As a recently engaged woman, my head has definitely been spinning. Everyone and their mother has questions for me, and it’s definitely hard to get a grasp on where to start wedding planning. There are so many different decisions to be made, big and small, but in my opinion, there’s definitely a “right” place to start to make the whole process a little bit easier.
Now that I have a proper starting place, I feel that the rest of the planning will follow suit… at least I hope so! Here’s a peek at my prioritized wedding plan so you can get inspiration on where to start wedding planning yourself!
STEP ONE: Identify Your Budget
Getting married isn’t cheap. If you’re like us, and have a big family or a lot of friends you just have to celebrate with, be ready to shell out a good chunk of change or do some serious DIY-ing. I would suggest doing some preliminary research, such as downloading venue and vendor pricing brochures to get a feel for what people are charging and creating a mock spreadsheet of all your expenses. This will give you an idea of how much you’ll have to either come up with yourself or source from family. If the situation allows, ask your parents how much they are willing to contribute so you know what you have to work with.
STEP TWO: Pick a Geographical Location
Destination wedding? Local venue? Picking your geographical location (or a few select favorites) will influence the rest of your planning. We’re currently entertaining two locations in Southern and Central California, so we’re pretty much doing double the research. If you have your heart set on one place, that will most likely dictate other decisions such as ideal time of year and vendors available to use.
STEP THREE: Pick a Venue
Even though it’s going to be the first and most frequent question you’ll be asked, I think picking a date is best after you’ve already chosen a venue. Sure, general ideas are great, but if you’re too wound up on having it on one specific day, you might have to settle on second or third choice venues or vendors that are available on that date if your favorites are already booked.
Plus, choosing your venue first can open your eyes in terms of how realistic your budget is, and even what vendors you’ll need at all. Adam and I have been looking at a lot of all-inclusive places that will take care of much more than just the space and catering, so it’s nice to get an idea of what’s offered in the areas you’re looking.
STEP FOUR: Pick a Date
After you’ve fallen in love with a venue, it’s time to start thinking about a date. Things to consider include off-season prices (Winter weddings are commonly discounted), day-of-the-week discounts (Sundays-Thursdays are typically cheaper), as well as the time of year. Is the date you’re considering too close to a heavily traveled holiday? What will the weather be like (especially important for outdoor ceremonies and receptions)? When you have a good idea, work with your venue coordinator to lock it in, and start sending your save the dates or official invitations.
STEP FIVE: Pick Your Vendors
Having a venue and date locked in will make it much easier to then start booking your vendors based on location and availability. Be sure to cross reference brochures to get a feeling of an average price for services. You can also ask if they have any value packages or deals. You can even check Groupon for vendors like pop-up photo booths, dance lessons, photography, makeup and hair styling, and invites to get awesome savings.
These are the five biggest steps in wedding planning, though there are obviously many more tasks that are just as important like picking your dress, putting together your wedding party and doing consultations/tastings/fittings. But these main checkpoints will help keep you on track and get the most pivotal stuff out of the way, so you can focus on the fun ones.