Hooray, my friend! You’re getting married! You’ve made the announcement and you’re receiving hundreds of phone calls, texts and Facebook notifications with sweet messages from your family and friends congratulating you! And already a curious relative has asked you, “so, when’s the wedding?” Cue the planning anxiety.
To get you on the right track towards your big day, I have put together a short guide featuring the First Six Wedding Planning Steps to begin your wedding planning journey. And, if you’re interested in tips and tricks for after you nail down these next six steps, read through to the bottom of the post for free access to another planning tool from AYE!
At AYE, my intention during a couple’s initial consultation is to essentially start them off on the right foot, lay down a good foundation and, most importantly, prevent stress. Many of my brides tell me that the first thing they do after they get engaged is hop onto wedding blogs, Google and Pinterest, beginning the endless search for venues, caterers, photographers, stationers, etc. And every one of them says that within a few days, they are completely overwhelmed feeling pulled in many different directions. So when a bride books with me, my goal is to skip the overwhelm and get her on the right track towards a gorgeous wedding. Below is my guide to the First Six Wedding Planning Steps, outlining touch points I use during my initial consultations to help my couples start from scratch.
Carly Michelle Photography
1. HAVE A LITTLE REVERIE
You’ve been dreaming about this day since you were seven, so don’t stop now! Have a little reverie about the aspects you hope to incorporate into your Wedding Day. Jot down these ideas and take a good look. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you will see the makings of a wedding style starting to form. Sailcloth tents, greenery covered chandeliers, wooden farm tables, large asymmetrical bouquets filled with florals and greens — you might be dreaming of a romantic garden-inspired tented wedding filled with so many personalized details! Bright florals, jewel toned lounge furniture, macrame table runners, a VW photobooth bus — you’re on the boho chic track. All white draping, crystal chandeliers, a plethora of white flowers, a statement gown and pops of black — you’re envisioning a luxe and glam black tie affair.
2. THE “WHERE”
Do you have a general location in mind? Will you get married in your hometown? Or maybe your fiance’s hometown? What about where you spent the Summer as a child? Or are you are you dreaming about jetsetting for an intimate destination wedding along the Amalfi Coast of Italy? You don’t have to specifically pick your venue at this point. Just hone in on your ideal location, and determine if this will be a location where your guests will be able to get to with ease or if all guests will be traveling, which would define your celebration as a destination wedding.
Tip: If you’re ultimately dreaming of a destination wedding (somewhere where almost all of your guests including yourself must travel to), keep in mind that you might want to consider hiring a planner to help you plan your from afar!
3. DEFINE YOUR BUDGET
I know, this is the scary conversation. But trust me, you want to do this now. This is going to allow you to set parameters, which, believe it or not, will actually make the journey easier and wedding-related decisions less daunting. If you haven’t already, speak with both sides of the family about whether or not they feel comfortable contributing to your Wedding Day budget. Then sit down together and come up with an estimated figure. Here is our helpful blog post about creating a realistic wedding budget!
4. CREATE YOUR GUEST LIST
One of my biggest pieces of advice is starting your guest list early so that you can really know exactly how many people you will be inviting. This is a key factor to staying on target with budget AND picking a venue that can accommodate your guest count beautifully. And while you might feel that this step is daunting, it truly isn’t if you work methodically. Create your list with your fiancé by working from the core outwards. Start in this order: immediate family, close relatives (first aunts, uncles and cousins), best friends, distant relatives, family friends, work friends and colleagues. You can refine later, but at this point you will have a pretty good handle on your estimated guest count.
Tip: When it comes to collecting guest addresses, rather than chasing all of your guests down, use Postable to streamline and collect addresses in a snap. This is one of my favorite tips and ensures my couples not only get all of the addresses they need, but they are all accurately housed in a beautiful and simple format that can easily be copy and pasted into any stationer’s addressing spreadsheet!
5. NARROW YOUR VENUE OPTIONS DOWN (THEN BOOK!)
Now take your dreams, general location, budget and guest count and do a little research. Go to review websites such as The Venue Report or The Knot and review venues in your ideal location that will work with your guest count and overall wedding vision. Call all of your venue options and set up a time to chat with your venue representative about potential dates. Set up site visits with each venue that has availability. And once you find one that you love, consider booking immediately so the date you desire is 100% yours!
For a deeper dive into finding the perfect venue and more of my favorite venue scouting tips and tricks, head over to this blog post we shared in 2019 about finding your dream venue!
6. BOOK YOUR WEDDING PLANNER
This step can come before booking a venue OR after. Some couples book a wedding planner before reserving their venue, therefore their wedding planner will be very actively venue scouting with them. When looking for a wedding planner, look for experience, great recommendations and take a gander at her portfolio. Most importantly try to find someone that you connect with immediately. A personal connection with your planner will make the experience that much more enjoyable! And, if you are on the fence about a wedding planner, here is one of my favorite blog posts that gives you a little glimpse into just a short list of the things wedding planners handle on your behalf (100 things to be exact)!
Carly Michelle Photography
And there you have it! The six next steps that will help you jumpstart the wedding planning journey and lay down a fantastic foundation for your the big day. I hope you found this guide helpful, and I hope you feel more confident moving forward with this very exciting experience!
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