12 Steps To Start Planning Your Wedding

If you’re newly engaged, you probably have an inkling of what’s coming… specifically, the Wedding Planning Twilight Zone (WPTZ). 

There’ll be so many incredible moments (“proposing” to your Maid of Honor!), fun activities (can we cake test everyday?), and stuff dreams are made of (wedding dress shopping is the best sort of shopping).  There will also be times when you can feel your inner Bridezilla begin to emerge… it happens to the best of us. The highs! The lows! It’s all so unreal.

Because there is SO much to think about, it may seem daunting to even begin wedding planning.  By starting with these 12 tasks, your wedding planning path ahead will pave itself. Welcome to the WPTZ.

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1. Have a “big umbrella” conversation with your fiancé, your parents, and your in-laws… but not at the same time.

The better you’re able to understand everyone’s hopes before you nail down details, the fewer let downs there’ll be in the process.  Privately talk to your fiancé often about their wedding wishes.  Sit down with both sets of parents, separately, to get their general wishes for your wedding as well.  Try to steer them away from discussing specific details, or else it may snowball into what they want, not you .  By learning a vague idea of everyone’s thoughts, you may be able to navigate wedding planning with fewer disappointments. Clear communication always helps avoid clashes!

2. Peruse wedding magazines.

The national ones will fill you with inspiration (check out wedding planning bibles Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings), while the local ones will give you venue and vendor ideas.  Considering a destination wedding?  Destination Weddings & Honeymoons is a great resource, as is Destination I Do.  Look up your preferred destination to order any local wedding magazines that look appealing for location-specific inspiration and vendor ideas.

3. Choose a couple potential wedding dates.

Stay flexible, if possible, so that there are options to accommodate your ideal ceremony and reception location, as well as vendors.  This is especially important if you plan to get married in 6 months or less.

4. Book your venue.

After you secure your venue, planning should fall into place.  The design, mood, colors, and even potential menu will probably become clear.  Also, some venues have vendor restrictions (as in, they’ll only work with certain vendors, have great catering recommendations for you, etc), so it’s best to learn about those before you fall in love with a vendor that may not be able to work with your venue.

5. Once your wedding date is chosen and your venue is booked, make a timeline.

This is the #1 thing that will help you manage wedding planning details!

6. Consider a wedding planner, and hire any priority vendors.

Your venue may have some suggestions for great wedding planners and vendors they’ve worked with in the past.  Vendors are booked well in advance (sometimes up to 2 years!), so try to book all of your favorites as early as possible.

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7. Choose your wedding guest list BEFORE your engagement party.

Even if you’re having a small wedding and celebrating with everyone early at a large engagement party, you’ll want to be clear on this so that your guests know in advance.  Avoiding awkward moments when people realize they’re not invited to the wedding when they thought they were should be the goal here.

8. Choose your Wedding Party.

We’re guessing you’ve had an idea for a while now of who you’d like to stand at the altar with you and your fiancé.  Now that you’ve booked your venue and have seen how many people the altar space can accommodate, it’s time to nail down your Wedding Parties and ask your besties.  They probably can’t wait to plan your engagement party, bridal shower, and/or bachelorette party.  If you’re thinking about having a larger wedding party than the venue can accommodate in the altar area, there’s no harm in having some (or all!) sit in the front row next to your parents.

9. Plan your engagement party, if you choose to have one.

Some couples forgo the engagement party in favor of saving up for their wedding, and others love to celebrate as much as possible along the way!

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10. Register for gifts.

It sounds early, but you may start receiving gifts as soon as people learn you’re engaged.  Why not help steer them in the right direction?  They’ll appreciate the suggestions.  This is especially important if you plan on having an engagement party.

11. Shop for your dress.

Some dresses can take 6 months to be made, and with any potential delays, you’ll want to begin shopping as soon as you’ve nailed down your wedding mood board.  If your dress is made in Italy, some of the high end Italian makers and factories take the entire month of August off - another potential delay.  Dresses are generally made internationally - perhaps fabric from China, beading from India, construction in Italy, alterations at the dress boutique, etc.  Stressing about trying to meet a dress deadline is no fun.  Start early!

12. Pin away!

There’s no such thing as being too inspired.  Pinterest remains the bridal planning mecca, so take advantage of all of the ideas shared.  Also, this is a great place to create mood boards to share with your vendors to help them understand your vision.

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Sure wedding planning can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s why you enlist help! When it starts to feel like you’ll never be able to plan things in time, take a deep breath, remember this is supposed to be fun, and call for help.