How to Plan Your Wedding

Tips For Brides

how to plan your wedding

Since photography season is starting to slow down as the cold weather moves in, I thought I'd start another series on my blog, this one completely dedicated to helping all the brides to be out there! Planning your wedding is no simple task. I planned mine just a couple years ago and have now been to quite a lot of weddings as a guest, photographer, bridesmaid, or bride! Am I an expert? Of course not. But my wedding coordinator and my bridesmaids all thought I was remarkably calm and stress free throughout the process of planning my wedding, so hopefully I can pass on some of what I've learned.

This is a very broad step by step of how to plan your wedding in a way that goes smoothly. There are lots of little things that I haven't covered, but these are the big ones and I hope it's helpful!

1. Envision what you want.

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This sounds far simpler than it is, but it's probably the most important and time-consuming task of them all. If your wedding includes every pin you've ever pinned on Pinterest, it's probably going to be a hot mess. Look at what your'e drawn to and try to pull a solid theme from those ideas. Do you like upscale, classic ballroom weddings? DIY signs, twinkle lights, and barn weddings? Whatever your style, it's where you need to start. That way you have an end goal in mind and can figure out the rest of your wedding accordingly.

2. Set your overall budget.

This could easily be #1, but I thought it was a really kill-joy way of starting this list, so I made it #2, but it's obviously really important! Set the budget and stick to the budget. You're going to be tempted so many times to NOT stick to that budget, but be strong so that when you really NEED to splurge, you can. I set my budget from the beginning and was doing a decent job until a week before the wedding when we realized that it was going to storm on our wedding day and I hadn't budgeted for an outdoor tent. It was okay, but it was something I should have considered more from the beginning.

3. Find and reserve your venue.

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I think the venue should come first when you start selecting vendors. Find the place and everything else will follow. In fact, most of our wedding vendors were recommended to us by our venue, Celebrations at the Reservoir, and they did a fantastic job. Where you get married is really going to set the tone for your wedding, so make sure it fits in with the vision you had in step #1. Setting the venue also gives you your WEDDING DATE. A very important piece of information that all of your other wedding vendors will need. A venue will also give you a good idea of the size of your wedding and you'll be able to make a more accurate guest list.

4. Prioritize your needs.

To me, after the venue, photography was my number one priority. That's not the case for everyone. I AM aware of this! If a slamming DJ and an open bar are what will make your wedding unforgettable, then prioritize those things in your budget! Think about the food, drinks, photography, videography, floweres, music, officiant, cake, lighting, hair, makeup and wedding dress and rank them. I know you don't want to. I know they're ALL important. But it will help you know where you can cut some corners to save your budget if you know that you're getting what you really want elsewhere.

5. Find and reserve your photographer! (yay!)

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The greatest step of all! Just kidding. Sort of. Chances are, if you're reading this blog, photography is an important part of your wedding day. I always tell brides I meet with that not only are your photos going to be the lasting memory of your wedding, but you're probably going to spend more time with your photographer than your groom! So you better like whoever you hire! Seriously though, make sure you choose a photographer who fits the style of your wedding. If you're going vintage, a photographer who specializes in film photography would be a fantastic choice. There's no vendor you're going to get to know better or work more closely with than this person, so choose carefully! Reserving them early ensures you get engagement photos in the season you want and in time to use them for save the dates if you want.

6. Reserve the remaining vendors.

The best vendors are going to book up fast, usually a year in advance. If you're particular, you need to do it as soon as you can. I put photographer above the others, not because I'm super egotistical, but because they're one of the few vendors you'll be interacting with before, during, and after your wedding. MOST people you hire for your wedding day will be showing up on the day of your wedding, providing their great service, and then they are done. People like your venue and photographer are the ones you'll be communicating with the most.

7. Decide and delegate your details!

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Now that you've selected all your vendors and reserved them for your wedding day, you can start working on the details! Here's where you can DIY to save some money. Everyone's got a crafty friend who can help you out with wedding favors, guest book, programs, etc. All the little touches that make your day unique. You can certainly hire professionals to take care of these things, but I actually think the couples who do it themselves appreciate how everything comes together on the wedding day even more. I certainly did. The other thing that's important about this step is to delegate responsibilities to your bridal party or family members. They WANT to help. And if you know your friend dabbles in graphic design, why not ask them to make a mock up program or wedding invitation? Just asking for help on a few things can save you a lot of stress.

8. Write out a timeline for the wedding.

From waking up, to setting up the venue, to getting the hair did, to your photographer's arrival, to the first dance, to the cake cutting, to the farewell exit, and everything in between. Give yourself a rough hour by hour timeline. This won't just help you. It will help your wedding coordinator (most venues have one) and ALL your wedding vendors. I know this step is crucial for me on a wedding day to make sure I'm where the action is and don't miss a moment that needs photographing. It's sometimes in doing this step that you'll realize you had an unrealistic expectation and are able to fine tune. And also remember, everyone runs late. Something will go wrong on the day of, not necessarily anything major, but times can change and it's okay. IT'S ALL OKAY :)

9. Confirm with all responsible parties 1-2 weeks before the wedding.

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If you put your best friend in charge of centerpieces, now's the time to make sure she did that. Make sure all your hired vendors are good to go. It's a simple step that shouldn't take too long if you send out a mass email, but it can save you a lot of worry to know everything's been taken care of.

10. Don't forget to relax.

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Make time for a last, unmarried date with your hubby to be. Get pedicures with your bridesmaids. This is supposed to be fun! Don't let flowers the wrong shade of purple or a broken nail ruin your day. These things are so small on the importance meter and your guests will never know the difference, heck your groom probably won't know the difference. If you let the small stuff take over your thoughts, you'll truly wonder where the time went on your wedding day. Soak it in and enjoy the effects of all your hard work!

This list is very general and over the next few months I hope to go into more detail on some of these topics. If you have a particular topic you'd like to see a blog post about, please leave it in the comments! I would love your feedback.