Wedding planning can feel daunting to many people, but in actuality it doesn't have to be. There are many ways to approach planning and achieve your dream wedding day. Ultimately, I think it's important to remain focused on the true meaning behind the celebration - marriage and the promise you make to each other before God. The rest of the celebration is an added bonus to whatever level you feel is appropriate. It's one day for four to six hours usually, so try not to get sidetracked by trends and impressing others versus what will YOU remember on that day for the rest of your life!
Personally, I enjoy planning events and weddings and have helped to plan weddings for years. I learned all about it while planning my first wedding on a MAJOR budget. I loved reviewing and analyzing price points and ways to save, as well as explore DIY options to personalize the celebration in addition to saving money by making it myself. I learned a lot from planning it that way, and learned a lot about marriage when and after my marriage failed. God had bigger plans in store for me. I've said it umpteen times before but that is what triggered my passion for studying Christian marriage and my desire to help others. I'll put that topic aside for now though so we can stay focused on planning!
When life's twists and turns lead me to being engaged over Christmas last year, my (now) husband and I discussed a mutual desire to get married quickly and not draw out our separate lives with a long engagement. Enter in a very fast wedding to plan! Which, I might add, we did in two weeks. Then we sat back and waited for the little things to roll in.
You can find plenty of wedding planning timelines online which can be very helpful. The site you choose to use to host your wedding information site will likely have one. We used theknot.com because I am familiar with it and while I knew I wouldn't need much assistant or research this time, I also knew theknot.com is one of the most informative wedding websites out there. Other sites that come to mind are: weddingwire.com, mywedding.com, and brides.com.
Meanwhile, without their assistance, here's what I think are the highlights and key items to help you plan your wedding without getting caught up in the extreme details imposed by vendors.
1. The first thing to discuss when planning your wedding is when you'd like to get married? Anything is possible so do not be afraid to pick a fast approaching date. Think about the time of year, the season, the holidays, and the weather that might be important to you both. This will help with other decisions once the general time of year is set. You'll also want to check the potential date(s) with anyone you absolutely want to be there like your parents, siblings, and grandparents.
2. Next, you'll want to check with your church and pastor to see if they're available or with churches that you're interested in getting married at (or other ceremony site).
3. Next, it is good to think about your budget. At the end of the day, if your pastor (officiant) can marry you with the most important people in your lives present, then truly you do not need anything else. However, consider your budget and work within it to figure out what is important to have at your wedding and what is least important. You may be able to work everything in but you'll want to focus on including the things you find to be "must haves".
4. Think about the feel and theme of your desired wedding. This will help you determine what type of venue you want to look for to hold your reception. Do you like a rustic feel? Do you like a Tuscan romantic feel? Do you like a traditional ballroom feel? Do you like casual or a unique site that is special to you like perhaps a museum, a theme park, the beach? Do you want your ceremony and/or reception to be outside (weather permitting)? Once you have this decided, search for venues with the corresponding them online and schedule visits. You can also eliminate them prematurely if you ask in advance about the dates they have available. If your dates are flexible then make touring reception sites your priority.
5. As soon as you confirm the ceremony and reception venue, send out your save the date! Plus, think of how you want to ask your wedding party to be a part of your wedding. It is common now to make it very personalized and special, but you can keep it simple and old fashioned and just ask them as well.
6. Simultaneously you can begin looking for your wedding dress! I'd suggest to start looking online at styles and silhouettes that you like. Schedule appointments for bridal stores in your area and don't forget to take someone or multiple people with you! It is a fun experience and you'll enjoy their input and help to pick out dresses you may not even think you'll like. I like to watch "Say Yes to the Dress" and "Four Weddings" to see what other people pick and how they decorate their weddings. One thing that surprises me is when a bride tries on a dress they swear they wouldn't ever pick and then decide it's "the one". This basically happened to me! AS SOON AS you pick your dress, get quotes for your alterations. I found the best alterations EVER (Transformations by Maria) simply Googling and reading reviews, and using her saved me a TON of money versus having my alterations done at the bridal store itself.
7. Once your pastor (officiant), ceremony and reception site are confirmed you'll want to begin selecting the additional vendors you'll need. Look up reviews and ask for quotes from them. You can rule out some options based on your budget before spending the time meeting them.
- invitations & calligraphy (if desired)
- videographer (don't skip this, you will regret it)
- baker for wedding cake, grooms cake, & other desserts
- caterer if it's not included in your reception venue
- rental items if they're not included at your reception venue (tables, chairs, table cloths, napkins, silverware and plates)
8. When you've selected the above or as you're working on them, you can begin to think about your bridal accessories: veil, shoes, clutch, jewelry. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Remember you only wear (most of) them for only this day, for four to six hours. There are great ways to stay within a budget and spend less, whether or not you even have a budget. It's a personal decision to spend or not to spend on these items. You can consider that you might be able to sell them or donate them after the wedding as well. I'll share my suggestions for splurge or save in a separate post!
9. Look for wedding ideas on Pinterest! This is something you may have started before even being engaged or right after being engaged. But, continue looking at wedding ideas and colors, flowers and cakes, dresses and accessories, entrances and exits, first dance songs and general reception songs, wedding favor ideas and programs, plus special ways to honor the important people in your life both present and those who have passed. This is the time to dream big and find ways to work it into your special day.
10. Pick out the bridal party's dresses and make sure the groom has organized his groomsmen.
11. Buy the groom's ring and make sure the wedding band has been ordered.
12. Pick out the flower girls' dresses and types of flowers depending on the ceremony site's restrictions. Some allow fresh petals, silk petals, or neither! In that case the flower girl(s) can carry a mini bouquet or a tiny floral purse... Pick out the ring bearer's outfit and special pillow or sign he is to carry.
13. Decide on wedding favors and personalized items such as: do you want to have a candy bar, hot chocolate bar, cupcake bar, donut bar, etc. as a take away wedding favor? How about a decorate your own cupcake, build your own candle, or photobooth station?
14. Other minor details will continue to pop up along the way, especially for DIY types of things. Either way, you will want certain aspects of your wedding to feel personalized. Everyone does but to varying degrees. Etsy.com is a great site to order personalized items for your day. However, always spend an extra ten minutes searching sites like theknot.com, amazon.com, shutterfly.com, zazzle.com, themint.com, myweddingfavors.com, etc. for personalized wedding items. A small cost savings per item can really add up when you consider the quantity. We saved about $0.50 per treat bag by ordering them from target.com non-personalized than by ordering personalized on any other site I was looking at like swoozies.com, theknot.com, and myweddingfavors.com. Depending on what you want you may find one thing better priced on one site and something else better priced on another site. Can this take additional time? Sure. But, if budgeting is important to you, then it will all add up in the end. I chose not to spend too much time researching but did do quick searches for each thing before ordering any specific item. Personalized items to consider:
- cocktail napkins
- wedding favor treat bags or boxes
- water bottle or candy wrappers
- cake toppers
15. Remember you will have multiple check ins and follow ups with various vendors between the time of booking them and finalizing the big day. This is normal and your ideas may morph and change. Remember that they're there to help you! They're on your team and their ultimate goal is to help you achieve your dream day. So, if your ideas change let them know. If their proposed ideas aren't in line with your vision, tell them. The last thing they want is a dissatisfied customer. Tweak and tweak again and make sure you'll love the end product.
My number one recommendation, which is easier said then done, is to remember the purpose of the wedding and reception. It is about making the commitment to your spouse. It's not about the dress, the flowers, the cake, etc. Those are all just cultural norms and expectations. They're not requirements. If a decision becomes stressful, set it aside or don't include it in your wedding. There's a lot of things that are nice to have, but not necessary and you can cut out expenses by leaving them out. I promise you, no one will notice what you don't have. Guests will only notice what you do have. But, as harsh as it seems no one really remembers details about other people's weddings. They may remember one thing or two, but even in time that fades. I hate to say it, but it's true. So don't stress! Especially on the day of...if ANYTHING goes wrong, no one will even know it but you. ;) That's the glory of it all. The details and party are really just for you. So keep it simple to what you love most.
Have you planned a wedding before for yourself or another? Did you enjoy it? What tips or suggestions can you offer to help others who are working on their wedding planning? Comment below!
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or would like help with any aspect of planning your wedding. I'm familiar with all of it and can help in any way.
Wishing all of you a wonderful day!