The ceremony and reception sites will play a large role in the overall look and feel of your wedding, so you need to know what you want before you begin scouting locations. Do you want to marry in one of your hometowns or a big city? Do you want to carry out a beach theme by inviting guests to a destination near the ocean? These are all things to ask yourself as you begin planning.
Another item to consider is what style of bride you are and how that will influence your choices. If you want a fairy tale wedding, then you might want to pick a venue with grand staircases, chandeliers, or other castle-like qualities. On the other hand, if you are environmentally conscience, you might want to look into parks, botanical gardens, or arboretums as wedding sites.
#3 Complete Initial Guest List
Keep in mind the locations you are looking at and the number of people they are able to accommodate are the major items determining the number of people on your guest list. Budget also plays a part because the more people you invite, the higher your catering costs will be for the wedding. As a couple, you need to decide if you want to have one-on-one time with each guest or do you want to throw the party of a lifetime for all your family and friends. You also need to consider your parents and who they may want to invite, since a child’s wedding is a special day for them as well.
#4 Set a Budget
For most couples, money, not dreams determine the size and style of a wedding. The couple should speak with each side of the family early in the planning to see if anyone is able to contribute to the wedding budget.
The date and time of your wedding can impact the budget. Evenings, Saturdays, and the summer months tend to be more expensive. Location can also increase expenses because weddings in large metropolitan areas will naturally be more expensive. Formality can be a major player in costs as well. The more formal that you want to have the wedding and reception, the more money it will cost to pull it all off.
#5 Determine Your Date
As you select your date, figure out how much time you realistically need to prepare. Also look ahead and see if your families have any other conflicting events, such as graduations, pregnancy due dates or holidays. If you plan on having a lot of guests from out-of-town, try to avoid dates of large conventions or other big events in the area so they have options for hotel accommodations.
Ceremony and reception locations should be your first priority since they will determine a lot of your future plans. If you have your heart set on a particular photographer, you may want to make them the first vendor to contact. Try to set up a hierarchy of vendors depending on what your priorities are for your wedding.
#6 Announce Your Engagement
After you have some of the basics started, it is time to announce your engagement to the world! Call local newspapers, alumni magazines, etc. and get the contact information for announcements as well as their guidelines, submission dates, and pricing information. All of this has to be taken into consideration if you want to arrange an engagement photo session with a photographer.
This is also a good time to create a wedding website which can serve as a one-stop information source for guests. Couples can do this through places like The Knot or ewedding.com – some are free and some require a subscription to unlock additional features.
#7 Choose Your Bridal Party
This is a time for the couple to honor their family and friends by choosing them to be a part of your bridal party. The earlier that you ask people, the sooner they are able to help you with the wedding plans. When choosing the bridal party, remember that although it is an honor to be asked to join the bridal party, you are also asking them to contribute a lot of their time and money toward your big day. Don’t take that for granted when you are making decisions.
#8 Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner
If you are going to plan your own wedding, you need to be very organized, responsible, and you should have plenty of time. Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and that can be a challenge, especially if you work full-time. If you don’t have all of these elements, you should seriously contemplate hiring a wedding planner. Although a planner represents a significant cost, they can probably find you better deals than you would get on your own and can come up with creative ways to allow you to achieve your dream wedding within your budget. The value they provide far outweighs the cost. Best of all, a planner makes everything happen on your wedding day. By running the show and serving as the point person for all of the vendors, you and your family get to enjoy the wedding to its fullest.
Super busy brides could consider hiring a full-time wedding planner to help plan everything from the moment you get engaged to the moment you leave for your honeymoon. A part-time planner can help you with advice, vendor recommendations, and timelines. It is highly recommended that everyone at least consider hiring a day-of planner that will make sure everything runs smoothly on your wedding day, so you and your family don’t have to worry about anything.
#9 Send Save the Date Cards
Sending save the date cards are a fairly recent phenomenon for brides. It is not always required to send out save the date cards for your wedding, but there are a few cases in which doing so is ideal. If many of your guests have to travel to attend your wedding, save the date cards are an excellent idea. If your wedding takes place on or around a holiday, it is also a good idea to use them. You should send save the date cards only to guests you plan to invite to the wedding and in most cases they should be sent four to six months before your wedding. If you are planning a destination wedding, however, plan to send them out even before that, a year in advance, if you can.
Save the date cards are not wedding invitations. The information that you need to include is limited to your names, the date of the wedding, and the city, town and state in which the wedding is going to take place. You do not have to include the venue at this time, save that information for the wedding invitation. If you have a wedding website, be sure to include it now. The form that a save the date item comes in can vary a great deal and can really reflect your personality. They can be basic postcards, magnets, or even some of the newer video messages that can be emailed out to guests. There are plenty of options out there to make sure your guests know about your big day.
#10 Start Gown Shopping
It’s never too early to start thinking about wedding gowns. What style would look the best on you? Have you had a picture in your mind of the type of dress you have always wanted? Look through magazines and learn the lingo – silhouettes, necklines, trains, etc. – before you start trying on dresses. Don’t be afraid to try on a dress shape that you don’t think would look good on you – dresses have a tendency to look at lot different on you then hanging on a hanger.
Also think about when you are having your wedding. If you are getting married in the summer you may want light fabrics like chiffon, linen or organza. Brocade, faux fur, and velvet are things you might want to use for a winter wedding. Fabrics that are good year-round include satin, shantung, silk, and tulle.