No matter how many years you’ve dreamt about your wedding, to plan a wedding is a very different thing. Most couples take eighteen months to get from “We’re Engaged!” to “I Do!” But even long engagements can find themselves wishing they had more time to plan and prep for the big day.
In other words, the sooner you start to plan a wedding after you’re engaged, the better.
Of course, there’s no one right way to plan a wedding. Each couple will find what works for them. Ultimately, the wedding day will end up being perfect, even when it’s filled with a few imperfect moments. If you have fun, feel relaxed, and loved – you have had a successful wedding day!
Once you have a wedding theme and vision for your wedding, it’s time to get started. Here’s a simple checklist of to-do’s to keep in mind so that you get to your “I do’s” with as little stress as possible. Whether your wedding will be big or small, this handy checklist will keep you focused as you make your way towards the aisle.
1, Select Your Wedding Date
Having an idea about when you want to get married will help you start looking for venues and set your budget. There is a huge difference between getting married in the peak season (summer and fall) or the off-season (spring and winter). Sometimes very specific dates are booked out over a year in advance. Make sure you have a date you like and then stick with it. To make sure you’re not planning your wedding for a time that absolutely won’t work for some of your most important guests (think parents, siblings, and bridesmaids), run some potential dates by them first. While you can’t typically nail down a wedding date until you’ve chosen a venue, having a few solid choices will help you with the next step. Saturdays, holidays, even dates (10-10-20 or 02-02-20, etc.) usually book out quickly. Weekdays are more available.
// Given we knew our venue right away, we decided it would be best to have a weekday wedding in the summer. After going back and forth, considering temperatures, weather patterns, water levels in the river (that’s next to us), and so on, we decided on August. We were then looking for a good date in august that would land in the middle of the week. All of a sudden, we landed on the 12th. It’s a Wednesday. My mom got excited and made the connection the 8+12=20, so she thought that was funny!
2. Determine a Budget
Knowing how much money you want to spend on your wedding is a great place to get started. However, it’s not the most fun wedding planning activity. While it can feel a bit awkward to bring up finances right away, not talking about your budget will leave you making potential mistakes, like choosing a venue or a dress that consumes your entire wedding fund.
// Rob and I decided quickly that we didn’t want our day to blow our bank away. We’re still young, we’re saving to have a good life ahead of us, and we’re not willing to spend all our savings on our wedding day. However, we want it special and unique, so we sat down and came up with a reasonable number we’re willing to spend. That being said, I have already had to adjust our budget a couple of times after getting a better understanding of how many people we’ll have and how much our favorite vendors charge. We’re constantly adjusting and use a few apps and spreadsheets to keep us on track. By starting over a year in advance, we also have time to spread out our costs to not hit us all at once.
3. Find Your Venue
Now that you know your vision for your wedding finding your venue should be quite a bit easier. Today, it’s totally cool to think well outside of the box, so don’t be afraid to get creative as you search for venues. It could be outdoors, in your backyard, in the middle of the woods, along your favorite hike, or at your favorite restaurant. But, before you get your heart set, be sure to double-check that one of your chosen wedding dates will work. And, if it does, book it!
// The venue was pretty much the first thing we decided on. I had already thought about it for a few years before getting engaged – how perfect Rob’s family cabin would be for a wedding – so that came supernatural. It saves us a lot of money, not having a traditional venue. However, it does require a bit more work as we have to bring everything else in. We also have to participate in work-days and help paint the bathrooms and so on to make it fresh and ready for a wedding. For us, it’s so worth it because it means the world to us to get married in a special location.
4. Choose Your Wedding Party
Your bridesmaids and groomsmen (or bridesmen and grooms ladies) need to know that they’re going to be included in your wedding as soon as possible, so don’t wait too long to choose. // For us, this was a given. We both have 2 best friends each, so we made it simple and told them that they pretty much don’t have a choice but to be there. It’s a little tricky, though, because they are all spread out. So planning and coordination with them are going to be a process. However, we can’t wait to have our favorite people by our sides!
5. Choose and Send Invitations
Once you have your wedding date and venue, you can start designing your wedding invites. Save the Date notifications are useful for your guests, so be sure to choose how you want to let everyone know when and where your wedding will occur, especially if there’s travel involved.
// This is something we’re quick with as well. Within a week, we had our venue and date, so I created a website for us with all the information needed for our guests. This acted as our “save the dates.” First, we didn’t want invitations, but now I believe we’ve decided it would be nice to have some physical copy of them as well, so we’ll order a few and send them out to our people. We’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as we can as we plan a wedding, so we’re carefully choosing the paper quality and several invitations to limit the amount of waste.
6. Hire Your Vendors
From professional wedding planners to photographers and caterers, there are plenty of people to help you pull off the perfect wedding. Once you know your budget, the date, and the venue, you can start booking your vendors.
//This is a huge part of the process and a very fun one!! Rob and I created a list of all the types of vendors we think we need. We then slowly started to cross them off. We think we need:
Plan Your Wedding Photographer
Obviously, we want our full day documented in the best way possible!
Plan a Wedding Florist
I’m doing a flower crown, bouquets, and boutonniere.
Food was like nr. 2 on our list of priorities. We want to have a long family-style dinner that reminds me of the best summer nights there are. We’re looking to serve traditional Swedish food to celebrate my heritage.
First, we thought we would use the tables already available to us, but they may be too damaged and uneven to achieve the look and feel we’re going for. So we might end up bringing in some classic farm tables and benches. We’re also looking to have them bring in silverware and all that for us.
We need some kind of signage, invitations, menus, and other printed items for our day to make it all go together well. We also want to have a classy way of informing our guests of when and where things will happen/how they can get there.
SO excited and a little scared for this part. I am 99% sure that I will go with a custom made dress by some talented designer off Etsy or something similar. However, I will take my time figuring out what I want/feel best in. Rob will do something similar with his suit. We’re also looking at materials to figure out what’s going to be most comfortable.
Rob has already ordered his ring from a knife-maker in Australia. I’m constantly looking for the perfect wedding band that will go with my Montana sapphire that I have as an engagement ring.
For other vendors such as DJ, planners, and so on, we’re still looking at options and still playing with the idea of handling it ourselves or not. We’ll see. We’re still about 12 months out!
7. Stay Inspired While You Plan a Wedding
Don’t let your wedding planning get stale. Keep it fresh and fun by creating Pinterest boards or find inspiration on social media. Sharing this inspiration with your vendors is also a great way to keep them in the loop.