One of my best girlfriends got engaged and as we were excitedly chatting on the phone, I got to thinking: what advice can I give regarding wedding planning? We only started our wedding planning process back in January and I was definitely overwhelmed and scattered. Most days I still feel that way. A few things, however, helped me get into a rhythm and I know now that it certainly would have helped to take steps in a more specific order. As always, take my (and anyone’s) advise with a grain of salt- this was simply my experience! Below I’m sharing the three steps I believe are the perfect place to start when planning a wedding.
Step 1: Sit down and talk out what you want.
It is so important to be on the same page with your fiancé about what you envision for your wedding day. Small and intimate? Large and extravagant? There are ways to do either at any price, but if one of you wants one thing and the other wants the total opposite, you’re going to need to compromise. I suggest sitting down with a bottle of wine and making a night of it. Write it out in detail, have Pinterest boards for inspiration, and really think about all the little things. You’ll likely find that some elements matter more to you than others, and more than you realize. Then, this will give you a vision to move forward with, to build everything else around.
Step 2: Craft your guest list.
I’ll let you know now, everyone I’ve talked to agrees that this is the hardest part of wedding planning. No one wants to cut anyone out. Do you offer plus ones? Do you offer some plus ones and not others? What about those third cousins, twice removed?
Your guest list is crucial to craft before you begin looking for venues or caterers because it determines each of those. Your numbers are key.
I recommend starting with absolutely everyone you can think of and then pairing down the list. Our rule of thumb for plus ones was those who were engaged or married, but that also wasn’t a hard or fasts guideline in some cases. Ryan and I tried too focus on people who know us as a couple and would be overjoyed to celebrate our marriage.
Step 3: Set your budget and draft your line items.
Once you’ve planned out your guest list, you’re technically ready to start looking at venues and other services. However, I would strongly advise setting a budget before you head out. Setting your heart on your dream location and then realizing it’s way out of your price range stinks. Having realistic line items is key. In what areas are you not willing to compromise? Where can you foresee spending a little bit less? Also, pay attention to what might require additional fees, tips, and work in room for a buffer. There are always additional expenses in the end.
If you’ve done the three things above, you’re ready to jump in headfirst. Everything that follows will come back to those first three steps. Your vision will give you focus, your guest list will determine what you’re working with, and your budget (should) rule all. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and the Instagram reels that start flooding your “for you” page (the algorithm is impressive, I’ll give them that) but solidifying these three key pieces will allow you to plan with intention and purpose.