By Sarai Plotz
Step 1: Take a deep breath. Do not get overwhelmed. The key is to take it one step at a time. There is a lot to do but it’s best to take it one piece at a time and before you know it , it will all be done.
Step 2: Come up with a budget. Make this a HARD number a number that you are in no way able to go over. No matter what you have you can make a wedding out of it. So just be honest with yourselves about what you can spend. Are you paying? Are parents, grandparents or other relatives chipping in.? Have the hard conversations and find out.
Step 3: Sit down with your fiance and discuss the priorities for you for your wedding. What elements of the wedding are MUST HAVES and what would you be willing to go without. This is important because one there maybe things VERY important to your significant other that are not to you, but as this is both of your wedding you want to be careful to incorporate both of you and what you want into the wedding.
This will help you determine how to spend your budget. If a live band is at the top of your priority list then you may be willing to spend more for it, so you take off some of the “could go withouts” so that you can accomplish the MUST HAVES.
Note: There is A LOT involved in a wedding, however a lot of it can be edited to what you and your fiancé like. Other than the vows, it can be as much, or as little as you want. So feel free to speak up if there are parts that you DON’T want. It’s your day so ANYTHING GOES! :)
Put the following in priority:
- Flowers – Specify whether it is important for you to have fresh flowers or not
- Music- (DJ, Live band, iPod) Ceremony & Reception
- Tableware – How important is it that it be real dishware, glassware?
- Location – Is there somewhere you always imagined your wedding? Like it HAS TO BE AT A VINEYARD?
- Gifts for Bridesmaids/Groomsmen
- Wedding website
- Ceremony Programs
- Entertainment for Guests during reception (slideshow, Games, Quizzes, Music or dance performance etc.)
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Gifts for Parents
- Photo Prints – it is good to incorporate this cost in your budget because otherwise you may not be able to afford it after the wedding L
- Getaway Car
- Exit items – Rice, Bubbles, Sparklers
- Washing each other’s feet
- Praying together
- Having someone pray over you
- Unity Candle
There may be things you saw at a wedding or have always wanted at your wedding that are not on the above list be sure to add them and put them in their place in priority to you on the list.
Step 4: Brain storm. Have fun with it!
- Meet your friends at a bookstore and look through bridal magazines.
- Go online and look through websites and bridal blogs. Here is a link for the top 100 bridal blogs.
- Set up a Pinterest account so you can collect and save all your ideas in one accessible place. Download the app as well so you can take pictures with your phone and upload them right into your account.
- Check out bridal magazines/books from the library – this will save you money because you won’t have to buy them. – Don’t read them all and get super overwhelmed just look through them for ideas.
- Be sure to be open to any and every inspiration if you see a color or texture or anything you like that you might want in your wedding, collect it.
- Remember this is your wedding. It is about what you want so the point is to find out what that is. So even if you like a photo but your not sure why collect it because you may see a theme in what you collect the more you do.
Step 5: Start planning, one thing at a time, in order of what needs to be done. I realize that random things with happen and fall into place along the way and that’s great, but there are certain things that need to be done earlier on and since it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the things you have to do, it’s better to take on one thing at a time in the order in which it needs to get done. So here is my list for that.
- Pick a date – Talk with your families/ key people you want at the wedding. Also consider that the day and time of day can have an effect on your budget. Friday & Saturday nights as well as holiday weekends are going to be more expensive. Also, evening weddings where you have to serve dinner vs. a mid-day wedding where you only have to serve dessert or light appetizers will be more expensive. If the Day and time of day are not as important to you, you might choose something earlier in the day on a Sunday to cut some cost.
- Pick out your bridal party and let them, your families, and any out of town guests know to SAVE THE DATE.
- Consider Hiring a wedding planner to help this whole process go a lot smoother. J
- Have a Engagement Party(Register before this if possible)
- Location – locations can book up to a year in advance so you want to nail this down as soon as possible. Especially if you have a certain place in mind.
- Photographer – Photographers book far out as well so next to location this is next priority.
- Brides Dress
- Plan Honeymoon – Schedule Flights (if your flying)
- Floweriest – a lot of floweriest will create a package for you based on your price and what you want accomplished don’t be afraid to have a consultation
- Rental equipment – If needed (chairs, tables, arches, chair bows, linens etc.)
- Order Bridesmaids dresses/Select Groomsmen’s attire
- Wedding rings
- Cake – Baker
- Finalize décor (color scheme, theme if there is one, ceremony décor, centerpieces & overall décor for reception etc.)
- Set up a block of rooms for out of town guests(Look for a hotel near your wedding location and ship around for a good group rate. Take into consideration things like does the hotel offer a free shuttle to the airport that might eliminate having to give rides to guests who don’t rent cars)
- If you haven’t registered yet do so
- Bridal Shower
- Purchase/ borrow items for décor
- Order/create guest book
- Hire getaway car
- Mail invitiation
- Write your vows
- Purchase gifts for attendants
- Hair/Makeup artists – book a tryout
- APPLY for marriage license (this has to be in the county where you will be getting married. If you are not getting married in your county you will need to make a special trip to get the license unless you will be in the county on a week day during business hours before the wedding)
- Have final gown fitting
- Make sure bridesmaids gowns are ready
- Create Wedding program
- Order welcome baskets for out of town guests
- 2wks before – Make f/u calls finalize guest list
- Get photo list to Photographer – your photographer should provide this to you and you should just have to check the ones you want and give it back, but if they don’t find a generic one online and go through and customize it to what you want and give it to them. Make sure to add any additional shots you know you MUST HAVE.
- Get final song list to DJ with special songs, songs for special dances etc.
- Get caterer final headcount
- Plan seating chart
- Create chart & place cards
- Give coordinator list of vendors & contact numbers
- Get gown steamed
- Groom& Groomsmen get final fitting/ pick up formalwear
- Determine wedding party line up and entry & exit for ceremony
- Arrange rides for out of town guest without vehicles, be sure to do this for both pick up and drop off. So they are not stranded after the wedding
- Delivery welcome baskets to hotel for out of town guests
- Give out contact number for someone other then yourself for all vendors to contact in case they need assistance day of. There needs to be some sort of day of coordinated. Whether you hire a professional or you have an really organized friend do it, there needs to be a point person OTHER THAN THE BRIDE.
- Coordinate payment for all vendors – do as much of this before the wedding day as possible. Any wedding day payments should be handed off to the coordinator with instructions and all ready to go. Sealed envelopes with names of vendors etc.
- Have rehearsal – this is important. Coordinating who goes where when before the day of will make the ceremony go more smoothly.
- Make sure your officiant has your marriage license.
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Give bridal party thank you gifts (either at rehearsal or when you are getting ready on the day of.
- Coordinate rental borrowed items get returned including grooms tux.
- Make sure you have people assigned to clean-up if not covered by the location, this should not be the bridal party or family if possible.
- Send thank you cards
Now go back to the top and breathe. I did not give you this list to overwhelm you. It is to give you an idea of the order in which to do things. As I said at the beginning it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but don’t. Just go down the list taking one thing at a time. And remember to ENJOY THIS SEASON. You will not be engaged very long and believe or not it will go by really quickly. Make the conscience decision to enjoy this process and season with your fiancé. When I was engaged there was a really stressful moment with my family discussing finances and the date and whether this was the right time to get married.. after the call I was very stressed and was completely second guessing our decision on the timing of our wedding. My fiancé at the time said “ lets go for a walk” while we did we discussed how we got to that point and how we felt that this was the time to get married. It was what was right for us as a couple. So we moved forward with it and it all turned out beautiful in the end.
There are going to be a lot of those moments throughout your engagement where other people will try to put additional stress on you based on their expectations and thoughts, fears. You and your fiancé will need to re-center yourself and decide what is best for you. With that said, be nice about it, most the time everyone wants what’s best for you but sometimes you just need to reassure them that you got this and you are confident in your decision.
Best of luck on your wedding planning!