08 Nov Planning a Wedding
So, I recently got married. It was a wonderful day and totally perfect. It was also soooo much work. Planning a wedding can be difficult and frustrating. So, for those of you who are engaged and have no idea where to start: this post is for you. For the record, this post assumes you are giving yourself a decent amount of time between engagement and wedding. We planned for roughly fourteen months. So, let’s plan a wedding.
Step One: Get a Rough Idea of What You Want Your Wedding to Be
When it comes to planning a wedding, this is an important step because you can’t start booking vendors until you know what kind of vendors you want. Are you looking for a place that’s going to handle the decoration and the food? Do you want complete control so you’re looking for a hall that lets you decorate? Do you want a food truck or a fancy sit-down dinner? Etc. Etc.
This step involves you and your future spouse sitting down and having a huge talk. I recommend that each of you create a list of the things that are important to you. For instance, having gluten-free food was really important to me because I wanted to be able to eat everything at the wedding. So, we set aside extra money for the caterer so we could do that.
I also recommend a Pinterest board. Don’t go crazy. A lot of the things that you’ll pin, you probably won’t be able to do. But it’ll help you nail down an aesthetic and theme of sorts. For instance, we wanted a rustic, outdoor wedding, and Pinterest helped us come up with things like a popcorn bar (which people LOVED by the way).
These are all things that are going to affect step two.
Step Two: Nail Down a Budget and a Date
When it comes to planning a wedding, your budget is your king. Figure out how much you can spend, and try to deviate from that number as little as possible. The Knot budget calculator can be really helpful for figuring out how much you should spend on each item based on your budget. It even lets you delete things and move the money. So, if you don’t want a DJ, you can put that money towards your caterer or whatever. Just a tip: the little things add up. For us, it was the lanterns for the ceremony decor, the candles for the centerpieces, the guest book, etc. Plan a decent-sized miscellaneous section in your budget for all the stuff you can’t currently think of. Also, don’t forget about tips. You’ll be tipping your servers, your DJ, your transportation people, and your hair/makeup people.
You can’t do anything without a date. Granted, flexibility is good. For instance, if you really want a location that’s only available one weekend in April, you’ll need to take that weekend. But you still need a general time during which you want to get married. For instance, we really wanted to get married in October, but we wanted it to be outside. So, we wanted it to be as early in October as possible. But one of our vendors couldn’t do October 5th so we changed it to October 12th. Know roughly when you want to get married.
Step Three: Nail Down a Guest List
This is hugely important. Nail down your guest list. Set a number and stick to it (though you can safely assume that not everyone is going to RSVP yes). Trust me. The per person for weddings can be huge so make sure you match your guest list number to your budget.
This is also probably the stage when you want to figure out if you’re having a wedding party and who those people are going to be. This will affect your transportations costs.
Step Four: Get Your Big Vendors
This means your location, your caterer, your photographer, your DJ, and your wedding coordinator if you want one. You’ll probably want to book your officiant too. That’s all the stuff that books really early so you’ll want to start finding these guys as soon as possible. Take what you’ve already done and use that to find the right vendors. So, for us, we found a great gluten-free caterer after finding a great gluten-free bakery. Their ability to do gluten-free and do it well basically made our decision for us. This is why it’s so important to know what matters to you. It will help you decide on your vendors.
Also, start looking for your dress (assuming you’re getting one) ASAP. Dresses take forever to find and then forever to tailor. There’s a reason why the salespeople panic on Say Yes to the Dress when people walk in and say their wedding is in a month. Start pinning pictures of dresses you like, and plan a shopping trip (or a few).
Step Five: Set Up Your Wedding Website and Get Out Your Save the Dates
The second you have your date and location, set up your website, and then send out your Save the Dates. Don’t go crazy with the Save the Dates, especially if you’re doing digital ones. You have to send every one of those people an invite so make sure you can afford everyone. Get these out relatively early so people have plenty of time to plan.
Step Six: Get Your Small Stuff
This means your cake, your flowers, your hair/makeup people, your groom/groomsmen attire (assuming you have a groom), your bridesmaid attire, your wedding bands, your transportation, your wedding party gifts, your invites, etc. This is the kind of stuff that happens roughly six months before the wedding. Some stuff, like the bands and the gifts, can wait, but don’t wait too long. Send out your invites about 2-3 months before.
Step Seven: Relax a Little
Here’s the thing no one talks about when it comes to weddings: everything is either at the very beginning or the very end. It’s all the first few months of planning and then the last month of planning. There’s not a whole lot you can do in between other than figure out the little details. Plan what you can, but, otherwise, chill out before the craziness really begins.
Step Eight: DON’T FORGET THE MARRIAGE LICENSE
Seriously. Don’t forget the marriage license. Know the laws in your state. Don’t get so caught up in planning your wedding that you forget that the marriage is kind of the whole point of the day.
Step Nine: Figure Out Your Wedding Ceremony
You might have already done this when you picked out your officiant. For instance, if you’re doing a Catholic mass, you only have so much say in your ceremony. But we planned out our entire ceremony since we had a friend marry us. We ended up doing a handfasting, and it was great. So, figure out your ceremony. There’s a book below that we found to be super helpful.
Step Ten: Confirm with your vendors
The last month to two weeks before the wedding are absolutely insane. Everyone is going to be asking you questions. Everyone is going to want their money. Everyone needs final details so they can do their job. Just take a deep breath, relax, and answer the questions as they come.
Step Eleven: Enjoy Your Wedding!
Nothing matters on the day of except that you’re marrying your best friend. Nothing. Not to mention, everything is set. You’ve spent the last however long planning your wedding. There’s only so much you can do on the day anyway. Things are going to go wrong. Accept that, and be okay with it. Your goal on the day of is to enjoy your wedding and not stress. You can do it. I believe in you.
Some general tips for planning a wedding:
- Spend the money on the things that are really important to you. I’m chronically ill so it was important to me that I had people I could trust to handle things. I have limited energy so we paid extra money so that we didn’t have to stress about anything. So, we got a wedding coordinator, and we hired someone to take care of the appetizers. We didn’t have the energy to do it ourselves.
- The only thing people really care about is the food. Make sure you have good food and lots of it.
- Be realistic with your time, energy, and money. If you have the time and energy to DIY everything, great! If you don’t, don’t stress about it.
Recommended Reading (AKA Books I Used):
Any questions? Put them below, and I’ll try to answer them!