How to start planning a wedding? Where to begin? What are the most important services that need to be booked first? What are the deadlines to have everything booked? Those are probably the first questions that pop into the heads of those who start planning a wedding for the first time. Those were the questions that popped into my head! I still remember that panic attack I got when I booked my very first wedding. Thankfully, as I realized with time and experience, wedding planning is not as hard as it seems, as long as you are organized and take the whole process step by step.
Whether you decide to have a wedding planner, or you’ll plan the whole wedding on your own, the following 10 steps will seem helpful and will make the whole process less scary and stressful.
Step 1: Budget!
As boring and surprising as it may sound, the first and most important step is no other than setting a budget for your wedding. You should have a minimum and a maximum amount that you wish to spend. By setting a budget, it will be much easier for you to choose appropriate wedding venues, decide on the final number of guests that you will invite, organize the decorations and the entertainment. The minimum sum which you shall set should be sufficient to cover the absolutely necessary services for the wedding, like the wedding dress, the suit for the groom, wedding venue, bridal bouquet, photographer, food and drinks etc. The difference between the maximum and the minimum amounts, will be your “headroom” for the extra services, such as extra decorations, what kind of entertainments you will have, how many different menus you will be able to have, what kind of open bar etc.
Step 2: Date & Guests
The next step would be deciding on the wedding date. It doesn’t need to be a certain date; an approximate date will do just fine. You will probably have to adjust the date according to the availability of the liked venue and wedding planner. At his point, you should also prepare a possible guest list for your wedding. Keep in mind, that the more guests you will have, the bigger your budget should be.
Step 3: The 3 W’s – Wedding planner, Wedding date, Wedding Venue
Now is the time to decide whether or not you will book a wedding planner or not. Click here, if you need help with this decision. The wedding planner will help you settle on a final date for your wedding, as well as offer advice on the most suitable wedding venue for you. Once you have decided which wedding planner to book, the final date of your wedding (don’t forget to book the Officiant!), and on the wedding venue, you can make all the reservations.
You can finally send the RSVP’s!!
The best time to book the wedding planner, wedding date and wedding venue is approximately 1,5 years before the wedding. This will give you enough time to think about the rest of the services.
Step 4: Photography and Videography
Probably, no longer than 2 months have passed since you’ve started planning your wedding. You have settled on a budget, you have found yourself a wedding planner and wedding venue for the date you wish to marry, you have booked the Officiant for the ceremony, and some first RSVP’s replies have arrived. What's next?
Usually at this point I recommend choosing a photographer and a videographer for your wedding. Should you have a wedding planner, you can consult with him or her on your best options. If not, then you can make a research on the internet, simply by typing “Wedding Photography”. Take some time to browse through their portfolios and choose your favorite. When you find the professionals that you like the most, contact them and book them.
The best time to book a wedding photographer and a wedding videographer, is between a year to 9 months before the wedding, as you have better chances finding them available on your wedding day.
Step 5: Book all the humans!!!
After booking and photo and video for your wedding, you should think about any other services you might need that are performed by people. By that I mean any live musicians, the DJ, the hairstylist and makeup artist, a wedding MC, jugglers etc. Any service that is performed by a live human being needs to be booked as soon as possible, just to be sure that you will find them available for your wedding day. It would be really frustrating if a month before the wedding you suddenly realized that there is no hairstylist available for your wedding day.
Step 6: Flowers
The phrase “the earlier the better” applies to everything when it comes to planning a wedding, including the floral decoration. Don’t worry though if you haven’t yet thought about the flowers and other decorations. As a rule, starting to plan this part 6 months before the wedding, will still give you plenty of time to get what you wish for. Choose a color theme for your wedding, spend some time looking for ideas, discuss your options with your wedding planner or find a good florist to consult with. My recommendation would be having a rough idea of what flower decorations you will need around 4 months before the wedding day, and having the final floral decorations 2 months before the wedding.
All your non floral decorations should be ordered in advance, so you could have them at your house at least 2 -3 months before the wedding. This will leave you enough time return anything that ended up not being to your liking, or change those items that ended up arriving broken.
I would also recommend having chosen a wedding dress by now.
Step 7: Cake and sweets
Choose a wedding cake in advance as well. Arrange a cake tasting if you wish, think about the design and the flavor of the cake. If you want to have a sweet table, think about the sweets you will be using for it and order them.
Step 8: Food and drinks
Around 4 months before the wedding, you should start thinking about the menus, so you could have them finalized the later 2 months before the wedding. The same period you should have a final number of guests attending, which will make it easier for you to decide on food and drinks. As with the cake, you can arrange a cake tasting with the venue or the catering company you will be using. If possible, offer a couple of different food options for your guests. Choose an open bar wisely! If your friends and family like to party and drink, then have a full open bar, at least for the party. If you and your guests are moderate drinkers, provide at least unlimited wine and soft drinks.
Step 9: Final details
2 months should be left for your wedding. Everything and everyone has been properly booked. The hardest part is finally over. This would be a great moment to give yourself a couple of days without any wedding thoughts, just to relax a little bit. After the “short vacation” double-check one more time if you have everything ready. Don’t forget about the final details: prepare the sitting plan, arrange the transportation for the guests, prepare the playlist for the DJ, think about your vows, prepare your wedding day schedule, go to a nice spa.
Step 10: Wedding day
This is the easiest, but at the same time the scariest moment for most couples. It is time to share your eternal vows and unite two families together. Enjoy the results of your hard work. If some minor things don’t go according to plan, try not to stress it too much, instead go to the dance floor and have a great time!! You certainly deserve it!
I hope those 10 steps will be helpful to any future brides and grooms. Again, this is just my personal preference of timings and order of planning. You are free to make your own schedule to plan your wedding, but remember to have everything finalized the latest 2 months prior to the wedding, so you could have those two months dedicated for any unexpected surprises that might occur.
Thank you once again for your time and I hope to see you around.