I am already a year into planning our dream wedding…holy shi*t! Excuse my French but dang, it has flown by. It’s been a wild ride so far, and there’s more to come, but I have learned so much and would like to take an opportunity to share with you.
If you’re engaged, congratulations! This is such an exciting time so please let yourself stop and enjoy it. Planning should be fun and full of joy so take time to appreciate every moment in the planning process.
My first tip may seem obvious but I honestly needed to be reminded so I’m telling you…set your budget as soon as possible. It is amazing how expensive weddings can be so you want to make sure you don’t set your expectations too high only to be disappointed when you see the fees. There are so many possibilities for your perfect day on any budget so don’t get discouraged once you see prices come into your mailbox.
Part of budgeting is deciding what you are willing to spend the most money on. This will be different for everyone so don’t feel like you need to spend a ton of money on a band if you’re okay with a DJ. At the same token, don’t skimp on the things you really do want. For us, we wanted to make sure the venue, flowers, photography and catering got the most of our budget. We originally wanted a vintage get-away car, a live band and fancy wedding invitations but we decided the other items were more important at the end of the day. Not to say you can’t have it all, but I would encourage you to be open to compromising with what you thought you wanted versus what you can afford.
That leads me to another tip, create a wedding-only email inbox. This is a great way to keep all of your vendor correspondence in one place. And, I suggest making it a Gmail account so you can have access to Google Drive as well. This way, you can have all of your documents in a single location and you can organize as you see fit.
Let’s talk about getting organized. I know I’ve gotten a lot of questions and feedback from people who don’t know where to start in the planning process. My suggestion for this is, once you set your budget, start a website on The Knot. They have so many great resources to keep everything in line like their to-do list, their vendor recommendations, their registry app and their wedding timeline. They have it all! I would also recommend creating folders in your Google Drive for different documents. For example, I have a folder for all invoices, all brochures, all contact info and all receipts. Again, you’ll thank yourself when your planning starts moving along and you have it all in one place.
If you are receiving outside help in paying for your wedding, I recommend sharing the contracts - and other important wedding documents - directly with them in Google Docs so you're all on the same page. This goes for your partner, too! Keep them in the loop, even if they insist you handle it all. News flash, they care more than they think they do!
Picking a venue should be step number one when you’re ready to start planning to wedding. This will determine everything else - where you find your vendors, your budget (does your state have sales tax you need to factor in?), and your date. I’ve gotten the question, how did you pick your date? And that really comes down to what the venue has available. Originally, I wanted to get married on May 27. No real reason it just felt “right.” But, shortly after we saw our venue in person, that sate was booked and we needed to choose another. I was heartbroken but it ended up being perfect. So, trust the process and try not to get too discouraged if your plan A doesn’t work out.
Okay, but how do you pick a venue? I personally utilized The Knot and Instagram the most. I looked up Oregon (no sales tax and only a short drive away from me!) wedding venues and found literally hundreds. Then, just start reaching out to their contacts with something like this -
“Hi, my name is Madie. My fiancé Casey and are getting married in 2022 and are looking for a venue. Can you please share with me pricing for months May-July and let me know what your schedule looks like to set up a call?”
I highly recommend calling and actually talking to your potential vendors. Sometimes, the venue looks amazing but the contacts are blah. I got one lady on the phone and she was incredibly rude and dismissive so I immediately crossed them off of our list. This is the place you’re spending one of the most special days of your life; you want to make sure you flow well with the vendors who will be there with you.
So you have the date and the venue, congrats! Now, it’s time to hit those big ticket items you and your partner have decided on. Once you have those top vendors selected, find an officiant! Then, you can find your attire!
If you are wedding dress shopping, it’s overwhelming as hell - I’m not going to sugar coat it. We put so much pressure on finding the perfect dress and making sure we cry or have that fuzzy feeling when we’ve found “the one.” But, it doesn’t always happen that way. My top suggestion for dress shopping is to go in with no expectations and try on everything! You don’t want a poofy ballgown? Try it anyway. You think you want sleeves? Try dresses both with and without. You never know what you might end up falling in love with!
Date, venue, big ticket items, officiant, attire…it’s all adding up quickly, huh? Don’t be alarmed. You will get to a point where the cost will start to taper off and you will be able to breathe. If you start to feel that “oh sh*t” moment, that’s okay! Focus on other aspects of the wedding. Go to Pinterest and find flower inspiration or color schemes - something that doesn’t include thinking about money. You could even work on your guest list!
My biggest rule of thumb when it comes to who to invite - if it’s not a ‘yes’ it’s a ‘no.’
Also, don’t let anyone tell you what you should do on your day. Ultimately, this is your and your partner’s day. Everyone else is a guest. Don’t be afraid to remind them on that!
I’ll keep you updated as I move along in this wedding planning process but please feel free to comment here on on my Instagram if you have any questions or want help! I would love to connect with you and help you plan. Being a planner is in my blood so I would adore nothing more than to walk through this incredible season of life with you.