You’re engaged! The question was popped, the answer was given and you toasted the event over a glass of champagne. But, now what? Where do you start? You’ve never planned a wedding before. How does this all work? Well, sit back and relax and let me lay it all out for you. Planning an event (of any kind) isn’t that difficult when you break it all down.
#1 Determine Ceremony Size and Theme aka 'The Vibe'
Sit down with your fiancé and determine what kind of ceremony you both want to have. Do you want a small ceremony in a barn with a gathering of your closest family and friends? Or, do you want a large church wedding followed by a reception of 250+ at the most popular event venue in town? While these questions may seem like things you can figure out along the way, everything you do after this will be based on what type and size of ceremony you have. So, while most brides want to go out right away and pick out their dream dress, please take a few minutes to talk with your fiancé about your shared vision for this day. I call this the ‘vibe’ you want to portray to your guests. Believe me, you don’t want to spend a fortune on a beautiful ball gown wedding dress if you are going to end up getting married on the beach at a destination wedding.
And I can’t stress this enough – really think about what is most important to you on this day and let that guide all your other decisions. Is it having a large group of people who you love (and who love you) join you on this special day? Then focus on the big wedding that requires a big venue. Is it having the wedding at your family farm because of the sentimental value that property holds to you? Then have it there – that will save you some money that can be used elsewhere. Is it having your wedding at the hottest event venue in town? If so, plan early for this – your wedding date may very well be determined by the venue availability. And along with the ‘vibe’ try to determine a budget for your big day. Try to allocate your budget to those things that are most important to you. Most couples spend 85% of their budget on the venue and food.
#2 Book your venue
Now that you know what the ceremony/reception size and theme is going to be – book that venue. Venues, especially the highly sought after venues, book up fast – sometimes a few years in advance. The pandemic has had a substantial impact on the availability of venues. Why? Because many venues closed their doors during the pandemic lockdowns never to re-open. When your whole business rides on the fact that a large group of people need to get together for a gathering, chances are you didn’t come out unscathed from the pandemic. Then, all those 2020/2021 brides had to re-schedule their weddings. That didn’t stop other couples from getting engaged, so the demand for event venues is at an all-time high and the supply of those venues is low. It is starting to get better but keep this in mind when booking your venue. Chances are you aren’t going to get your ideal date unless you book it out a few years. Another helpful tip to think about when booking your venue: pay attention to the details of what the venue provides for you. Do they offer complimentary linens, table service and tables/chairs (meaning that it is included in the price of your rental)? Do you have to use their in-house caterers, or can you bring in your own? Do they do set up and clean-up after the event or is that all on you? While the price of some venues may seem pretty high, when you take into consideration all the services they offer and what you may spend to go out and secure those yourself, it might well be worth the cost. And believe me, you don’t want to be spending the week before your wedding ironing linens – see my post here about that: LINK. I could write a whole blog post on what to look for when choosing a venue (note to self: next blog post idea).
#3 Say Yes to the Dress!
Now that you have your venue and date all chosen, you can finally go out and try on those dresses. The time of year, the venue, and event theme will all determine what type of dress you wear. You don’t want to buy a long sleeve floor length ballgown if you are going to be getting married in a rustic barn (with no air-conditioning) in July. Be practical and think about how long you are going to be wearing that dress. Make sure it is comfortable for you and reflects who you are.
And the trends in wedding gowns are shifting away from the traditional white floor length gowns. Ivory, pale pink and even black wedding gowns are starting to become more mainstream. Just like all the other decisions before this – the dress you buy will impact what type of décor you choose for your wedding. If you choose an ivory wedding dress, then ivory tablecloths might be the way to go! Now that you have your dress picked out, you can easily determine the attire for the rest of your wedding party. Wedding tip: If choosing to go the formal route, book those tuxedos as early in advance too. Just like with the venues, the pandemic has affected the formal attire industry too. Plan ahead!
#4 Book other complementary services such as Photographer, Florals, DJ, Officiant, Caterer and Event Rentals
Ok, now on to the good stuff (in my opinion – but I might be a bit biased ). Now that you have the vibe, the venue and the attire all figured out, now you can go out and schedule those other complementary services – or those that complete your vision. As you meet with each of these vendors, they are all going to ask you the same thing to start – what’s your vibe or vision for your day (including your color palette), what’s your date and where is the event going to take place? Having been equipped with the knowledge I have just imparted on all of you, you are going to wow these vendors by having all the details prepared and laid out in front of them.
And, don’t forget to read my blog post on what to bring to your consultation with me: LINK. While this blog post was specifically written around what I ask for during our consultation, it could easily apply to any of these other vendors too. They are going to want the same details that I ask for, maybe not to the level of detail I need, but they are going to want a high-level view of the day you have planned. At least, they will if they are any good at what they do!
So, I just threw a lot of knowledge your way…in a short amount of time. Feeling overwhelmed? That is completely normal! Planning any event, especially a wedding, can feel a bit overwhelming. If you are a DIY bride wanting to do all of this on your own, realize that the key to feeling less overwhelmed is being organized. There are a lot of details to sort out and orchestrate for your big day. If you aren’t hiring a wedding planner or day of coordinator to help you with all of this, then be sure to download my free wedding planning checklist. This checklist will help you to feel more organized and hopefully, less overwhelmed. Happy Planning!!