Updated: Jan 31, 2021
A lot of people ask me where to start when they first get engaged. Well, I am by no means a wedding planner, but if you're here you must be looking for some answers! Here's a few tips and things I learned from helping others plan their weddings!
Step 1: Create a wedding email address!
I cannot stress this enough. Your inbox will quickly get flooded with vendor communications, bridal ads, messages from vendors who somehow find out you are getting married and you end up on their mailing lists, family and bridal party messages, payment requests, etc.! It can be overwhelming, so at the very least, create your own wedding subfolder in your primary inbox. Take my word for it and create your own separate wedding address to save yourself a headache and more importantly, keep everything organized in one place for optimum wedding communication efficiency!
Step 2: Create an account on a wedding site!
I am not being paid to advertise for these sites, but theknot.com is a beautiful, free, easy-to-use, organized site and planning companion. There was a budget tool, an event checklist, vendor recommendations, timelines, guest list organizers, you name it! It was super useful. I have also hear wonderful things about minted.com, zola.com, for similar experiences! You can also build your own custom websites on platforms like squarespace.com or wix.com, or if you have a higher budget and would like a more luxurious website, rileygrey.com is a fantastic option.
Speaking of budgets...
Step 3: Create a budget
I've had many clients tell me their end budget was about double what they had estimated it to be. It's easy to underestimate how expensive weddings can be, especially if you have a large guest list! $15k is a cheap wedding, while $29k–$31k is more realistic/average, so just be aware of that and budget where you can! If you're looking for custom stationery, your wedding budget is most likely going to be in the $75k–$225k realm. Really try to prioritize what is most important to you and then lower your budget in other areas that aren't as important.
Step 4: Find a venue and photographer first (and a date)...
because they often book out over a year in advance!
Also, decide what is most important to you: a date or a location. If you want a specific date, find and contact your venue asap to see if they have it available. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, and you'll have to just take whatever date your venue has open, or vise versa (choose a date and be more flexible on venue). A date or location will come first and the other will follow, then you can really start planning!
HINT: Be ready for wedding planning to become a full-time job. You can easily devote 30–40+ hours on some weeks on planning alone, so be sure to use your vendors' expertise and planning tools to help minimize stress on you!
Step 5: Send out save the dates as soon as you know your date and have booked your venue
I would be super honored to help with all of the paper stuff you need 😊 That's all the info needed to make Save the Dates too, and sometimes not even a venue name (a city name or location is fine for Save the Dates even if you don't have the venue booked yet!). Must-haves are: your names, your wedding date, and a location.
Step 6: Start thinking about who you want in your wedding party...
and invite them to be your bridesmaids/groomsmen! Thoughtful things like little personalized gift boxes with recipes, homemade treats, and hand-written letters will really make your friends and family feel special. Or, you can be more casual about it and take the whole group out for drinks or a nice dinner! Showing gratitude and appreciation for the people in your party will go a long way, as they will be investing a lot of time into supporting you on your wedding day :). HINT: Choose the people in your party wisely—have a reason why you want these people standing up there with you. People's true colors tend to come out during wedding planning so just be ready for some potential drama. Hopefully this won't happen, but every wedding usually has some drama somewhere in some way, so make sure you have the right people there to help you through it! :)
Again, I am not affiliated with this site or being paid by them to recommend them, but there are amazing sites like azazie.com and birdygrey.com for a huge selection of reasonably-priced, stylish wedding and bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen ties. You send them your measurements and they make the dresses specific to you so there shouldn't be too much iffiness from never having tried on the dress.
Another creative route to go is purchasing non-wedding-specific dresses from a department store that your bridesmaids can wear again at other events after wedding! My best friend did this and it was amazing. I wore that dress to so many other events after hers haha! Practical too!
Step 7: Now you can start figuring out your theme/colors!
This is the fun part :D If you have no clue what colors work together or what you want your look/feel/vibe of your wedding to be, I'd be happy to help with that as we work together :) This is a great place to start envisioning what your wedding will look like and start setting the tone and stage for it with your Save the Dates, followed by your invitations, which of course I would be so happy to help you with!
Final steps: Start using your wedding planner or website to get the rest going :) There's a lot to do but these are some great places to start.
Well, I hope that was helpful to you! I know it can be so overwhelming to start planning such an important event, and I am happy to help take care of the paper goods portion of that for you if you'd like to work together! Otherwise good luck and I hope these tips help you get off to a good start!