So, you or your partner got down on one knee, asked that huge question, and presented a genuinely fantastic ring to seal the deal. You’re now officially engaged, which is cause for major celebration! But don’t get too comfortable yet. This is where the hard stuff starts, and trust us – planning a wedding is daunting even in the best of times.
We’re here to help you get started with the process, though, and (hopefully) make things move a little bit smoother along the way. Ready for that? Read along to learn the main steps you need to take before those wedding bells ring out and the confetti starts flying.
1. Get Some Inspiration
There’s something to be said for taking things as they come and letting the chips fall where they may. After all, that tends to make things considerably more fun and means they can also evolve organically. However, that being said, a wedding is not the time to embrace this kind of spontaneity.
Definitely don’t be afraid to flex your planning know-how. The first step of that? Seek out some inspiration. Look at wedding day boards on Pinterest, follow wedding-related accounts on Instagram, and peruse some magazines to get ideas about décor, colors, themes, attire, etc. You never know what’ll jump out at you! Make a note of what does, and be sure to talk about it with your partner.
2. Set a Reasonable Budget
We know that this is probably the least fun and exciting part of wedding planning, but it has to be done. In fact, this should ideally be the first actionable step in your planning process, as you don’t want to get too attached to a particular venue or vendor and suddenly realize you don’t have the cash to make it happen. So, don’t procrastinate on this. Sit down with your spouse-to-be, examine your finances, and set a budget that makes sense for you and your goals.
3. Hire a Planner and/or Create a Master Checklist
For the organized, type-A folks out there, planning comes naturally. For the rest of us, though, let’s just say things can get a little messy, and you don’t want this whenever you’re preparing for one of the biggest days of your life. Our recommendation then is to either hire a wedding planner or – if you don’t quite have that level of cash to spare – spend a little time creating a master checklist.
The latter clearly isn’t as convenient and stress-relieving, but it will be hugely important when you get to the point where you don’t know what else is left on your plate or can’t remember who you’ve reached out to yet. Just be sure to write down everything you need to do – from booking your venue to sending invites to deciding on entertainment and more.
4. Get Your Guest List Together
Everyone loves a good party, and there are few bigger or better than a wedding. But that doesn’t mean every aunt you haven’t seen in years or every vaguely related relative should be given a spot on your guest list. As much as you may hate to choose favorites, be choosy whenever you’ve finally reached this step. Also, be practical. Consider how much space is commonly available at the venues around you, keep your budget in mind, and talk with your future spouse about close family schedules.
5. Narrow Down a Date
Whenever you’re in love and have been excited to get married for quite a while now, you’re probably ready to get that ring on your finger as soon as humanly possible. It’s an impulse that’s hard to reign in, but if the style and size of your wedding are important to you, try to be more conservative when setting the date.
Planning all these details, both big and small, takes time. On top of this, venue wait lists are long, people’s schedules are hard to work around, and finding your dream dress/suit is no small task. Set yourself up for success and have your date reflect this. At least a year after your engagement would be wise, although even longer is highly encouraged.
6. Choose and Book Your Venue
Now that the budget has been set, you’ve largely sorted out who you want to be present on the big day, and you have a decent idea of when you want the wedding to be; it’s time to choose and book your venue. As the location impacts everything from how grand your theme can be to the flowers that’ll go on guests’ tables, be sure you’re happy with your choice. Ensure you’ve seen several places and have considered all your options before dotting your Is and crossing your Ts.
7. Pick Out the Wedding Party
Everyone present on the day you tie the knot is there to support you. However, your wedding party truly is in another class altogether, keeping your head above water amongst the chaos and always having your back, no matter how much tulle and how many tears there may be. As such, make sure you have the right size of wedding party that works for you and that it’s comprised of the people you trust the most. It will make your special day that much more effortless and meaningful.
8. Buy Your Wedding Day Attire and Rings
As we’ve said before, planning is a huge process. But shopping for your wedding day attire? That’s something all unto itself. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a stunning princess-worthy dress, a dapper suit, or some other type of stylish formalwear, know that this step is far from easy for most people. Start the search several months before your wedding date, and don’t be frustrated if it feels like nothing’s catching your eye. The right attire will show up when the time’s right. Enjoy the journey until then.
9. Don’t Forget the Details
With something as technical and life-changing as a wedding, there’s no such thing as extraneous details. Every single one is important, so double-check that you’ve marked off everything on your list. Reach out to all your vendors.
Finalize the guest list and accommodations. Set up a wedding registry. Make arrangements for your honeymoon, buy your wedding party gifts for groomsmen & bridesmaids (something like a wooden watch would be perfect!), and schedule all your fittings. It’s admittedly rather tricky, but try to ensure nothing small slips through the cracks. Your wedding day will be all the more joyful and relaxing because of it.