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Complete Guide to Planning a Wedding

Congratulations on your engagement! Planning a wedding is an exciting but daunting process. This blog post serves as a guide for you and your partner to plan out the logistics and necessities of planning a wedding together.

From deciding on the venue to selecting appropriate attire, this article will cover everything that needs to be considered when planning a wedding.

Planning a wedding can be difficult. There are so many parts to it, and there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for everything.

But that’s not true! With this guide, you will have all of the information you need for planning your perfect wedding. From deciding on colours to figuring out what size venue is best, we’ve got you covered on every detail necessary for pulling off an amazing event.

1. Set Your Wedding Budget—and Stick to It

Your budget is the primary thing that drives your wedding planning, so this should be one of the first things to track. Once your budget is decided, fix it.

Your wedding budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members are contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. If you’re footing the bill yourself, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances.

Maybe your family members are contributing to your wedding, sit with them and check what they are contributing or what part of your wedding they can arrange well organized if they can.

Be prepared for a reality check when it comes to the budget for your wedding day, as many couples don’t realize the full scope of costs involved. But, once you’ve got that magic number, stick to it!

Always keep extra balance in your account to use it in additional tailorings like arrangements for rainy seasons or unwanted situations.

Don’t forget to build in a 10 per cent “splurge cushion” for those unexpected costs or urges that inevitably arise.

2. Construct a List of Wedding Day Priorities

Sit down with your partner and determine what the three most important aspects of your wedding will be. Is it the venue or a specific wedding date?

Locking in a certain wedding photographer or live band? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget and help you focus your efforts on what really counts.

3. Follow the Social Media

Make the official announcement to your guest on social media before proceedings begin. As everyone keeps busy in their daily routine, maybe they forgot the date. So give a final reminder to them.

4. Determine Your Bridal Style

Have a look at bridal blogs, magazines, bridal pages on social media etc. and start preparing a list of what type of style you want and what difference you can add to that style; share it with your vendors to apply in your wedding.

Find a few resources of bridal inspiration you like best—Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, trusty bridal sites (including Brides, of course!)—and start researching. Having a good sense of the type of wedding style you want helps immensely once you start meeting with potential vendors.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the wedding inspiration that’s out there. Instead, creating one or more Pinterest boards—or even a visual collage on a cork or poster board—will help you to figure out what sort of look and feel you want and keep you aligned with your larger vision.

5. Get Organized

You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word, Excel, Google Docs—anything, really—as long as you can gather all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc., in one place.

There are also some great online tools and apps out there that can keep you organized. We love WeddingHappy for staying on track with tasks and AllSeated for visualizing seating charts and venue layouts.

You can create your own checklist either on Microsoft word, excel, or drive with all things clearly mentioned.

6. Don’t hurry while taking any decisions

You might get confused about who to book first, from the best wedding photographers, wedding caterers, wedding florists, or make-up artists. No worries; just go a step back and check which one is the most important before making quick decisions.

7. Involve Your Significant Other

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Make sure you are not planning it all alone; your friends, family members, and your fiancé are here to help you at each step. So don’t hesitate to discuss with them if you feel anything uncomfortable.

Don’t feel like you’re in this wedding planning process alone. Consult with your partner along the way; their opinion is bound to be invaluable, and—even if they’re only involved in some aspects—it makes wedding planning that much more fun when you can make decisions together.

Working towards a common goal furthers you and your partner and helps you grow as a couple with every issue you tackle as a team.

8. Buy a Wedding Planning Book

For couples who opt to take on the wedding planning process sans a professional planner or coordinator, traditional etiquette and guidebook (such as The Wedding Book) is a wealth of information and expert advice, including tips and tricks and even examples of timelines and checklists.

9. Create a Master Checklist

It’s important to have a list of wedding tips and tricks in writing when you don’t want a wedding planner to limit your budget. You may download a wedding planning tips or wedding planning guide.

Check out our master wedding planning checklist and timeline to keep yourself on track and tackling tasks like a pro. (Feel free to adapt it to suit your own needs, as necessary). This will help you visualize and prioritize goals without being overwhelmed with everything all at once.

This way, you can have an eye on what you have completed and what not. Then, simply use it as a checklist.

10. Think About Dates (and Seasons)

Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible, if possible, so you’re not constrained when attempting to book the wedding venue and vendors.

Consider external factors like how popular those dates might be for other to-be-weds (making availability scarce and prices higher) if the dates would be difficult for your guests to attend and the price differences of venues and vendors between seasons.

There may be chances that on your wedding day, there may be someone’s wedding falling on the same day and same time, and maybe they also have decided the same venue. So examine your date and discuss with your vendors, so that if they are busy, they can make the best in that period according to your choice.

Weather can never be always the same; it would rain unknowingly, it could be too hot in summers, and it could be too cold in winters, so always get ready for plan B for any circumstances.

11. Select a Theme

Picking a theme or colour for your wedding can make your wedding look interconnected. So choose either the colour or any theme, whichever is under your budget. If your family members are ready, then you can try a casual look theme, like something funny.

Whether it’s specific wedding colours, seasonal or style inspiration, or an actual theme (like the Roaring Twenties or Festival Chic, for example), sometimes it’s helpful to choose a concept to design your wedding around.

Once you have an aesthetic in mind, it’s easier to make design decisions, and generally, everything looks more cohesive.

12. Consider Having an “On-Site” Wedding

In wedding lingo, an “off-site” wedding is where the venue doesn’t have a commercial kitchen and where you need to bring everything in—think places like a park, a public beach, or even an open field.

In contrast, having an “on-site” wedding—somewhere like a hotel or restaurant—will greatly simplify the planning process as they’ll likely have a range of catering offerings available, as well as access to the basics, including designated space, chairs and tables, and possibly even an on-site coordinator to assist you.

13. Start Working on Your Guest List

As guests are the most important part of your wedding, make sure you have already prepared a go-to list of the approximate number of guests you want to invite. Then, start preparing the list with your family members continuing with neighbours and friends.

Making decisions about the guest list can be a complicated process and one that will depend largely on your venue and budget. First, sit down with your partner and key family members to make a wish list of wedding guests.

The guest list should be prepared before settling on your wedding venue because every wedding venue has its space limit.

Chances are, you’ll need to make some cuts. You will also need to decide whether you’re inviting children and who will be allotted a plus one.

See, half of your budget depends on the list of your guests, so lighten your list to trim your wedding budget. Also, most of the venue’s budget is based on per guest entry, so eliminating at least one to ten guests can lower your budget.

14. Talk to Other Married Couples

Have you recently attended a wedding that you really enjoyed? By all means, ask that couple for advice and insights.

They probably have some expert tips and tricks that they learned along the way that they’d be more than happy to share with you. But, sometimes, friends and family are the best resources.

15. Research Your Venue Options

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Be sure to investigate prices, packages, and any restrictions (including minimum budget spend or guest count) from several different potential wedding and reception venues before you sign on the dotted line.

Even if there’s a venue and a package price that you really like, still keep looking at different opinions. Ask around and see what other venues are charging before agreeing on a price.

It’s human nature. The more we have, the more we get confused. So in the case of the wedding also. It’s better to have limited options to focus on that only, to make your plan run smoothly.

16. Only Book Vendors You’re Comfortable With

When it comes to booking wedding vendors, it’s essential to not rush into any decisions. Instead, consider at least a few different options to make sure these important wedding day partners understand your vision and can also work within your budget.

Create a list of people you should be able to trust to execute your plan well organized. Then finalize the vendor list.

Wedding vendors are the nuts and bolts to ensuring your day is ultra memorable and everything runs smoothly, so make sure they’re a team of people that you vibe well with. They should have a good sense of your vision, and you should be able to trust them to execute it well.

Take notice of how a vendor communicates as you try to feel them out. If their particular communication style isn’t a good fit or they seem unreliable or disinterested at this stage, it won’t be a right match for the real work. But, on the other hand, you should never feel bad about reaching out with any along-the-way questions.

If you are renting the venue, check what time vendors will be available to start the setup. Please make sure they are available a day before or at least before the event begins.

Always compare prices maximum with 2-3 vendors, and choose the best which fulfils your budget and choices both. Also, don’t forget to ask for discounts also as this is your big day.

17. Read Every Contract—Closely

Be sure to read every contract with vendors before signing it, to make sure every detail is correct, and to check all types of charges, if there are any extra charges then ask to eliminate those.

Before you sign on any dotted lines, be sure to closely review every detail of any contracts you arrange with your wedding vendors—including date, location, times, deposits, additional fees, colours, quantities—everything has to be in the contract because if it isn’t, or is written incorrectly, you will not be protected if it’s not executed properly.

Be wary of clauses that prevent you from reviewing the vendor after their service (red flag!), extreme cancellation policies, or if the terms seem one-sided. For example, a contract should outline what happens if either party cancels, not just the client.

Carefully read any policies regarding changes in the scope of service, which means that rates could be revised if any significant changes are made. Such policies are standard practice in this industry, but you need to ensure that you know the terms.

For example, if your contract requires catering for a guest list of 50 people, but you later decide to invite 100, you would be responsible for paying an increased rate. Similarly, a venue might require a minimum guest count, which can be problematic if the RSVP total is lower than the original estimate.

Check your contract, and make sure you have a different meal list for your vendors and wedding guests to balance your food budget.

18. Choose Your Wedding Party Wisely

The friends and family you ask to join your wedding party are there for emotional and tactical support throughout the wedding planning process and on the big day.

Consult with your partner to decide what size wedding party works best for the two of you—keeping in mind the expenses that come along with this special responsibility.

Consider who you want standing next to you during this monumental occasion and if they can perform the duties required of their position throughout the planning process.

19. Book Hotel Room Blocks

Whether having a destination wedding or a local celebration, chances are some guests will need a place to stay the night of the wedding. So it’s a thoughtful gesture to consider this and set up a hotel block for them at one or several choice establishments.

This will ensure all your wedding attendees are in the same general vicinity, and many hotels can even provide a discounted rate depending on the number of rooms requested.

20. Shop for Wedding Attire

Always start shopping 2-3 months before because shopping on time can save most of your time, that you can utilize somewhere else. Nothing but at least you can look after your health because shopping makes us tired and it never ends when it comes to the wedding.

Finding the perfect wedding dress is a process all its own. We recommend starting your search right after you pick your venue and complete the purchase nine months before the big day, as this will give you enough time for fittings and alterations.

Shopping for wedding party ensembles should begin about seven to eight months before the wedding date, whereas groom and groomsmen attire can be scheduled around the five-month mark.

Don’t forget that you will also need outfits for any pre-wedding events like brunches, showers, and rehearsals.

21. Apply for Credit Cards

To make your wedding under your budget, you can go for credit cards because many companies offer different wedding schemes. It will help you earn reward points also which later on you can use in your honeymoon planning.

Decide on different sources of financing for your wedding like loaning, family support, credit card swaps etc. Arrange them 2-3 three months before the wedding planning starts.

22. Make a Wedding Website

Avoid getting endless emails and text messages from guests by putting up a simple wedding website where they can check out the details of your wedding.

Include important information like dates, times, locations, dress codes, registries, transportation and lodging, and a day-of itinerary. Everything that appears on the invitations should be present on the welcome page of the website.

23. Build a Registry

You and your partner should begin creating a wishlist of potential gifts you’d like to receive from guests very early on. Then, if traditional gifts aren’t quite your thing, you can opt for more creative registry ideas to fund things like your honeymoon or a downpayment on a new house or opt for a charitable contribution instead.

The registry information should be displayed on your wedding website or on an invitation insert, never on the wedding invitation itself.

To gift your guests, the best would be to register in different gift registries and choose the best from the list. Or you may also visit your nearest wholesale shopping complex for more ideas.

24. Recruit More Hands on Deck

Don’t forget: You’re not in this alone. Your bridal party, family members, and your soon-to-be spouse are all ready to help in ways that suit their strengths. But you have to ask—and sometimes, delegate.

One very important time to delegate is on the big day when you’ll need some extra hands to attend to tasks that you won’t be able to, like dispersing checks to vendors. You should never feel bad about asking as long as you also understand their choice to decline, should they choose to.

25. DIY Strategically

We know it’s hard for many. But nowadays, there are so many apps and free website creation tools that you can create your own wedding website or invitation card to invite your wedding guests.

DIY wedding décor elements can be cost-effective and can add some incredibly personal touches to your wedding day. But a word to the wise: Don’t go overboard, or you’ll end up with more work than you know what to do with.

Plenty of DIY projects can be done well in advance, including favours, welcome bags, etc. However, for things like wedding day florals or food, professional help is best.

26. Take Some Time Off—Together

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For the sake of your own sanity, make sure you schedule some time for the two of you just to be together and do anything but a wedding plan.

Trust us; you’ll need the break. If you can, taking the week before your wedding off from work helps to ensure that all last-minute details are completed and makes the days leading up to the wedding that much less stressful.

27. Pick Invitations and Save the Dates

Start planning your wedding stationery as soon as you know your wedding style and have confirmed the venue. Save-the-date cards typically go out nine months before the wedding date for a destination wedding and four to six months prior for local nuptials.

Invitation suites follow at six to eight weeks before the big day. You should request that RSVPs be returned no later than one month before the celebration, so there are no last-minute hiccups.

Be prepared that 10-20% of your guest list won’t attend. Generally, it depends on the venue location. So cross-check your guest list and see how many of them are out of town.

28. Hire an Officiant

Finding the right officiant to preside over your weddings can be a deeply personal journey for couples. Whomever you choose will not only dictate the event but also usher you into your union, setting the tone for the rest of your lives together.

If booking a clergy member or justice of the peace (rather than having a friend or family member officiate), it’s important to thoroughly do your research, obtain reviews or recommendations, and ask the right questions like if personalizations are allowed, how disruptions would be handled, and if they are involved in getting a marriage license.

29. Add Some Personal Touches

If there is something you want to start for your future generations, then don’t hesitate, discuss it with your elder’s and add it to make it a personal touch.

Whether it’s familial or cultural wedding customs that have a special meaning, or if there’s a tradition that the two of you want to start for future generations, don’t be afraid to incorporate some heartfelt, personal touches into your wedding day festivities. Remember, this is your day!

30. Organize Transportation

There are three categories of wedding transportation to take into consideration. First, depending on the venue, you may require transportation for yourselves and the wedding party to the ceremony.

You will need a getaway car to take yourself and your new spouse to the reception, while the wedding party takes the transportation mentioned above.

Suppose your venue is a remote location, or you have guests attending from out of town. In that case, it is also thought to book group transportation to take them between the ceremony, reception, and hotels (this is where those hotel blocks come in handy). For a personalized touch, get creative with types of transportation that speak to the surroundings.

31. Purchase Wedding Bands

Take a moment just to enjoy what’s left of your engagement and fiancé(e) status and go shopping for your wedding bands. If you haven’t already, this would also be the time to ensure your engagement ring and add the wedding bands to the policy.

32. Account for Pre-Wedding Events

Engagement celebrations, showers, brunches, bachelor/bachelorette parties—there is no shortage of pre-wedding events to take place in the months leading up to your wedding day.

While most of these festivities are traditionally hosted by a close friend or family member, you need to participate in a small portion of the planning. At the very least, the guest lists for these events will need to be created by you and passed on to the generous hosts.

33. Understand What You Don’t Want

Your wedding should be all about the two of you as a couple. If certain traditional aspects make you uncomfortable, feel outdated, or simply aren’t your style, just don’t include them on your wedding day. Traditions are lovely, but only when they’re meaningful to you.

34. Don’t Forget the Rehearsal Dinner Details

 

Much like other pre-wedding festivities, the rehearsal dinner may or may not be hosted by someone other than you. Regardless of the fact, you will need to partake in the planning process.

Much like for the wedding, the rehearsal dinner will need a venue, guest list, catering selection, and invitations. If you have a destination wedding or wedding weekend, this can either be tied into the welcome party or remain completely separate.

35. Consider a Day-Of Coordinator

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Even when a full-service wedding planner isn’t in the cards, hiring a professional to oversee the day-of details can be a game-changer.

They’ll keep track of vendors for you, keep an eye on the schedule, and help with any last-minute details and on-site tasks you simply won’t have time for. Just don’t leave the booking until the last minute; even though this is a day-of coordinator, they are typically hired six to eight months in advance.

36. Create a Social Media Strategy

Whether you want your guests to share moments of your wedding day with the world or prefer to have an unplugged wedding, strategy is key. Hashtags, signage, and photo booths are a great way to get guests posting on social media.

On the other hand, if you don’t want your guests snapping shots or taking videos during the ceremony, have the officiant make a quick announcement before proceedings begin.

37. Make It Legal

Amid all the crazy planning and endless small details, don’t forget to plan time to get your marriage license.

Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on, but keep in mind that marriage licenses are typically only valid for a couple of months—and destination weddings often have their stipulations—so plan accordingly.

38. Postpone Honeymoon Planning

Always have a gap between your wedding and honeymoon; it helps to control your budget and focus on one thing at a time.

Simultaneously planning a wedding and a dream honeymoon is not only expensive but also very time-consuming. So, especially if the two of you are doing everything yourselves, it may be a good idea to postpone honeymoon planning just a bit.

Many couples recommend spacing out the wedding and honeymoon to really appreciate everything, rather than being too drained from the wedding planning to enjoy the post-nuptial getaway fully.

39. Allocate Toasts and Readings

Wedding toasts are typically reserved for select VIPs and are traditionally distributed between the rehearsal dinner and reception, though some couples choose to have everything take place at one event.

You are responsible for notifying toast-makers of their responsibilities, accepting requests to speak, and organizing the speaking order. Including readings in the ceremony, whether traditional, cultural, or literary, is a great way to honour important people in your lives that aren’t part of the wedding party.

As with toasts, you assume responsibility for choosing the speakers and defining the speaking order.

40. Finalize Setup Details

As your wedding date approaches, check in with your venue to determine when your vendors can arrive for setup. Of course, the earlier, the better, but in some cases, venues may have other events going on the same day. Be sure to pass along the information to your vendors, so everyone is on the same page.

41. Build a Playlist

Regardless of if you are having a live band, DJ, or manning the turntables yourself, you will need to outline all of the key songs that absolutely must be played during the nuptial festivities. Just as important: Don’t forget to create a list of the songs you definitely don’t want to hear.

42. Write Vows

Take off your wedding planner hat for just a moment and don your to-be-wed headdress. Indulge yourself in a few moments of solitude to gather your thoughts and put pen to paper as you conceive the declarations of love and marital pledges you will make to your spouse-to-be as you are married.

Make sure to include some real promises in your notes rather than just creating a love letter to your beloved. They are called vows for a reason, after all.

43. Produce a Schedule of Events

Creating a comprehensive wedding day schedule ensures everyone is on the same page about timing and location(s) and helps to make sure the day’s events run smoothly.

Include things like hair and make-up appointments, when vendors will arrive, timing for transportation to/arrival at the ceremony location; the couple’s coming to the reception, speeches and the first dance, when the cake will be cut, etc.

Print out (or email) copies to your MC, photographer, maid of honour, key family members, all vendors, and anyone else that should be in the know.

44. Say Thanks

Gratitude goes a long way. So be sure to arrange for small gifts for your wedding party and anyone else who played a big role in your wedding planning journey—including friends who pitched in to help with all of your wedding DIY projects and, of course, parents or other family members who have been there for you and supported you along the way.

Don’t hesitate to give them a special little shoutout during the wedding toast, too.

45. Focus on the Big Picture

Be present at the moment and feel the love—you’re getting married! Don’t worry about the minutiae and if some things aren’t perfect. What will guests most definitely notice? A stressed-out couple who’s overwhelmed with last-minute details.

By the time your wedding day rolls around, try to relax and enjoy all of the special moments with your loved ones. Ask any married couple—it will zoom by.

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