Congratulations on your engagement! Talking with recently engaged couples is one of my favorite things to do. I love hearing what went into creating the moment, what you both were thinking as it was unfolding, and how you celebrated with your family and friends. I always encourage couples to truly lean into the moment before they officially embark on planning their wedding because it’s life-changing and thrilling for everyone involved. But once you are ready to officially start planning your wedding, there is definitely plenty to do!
Rather than listing out all of the steps you will likely take throughout your wedding planning process, today I thought I would share the first five things you should do. After all, breaking things down into doable steps keeps the process fun, enjoyable, and manageable. Let’s dive in!
1. Determine Your Wedding Budget
Before you jump into all of the fun aspects about planning a wedding, like the details, the very first thing you should do is set your wedding budget. When you’re working through this step, plan to talk to everyone who will be financially contributing to your wedding day. The key thing to ask is not only how much they plan to contribute but also how much they’re comfortable contributing (the two numbers may not match, and that’s okay!). From there, think about if you and your partner will also be contributing to your wedding day and ask yourselves the same questions. Once you decide on a number that feels comfortable and realistic, stick to it! This can be hard because as you start to receive proposals back from desired vendors, your budget may no longer be realistic for the wedding you had envisioned. But this is when you should revisit the following steps to determine what really matters to you, your partner and your families when it comes to celebrating your union.
2. Rank Your Must-Haves
There are very, very few weddings that have an unlimited wedding budget. Instead, most couples need to decide how they would like to allocate their wedding’s budget, and that means leaning into some areas while opting to save in others. In order to determine what is most important to you and your partner, think about creating a ranking of your top 3 or five areas. For example, if you’re most excited about the food, entertainment, and photography, that might be how you want to allocate your budget! Keep in mind, your venue and food/catering will amount to roughly 50% of your wedding’s total cost. Being a mountain wedding planner, most of my couples rank the venue number 1 as they want that epic mountain view. But what comes along with a great mountain view is either a steep venue fee or additional costs associated with rentals (think tents, portable restrooms, and heating for example).
3. Consider Your Guest List
In order to accurately look at wedding venues, you will need to know how many guests you plan to invite to your celebration. There is no sense in falling in love with a space that is far too large or too small! At this point, your list does not need to be finalized at all. Instead, your goal should be to determine a rough number of attendees to help guide your search. Your budget will also impact this step — many guests will require more money, while fewer guests can either mean spending less or creating a more intimate, luxurious experience for a select group. You can also create a guest list A and a guest list B where your A list includes guests that you can’t imagine not being present on your big day. List B might be a larger guest list where extended family and friends are included. Having two lists could come in handy when you reach your budget limit like mentioned in Step 1.
4. Think About Your Wedding’s Style
Similar to the other steps I’ve mentioned, determining your wedding’s style will also guide many of your wedding planning decisions. Most importantly, your style will help you to decide which wedding venues you would like to consider. After all, if you’re dreaming about celebrating your wedding day at a rustic wedding venue, there is no reason to research spaces that have a garden-inspired feel. Pinterest is also a helpful tool for this part of the process — visuals work wonders!
5. Contact Key Wedding Professionals
Once you have a wedding budget in place and you have ideas about your must-haves, guest list, and potential wedding style, now is the time to start contacting key wedding professionals. You will want to contact those who often cannot serve more than one couple per day, so wedding venues, photographers, videographers, DJs or bands, florists, and of course wedding planners are all a great place to start. One will typically have recommendations for others they love to work with, so don’t be afraid to ask while you get to know them!
Did you recently celebrate your engagement? Have you started planning your wedding day? I would love to hear more. Feel free to send me a note!