When you think of a wedding, you may think of “bridezillas” and romantic comedies where the bride is panicked and the wedding day goes absolutely wrong. Or you may remember the ceremonies of friends and family members—and the crazy amount of planning that went into the day. Now it’s time to start planning your own wedding, and you don’t even know where to begin.
Well, you don’t have to be. Think of planning your wedding like a project you have to manage. If that sounds strange, it’s because too often we think of weddings in terms of movies and TV shows—big, grand affairs that take hundreds of people to pull off. But in reality, a wedding is just like any other project. It’s a task with a specific result that has a beginning and an end. And, if you put in plenty of thought beforehand, planning a wedding can be…well, a piece of cake.
Once the excitement and joy of getting engaged has calmed down, it’s time to start planning your big day.
This is the part of the planning process that should be the most fun. Sit down with your partner and talk about what you want out of your wedding—the things that matter the most to you. Create a Pinterest board or an inspiration board and pull together colors and ideas that appeal to both of you. Don’t focus too much on making decisions yet. Just brainstorm and get a general idea of what you both want your wedding to look like.
Your first practical step should be to settle on a date. If you want more time to save money and plan, consider having a longer engagement, like 12 months or more. Then determine a budget: set a maximum amount you want to spend and lay out an estimated cost for each item. This step will take some research, but it will be worth it and will help prevent you from spending way too much.
Just like with any project, creating a budget and timeline upfront can help get you off on the right foot and set your wedding planning process up for success.
Determine the numbers
Now that you have your budget laid out, it’s time to start putting some actual numbers in. First off, figure out how many people you want to invite. This number will help determine costs for everything from catering to save-the-dates to the number of centerpieces you need.
Then it’s time to start calling vendors and getting estimates. While it may not be possible to get multiple estimates for every item, try to get at least two or three. This will help you understand the price range for each vendor and determine what would work best for you. If flowers or catering are significantly more than you expected, you may have to sacrifice other items in your budget to cover the cost. The more you know upfront, the more confident you’ll be in the decisions you make and the vendors you choose.
It’s also important to establish with your partner what items are most important to both of you. Maybe you’re fine with fake flowers, but you have to have awesome wedding photos. Or you definitely want a live band but don’t care as much about décor. Figure out what things are worth the investment and what items you can save on.
Keep following up
Once you’ve chosen your vendors, be sure to stay in conversation with them to go over details and make sure everything is good to go. You should also regularly update and check your budget to make sure you’re not overspending and that everything is getting finished on schedule.
This is also a great time to consider whether you need a plan B. If you’re having your ceremony outdoors, consider what you’ll do in the event of inclement weather. As stressful as it may sound, it’s important to consider worst-case scenarios and have a plan in place so you’re covered no matter what.
Enjoy the final result
If you’ve put plenty of thought and care into planning, your wedding day should go relatively smoothly. Of course, there are often small issues and surprises you didn’t plan for, but time spent planning can help ensure that no major snafus happen. Now it’s time to get married, dance, and enjoy the company of your loved ones as you celebrate your love!