Want to make planning your wedding easy and stress-free? Here are five great tips on what you can do to get started right, and make the best use of your wedding professionals.
1. Know your numbers.
The two most important numbers in your wedding planning are your guest count, which is the number of people you plan to invite; and your budget, which is the amount of money you have available to spend. These two parameters guide every planning decision. It’s really important to know these numbers before your start planning.
You and every wedding professionals (or if you’re rockin’ Do It Yourself, all of your DIYers) will be making decisions based upon your budget and the size of your guest list. It’s okay right now if the numbers aren’t perfectly accurate. Knowing your budget within a thousand dollars or so and your guest list within ten people will be enough.
2. Start ASAP!
As a world-class procrastinator myself, let me tell you, it is absolutely possible to plan a full-on wedding in two months or less, but you will be much happier and way less stressed if you give yourself nine to twelve months to get everything done.
Moreover, wedding professionals — venues, caterers, photographers, florists, DJs, bands, and the like — book up much faster than you might think, often a year or more in advance. The earlier you start planning, the greater your chances of getting the wedding professionals you want. Give yourself the gift of an easy, stress-free planning experience by getting right to it once you’ve made your decision to get married.
3. Know what you want.
Have as much of an idea as possible about how each of you, separately and together, would like your wedding to look and feel. Two good questions to ask yourselves are: “what’s important to me about this experience?” and “what do I want to see, hear, and feel?” Write it down if you like, and see how your two visions compare. Another fun way to flesh out your collective vision is to make a “things we want” and “things we don’t want” list.
You’re doing all of this to save time, money, and that blank look the first time a wedding professional asks, “so, what do you two have in mind for your wedding?”. The more you know about what you want and don’t want — and you do not have to know everything at the start — the better.
Related to that…
4. Be open.
Do a brain dump with your wedding professionals. Tell the truth. Be revealing. Tell them everything that comes to mind about your vision for your wedding. Ask your questions, which you have, ideally, written down in a form that allows you to record their answers. Oh, and don’t be coy about the money. Tell them about your overall budget. All of the professionals know how your budget is likely to be allocated, and how to make the most of each piece.
5. One thing at a time.
You’ll make yourself crazy trying to work on everything at once. Focus on one part of your planning at a time, in an order that makes sense to you.
You’ll almost always want to start with the venue, which will give you place, date, and time. Next is catering, which is likely to take the lion’s share of your budget. Once you have a caterer under contract, it’s time to look at entertainment, photography, decorating, ceremony music, and officiants.
The order in which you tackle those last five is determined by which is most important to you, and where, if anywhere you need to economize. For example, if the budget is tight I often recommend that decor be left until last. While talent and skill are components in all of these areas, what you do with decorating is much easier to scale up and down.
David Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook!