Congrats on getting engaged! Seriously I am so happy for you. The amount of joy and happiness that comes with getting engaged is tremendous. For this #weddingtales series, we will be talking about creating a wedding planning guide.
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Chances are once the excitement dwindles you’ll have to start talking about wedding planning. Will you be getting married in a year? Two years? 6 months? Regardless, if you’re planning a wedding you NEED a wedding plan! It’s really overwhelming planning your own wedding because I did it too.
So I highly recommend creating a wedding planning guide to help you out. My suggestion is to have a wedding binder where you can keep everything in one spot. This will include your ideas, wedding checklist, and to-do list.
Luckily for you, I’ve given you a free copy of a wedding checklist so you don’t have to worry about that part.Wedding Planning 101 Guide + Free Wedding Checklist for Brides Click To Tweet
Wedding Planning Guide
Get Engaged- Congrats!
Take some time to celebrate your engagement before you get into the hustle and bustle of wedding planning.
It really depends on what order you want to get everything done. This is up to you. You may find a dress before considering a guest list, or you might find a venue first. My suggestion is to do a rough guest list to start with. Why?
When deciding on a venue it’s good to know an estimate of how many guests you may have. Venues can only hold so many guests, so having an estimated number in mind allows you to find venues. Having a guest list also helps to set a budget on how much to spend on food, drinks, and party favors- if you choose to have them.
After you’ve decided on an estimated guest list because more than likely your guest list will change. You’ll want to discuss with your fiance a budget. Now I know there’s the traditional way of doing things where the Bride’s parents pay for a majority. This is definitely something you want to discuss with your fiance first. Are your parents traditional? Or will both parents help with the costs? Will you help with the costs any?
Whatever the situation may be, be sure to talk to your fiance and then consult with your parents second. Setting a budget before starting the wedding planning, lets you know what kind of things you should spend your money on. What’s more important to you?
After a budget is set you’ll first want to decide on a venue. Chances are you already have a date in mind, but remember this could change depending on the availability of the venues. In my experience, it’s better to book as soon as possible. Venues these days tend to be booked over a year in advance!
I know it’s hard given you can’t help the timeline of your engagement. My suggestion is to list any and all venues you like and see if they have availability first. From there book a time that you can view the venue and discuss the details with them.
Questions to ask venues:
Can you bring in your own caterer and alcohol?
What hours/days do you get the venue?
Can you set up the night before?
What are the stipulations on ‘day of the event insurance’?
You don’t have to go in this certain order to find a dress. I do suggest getting a dress as soon as possible, as alterations may need to be done. When I got my dress in September, the order didn’t come in until a little after December. The dress was actually ordered in wrong, so it didn’t come until February. Then we had to do alterations. That put my dress ready to take home around April!
You may want to discuss the budget part prior to getting a dress, so you know what’s within your means. Getting a dress is such an emotional and exciting experience, so definitely take your time deciding, and when you find the one- you will know.
I’m sticking this part up here because your engagement photos and wedding photos may be taken by the same person. They might now be. However, booking a photographer in advance is always a good idea! Especially for weddings. The earlier the better, so if you have a photographer in mind I’d go ahead and suggest reaching out to them ASAP.
A lot of people are also using videographers, so if you have that money to spend I say go for it. Just make sure to reach out to them in advance as well.
Choosing a bridal party is hard. I’m not going to lie. Decide with your fiance how many bridal party members you want. Do you want 3, 5 or 6? No matter the number, make sure to discuss this with your fiance so you can decide on whom you want to stand up next to you.
As far as when you should ask your bridal party, to be your bridal party, I think that’s up to you. I asked my bridesmaids a little over a month after being engaged. I knew exactly who I wanted to be apart of my big day. But definitely take sometime to think it over, who do you want to stand next to you and support you during your big day? Who is it do you see being friends with 5+ years down the road?
Just like anything, finding an officiant you may need to book in advance. Make sure this is on your list somewhere because they will need to know in advance. Lucky for us my Grandpa performed the marriage.
When deciding on an officiant, I suggest finding someone you know personally that gives a personal and meaningful aspect to your ceremony.
Save the Dates and Invitations
Oh, the dreaded invites. This is when you’ll want to finalize that guest list. At this point, you will have needed to also have the venue booked. Saved the dates are literally what they mean. It’s just a simple reminder to your guests that says “hey we are getting married on this date, at this time, at this place- make sure to mark your calendar”.
Save the dates are important in my opinion because it lets guests know way in advance so they can make sure to attend. It’s also nice for out of town guests since they can start planning accommodations.
For invitations, they say sending them out 3-4 months beforehand, while I’ve also heard to send them out 2 months before the date. In my opinion, it depends on if you have out of town guests, and how many guests actually will open the invite.
If you send it too early then they might set it aside and forget about it, if you send it too late then they might not be able to make it. My suggestion would be 1 1/2 months ahead. It seems silly, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t to early and wasn’t to late. Plus we needed the RSVP’s back in time to get a head count for seating.
This is self-explanatory but finding a DJ at a reasonable price can be hard. To save money you can find someone with a PA system and mics, and play your own music. IF this isn’t an option, you can search your area for DJ’s and make sure to book this in advance as well.
For the actual music, you’ll want to decide on the songs for your wedding.
- Ceremony Music: Bridal Party Entrance, Bride Entrance, Bridal Party Processional
- Song to walk into
- First dance
These songs are the most important to decide on in my opinion. Decide with your fiance the first dance song, and the ceremony song. If you want to surprise your mother or father with the song you will dance too, that is really sweet. Otherwise simply asking them, is super special too.
Okay, to be honest, I don’t see the point in spending a butt load of money on flowers. Don’t get me wrong they add a beautiful touch to the wedding, but there’s no need to go overboard. I mean let’s be real, they will die. I don’t mean to be blunt, but I see so many brides spend a lot of the money on flowers.
Save your money for other things, and try to keep the flowers under $1k. Depending on the decor you’ll want flowers for centerpieces, the aisle, bouquets, and boutonnieres.
Generally, you’ll want to meet with the florist to decide on the type of flowers, when they will be delivered, and who will set them up.
Find someone you trust doing your hair and makeup for the wedding, and practice in advance. If you feel comfortable doing your own makeup, then go for it. It saves money for both you and the bridal party. However, it takes the stress out of worrying about doing your makeup if you have a makeup artist do it.
From my experience, you want to book in advance, but always be prepared to have to do it on your own. I had two makeup artists lined up for my wedding, but they fell through. Us girls ended up doing our own makeup and it worked out in the end.
As far as hair goes, you’ll want to give your hairdresser ideas so you can practice them beforehand. This helps you decide which style to go with. Play around with styles that are up and down. You’ll also want to consider the fact of a veil if you decide to wear one.
Also ask your, bridesmaids, if they want their hair done, and account for that cost too. Decide if you want their hair to be the same style, or have them choose their own. Also telling your hairdresser how many heads of hair he or she will be doing, allows them to tell you how much time they’ll need the day of.
This is the time you and your fiance get to go pick out wedding bands! First talk about a budget, of course. When you go to pick out wedding bands, I suggest looking in advance to help you decide. I may have gone three times trying on different bands with my engagement ring.
For your fiance, they will be getting a whole new ring so take some time finding this one as well.
Take into account whether or not you’ll have your band and engagement ring soldered prior to the ceremony. For me, I decided not to get them soldered. I wore my engagement ring on the wedding day, and during the ceremony, Kyle placed the wedding band on my finger.
We ordered our bands 3 months prior, to make sure we received them in time.
These are still just as important but I wanted to list as misc because these things can be done at any point in time during the planning process.
Choosing a cake is so fun! But don’t think a cake is your only option. You can opt for a smaller cake for the bride and groom, and cupcakes for the guests. Or if you want to do something outside of the box you can consider other desserts like a donut bar.
Decide with your fiance what options you’re considering than find a baker, to meet with. Let them know your ideas, what the cost will be, and how it will be delivered.
This is a fun part of wedding planning, but also super stressful. Decor really just depends on the type of wedding you have and the venue. I always suggest doing DIY decor because it saves money and adds a special touch. I wouldn’t go too overboard on decorations. Your guests won’t care about the most intricate details, sorry to say.
Related Post: 5 Things I learned Planning a Wedding
Figuring out the details of the actual day are important. When will bridesmaids arrive? When will the groomsmen arrive? How will they get there? So don’t consider just how to arrive, but at what times and who will arrive.Plan a stress-free and organized wedding with the FREE wedding planning checklist.Click To Tweet
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