Step 1 – Come up with a budget!
I know, I know. This is not a fun way to start off… BUT it is pretty important. Talk to your partner and your parents (if you’re lucky enough to have them helping out financially) and come up with a realistic budget that you can stick to. Wedding costs can sneak up on you, so it’s a great idea to have a folder / spreadsheet / notebook to keep on top of all the bills and expenses. It also helped me a great deal when I went to figure out who we owed money to at the end of the big day.
Step 2 – Decide where you want to get married and hold your reception.
Are you going to have a traditional church ceremony? Or are you going to hold your entire celebration at a winery / events centre / in your backyard / at a restaurant? Either way, give that venue or church a buzz as soon as you know your wedding date to avoid disappointment. Some will require a deposit too, so keep that in mind!
Step 3 – Prioritise your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Nice-to-Haves’.
This one can be a bit tricky, but bear with me here… Obviously, the ‘must haves’ would include a celebrant or minister, a venue, outfits, a photographer (even if it’s someone you know), a cake, wedding bands, etc. The ‘nice to haves’ may include providing cocktails at your ‘happy hour’, live music for the ceremony, a videographer (we didn’t end up doing this one and wished we did), fancy wedding shoes, a wedding planner to help take some of the stress out of all the behind-the-scenes work… and I could go on. For us, ‘nice to haves’ were things like flower arrangements for our ceremony and reception venues (we ended up giving our florist a budget to work within and they did a beautiful job) and a Second Line Parade, which was the best investment ever. Try to figure out which bits and pieces are most important to you both so that you can budget around them.
Step 4 – Research wedding vendors.
Ask your friends, check out Instagram pages, attend wedding fairs and Google to your heart’s content. Make sure that you choose vendors who are reliable, who you adore and who you can afford. Some businesses may offer a discount for weddings held outside of peak seasons or even on different days – keep an eye out for that!
Step 5 – Make a checklist.
Yes, I am hopelessly dorky with checklists, it’s true. But they saved my sanity while we planned three weddings internationally, I promise. I have a more detailed blog about my planning checklist tips here. If you’re like me and love going shopping for stationery, this also gives you a great reason to buy a fancy new folder and a notebook. And when you’re planning, you may need matching pens too 🙂
Most importantly, remember that this day is all about celebrating you and your partner. Feeling overwhelmed with it all? Take your friends dress or décor shopping or order pizza and do DIY projects together in front of a movie. Grab your partner and check out a local wedding fair – they are like a little gold mine of ideas and inspiration!
What did you find helpful when you were planning your big day? I’d love to know!