After you get engaged, the excitement from your friends and family is unreal! It’s also exciting to sit down with your significant other to start the wedding planning process. Wedding planning can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. When you take each topic step by step, it is easier to make decisions and accomplish what you need to get done before your big day. Unfortunately, many people don’t know where to start when planning their wedding, so here is an easy five-step guide to help navigate your wedding planning.
- Establish your budget
You cannot start planning your wedding without figuring out your budget first. If you don’t know your budget, you won’t be able to tour venues, hire a caterer or photographer, or even start your wedding planning. Knowing your budget will be the outline and backbone of your wedding plan. After you establish the magic number, breaking down your wedding budget is the next important task. According to Brides.com, here is the best Budget Breakdown:
- Venue and Catering: 40% of your budget
- Photography and Videography: 15% of your budget
- Wedding Attire and Beauty: 5% of your budget
- Music/Entertainment: 10% of your budget
- Flowers: 10% of your budget
- Favors and Gifts: 2% of your budget
- Transportation: 3% of your budget
- Cake: 2% of your budget
- Décor: 10% of your budget
Create a spreadsheet to track your wedding spending, so you don’t lose track of your budget. You can also keep track of vendor information, estimated costs, additional fees, tips, taxes, etc., on your spreadsheet, so the fees in the fine print don’t exceed your budget. The above budget breakdown is a generic guide for you to customize. For example, if you decide not to give wedding favors, you can allocate that budget percentage to your top priority.
2. Create a priorities list
Your priorities list is the next important thing to figure out to make your dream wedding a reality. Have you always dreamed of a movie-style wedding video or have been following your favorite photographer on social media for a long time? This is the fun part where you decide what to make a priority in your budget to plan accordingly. My top priority was my wedding dress. I had a specific vision in mind of what I wanted the dress to look like, so I ended up customizing the wedding dress I bought. I altered the entire back of the dress to fit precisely into my vision. These alterations cost as much as the actual dress. I was unwilling to compromise my dream dress, so I adjusted the budget accordingly. Another great example is your wedding venue. If you already had a venue in mind and it would be 50% of your budget instead of 40%, you would need to take the 10% difference from somewhere else, low on your priorities list. Your budget is all numbers, but your priorities and dreams are an art form. It’s ok to change your mind along the process, but don’t forget to adjust the spreadsheet!
3. Create your guest list
The next most important start to the wedding planning process is creating your guest list. This can be a daunting task, especially if you are limited with the final number and have a lot of friends! The easiest way to create your guest list is just to start. A productive way to keep track of the list is to create a google spreadsheet and share it with your significant other. Having a shared spreadsheet will keep track of each name and address and will always be the latest, updated version. It’s essential to work collaboratively as a couple to create the perfect guest list. As a start, create an A-List of people who you absolutely will invite and want to attend your wedding. Your immediate family, wedding party, childhood friends, and close family friends are great examples of who should be on your A-List. After you decide who is on your A-List, start on your B and C lists. This will include extended family and friends you will undoubtedly invite but may be thinned out later if the budget or venue does not allow it. Another good way of thinking about who to include on your B and C list is, “would it be nice to include them?”. Don’t overthink these lists but spend time making sure to include everyone you would like to be there. Once RSVPs start coming in, and you notice openings from people from your A-List, fill in the gaps with those on your B and C lists. While creating your lists, decide on a plus-one strategy. Plus-ones can be tricky as an extra head at a wedding costs real money, especially if you’ve never met them and aren’t even on your C list! On the other hand, plus-ones guarantee your guest will have a great time; they’ll have someone to sit next to, dance with, and make great memories at your wedding. It’s up to you to decide the criteria for someone to get a plus-one; only out-of-town guests get one, long-term significant others, those not a part of your large group of friends, etc.
4. Tour venues and select your special date
If you already have a specific date in mind, you should only tour venues with that available date. Some people want to get married on cool dates like “2/22/2022” or “10/10/2020,” most likely, these dates get snatched up quickly at wedding venues. If you want to get married on your anniversary as I did, you also must decide if that day of the week is realistic. I got married on a Monday because the date was more special to me than the day of the week. Suppose you don’t have a specific date in mind. In that case, it’s essential to think of key dates in your and your family’s lives to see if that changes anything—for example, birthdays, other anniversaries, surgery dates, funeral dates, etc. When many people are involved, you’d be surprised what can come up. Ultimately, you decide to pick the best date for you and your significant other, but you do have to think about your guests. Another great example is my friend, a teacher, and all their friends and families are also teachers. It wouldn’t be wise to have a wedding in the middle of a school year where most of their guests wouldn’t be able to make it, especially if they’re from out of town. She would have to plan a summer wedding and tour venues that have summer dates available. The last thing to pay attention to when picking your wedding date is the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving are huge holidays in which the guests on your list will make their family time more of a priority than planning to travel or attend a wedding. Having a wedding during the holiday season can be tricky, but not impossible if it would be your dream come true. On the other hand, New Year’s Eve is a popular wedding date because the holiday is already a huge celebration of the new year. Regardless of all the factors that go into picking your special wedding date, make sure you are happy with it and don’t settle if you are not!
5. Start a wedding Pinterest board to establish your style and vision
Now let’s get to the fun part! The final tip for starting your wedding planning with ease is to create a new Pinterest board with your wedding ideas, styles, colors, and everything else you dream up! Having it all in one place will make it easier to establish your unique style and will help you stick to your vision. I’m not talking about adding to your wedding Pinterest board you had in high school but creating a brand new one! We all know our styles have changed since high school J. You can also share it with your maid of honor, mom, bridesmaids, and other significant family members involved in the planning. It will make sticking to one style and your colors easier if they can see your exact inspiration pictures. Another benefit of having your wedding Pinterest board is showing it to your wedding coordinator, baker, and florist. On there they can see exactly what you want and will make their job easier! This is the fun part of the first steps of wedding planning, so make sure you thoroughly enjoy it and don’t settle until you’ve curated your vision on your Pinterest board.