A round-up of our top wedding planning advice for as soon as you get engaged and start planning your wedding.
Photo: Christina Lilly Photography
You’re engaged! Congratulations are in order!
Now that you’ve spread the great news, it’s time to begin planning your wedding. You’ve signed up for all of the wedding planning websites, asked your friends what to do next, and have lists of items you should be doing but it’s to the point of overwhelm and well, you’d rather just indulge in an episode (or three) of HGTV’s Fixer Upper with a side of wine.
There’s so much to do. So much to research. So much to… plan.
First things first – before the to-do lists start and the venue search begins, we’re going to make this easy for you and have gathered our top wedding planning advice for when you’re just starting out. We do this with all of our clients; prioritizing your first steps to build a solid planning foundation which will start you off on the right path. Below are our top six must-do’s before you really get into the thick of planning your “I Do’s.”
Location: Do you want to host your wedding close to home, have a general sense of the area you’d like to explore or are you more of a destination wedding kind of couple? Knowing this will help narrow down when you’ll want to host your event so you don’t mistakenly host your wedding during monsoon season (yes, this is a real thing in some destinations), will help determine how much time it will take you to plan and how many guests you may be able to accommodate.
Timeframe for your wedding: Think about a date or timeframe you’d like to host your event. This is often overlooked and planning without a purpose will leave you with more questions than answers.
If you don’t have a set date you’re aiming for, try narrowing it down to a couple of months. Decide if you are definitely a Saturday wedding type of person, or more into a Friday or Sunday. Are there any times of year that you truly enjoy? Use this as your guide.
Guest Count: This is, undoubtedly, one of the most essential elements to understanding what type of venue you’ll need, what your budget can support, and help to prioritize who you really want to celebrate with.
Do you want an intimate wedding with 75 of your closest family and friends, do you want a p-a-r-t-y with everyone who makes you the happiest – even if that means a guest count of over 300 (we know you have tons of friends!).
Understanding this number is important because it will help you narrow your venue search to what can accommodate your guest count as well as what the cost per person is for food, beverages, décor, invitations, etc. The guest count largely drives your budget… more on that in a few.
Start with a Guest “A” List: These are all essential guests, namely parents, siblings, best friends, and those you wouldn’t even dream celebrating your day without. You’d be surprised at how many people can fill this up. If you think you have room for more, and most importantly WANT more at your wedding, then start a second list of people you may want to consider including (but not certain at the point of developing your initial guest list).
Budget: Budget ranges, exact numbers, etc. are important to know. Most clients will have a number in mind of how much they want to spend, however, most (if not all of you) won’t know what a realistic number is.
Here’s our little tip: A venue should be no more than 45% of your total budget – that’s including food, beverages, tables, chairs, linen, gratuity, venue admin fees, etc. Ideally, this would hover closer to 40%, but there’s some room to work.
While developing your budget, it’s also important to list what items are included in your overall number and what is considered a personal expense. For instance, some couples will consider their attire, accessories, hair and makeup, wedding bands, hotel stays, etc. as a personal expense, while venue, photographer, cinematographer, florist, planner, baker, etc. are all included within the main wedding budget.
Understanding your Style: You may have been dreaming of what your wedding would look like the second you met your partner, or, you may not even have a clue… and that’s okay!
If you don’t know where to start, try this:
- Make a list of details that you like and items you don’t.
- Start researching alternatives for the things you don’t like.
- If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, open on and begin searching and pin to a secret board!
Knowing how much time you have to commit to wedding planning: Sit down with your partner and understand what you two are interested in, what you may want help with, and if you have time to plan the logistics and work with vendors along with maintaining balance with your personal life.
After planning events for years, we can safely say it can easily take a full-time, experienced event planner 250 – 300+ hours to plan, design and produce an event. If you haven’t done this before, there will undoubtedly be additional research, countless hours pouring through “how to’s” and looking for a sanity check that you are doing this wedding planning thing right. After all, this is the first time you’re doing this. If you’re still feeling the overwhelm or just can’t even… we’d love nothing more than to be your partner.
Come follow us on Instagram for up to the minute wedding planning advice and inspiration or shoot us an email using our contact page here to see how we may be able to help plan your biggest day. We look forward to helping you in your journey!