First of all, congratulations on your engagement! If you’re freaking out a little bit about where to start with this whole wedding planning thing, take a deep breath, and read all about How to Start Planning a Wedding 101!
It is so tempting to start searching for venues and picking a wedding date right away (trust me, I get it). But taking a few days or weeks to just take in the experience and spend time with your partner before trying to hit the ground running is such a wonderful way to start your wedding planning process. Your engagement is a whole new phase of your relationship! It isn’t just a time to check off a to-do list and get things done. Take time at the start of this new phase to celebrate and enjoy it!!
I’m gonna be real with you for a minute- a lot of couples change their wedding budgets during the planning process. The reality is that most people planning a wedding haven’t ever planned one before and don’t know what to expect in terms of cost. Coming up with a budget at this stage will help you select your first few vendors (like your planner and venue).
It’s helpful to do a little bit of research to see what an average wedding in your area costs and what that “average wedding” looks like. If you’re having a laid-back wedding at your house with 20 guests, that will likely cost less than average. If you’re having a black-tie wedding in a grand ballroom with 400 guests, you’ll spend more than average.
You’ll also want to think about what your budget will include. Some people don’t include their honeymoon or attire in their budget, so determine if you’ll have a separate budget for any other wedding-related things. No matter how much you have to spend on your wedding, it’s important to make (and manage) your budget.
Your guest list at this stage isn’t set in stone by any means. But you’ll want to have an idea of your guest count before you start getting into the nitty-gritty of planning. Think about how many things your guest count impacts: the venues you can use, how much food you need, how many extra hands your planner needs, and so much more. Don’t forget to talk this part over with anyone who may (reasonably) get some input into who’s invited.
You don’t need a venue and a date quite yet. But you want to have a general location and an idea of when you want the wedding picked out. If there is a date that is important to you, go ahead and make that your top priority! If you don’t have a significant date in mind, however, come up with a season or month and year. Flexibility with your date will give you more options when it comes to your venue and other top priority vendors.
Okay, I might be a little biased. I truly believe that a good wedding planner can make all the difference in the world! Even your initial consultation with a planner should give you a bit of insight into how your vision may work with your budget and clarify any questions you may have.
Like I said earlier, most people getting married have never planned a wedding before. You’re probably working full-time or doing something else that takes up a significant amount of your time. By hiring a wedding planner, you can cut down on the amount of your free time you’re spending on researching and contacting vendors, making spreadsheets, managing your budget, etc. You can spend that free time, instead, working on your future marriage. Maybe even having fun being engaged and doing things like shopping for attire, tasting cake, and binge-watching Say I Do on Netflix.
If you already know the ins and outs of weddings and/or love to do research, have plenty of time on your hands, and are super organized, then honestly, you probably don’t need a full-service wedding planner. However, I always recommend hiring someone for wedding management (sometimes known as day-of-coordination). A wedding manager or wedding coordinator will typically take over somewhere between one month and six weeks prior to your wedding to handle all of the last-minute logistical details. We act as the captain of your vendor team to make sure everything runs smoothly and goes according to plan.
PS: Be sure to download our full wedding planning checklist!
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I absolutely love all these tips! So many couples stress about these things, and you put them in a way that makes sense. I hope it brings peace and education to couples who are planning their big day!
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