We are here to help you out with the 9 things you need to do first to start planning your wedding.
1. START YOUR GUEST LIST
This is a tough one because yes, of course you want to invite everyone you know to your wedding. Well consider this your warning: the more people you have, the more you have to spend. (This is why you do your budget first.)
Example: You want to have 200 guests. Your budget is $20,000. This means that you will have $100 per guest. Well, that really ritzy hotel you love? Yeah they’re not even going to be close to $100 per person for food and beverage. And that doesn’t include flowers, decor, and all your other vendors!
So as you see, starting your guest list and knowing your estimated maximum guest count early is crucial. And keep in mind that guest counts usually go down by the time your wedding day comes around.
2. SET A BUDGET
You shouldn’t be doing anything before deciding on your budget. I know, I know- it’s a tough conversation, but it needs to be discussed and decided on before anything else. Sit down with your parents, family members, or just the two of you, figure out who is contributing, how much they can contribute, and what your total budget will be. Then you can move on to #3!
3. CHOOSE POSSIBLE DATES
To be safe, choose 2-3 possible dates to have your wedding. Think of the time of year you prefer, the weather, work schedules/vacation time, holidays, and yes, even football season (or whatever sport your fiance/family is crazy about). Then choose your #1 preferred date, and have a #2 and #3 available in case your preferred date isn’t available. Because venues book up fast- some even book up to a year and half in advance!
4. BOOK YOUR VENUE
All of those first 3 steps above can essentially be done all in one sitting. Pretty cool, right? Then once you have all of those decisions made, you can start researching and touring venues. When you’re researching and you find a venue that you like, I recommend contacting them and asking if they have any of your possible dates available. If they do, then go ahead and schedule a time to tour the venue. Give yourself a few (1 to 3 max) weeks to tour all of your possibilities (depending on how long you have before your wedding date of course), crunch numbers, envision your wedding there (or not), and then book your venue! Once you have your venue booked (meaning deposit made and contract signed), your date is secured and you are well on your way to getting MARRIED!
[This one is twofold. So many of the things involved in planning a wedding happen all at once. Get ready ;)] First and foremost, if you didn’t already hire a wedding planner during the first 4 steps, I strongly suggest you consider one. They will be able to give you excellent recommendations and will save you lots of time and frustration.
Researching potential vendors is HUGE. There are so many amazing wedding professionals out there now, and you want time to be able to choose the right ones for you. You definitely don’t want to be rushed, but at the same time, time is of the essence.
When you’re researching, I recommend that you check out the vendor’s portfolio, bio, pricing info (if they have it available) and their blog. Feel free to do research on every single type of vendor you need, but the ones that are crucial and book up quickly are the planner, photographer, videographer, and caterer (if applicable). Moving on, the next steps are going to pertain to these 3 things. [After you’ve completed the following steps for the previously mentioned vendors, then you’ll move on to your entertainment, florals/event decor, rentals, invitations, and cake. And then you’ll go on to hair and makeup, transportation, tux rentals, favors, and any extras.]
Yes, it’s in caps because it’s *that* exciting! Isn’t it pretty much the very first thing you wanted to do- look at wedding dresses?! I mean, come on, who doesn’t like wedding dresses? 😉 But in all seriousness, you want to be sure that you research the types of dresses you like and the stores that carry them.
6. INQUIRE WITH AND INTERVIEW VENDORS
So by now you’ve done your research and you know what vendors you like. Now it’s time to contact the vendors, find out if they’re available for your date, and schedule a consultation. The vendors will get to know you, you’ll get to know them, you’ll get down to business, and then you let them know in a few days if you want to hire them or not! I recommend meeting with up to three of each type of vendor- one if you already absolutely love them and they sell you right away, two if you’re pretty set but want to know other options, and three if you’re not sure. It just really depends on you, your decision making skills, and your taste.
7. HIRE YOUR VENDORS
Of course the next step is to pull the trigger and hire one of those vendors that you’ve met and fallen in love with. After your consultations, try to let vendors know your decision a week or two from when they provide you with an estimate/proposal. And then hooray! You’re one step closer to your wedding day!
Important note: Once you’ve hired someone, please let the other vendors that you met with know that you won’t be going with them. I know it sucks to do it and yes, you might feel awkward, but it has to be done- they have to know! A nice, simple email will suffice.
8. WEDDING DRESS!
Alright, so you have some of your vendors booked… now it’s time to take a break and go wedding dress shopping! I don’t think this needs much explanation. 🙂
9. DESIGN & DETAIL INSPIRATION
With the second round of vendors you will meet with next (florals, decor, invitations, rentals, cake) you’ll need to have a good idea of what you want your wedding to be like, so it’s time to focus on design and details!
Know that when we say “design and details”, it really just means what your wedding will look like. Design is more of a general term, and details is more of the specifics (and where your personality can really shine through too!). This too is something that requires lots of research… which in the wedding world we like to call INSPIRATION! 🙂
You want to make sure that you have enough inspiration to be able to accurately convey to your potential vendors what it is you want for your wedding. And then in the same breath, you don’t want to have too much inspiration either! Don’t forget to bring your inspiration with you to your consultations! You can probably even just pull up your Pinterest boards in your meetings- which I think is great!
Once you get to the last step for your first set of vendors, then move on to the next round of vendors! Wedding planning is like a roller coaster- you’ll go really fast at full-speed, then you’ll slow down, and then you’ll speed up again. Yes it’s normal, and it’s okay to have a lull in planning. Basically that roller coaster ride just keeps going until you get married. 😉 So remember this:
“WEDDING PLANNING IS LIKE A ROLLER COASTER- YOU’LL GO FULL-SPEED, SLOW DOWN, THEN SPEED UP AGAIN. “
That was LONG and absolutely FULL of information, but I hope all of this will help you out and get you going on the right path as you start planning your wedding! There are of course other things that have to be done as you get closer to your wedding, but all of this will definitely get you started and prepare you for what is to come. And if you have any questions, please know that I’m here to answer them!
(No really- all you have to do is ask me over on Instagram!) Or you can ask here in the comments! There are no silly questions… you’ve never planned a wedding before, so how are you supposed to know?! 🙂
Check out some of our favorite wedding venues in New York, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley below:
- Wedding venues in the Hudson Valley
- Top 10 wedding venues in New York City
- Top 10 wedding venues in Brooklyn