Updated: Jan 13, 2019
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 planning my own wedding!
Step 1: Create a wedding email address!
I cannot stress this enough. I did not do this when planning my own wedding and it was the most regrettable thing I did haha My inbox got flooded with vendor communications, bridal ads, messages from people who somehow found out I was getting married and ended up on their mailing lists, family and bridal party messages, payment requests, etc.! It was overwhelming and although I did create my own wedding subfolder in my primary inbox, it was still an extra step to filter through everything and add them to that folder. 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 I used theknot.com for my wedding and it was incredible. There was a budget tool, an event checklist, vendor recommendations, timelines, guest list organizers, you name it! It was super useful. I believe weddingwire.com also has something similar, though I am not as familiar with it.
Speaking of budgets...
Step 3: Create a budget
When I got married, I wanted a $10k wedding, thinking that was expensive. LOL. $15k is a cheap wedding typically...$25k–$30k is more realistic, so just be aware of that and budget where you can! I'm not sure what the average wedding costs now, but my advice regardless is to budget a little higher than you think, and aim to go under it if your goal is to save money. Really try to prioritize what is most important to you (venue? food? invitations?? <- yay!) and then lower your budget in other areas that aren't as important.
Step 4: Find a venue and photographer first (and a date)
Cuz they book out sometimes over a year in advance! I couldn't believe when I started searching for photographers in September that all but one was booked for our wedding date in June! But then I learned that this is pretty normal and I was just being a wedding noob. Having a good photographer was also a priority for me, so that is why I am recommending it first here, but by all means if a videographer, florist, DJ, band, or other vendor is more important, then book away!
Also, decide what is most important to you: a date or a location. For me, we wanted a specific date, and got lucky the venue we wanted happened to 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 your full-time job. I didn't realize this while working a 9–5 job and let's just say I barely had time to go to the bathroom I was so busy working or planning. Sorry if that was TMI 😂
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 I need to make Save the Dates too, and sometimes not even a venue name. Must-haves are your names, your wedding date, and a location (can just be a city even if you don't have the venue booked quite yet!).
Step 6: Start thinking about who you want in your wedding party
And invite them to be your bridesmaids/groomsmen! I made little gift boxes for all mine along with recipes and homemade treats. I personalized each box tailored to each bridesmaid, her dietary preferences, and wrote a hand-written letter about why I wanted them in my party supporting me on our wedding day. My husband took all his guy friends out to a BBQ lunch and was way more casual about it haha
I guess I am just so grateful for the people in my party to be helping me that I want to treat them well and invest in them as much as they are about to invest in me. It's a huge responsibility and sometimes financial burden to be in a wedding party, so any opportunity I had to check in with them and treat them to something they would like, I would. 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 has some drama somewhere in some way haha
Again, I am not affiliated with this site or being paid by them to recommend them, but I used this amazing site called azazie.com for my bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen ties (apparently they now have bridal dresses too!). I love it because it affordable, they have a huge range of colors and styles, and you can try before you buy! 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 route to go is purchase 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 weddings after hers haha! Practical too!
Step 7: Now you can start figuring out your theme/colors!
This is the fun part :D Well it was fun for me at least! 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 well 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 planning website to get the rest going :) There's a lot to do but these are some great places to start. I'd also recommend using one of the templates on theknot.com, weddingwire.com, or minted.com to get your personal wedding website set up too!
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!