How To Start The Wedding Planning Process

So...you're engaged and ready to begin the wedding planning process! There are a lot of decisions to be made, but what's most important? We are going to cover the 11 things you need to do to create a successful celebration.
Bride's hand on a white wedding dress with a beautiful engagement ring

Timetable

Before you make a decision on the type of dress you wear, the flavor cake you eat or the type of music you want to dance the night away to, you must figure out the setting and vibe you would like to create for your wedding. Think about it! Visualize it! What do you see? Is this a rustic barn wedding? Candlelit reception in a castle? Are we barefoot on a beach in the Bahamas or are we in a backyard wearing sneakers and shorts?

Here are some other important questions to consider:
  • Is this a big and loud reception or an intimate celebration?
  • Are we indoors or outdoors?
  • Close to home or far away?
  • Elegant and romantic, or laid-back and casual?
  • Is the look modern, classic, romantic, rustic, vintage or glamorous?

Look through books, magazines or online galleries for inspiration, but NEVER limit yourself. You never know when creativity may strike, so always keep your eyes and ears open!

Style And Location

What's the first question everybody asks? If you guessed, "when's the wedding?", then you are correct! However, when it comes down to the wedding planning process, the date doesn't come into play until a few key details have been figured out. The first thing you need to do is figure out a range of possible dates that will work for you and your situation. 

Think about your favorite season and if you would prefer to get married around that time. Are there any major holidays or family events happening? How about sporting events? These questions should help lead you in figuring out the ideal wedding date!

Setting Your Budget

It can be uncomfortable at times, but it's a necessary part of the wedding planning process. Sit down with your families and decision makers, and figure out who is doing what and how much they'll be contributing. The numbers you come up with will greatly affect every decision you make in the process, so make sure you have your budget worked out before you officially begin planning.

Drafting A Guest List

There are many factors you'll need to consider when first drafting your guest list. For example, if you have a particular location in mind for your ceremony or reception, you're going to be limited by how many people your site can comfortably accommodate. Chances are, you can't fit 300 people comfortably in a majority of restaurant banquet spaces!

Think about what's most important to you. Are you looking for quality one-on-one time with your guests or would you like to throw a once-in-a-lifetime bash for all of your friends and family? Ultimately, many of the decisions are made by the couple getting married, but those that are footing a major part of the bill should have a say in the matter. Just keep in mind that a higher guest count always equals more money as catering costs are per-person and a direct reflection of your headcount. Therefore, both your location and budget will have a big influence on the size of your guest list.

Register (As Soon As Possible)

There is nothing wrong with registering for your wedding. Although many couples will specify "no gifts" or "cash only," not everyone is the same when it comes to gift-giving.

The purpose of a gift registry is not only to provide your guests with a gift alternative, but it also takes the guesswork out of the equation when your friends and family are shopping for a gift. You simply register for the items you're interested in and you won't get bombarded with the "what would you like" questions.

PRO TIP: Don't include your registry information on your invites. Keep it to word-of-mouth or on your wedding website (if you have one).

Insure Your Engagement Ring

It doesn't matter how careful you are - knowing that your ring is insured if Murphy's Law comes into play will give you complete and utter peace of mind. Two ways you can go about it:
  1. Add it as an extension on your renters/homeowner's insurance policy, or
  2. Go through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance (could offer more specialized and complete coverage).

Wedding Party

This is the fun part! The earlier you ask, the more help you'll get from your wedding party members. Just make sure that the financial expectations are clear from the start as most wedding party members need to shell out money for suit/tux rentals, dresses, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and other wedding-related excursions. Not only that, but it's also a huge time commitment! And most importantly, don't forget to tell them how much you appreciate their help during the process. A simple thank you every once in a while will make a huge difference.

Consider A Wedding Consultant

Let's face it - couples today are very busy and have demanding jobs. If you're finding that you're already stretched thin and don't have the necessary amount of time to dedicate towards planning your dream wedding, then you should hire either a full-time wedding planner or part-time wedding consultant.

A full-time wedding planner could dedicate more time to your wedding and help you plan the entire wedding from announcing your engagement to honeymoon. If you don't quite want to go that route, a part-time wedding consultant could help set the framework for you. They could help you create a budget, design a schedule/timeline for when things need to get done, compile a list of trusted wedding vendors and even a list of venues that would fit your vision.

Another option to consider is a day-of coordinator, which would help make sure everything is set-up properly and everything goes smoothly on your wedding day.

Book A Venue & Set Your Date

Your reception venue not only serves as the backdrop and setting for your wedding celebration, but will help to decide what you can do with the rest of your budget from menu (in-house catering or outside catering) to guest list to your hired wedding professionals. Make sure to start looking as soon as possible and book early. Consider everything from price to extras to flexibility in designing your space. This is the most important to-do in the wedding planning process as many vendors will not deal with a couple until they have chosen their venue and wedding date.

Hire Top Priority Professionals

Figure out what's most important to you and what will make or break the wedding in your opinion. If you can't imagine your wedding day without the best band or wedding DJ, hire them first and allocate more of your budget to that category. If you are in love with exquisite floral centerpieces or delectable catering, make sure you hire that first and allocate more of your budget there. Many of the in-demand wedding professionals tend to be hired more than a year in advance, and once they're booked, they're gone!

Shop For Your Dress

This is essential and takes more time than you think! Start by browsing photos of dresses online, saving those that inspire you, and setting appointments at your local bridal shops. Become familiar with the lingo before the appointment, such as:
  • Silhouettes
  • Necklines
  • Trains
  • Hues

Time of year will also greatly affect your choice of fabric. Having a summer wedding? Lightweight fabrics like chiffon, linen or organza is the way to go. A winter wedding? Think about brocade, faux fur and velvet. Fabrics like satin, shantung, silk and tulle work great no matter the time of year!
If you enjoyed this blog article or want to bring this information to your market and prospective couples, please share! Don't want to miss out on a future post? Sign-up for our E-Letter above or below!

Jonathan Paduano

I am the owner of Paduano Studios - an award winning wedding and event production company. As an open-format DJ, I love performing at weddings and marquee private events. In my spare time, you can find me watching the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, spending time with my beautiful fiancée Sarah and our cat - Princess - and rat - Stewart.

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