If you’ve made it to this blog post, I’m willing to bet that you’re about a year away from your wedding (woohoo!!) and a little bit overwhelmed by all the things you feel like you should have done by now. Don’t worry, because this wedding planning checklist (and the series to follow) is here to guide you through the key checkpoints leading up to your wedding!
If you started your wedding planning journey with our newly engaged blog, you already know how important budgets are. You also know that wedding budgets often change after couples learn how much specific vendors and wedding items cost. By the 12-month mark, your working budget should be relatively close to what your final budget will be. Be sure to consider your money sources for the wedding such as personal savings, side hustles, and contributions from family.
You’ll have a bit of flexibility with your guest count throughout the planning process, but you still need to make an estimation. A 40-person wedding will have wildly different options for venues than a 240-person wedding, so it’s crucial to have a rough idea early on in the planning process. Don’t forget that your guest count affects your budget and vice versa!
Go ahead and start working on your list as well so you have plenty of time. No one wants to come up with their guest list three months before their wedding. That is when you’re trying to order invitations and end up pressed for time!
If you and your partner live in/near your home towns, this will probably be a pretty easy decision. Unless you’re planning on having a destination wedding, you’re likely getting married in your home town or the closest metropolitan area. You’ll need to have a lot of discussions about which city makes the most sense if your loved ones are spread out. Consider the number of people who would be traveling, if you’re able to plan a wedding in a city you don’t live near, which area you feel most connected to, and the areas that have the best guest accommodations and entertainment for those that are traveling.
Already have a date picked out? If there is a significant date on which you want to get married, stand firm in that! For most of my couples, however, choosing a date can be overwhelming. My biggest advice is to simply choose a season or month that you like and let the availability of your vendors guide the actual date. Be sure you’re accounting for birthdays, holidays, and other significant dates, but there is so much freedom that comes with being flexible with your date!
Wedding planners can make a world of difference when it comes to the amount of work you and your loved ones do leading up to and on your wedding day. A good wedding planner doesn’t just help you plan- they also give you insider tips that you never would have thought to consider, ease your anxieties about your wedding day, save you money (yes, it’s true! We can help you avoid costly mistakes while pointing you in the direction of vendors who provide incredible value), free up your time so that you can soak up your engagement period, and SO much more!
If a full-service wedding planner isn’t quite what you’re looking for, consider other services that a planner may offer! “Partial planning” can mean a lot of different things depending on the planner you’re talking to, so chat with a few and decide which company is the best fit for you. If you’ve got the planning, design, and budget management aspects down, look into hiring someone for wedding management (sometimes this is referred to as “day-of coordination”). At the absolute minimum, you want a professional who is on your team that can execute and manage all of the hard work that you’ve put into your wedding day.
Your priorities will often dictate the allocation of your budget and the order in which you hire vendors. If, say, photography is the absolute #1 most important thing for your wedding day (aside from marrying your favorite human, of course), you’ll probably spend a good chunk of change on it. You’ll want to secure your photographer early on. Otherwise, their schedule may get booked up before you get to them.
I recommend making a list of your top three wedding priorities and a list of anything that you really don’t care about- aka the stuff you can either get rid of or make as easy as possible. Keep these two lists in mind throughout the entire planning process, and I guarantee you it makes decision-making so much easier. Trying to decide if you want to spend an extra $200 on a hand-painted bar menu? Was having a customized and highly aesthetically-pleasing bar menu included in your priority list? Are you already having trouble sticking to your budget? Is it going to stress you out? If you answered no to these questions, you probably don’t need to worry about the $200 hand-painted bar menu.
If you plan on attending wedding expos or bridal shows, having a separate email address is key. Throughout your wedding planning process, you’ll be in contact with a lot of different vendors and may end up on a lot of mailing lists. This is great while you’re in the thick of it, but it can be annoying to keep getting emails after you’ve tied the knot. By creating an email address that’s exclusively for your wedding plans, you contain all of that information in one spot. Plus you get to delete the account once you no longer need it!
Pinterest can be a phenomenal tool for wedding inspiration. But be aware of the fact that most of the photos on there are either from styled shoots or weddings that have budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can absolutely use Pinterest as a resource, but I also recommend looking around for real wedding features. The Aisle Guide is one of my favorite resources for planning tips and real wedding inspiration.
Your religion and culture greatly impact many aspects of your wedding, so it is important to consider this early on in the planning process. Tradition can dictate things like your ceremony venue, your priorities, and even the number of days you celebrate. Have an honest conversation with your partner and your families to decide which traditions you plan on following and how closely you’ll follow them.
PS: Be sure to download our FREE wedding planning checklist to keep you on track!
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Here at Philosofi Celebrations, we celebrate love in all forms, and we want you to know you
are invited to join us as we honor each couple’s unique celebration of love. Our core values of love, wisdom, inclusivity, community, and joy guide every decision we make and interaction we have.