I love this time of the year in the wedding world because there are so many newly engaged couples beginning their wedding planning journey. I’ve had the good fortune to meet with many new brides and grooms over the last few weeks and hear such cute stories of how they met, where and how they got engaged, and why they just can’t wait to get started on their wedding plans. I posted a blog article a little over a year ago with some helpful tips on where to begin, which I’ll expand on now.
First and foremost, relax! As long as you’re not considering getting married in the next few months, you’ve got plenty of time to plan a wedding! Is it overwhelming? Of course it is! There’s a gazillion things to do but the good news you don’t have to do them all RIGHT NOW. You’ve got time, so take it step by step.
Decide on a season and some possible dates. Don’t pick just one date that you absolutely must get married on because you never know if it will be available at the venues you are considering, or if your friend from high school is due to have a baby that day, or if all the hotels in Nashville are booked for a random conference. Just start with a general time of year and some possible dates.
Next, hire a wedding planner…yes DO IT….and do it now. This one step can single-handedly save you huge amounts of time, stress, and money over the course of the next 8-14 months (or however long you plan to be engaged). There’s a good possibility you’ve never done this whole wedding planning thing before, but a professional wedding planner has, dozens and maybe even hundreds of times. Why would you invest a huge sum of money into an event without someone who knows what they are doing to guide you, work with you, and make it all come together? Ok I’m done now…but seriously, go hire a planner.
Compile your guest list. This doesn’t mean you have to choose exactly who you plan to invite because obviously things change over the course of a year, but make a list, and get a pretty good idea of what size wedding you are aiming for.
Create a budget. You can’t book venues or vendors until you know how much you have to spend so break out the calculator and figure out how much money you have to work with. If you hired a wedding planner (and of course you did) this person will help tremendously with this step! In order to make a proper budget you need to know what everything generally costs in your city and this will take a lot of research. Be prepared for some sticker-shock! Weddings aren’t cheap and most brides and grooms are pretty surprised when they start realizing how much everything costs. Make peace now with the fact that what you envision in your head for your wedding may not line up with what you have to spend. I try to inform couples to come up with two numbers, how much they’d ideally like to spend on their wedding, and then the highest amount they would absolutely be willing/able to spend.
Begin the venue search. Once you know approximately how many guests will attend your wedding and how much money you can spend on your venue, you can begin to look for one! If there are any MUST-HAVE vendors, this would also be a good time to check with them on their availability before you settle on a date.
Set the date! You’ve chosen your venue(s) and any must-have vendors and found a date that works for them all. There are a couple more people and places you should check with before you sign on any dotted lines, and you can read about them in the blog article I mentioned earlier. And now the real fun begins!
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