You got engaged and now the planning frenzy has begun, but where do you even begin? Thankfully, I am here with all the tips and tricks to get you on the right start. Note: there is not one right way to plan a wedding. You have to do what is best for you both as a couple, always.
First up: the money talk. EEEK. I know, not the most fun and definitely the most awkward thing you will be discussing. Be up front with your budget and what you are comfortable with spending as a couple. If you are being gifted help from parents or other parties, discuss if it is a monetary gift to spend freely or if they want to be involved in deciding what that money is being used for. Be direct and clear with how the money is going to be spent and most of all GRATEFUL they want to help! Making it clear from the start leads to less misunderstanding and hurt feelings later on.
Second: create an overall budget. Research what things cost & get realistic expectations for the cost of everything. For example, chair rentals. You can get quotes for all these things from actual vendors in your area to know what a realistic budget for this is. Do this for each item you are hoping to book for your big day. I have included our spreadsheet starter below for you to begin budgeting.
Third: Pick a time of year & venue that works. Consider family and friends and once you have selected the venue and date, double check with the people you can’t imagine not attending before sending off contracts and deposits.
**Pro tip: if you are dreaming of a certain flower or theme, make sure that the season of bloom lines up with your date. Florists have seasons they have to work around, so if you are dead set on Peonies, make sure they will be in bloom for your wedding date.
Fourth: Reach out to your vendor team, ie. catering, photographer, videographer, florist, makeup artist, hair, DJ, musician, etc. Don’t worry if they are not on the venues preferred vendor list, as long as there is no clause that you must use vendors only from their list, it should not make a difference. Fingers crossed they are available for your date! Book all the things that are most important to you first, wedding vendors typically book out anywhere from 8-18 months in advanced.
***DRESS SHOPPING… If you have your heart set on a designer or dress, call ahead and see what the turn around time is for that dress. Some can take over 8 months to come in and if you are on a time crunch, make sure you let the stylists know before getting in a gown you won’t be able to get in time***
Fifth: Send out save the dates! (destination needs more advanced notice). Remember that fall is the new spring & popular dates may cause conflicts for guests. Don’t hold off notifying your people if you want them there. Any weddings that require travel, give guests a bigger heads up so they can plan and save accordingly for your big day. If it’s possible to send out Save the Dates a year or more in advanced for destination, I would!
Sixth: Meet with your planner or if you are DIYing, create a vision board and get your Pinterest board on private! Decide on linens, glassware, flatware, and plates. Figure out your vision for the tables and any decor.
**Pro tip: create a visual layout of the venue with placement of everything. We found an illustration someone had made of our venue and then put the layout over it. Made it fun to show our parents so they could visualize it better since our wedding was destination.
Our table setting guide / vision board:
Our venue layout:
Seventh: Now that you have booked all the major vendors, you can start thinking of creative ways to bring in some fun flair for your guests. Like a desert bar instead of a traditional cake, live music, etc. You can come up with a fun way to display escort cards or make them a fun keepsake for your guests.
Eighth: Send off those formal invites! If you sent save the dates, the latest it is proper to send them out is 8 weeks before your date. Depending on if you have a website for RSVPs or if you are using RSVPs that must be sent back, give yourself a good amount of time to be able to come up with a seating chart & adjust your final guest count properly for vendors. Our RSVP deadline was a lot earlier because of the destination, which made things a lot less stressful leading up to our big day.
Our Invitation Suite Additions (this is a good place to include information and travel details for guests to plan accordingly):
Ninth: Meet with your coordinator / planner and pass off that binder. The weeks leading up to your wedding you should not be stressing about escort cards or wondering if vendors are going to show up. Your coordinator or planner is the BEST money you can spend (for yourself & your mama!). Trust their advice and know they will make sure everything goes off without a hitch, and if there is a little hiccup, you won’t even notice because they have your back (;
Tenth: Relax and enjoy the few weeks leading up to your wedding. Things will happen & come up, but remember, you are marrying your best friend, so don’t let something silly like a misplaced cocktail table ruin your big day. If you have a team of vendors you trust, it will all be perfect.