Planning your own wedding can seem like an uphill battle. From choosing your table linens to narrowing down your guest list, the to-do list seems never-ending. Even if you’ve hired a pro to help you along the way, there are some important must-dos in order to ensure you have a perfect wedding.
Start early. The sooner you can start planning your wedding, the better. Even if you and your fiancé choose a date that’s two years from when you get engaged, it’s important to start booking vendors as early as possible. Many wedding vendors have calendars that go out for two or three years at a time, making it difficult for couples who get engaged and want to get married within six months. No matter if you’re looking to choose your wedding table decorations or purchase your dress, the earlier you can start the planning process, the easier it will be.
- Pro tip: If you are looking to get married soon after getting engaged, consider a weekday wedding! Typically, couples will choose a Friday evening for a ceremony and dinner reception since most guests won’t have to work the next day. Just make sure you can schedule your rehearsal for after your bridal party’s work shifts the day before!
Create a budget. And stick to it! Wedding budgets are difficult to determine because of all the factors going into one. However, it’s important to remember that weddings are expensive. The average couple spends more than $15,000 on their wedding! One of the largest factors in the expense of your wedding is location. Large cities such as New York or Los Angeles will cost you more, but having your wedding in a more rural or suburban area can help to cut back on cost. Regardless, you should create a budget for each vendor category and stick to it. This includes the “smaller” items, such as your wedding details. Whether you’re purchasing a set of personalized wine glasses or luxury-brand wedding stilettos to wear under your dress, everything you purchase for your wedding should be incorporated into your budget. Sticking to your budget will go a long way in ensuring that you will keep a peace of mind while planning your wedding.
Determine your priorities. Every couple is different, and you and your fiancé have specific goals for your perfect wedding. While, ultimately, the most important thing is that you get married, it’s also important for you to decide the aspects of your event that mean the most to both of you. Soon after getting engaged, sit down with your fiancé and go over what your priorities are. Is it a specific type of food? Maybe a particular venue in your area. Or, maybe you want to put more money into your honeymoon and instead have a minimony. Either way, it’s important to have those conversations with your partner prior to booking various vendors or shopping for different items.
Consider dates. Before you can book any vendors, you’ll need a wedding date. It’s important to understand that specific dates fall into what’s called “wedding season,” where different points throughout the year are busier – and more expensive – for weddings. The location of your wedding typically dictates the wedding season. For example, many Mid-Atlantic areas see an uptick in weddings during May and October. What does this mean for you as a recently engaged couple? Here’s some ideas:
- Higher price tags. Booking vendors in-season typically means you’ll be paying higher prices. Since there’s a higher demand for services during wedding seasons, vendors will charge more because they’ll need to hire more staff or have a reason to book one couple over another (typically it’s whoever pays the deposit first).
- Less RSVPs. If you choose a wedding date during a season when some of your friends or family might also be getting married, then you might run into a situation where some of your guest list has to decline because they’ve committed to another person’s wedding. And, while that will mean less money you have to spend on centerpieces and food, it also means that you’ll be in competition for people to actually attend your event. You don’t want your Grandmother to have to choose between her grandchildren’s weddings! If your heart is set on a wedding smack in the middle of wedding season, then you should be prepared for some of your guests to reject your invitation – and to share your perfect wedding date with others in your area.
Another consideration couples should make with dates is whether or not to have a weekday wedding. Weekday weddings are typically less expensive, but some venues are open to the public prior to your event, which makes it more difficult for vendors to set up. You also typically can’t get ready at your venue since it’s open to the public. However, sometimes a weekday wedding is a great decision.
Don’t forget the details. While planning your perfect wedding, it’s easy to focus on the big picture items, such as flowers and the dress. However, you shouldn’t forget about the more nuanced, detailed items. These items are necessary for your wedding. Without them, your guests might leave feeling like they wasted their time. Sit down and make a detailed list of items you’ll need, such as the invitation suite, a decorative ring box or even wedding coaster favors. Your day-of bride brain will thank you!
- Pro tip: Make sure you designate someone to be responsible for laying out all the details at your wedding! Whether it’s your designer who lays out your favors or your Maid of Honor who covers your invitation suite and rings for the photographer, having people designated to handle those tasks will ensure that you don’t have to stress about them on your big day.