Photo credit - http://www.amandanoelphoto.com/
Congratulations, you have now enter into the world of planning your wedding. No matter if you hire a wedding planner or you plan to go solo, the first few steps are the same. Doing the first few steps in this order are important. Too many times couples put the cart before the horse when it comes to planning their dream wedding and end up with a chaotic situation on their hands. Luckily for you I have created this list and also will explain why it works best to do these elements in this order. With over 300 weddings under my belt, I openly share this knowledge so you can avoid costly mistakes. So, here we go:
Vision - Understand the look, vibe and overall experience that you dream of for your wedding. This could very well come after creating a budget but let's be realistic; most of you already have a Pinterest page or a gallery full of pictures on your phone.
Prioritize - Figure out what is most important to you and your finance. I suggest you do this exercise separate of each other. You each make a list of the top 5 most important details. For example one may choose photography, flowers, venue, dress and food. The other may choose DJ/band, open bar, venue, photos. Then you come together to create a top 7 or 8 most important. Skipping this part will result in you allocating monies to things that are not important to you.
Budget draft - This is a rough draft because as you start planning your wedding, you will find that things add up quickly. I suggest throughout your planning process, you update and adjust your budget regularly. Research your top priority list by visiting vendors websites, contacting vendors, ask recently married couples etc. Some details such as flowers will vary greatly. Once you have some rough numbers you can start building a budget. There are some great free apps that help with this, I personally like the The Knots free budget tools. www.theknot.com/wedding-budget Also, it is super important to know who is contributing to the wedding fund and how much money overall you have to work with.
Dates - I said dates with an "s" because I want you to have flexibility when choosing your wedding venue. Understand if you bump your wedding out further you can accommodate a bigger guest count and more details but for a wedding sooner you may have to opt for less guests and details. This is where a lot of the pre work you have done from above comes together in understanding how much you can achieve and by when. So choose a date range that fits your budget and vision.
Venue - This is where the fun really begins! Notice I put off all other details until after you choose your venue. Just recently a bride went dress shopping before choosing her venue and regretted it because after finding her venue she realized her boho dress was too informal for her very formal ballroom. Also, no two venues are created equal. Some venues offer all tables, chairs, staff, food, bar, linens etc. Some offer a blank slate. Both have their pro's and con's but be sure to understand their differences and factor in extra details and expenses for venues that are not all-inclusive. You will find that after adding in all the details separately, you may not be saving any money on the venue that appears less expensive at first glance. Now you have your date and venue, congrats!
Vendors - the main vendors I suggest you book first are the vendors that were top of your priority list. You may already have a few in mind from your research portion. Far too often couples book a vendor or detail that wasn't on their top priority list and then have to skimp on something that was most important to them. * If you are working with me I will share with you a list of vendors that I feel work well with your budget and overall vision thus saving you time.
Update your budget - YES it is already time to update your budget. Once you got your top priority vendors booked, you will adjust your budget. Some vendors you may have went over budget, some you may have not spent as much. This constant adapting allows you to add details and scale back when needed instead of running out of money. Make this a habit in your planning process, you will be grateful you did.
Choose your wedding party - Some couples choose their wedding party right away, some wait until they have all their ducks in a row. I like to place "choosing the wedding party" in this order because if your wedding details change due to adjusting your vision or venue to meet your budget, this may change the size of your wedding party. Don't forget, you will be adding more expenses to your budget as well depending on the size of your bridal party. You need to factor in gifts, helping them with hair & makeup, flowers and sometime attire. Once you have decided who will be standing by your side, get creative in how you ask them and have fun with it!
Wedding dress shopping - It's time to gather your bridal party and start this process. And yes, it is a process and requires some planning. But boy is this fun! See my previous blog post on wedding dress shopping. www.danarenaedesigns.com/blog *side note, don't wait too long on this detail. You do want to order your wedding dress no later than 9 months out and may have to move up your list if needed.
Guest list draft - Just like your budget, I suggest approaching this as a draft. Things may change in your planning process and having several lists will help with any last minute adjustments. List A -must have guests. People you regularly see or talk with. This is your tribe. List B - would be nice guests. These are people you are really fond of and have been in contact with every several months or so. They may be neighbors, old friends, a cousin you would like to see. List C - if we can guest list. This is your moms old high school friend she really wants to come but you don't even remember what she looks like kind of guest. Yes, you will have family that suggest this type of scenario.
While reading this list, you may have realized there are a few steps you may not have done or totally did out of order. No worries, go back and do these details. In the long run doing these details will save you time, stress and money. And hey, if this seems a little too overwhelming, just reach out to me via the contact form and we can set up a zoom planning consult call. www.danarenaedesigns.com/contact
Congratulations, happy planning and watch for more great tips in blogs to come!
XO - Dana