Once you’ve had the proposal accepted and get to show off the ring, it’s time to start planning.
Before you jump right in to booking venues and selecting dresses and formal wear, there is some pre-planning you should do to make the rest of your planning go smoothly and stay on budget.
Set aside a few hours to sit with your special someone and talk about your dreams for a perfect wedding day. Don’t involve others just yet; take time to figure out what the two of you envision for your wedding so that you are on the same page before you get inundated with everyone else’s suggestions.
“This is so important,” says Melissa Tripp, owner of Coastal Weddings & Events. “The bride and groom need time to figure out what they want before they get railroaded into meeting other people’s expectations.”
Here are some things she suggests couples consider:
Location for the marriage ceremony: at a church or place of worship, outside, or at another venue?
Time: Have you always dreamed of a morning wedding, or is afternoon or sunset more to your liking?
Wedding party: Do you want one witness each or a larger bridal party?
Guests: Do you want a very small, intimate wedding or an extensive guest list?
Dress: Are you going to be formal, traditional, casual, or wear something that reflects your cultural background or personal style?
Theme: More than just a colour scheme, what is the ambience you want at your wedding and reception?
Reception: Where and when do you want to hold the reception?
The next big decision:
Once you have determined what kind of wedding you both want and how you want to celebrate the start of your married life at the reception, it’s time to talk finances.
It’s never fun to talk about money, but you really need to know what your working budget will be. Be open and candid about the budget and your personal feelings about how much is reasonable to spend on your wedding day.
How much can each of you contribute?
Are you comfortable leveraging credit to pay for your wedding? How much debt is reasonable (and affordable – remember that you have to pay it off)?
Will your parents contribute? In the past the bride’s family used to pay for the wedding but now it is more typical that the bridal couple and both parents contribute what they can.
If the parents are contributing, how much control will they want over decisions? How will you manage this if you don’t agree?
Now that you have an idea of your budget, how feasible is it to achieve what you’d both like for your wedding day?
This is when fantasy turns to reality for many couples. No matter what you envision for your day, your guest list is going to be impacted by your budget. The more people you invite, the higher your cost for food and drinks.
Planning to Budget:
Once you have your budget you can start to make inquiries to book your ceremony and reception locations. When you have an idea of how many guests you would like to attend, you can get quotes for catering and other aspects of your wedding day. It’s best to really sort out the details before you finalize the guest list and send out invitations.
If you are going to undertake planning yourself, there is wedding software to help you with the details as well as plenty of advice online. Hiring a wedding planner is something more busy couples are choosing, and there are different options for professional planning help:
• Hire a full service wedding planner to coordinate every detail
• Using a wedding planner only to help choose your location and vendors
• Arranging a “day-of” coordinator, which is really helping about 30 days before your wedding and saves you all the last-minute stresses
The costs for hiring a wedding planner vary greatly.
“Some planners offer packages, hourly rates, or charge by service,” explains Tripp, who has worked as a wedding planner for many years. “And while the cost of full service planning may seem steep at first glance, a good planner is going to save you money in the long run. We have established relationships with vendors and service providers, as well as all sorts of tricks for stretching budgets and achieving beautiful results. Plus we save you all the stress and frustration, which many brides have said was worth the price alone.”