Wedding Planning 101
By "Wedding Planning 101" I really mean – "Why does anyone agree to do this..." We are t-minus 160-ish days until we say our vows and I'm only about 40 or 50 days behind schedule. I've always heard that wedding planning isn't fun and that it's so much more work than you'd think it'll be, but of course I got on my high-horse and thought "whatever... people just make it too complicated". Well... JOKES ON ME!
Don't get me wrong. I am SO EXCITED to be getting married. Tyler is my perfect counter-part. We balance each other so well, we have common interests that make life easy, and he makes me laugh each and every day. I can't wait for FOREVER! However, none of that makes planning a large-scale event any easier. When I started on this wedding planning journey I thought "Look kid, you've been helping plan events for years, you've got this." Now, a few months in and I realize how much there really is to consider.
After we got engaged I started scouring the internet for checklists, planning binders, timelines, schedules, and the like. Of course, nothing I found really measured up to what I was wanting. So, I decided to make one for myself. A lot of the stuff out there you have to pay for or didn't really fit my needs, so take this for what it's worth. Every wedding and event is different, so take what you need and trash the rest. We're still trying to figure out how to keep track of everything, so this binder hasn't become the end all be all, but it has helped us get started and stay seemingly organized. I've still got a lot of empty pages, but the closer we get - the closer I am to filling in the blanks! You have to take planning one step at a time. I remember when it all started someone asked me if we were renting a car for our "grand exit". All I wanted to do was look at them and say "Lady – I don't even know where I'm having this thing!"
The Steps (for me)
1. The List
Everyone tells you to "start with the budget". I get that, but I don't think this is entirely accurate. For me, the biggest thing has been "the list". Who's invited, who's not, deciding kids vs no kids, those were the towering questions right of the bat. (If you don't cry when you're making the list, you're doing something wrong.) Once you have the list it's easier to decide realistically how much your event is going to cost, and what type of event you can dream of having. For instance, I really thought I'd have an intimate get together with family and friends. In reality... our "family" list is a mile long, and there are just some friends that I can't imagine not being there for our big day.
2. Your "ideals" & Must Haves
Come up with the list of things you can't imagine not having on that day (don't forget to include your groom's must-haves). For me there were a few things that I had to have at my wedding. The first was an outdoor ceremony. Next – natural light photography. This will impact the timeline of the entire day, especially since we're getting married in the winter. The food has to be delicious and not some run-of-the-mill banquet/catering buffet. Finally, the cake. I didn't care what it cost or where I had to get it from, I want my cake to be beautiful and most importantly, delicious.
3. The Budget
I think it's best to do a little research before you determine this number. There's so much information out there to help you estimate the real costs associated with planning a wedding. I'm gonna leave it up to the pros and just stay away from this one. Everyone's budget and what they expect to spend is different. What I will say is – look for areas that aren't going to to have a lasting impression on your memories and cut there. If you save in those areas, you can spend more in the areas that will have a bigger impact on the day.
4. Getting Organized
I'm still struggling with this. Like I mentioned above, once you get started it's easier to get organized, but make sure you have your full list of needs vs. wants, the "have-to-haves", and what you're going to decide after you have most of the other "big" decisions out of the way. For us, this has been DJ vs. live band, full bar vs. beer & wine, and grand entrance vs. grand exit – all of these things aren't top on our priorities list, they're not as time sensitive, and they are potential areas where we can save on the budget. Do they have to get done? Absolutely, however we can skimp and scrape if we need to closer to our big night.
5. The Look & Feel
This is the easiest part for most girls. Everyone I know has had their "wedding colors" figured out since they were 13, but me... I had no clue. I really had to spend some time researching and figuring out what I was looking for, and how I wanted to make our event look and feel like us as a couple. We're fairly simple, but we've outgrown the mason jar and baby's breath decor. I want our day to be simple and elegant. Luckily I think we've really gotten fortunate with the venue we've chosen. The space itself should help us get the look we (I) want without having to do too much. Speaking of...
6. The Venue
This one is basically an impossible decision. There are SO many factors when choosing a venue for your wedding. I'm going to tell you what my mom told me when I was doing each and every one of my school projects K-I-S-S – Keep It Simple Stupid. There are WAY too many options out there, each with a long list of cons. Basically, I chose the one that had the least amount of negatives going for it. Unless your budget is over-the-top, you're not going to find your dream venue. Suck it up buttercup and move on... your day will still be just as dreamy and perfect as you ever imagined.
7. Save the Dates & Invites
Do not overcomplicate this step. I definitely have... grant it, it's kind of what I "do" for a living so it's to be expected. I would suggest start looking at save the dates and invitations the day you get engaged. There are way too many options out there. I'm most likely going to be doing an individual post about this - so stay tuned. The most crucial element about this step – give yourself enough time to get them printed, delivered, addressed, stamped, and delivered.
8. Everything Else
There's literally so much more to do – I have to stop wasting my time talking about it and actually do it. I think the biggest things to do next are to focus step-by-step and pay attention to your deadlines. Try to stay as organized as possible, and make things as easy as you can. Also – take some time to enjoy each other! That's the biggest thing... don't let this day consume your next 6 to 8 months.
If you have any tips send them over! I'll happily take any and all advice for wedding planning!