You'll want to find vineyards that accommodate the look and feel of your dream wedding. You can then narrow them down to what you like about each, which one speaks to you, accommodates your guest count, and stays within your budget.
This will also help when you talk to your florist, choose dresses for your bridesmaids, and choose your overall decor.
Choose your Bridal Party
Choosing your bridal party early on helps tremendously. Most Maid of Honors and Best Men can assist you with your wedding planning and you can always bounce ideas off of them. Knowing in advance also allows your bridesmaids and groomsmen ample time to get their dresses and tuxedos and all their fittings that come with.
Hire Your Key Wedding Vendors
Figure out which vendors are important to you and allot a realistic budget for each. Most will have payment plans and it is much easier to swing 2k per some vendors on a payment plan over 12 months than it is trying to hire your favorites and pay for their services within 3 months.
Examples of key vendors that may take up a large portion of your budget (again these are examples and you choose which are most important to you) are:
Securing these vendors early on will definitely ease a lot of stress on your end. Also, if you have it in your power to do so, ask your vendors if they give a discount to packages or services paid in full. Some will give discounts to those paid in full at the time of booking.
Many brides say that it takes them on average going to at least two dress shops before finding their perfect gown. Make sure you get your gown in enough time to have it altered, especially if you are planning on losing weight.
Your Engagement Portraits
You'll want to do your engagement portraits about 6-7 months before your wedding so you can send "Save the Dates." Several photographers will include engagement sessions in their packages as it allows you to get to know them and establish a rapport before your wedding day. You can ensure you work well with them and their personalities mesh with your own as they'll be there with you all day.
This is also a good time to find someone for hair & makeup services as most will allow you a trial run before your wedding. Your engagement session is a perfect time to do the trial run and not have it be an extra added cost.
Get those Save the Dates out
Once your engagement photos are back get your Save the Dates out.
Start your DIY decor
If you plan on doing a few crafty things for your wedding on your own you'll want to start getting those done. These projects can take a lot of time depending on how many you plan on doing and when you work sometimes those can take weeks to complete.
Some fun DIY projects are:
Hiring Other Vendors
This is the time when you should start hiring your cake artist, event rental decor, officiant, bartenders, and any other vendors you are wanting.
These vendors are important too so you'll want to make sure you get them reserved as well.
Register at Your Favorite Stores
Most guests will bring you a wedding gift. Most also don't know what you need or want. Registering at at least two different stores or even Amazon allows your friends and family a chance to purchase you something that you need and want. It also allows them to choose something based on their own budgets.
Start Planning Your Honeymoon:
You'll want to have your honeymoon planned out before your wedding comes. Think about where you'd like to go, research, and then book. Most flights have the best pricing at 90 days out. Booking around that time will give you the best deal if booking on your own.
Book the Rehearsal Dinner Restaurant & Rehearsal Venue:
Most venues will allow you to use the venue the evening before (pending they have no weddings the day before) for your rehearsal. If you are unable to do it at the venue you'll need to book somewhere to hold it. Making sure you have reservations to the restaurant for your rehearsal dinner is important especially if you have a large party.
Get those wedding invites out:
You will want to send out your wedding invites about 3 months before your wedding. This allows people a chance to get their RSVPS back to you in time as well as take off work if needed.
Get your wedding shoes & try on your dress:
You'll want to make sure your dress fits you perfectly especially if you have lost any weight.
If you plan on giving gifts to your future spouse, bridesmaids, or groomsmen now is the time to order/purchase those.
Finalize the Timeline:
Consult with your planner and photographer about your timeline. Finalize all of your wedding day plans so that everyone is on the same page. As a photographer, I know that I will help my clients with those things, ask yours if they do that as well.
Count your RSVPS:
You'll want to count your RSVPS and phone/email those who haven't responded. Being your wedding catering is dependent upon those showing up you don't want to incur extra costs if it isn't necessary, nor do you want to run out of food should some show you didn't get RSVPS for.
Order all of your alcohol now that you have an accurate guest count for your wedding. If ordering wine it is usually 2 glasses of wine per adult per hour. There are about 4-6 glasses of wine in one bottle. So, if you have 100 guests over the age of 21 drinking, for a 4 hr reception, it would be about 160 bottles of wine.
Assign Seating & Create Seating Cards:
When thinking of seating try to sit at least two to four people at a table that know one another and then the remaining with like minded guests. This ensures flow of conversation and less awkwardness.
These are just a few tips that I have put together for clients when planning their wedding. There will always be some variations and suggestions on what a couple should or shouldn't do. Figure out what works best for you and remember to enjoy and relax.
Salem, Oregon wedding photographer Mellissa shares her tips & tricks for brides/grooms to be.
Email her for your complimentary consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org