I am so excited to write this Wedding Planning 101 blog. So often, when I meet with brides to be, they tell me how overwhelmed they are with the mass amount of decisions and planning that lies ahead of them. Wedding Planning is incredible! You get to plan your day exactly how you want it. But, there are a lot of decisions to be made.
Before we get started on your Wedding Planning 101 checklist, congratulations on your engagement!! Please celebrate it!! Enjoy it! Show off your bling, take all the photos, and live in the moment.
I am going to lay out all your Wedding Planning 101 tips in order:
Pick a date: Choose the date that works best for you and your fiancé. Be sure to check with ‘can’t get married without’ family/friends to make sure they don’t already have travel plans or another obligation going on at that time. If possible select 2 dates so if the first one just won’t work you have a back up.
Make a guest list: This does not have to be 100% perfect. But, have an idea as to how many people will be attending your day- that will help tremendously with #3 & #4.
Consider your budget: Sit down with your babe and figure out how much you are willing to spend on your Wedding. This will help you book the right venues, vendors, and all the details of your day.
Choose a venue: Venue’s book up years in advance so make a list, tour them, and find one that fits your day! (Blog on choosing a venue coming soon).
Select a Photographer: Start with this quick list on questions you should be asking your Wedding Photographer. If you’ve found the right one (aka- you love their style, you vibe well with them, they are available, and you are comfortable with the pricing). BOOK THEM! I say this honestly. Don’t wait! Wedding dates go quick! Contact them and tell them you are ready to book them, sign your contract, and pay your deposit so your date is secured. Bonus if they include an engagement session with their wedding packages, then you can get engagement photos taken and use for #allthethings!
Decide on a Wedding Coordinator: There are pros and cons to a wedding coordinator (although- truth be told the only con would be the added expense or if they don’t know what they are doing). If you decide the cost is worth it to you, book one. Same as #4, don’t wait.
Choose your Wedding party: How exciting!! It’s time to select who you’d like to stand beside you on your big day. Maid of Honor, Best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl, and ring bearer are all considered your Wedding party. There are a million and one cute ways to ask them to be part of your wedding. Check out my Pinterest board for some inspo here.
Send out save the dates, or your invitations: However you choose to get the word out to your wedding guests, make sure they have it at least 9-12 months in advance (if not more) so they can schedule accordingly.
Decide on your vibe: A big question in your Wedding Planning 101. What do you want your Wedding day to feel like? Are you going for clean, classy, and timeless look? Or more of an autumn, colorful, and vibrant feel? Do you want a band to come play of covers or a DJ to be playing all your favorite songs? Buffet BBQ style or sit down chicken dinner? Whatever you want- make sure you keep it in mind for #10.
Vendors: Follow the same structure you did for venue and photographer for your other vendors. Your main questions should be: Can they provide the style/vibe we’d like? Are they available on my day? Is it within our budget? Your main vendors are: Officiant, DJ/MC/Band, Florist, Caterer, Bakery, HMAU (hair, makeup, artist) and Videographer. If you are a client of mine ask me for my preferred vendor list! Pro tip- do taste testings, trial runs with HMAU, song lists review, etc . . .
Wedding Website: Research which wedding website is best for you and your other half. They can offer everything from your backstory on how you met, to your registry, wedding details/lodging, planning tools, and more!
The parties: Decide which ones you will do: Engagement party, Bridal shower, bachelor/bachelorette, rehearsal dinner are the typical ones. Have your Maid of Honor, Mom, Best man, whoever- help plan these, set the dates, shop for attire, decor, food, details, and invite your guests.
Vision Board: Start a Pinterest board (if you haven’t already) and make separate categories within for your Wedding Day: Ceremony, bridesmaids dresses, color pallets, photo ideas, hairstyles, reception decor, etc . . .
Attire: First, your dress! Start the hunt for the perfect dress. Once you’ve said ‘yes to the dress’ schedule any last minute fittings, alterations, etc . . . don’t forget your accessories: vail, jewelry, shoes, and hairpiece. Next, his Tux- same exact thing- schedule fittings and alterations and get accessories- Tie, shoes, belt, cuff links, etc . . . Finally- wedding party attire. Use a site this like or a local store, which ever you choose make it a fun day with brunch, champagne and dress shopping! Boys- go for it- beer and golf maybe?
Details: Start shopping for decor, details like champagne glasses, cake knife, vow books, guest book ideas, ceremony signs, etc . . . Here is a curated board I put together of some really awesome ideas.
Traditions: Everything from a modern day first look to a classic bouquet toss. Think of all the ‘extra’ things you want to do, examples are: Unity candle or rope tying during the ceremony, father/daughter, mother/son dance, line dances, sparkler exits, etc . . .
Write your Vows: Don’t leave this until the last minute! Also, highly recommend grabbing a few his/her vow books- easy, cute, photograph well, treasured keepsakes. Here is a great, affordable set.
Put it all together: Work on a timeline with your photographer and wedding coordinator, pick your first dance song, gather all your decor, and write it all out. What are you missing? What do you want to add? Did you make a song list yet, are you doing bride/groom gifts? Is transportation set up, if needed? Do you need to make lodging arrangements for your guests or you and your new hubby?
Breathe: Yes, there is a lot to do. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But, this is the BEST type of overwhelm. It is happy and exciting and fun! If you aren’t the type of personality to love this stuff- I am betting your mom, sister, MOH, bridesmaid, or a hired coordinator will be ALL OVER IT!! Outsource where you can.
As I was writing this, I realized this Wedding Planning 101 could either be 20x as long- or I could write a separate blog about each one at some point. Let me know which ones you need the most help with planning and I’ll break it down into more specific to do’s to help you!
Download my Ultimate Wedding Checklist here, print it off and check if off as you go!