The Complete Guide to Planning a Wedding

By: JeffreyThurber

The Complete Guide to Planning a Wedding

Sometimes planning a wedding can seem overwhelming. Although couples may hire professional wedding planners to assist them, they can also take on most of the responsibility. You might have a tight budget, or you simply enjoy the DIY options. However, it is possible to plan your dream wedding on your own.

When faced with daily life’s decisions, deadlines and lists, organization is crucial to keep everything on track. First, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to plan your wedding. You can use a longer timeline to plan your wedding. If possible, aim for around one year. Don’t forget your significant other to be involved in this step. You should be represented as a couple at your wedding.

You may be wondering where to start. We’ve got you covered. Keep one thing in mind: Have fun! It’s your wedding after all. Do not get distracted by the small details. Instead, focus on what is truly important: the love you share and the ceremony. All this while being surrounded with your closest friends and family.

These are our top tips to help you plan your wedding. From organizing to navigating the legal framework of a contract with vendors to keeping your mind sane, we have it all.

Stick to your wedding budget

The driving factor behind many of your wedding-related decisions will be your wedding budget. This should be something you start to address. Talk to family members about how much they are comfortable spending. It’s time for you to look at your finances if you are paying the bill. You should be prepared to face the reality when budgeting for your wedding. Many couples don’t realize how much it will cost. Stick to that number once you have it.

Create a list of wedding priorities

Discuss with your partner the most important aspects of your wedding. What about the wedding venue? Do you want to hire a particular wedding photographer or a live band? Prioritize these details and be open to compromises on the rest. This will allow you to stay within your budget while allowing you to focus on the important things.

Choose Your Wedding Style

You can find some great bridal inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, and other trusted sites. Start researching. It is important to have a clear idea of what type of wedding you desire before you meet with potential vendors. Do not get overwhelmed by all the wedding inspiration available. You can create one or more Pinterest boards, or even a visual collage on cork or poster boards to help you decide what look and feel is best for you and align you with your bigger vision.

There is a limit to how much inspiration you can take in at once. You can also make a list of what you like and don’t want, which will help you review inspiration images more effectively.

Get Organized

There are many ways to use checklists, spreadsheets and Google Docs. As long as you have all your thoughts, budgets and numbers in one place, you can use them. You can also use a variety of online tools and apps to help you stay organized. WeddingHappy is great for keeping you on track and AllSeated is great for visualizing venue layouts and seating charts.

Get involved with your significant other

Do not feel that you have to do everything alone when wedding planning. Talk to your partner throughout the process. Even if they aren’t involved in all aspects, it makes wedding planning much more enjoyable when you have each other on board. You and your partner will be closer if you work together towards a common goal. This will also help you to grow as a couple by working together on every issue that you face as a team.

Get a wedding planning book

If you are a couple who is not looking for a professional coordinator or planner, a traditional etiquette guidebook (such The Wedding Book) can be a great resource. It contains expert advice and tips, as well as examples of checklists and timelines.

Make a master checklist

To help you stay on track and tackle tasks like a pro, check out our master checklist and timeline for wedding planning. You can adapt it to your needs as needed. This will allow you to visualize and prioritize your goals without feeling overwhelmed by everything.

Take a look at dates (and seasons)

You should choose a few dates that you like and be flexible so you don’t feel constrained in booking the venue or vendors. Consider external factors such as how popular these dates are for other to be weds (making availability scarcer and prices higher), whether it would be difficult to invite your guests, and the differences in the prices of vendors and venues between seasons.

Choose a theme

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for specific colors or inspirations (like Festival Chic or the Roaring Twenties), it can be helpful to pick a theme to design your wedding. It’s much easier to design your wedding if you already have an aesthetic in place. Also, it makes everything look more cohesive.

You might consider a “On-Site” wedding

An “off-site” wedding, in wedding lingo means one that the venue does not have a commercial kitchen. This means you will need to bring your own food and equipment. A “on-site” (e.g., a restaurant or hotel) will simplify the planning process. They’ll likely have a variety of catering options and may even have an on-site coordinator.

Get started on your guest list

It can be difficult to decide on the guest list. This will depend on your venue and financial budget. To create a list of desired wedding guests, sit down with your partner or key family members. You will likely need to make some changes. It is also important to decide if you are inviting children, and who will be assigned a plus one.

Talk to Married Couples

Did you ever attend a wedding you enjoyed? Ask the couple for their advice. You might find some helpful tips and tricks they have learned along the journey that they would be happy to share with your. Friends and family can be the best resource.

Only book vendors you feel comfortable with

It is important not to rush to make decisions when it comes to booking vendors for your wedding. You should consider at least three options so that you can ensure these key wedding-day partners are clear about your vision and can work within your budget. Your wedding vendors will be the key to making your day memorable and running smoothly. Make sure you have a great team! You should trust them to carry out your vision.

Closely Read Every Contract

Before you sign on any dotted lines, be sure to closely review every detail of any contracts you arrange with your wedding vendors–including date, location, times, deposits, additional fees, colors, quantities–everything has to be in the contract because if it isn’t, or is written incorrectly, you will not be protected if it’s not executed properly. You should be wary of any clauses that prohibit you from reviewing the vendor’s service (red flag), or that have extreme cancellation policies. A contract should, for example, outline what happens to either the client or the vendor if they cancel. If there are significant changes to the service scope, rates may need to be adjusted. These policies are common practice in the industry but it is important to be aware of them. If your contract calls for 50 guests, but you decide to invite 100 people, you will be charged an additional rate. A venue may have a minimum number of guests that must be invited. This can cause problems if the RSVP total falls below the initial estimate.