I’ll be honest, as an event planner who spent over two (very rocky) years engaged, I do consider myself a wedding expert. No matter how big or how small there is so much that goes into a wedding and the first few steps are everything.
1. Draft A Guest List
Sit down with your new fiancé, and each of you make up two lists. Make a “List A” which should be a list of people who absolutely have to be at your wedding like your parents, your grandparents, your best friends, don’t forget yourselves (you do have to pay for your plate!). Then make a “List B” being people you could cut if need be like old colleagues, second cousins, some of your mom’s friends, just people who don’t HAVE to be invited but it would be nice! Go over the lists together and combine them, so you have two big lists.
2. Know Who Will Be Paying For What (And what their budget is)
It is really smart to know this in advance so you know what you have to work with. My parents gave me $60K for my wedding and told me they would give us our engagement party, and throw me my bridal shower. I used that money to pay for the food and help pay for the venue’s rental fee. My in-laws made it clear they wouldn’t be giving us anything but money toward the rehearsal dinner. So I knew everything else was falling on Brian and I. So we made specific budgets from there for things like rentals, the band, the cake, the photographer, our wedding planner, ETC;
Get an idea of what sort of wedding you would like to have. Do you want a rustic barn wedding or a big white tent filled with blush roses and candelabras? What ambiance are you going for? What sort of atmosphere are you picturing? Pick up magazines at the grocery store, look for wedding guides online THIS and THIS are among my few favorites. This is also when Pinterest will truly be your best friend!
4. Go Visit Venues!
Pick 5-6 venues and schedule tours! This I did with Brian first, then took my mom to my final few. This is the best way to get a true feel for each venue. How do you feel pulling up? What special amenities and perks do they have to offer? How well did you click with the venue representative giving you the tour? This will be a time of information overload so show up prepped with questions in advance and take lots and lots of notes as there is no way you’re going to remember all the details. When I pulled up to the venue I ended up choosing my mouth fell to the floor, my eyes filled up with water, and I felt as though I was in a fairytale.
5. Revisit Your Top Venues
At this point, you should have a good idea of your top few favorite venues. So make a second appointment, bring your mom for support and/or your maid of honor for their opinions. Based on what time of year you’d like to get married as well as what day of the week best suits your budget, see what dates are open and available to take. For me having my wedding on a Saturday night was going to cost another $8K more than having it on a Friday and even though I would have loved to do a Saturday night wedding, there were places I had to sacrifice and compromise with Brian on. Maybe it means a lot to you to get married on your parents anniversary? Perhaps you’d prefer to not get married on your fiancés birthday? Pick a date that works for you.
6. Choose Your Wedding Party
Just when you thought all the hard decisions were over, trust me you are nowhere close! Now it’s time to pick your wedding party. Sit down with your husband and draft up a list. If you have more people then him double up at the end (that’s what I did!). There might be people you have to put in, like your fiancés’ sisters and then there’s going to be people you couldn’t imagine not including, like your five best friends from eighth grade. Come up with a cute way to ask them like using these, or sending them these. A girl’s brunch is always a fun way to ask everyone at once and get everyone familiar and comfortable with one another.
7. Book your Vendors
Does your venue come with a cake? There should be a preferred vendor list the venue gave you of vendors they often work closely with. If you’d like to hire an event coordinator or stylist this is a great time to do so. Often preferred vendors will offer special discounts just for being recommended by the venue. Make sure there is a set amount for each vendor from the beginning as this is often the time budgets start to max out.
Have you gotten married and have any tips? Are you engaged and have any questions? If so comment down below and feel free to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive wedding tips and tricks for our subscribers!
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