Congratulations! You’re engaged! This is such a momentous time in your life and one to remember. However, as you may soon realize, the joy and excitement of engagement often is quickly consumed by wedding planning and figuring out how to actually pull a wedding off. If you’re like most people, planning a wedding isn’t necessarily something you do on a regular basis so the tasks and next steps can seem very daunting, especially once you start crunching the numbers and realizing that your expectations may be different than reality.
If this sounds like you, no worries! We have you covered with these five steps on how to move forward with planning your wedding, and hopefully will minimize some of the guesswork as you decide how to proceed and get you closer to your wedding day!
1. Remember What Matters
We like to remind our couples of what matters, and ultimately, your wedding day is to celebrate your marriage! As many are finding out in such a time as this (Pandemic!), we can plan but we cannot control what will happen. If you decide to have a backyard wedding with pizza and just your closest family and friends, that is OKAY. Do what honors you and remember what matters at the end of the day. It’s not worth stressing or fighting over the color of linens! 🙂
Wedding planning can get very overwhelming, especially with all of the opinions you will surely hear along the way, haha! Take some time to enjoy being engaged too! It’s always okay to take a break.
2. Get & Stay Organized
Create a Gmail account specifically for your business with your future married name to keep track of all the emails and stay organized! This simple step doesn’t take much but will make all the difference, and will also help you to have boundaries when you just need a break from wedding planning. You can also create folders in your inbox by vendor if you’re particularly detailed: Venue, Catering, Floral, Decor, etc. And if you don’t want to create a whole new email account, a simple folder designated for just wedding stuff will be a game-changer too, we promise!
I always ask my clients in our initial consultations what their top 3 priorities are for their wedding day. For example, for our wedding, my husband and I decided we wanted great food, live music and a heartfelt ceremony and reception where everyone felt loved. Like anything in the world, we spend money on what we value the most. Put your money toward those priorities, and then this should help you make decisions from there. Is it important to you to have great flowers or a particular photographer? Splurge there. Would you rather save money on decor? Find ways to DIY or keep your wedding decor simple in general. When decisions get hard or it comes down to having to narrow some things in the budget, that will help you determine where to invest and where to save.
This may take a bit of soul searching, but sit down with your fiance and have honest and open conversation about what matters most to you!
4. The Nitty Gritty
You’ve gotten organized, figured out what matters the most to you, and are ready to take the plunge! Start first here: Budget, Guest List and your Venue. Sure, you can start planning in a different order, but often what happens is that you might end up booking a venue that takes up a huge portion of your budget, and you didn’t realize that the tables, chairs, etc. are not provided, adding significant cost to your budget. That’s just one example of many horror stories.
Did you know that the majority of engaged couples end up spending so much more on their wedding than they originally planned? It’s really hard to stick to a budget when you get distracted and impulsively buy decor online you just HAD to have, or just throw out a random number without having any actual knowledge about how much things cost. This is also dependent on where you are getting married. Getting married in Iowa is going to cost a lot differently than a wedding in New York.
Below is a general budget guideline. Obviously, this will look different based on your priorities.
- 5% Ceremony
- 8% Flowers and Decor
- 7% Attire
- 10% Reception Venue
- 30% Food/Drinks
- 8.5% Live band or DJ
- 10% Photographer
- 5% Videographer
- 3.5% Invites and paper goods
- 3.5% Transportation
- 8% Planner
- 1.5% Miscellaneous (favors, welcome baskets)
This sounds like a no-brainer, but the more people you invite, the more money you can expect to spend on your wedding. This is a tough one, and unfortunately, it can get stressful real quick. We know there are family expectations and difficult decisions regarding who to invite, and how quickly it can become personal. One suggestion for helping to manage your guest list is to organize your guests by A-List or a B-List. Let’s say you send out invites to everyone on your full A list. Once you get RSVPs back and some can’t make it, you now know how much extra room you have and can go into your B list and invite them! They don’t need to know, and they get to come and celebrate with you! It’s a win-win.
Every wedding is different, but when you’re looking for the perfect venue, be sure to ask a lot of questions about each venue’s amenities and what is all included for the price. Do they provide all the tables and chairs and do setup? How about linens? This will also help you as your finalize your budget and is a great way to determine how much help or work will need to be done leading up to your wedding.
FInalizing your venue first before other vendors will also help you narrow down a date. If you have more date options and really want a particular venue, having that date flexibility will save you a few headaches and could also save you a lot of money (example: getting married on a Friday instead of a Saturday).
You also don’t want to get a venue that’s way too large or way too small for your guest list, so having a guideline on how many people you plan to have at your wedding is a detail that will help you lock down the perfect venue. You can also decide if you want your ceremony and reception to be in the same place or in two separate places.
5. DIY or Delegate?
If you decide to not hire a wedding planner, that is totally OKAY! We fully understand that a planner may not have room in the budget. Or maybe you’re super organized and type-A and can manage the details yourself (and in fact, may enjoy it!) That’s totally fine, but keep in mind that when you’re actually getting married on your wedding day, you will need to delegate some of the work to someone else. Whether that’s a trusted friend, aunt, or acquaintance, determine what you need help with, what you can outsource, and if that’s something you want. One big reason why clients hire a planner is because they not only want to enjoy their wedding day, they also want their mom to enjoy the wedding day too!
You’ll also want to determine if you want to make your own decor or rent out from an outside rental company to add those extra details that will elevate your wedding day aesthetic.
Of course, we are biased but we also want to say that hiring a wonderful vendor team, including a wedding planner, will definitely alleviate the bulk of the burden you may be feeling. If you don’t have a solid, reliable team, then frankly there’s a lot that could go wrong, from a super late delivery, or a pick up of the wrong wedding dress! Here’s a secret, most wedding days do not go according to plan, but your rockstar team will be able to manage any hiccups throughout the day and you won’t even know about it, nor do you need to worry about it, knowing that they’ve got it all covered.
How We Can Help
Planners offer multiple package options at multiple price points depending on how involved you want us to be. The wedding management package is the least involved, and most affordable, but still will help you tremendously.
Also, keep in mind that wedding planners have connections in the industry and the investment to hire one can both actually a) save you some serious cash money in the long run and b) prevent you from experiencing some serious headaches. Here’s a very short list of what planners do:
- Manage, create and coordinate timelines, deliveries, pickups, setup, tear down
- Actually keep you on time and track down all the people for photos and ceremony
- Handle all the moving parts on your wedding day so you can be with the people you love most, knowing that all of the small and big things are being taken care of!
- We are currently writing this post mid-pandemic. Need I say more on why it would be helpful to have a planner with the constant changes to local guidelines, safety, and plans? We can help you with a contingency plan, and also Plans C, D, and E so all bases are covered.
- One thing people also don’t realize is that we do so much more than plan weddings! We are your advocates, confidants, and often end up being good friends!
We have a blog post that dives deeper Into this topic here: Why You Should Hire A Wedding Planner. 😉
Whatever route you pursue, it takes a village!
We hope that these tips have provided some clarity and give you some great action steps as you move forward. Congratulations again, and cheers to love, marriage, and a joy-filled wedding day!