The amount people are spending on their big day fluctuates every year. In 2020, the average was just over $20,000, a major decrease from the year prior. However, that’s always subject to change.
The reality is that weddings involve a lot of moving parts. Planning your wedding may not be as straightforward as you think and chances are, it’s going to be the most expensive event you ever throw on your own!
That doesn’t mean that your perfect wedding isn’t attainable. It just means that it’s time to start preparing and get an idea of what wedding planning really looks like.
Read on for our complete guide to planning the perfect wedding with minimal stress.
Start With a System of Organization
As you’ll quickly see, planning your wedding will require a lot of coordination. You’ll need to keep track of a lot of numbers, contact info, and documents along the way. Come up with a system of organization that you know you can stick with, whether it’s a good old-fashioned binder or an intricate spreadsheet.
Seriously, Make a Budget
Wedding costs add up quickly and you need to decide how much you can spend before you start planning. Use your budget in tandem with your list of priorities to decide where to focus the most of your money. For example, if a custom wedding dress has always been important to you, put more money aside for your dress and spend less on, say, flowers or decor.
Put Together a List of Priorities For Your Perfect Wedding
Remember that priority list we just mentioned? Now is the time to think about it.
Is there a specific setting you have in mind for your wedding? Maybe there’s a specific restaurant you know you want to provide the catering. Maybe having a phenomenal wedding band is more important to you than anything else.
Having a list of priorities makes it possible to use your budget wisely. It also gives you a sense of what really matters and what you can let slide.
Create a Vision Board With Your Partner
Themes! Colors! Wardrobes!
This is the fun part so enjoy it! With your partner, put together a vision board for your wedding. You can use your vision board all along the way as you pick your venue, pick your flowers, and more.
Remember, it’s your partner’s wedding, too! Unless they absolutely don’t care, you should include them in as much of the planning as possible–especially steps like this, which will inform just about everything that goes into your perfect wedding.
Make Your Guest List
It doesn’t have to be finalized yet. However, you do want to come up with a tentative guest list. This will give you a sense of how many people will come–and remember, about 5-10% of invited guests might not.
Why should this be done early? The size of your guest list will impact things like your venue options (think capacity) and the way you can use your budget (think food).
Come Up With a List of Ideal Wedding Dates
Don’t just get your heart set on a single wedding date before you’ve looked at venues. Instead, think about a few different dates that could work for you. It helps to decide on the season you’d like to get married in, first.
Remember, some months are more popular than others. For example, if you want an October wedding, keep in mind that this is the most popular wedding month year after year. That means that you need to start booking everything ASAP!
Book Your Wedding Venue
Alright, now for your first major step: finding a venue. There are a few ways that you can start looking for venue hire options. You can narrow down your search by style, location, and size, as well as by amenities.
Once you have two or three you love, reach out to them. Inquire about availability as well as pricing based on size and other services. When you give yourself a few to choose from, you lower the risk of getting your heart set on one venue that isn’t available when you need it or doesn’t match your budget.
Bring On the Wedding Party
Once your venue is booked, you have an official date and the real planning can begin. First up on the list? Bring on the wedding party!
There are plenty of ways that you can ask your nearest and dearest to join your wedding party. You can go all out with a gift box or keep it simple with a phone call or a lunch date. Either way, let them know early that you want them to be in your wedding.
Book the Rest of Your Wedding Vendors
Getting your vendors locked down early is the best way to ensure that you work with the top vendors of your choice. Vendors include:
- A caterer
- A bartender (optional)
- A photographer
- A DJ or band
- A florist (optional)
- A transportation service (optional)
- A bakery
You may also want to start looking into booking hotel room blocks. This will ensure that guests can make accommodations at a nearby hotel. It may also allow them to book their rooms at a discounted rate.
Do You Need a Wedding Planner?
As you can imagine, booking all these vendors can become stressful. When you hire a wedding planner, you alleviate a lot of that pressure from yourself and your partner. However, that also comes with an extra expense.
Ultimately, hiring a wedding planner is entirely up to you. If it fits easily into your budget, we say, go for it! If not, you’ll be okay as long as you stay organized and ask for help from loved ones when you need it.
Buy Your Wedding Dress
Whether you want a completely custom-made wedding dress or you’re shopping off the rack, you want to get that dreamy dress purchased early. If you’re worried about things like weight gain or loss before your wedding, remember: that’s what alterations are for! The earlier you start looking for a wedding dress, the more time you’ll have to find the perfect dress.
Make a Wedding Website
Nowadays, wedding websites make things easier for both you and your invited guests. This is where you can share information about your wedding day, post your registry, and create a space for guests to RSVP.
There are several free-to-use websites that allow you to make a simple wedding website of your own. Do so before you send out save the dates so you can share your URL with invited guests.
Send Out Save the Dates
Send out save the dates early in your planning process–about eight-twelve months before your wedding day, if possible. This gives people time to factor your wedding into their schedules and lets them know the most important details early on.
Build Your Registry
We always recommend building a registry, even if it’s small. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll receive gifts that you and your partner genuinely need and will make use of. We also recommend setting up a cash fund on your wedding website, whether you want to use it to fund your honeymoon or start building your nest egg.
Get Your Bridal Party’s Wardrobe Together
Start shopping ideas for your bridal party wardrobe. It’s often easiest to start with the groom’s attire before picking the groomsmen’s wardrobe, as these tend to match or complement each other. On the bride’s side, feel free to play around with color and style.
Your bridal party should get at least three months’ notice about what you want them to wear. This gives them enough time to place online orders, get alterations completed, and so forth.
Select Your Officiant
About six to eight months before your wedding day, we recommend selecting an officiant. If you’re using a leader from your own religious community, the decision will probably be pretty simple! However, other options include ordained friends, family members, and other non-religious people.
Purchase Wedding Bands
If you haven’t already, one of your final steps should be purchasing wedding bands. Even if you’re buying your wedding bands from an online retailer, we do recommend having your ring finger professionally sized! After all, you want the ring you’ll wear every day for the rest of your life to fit!
Send Out Invitations
Invitations can go out to your guests about four to eight weeks before your wedding day. If someone has already RSVP’d no, you don’t necessarily have to send them an invitation. Ultimately, your invitation is an official and final reminder that your wedding is coming up and that you hope your invited guests will be there.
Planning Your Perfect Wedding Is Absolutely Doable
Planning a wedding can seem really overwhelming at the beginning. However, with our guide, planning your perfect wedding day is absolutely doable! Take your time, stay organized, and remember: the celebration of your partnership is the most important part of your wedding.
Looking for the latest fashion trends to inform your wedding day attire? Take a look at our fashion section and catch up on what’s hot and what’s not.
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