Wedding Planning 101: You're Engaged! Now What?

You’re engaged! YAY!

Congratulations to you and your partner. Now what? Oh sure, you’ve spent hours – days,­ even – on Pinterest looking at beautiful pictures and thinking about your perfect day, but how do you start making it a reality?

If you answered with, “Heck if I know!” then this article is for you! 

Step 1: The Guest List

I firmly believe that who you celebrate with is far more important than how you celebrate. Yes, the aesthetics are the yummy, sweet, awesome icing on the cake, but I guarantee you that it will be the moments you share with your friends and family (not the flowers or the linens) that you and your partner will talk about for years to come.

So sit down with your partner and make a list of everyone you want to invite. Check with your family, too, to see if there’s anyone you missed. I recommend that couples make three lists:

  • List A - Family and close friends who you absolutely want there.

  • List B - Friends and extended family with whom you still keep in touch and would love to have in attendance.

  • List C - People you would like to invite, if budget allows.

Tip: Remember that not everyone you invite is going to attend. Work commitments, lack of resources, other social events - these are just a few reasons why someone might be unable to attend. The rule of thumb is to expect around 80% of your list to attend.

Step 2: The Date(s)

I’m not talking exact date (unless a particular day holds an emotional significance for you) but a month or season. This is helpful because the time of year might affect your choice in venue - especially whether or not to host it outdoors. The time of year will also affect availability. The more popular the month, the more likely that a particular venue will be booked further out.

Tip: If you’re looking for ways to alleviate your budget, an off-season wedding (late fall to early spring) might give you the room to negotiate with vendors. Also, consider a Friday or Sunday wedding.

Step 3: The Budget – How Much?

Now it’s time to start thinking about how much you are willing and able to spend. Please, don’t worry yourself with national averages or how much so-and-so spent on their wedding or what others think you should be spending. Be completely honest with yourself and your partner about what you are comfortable spending on your dream wedding.

Tip: If your family has offered to pay for the wedding – completely or in part – now is the time to talk to them about how much. If they haven’t yet made an offer, but you think they might want to contribute, don’t be afraid to ask. You’re not asking for a hand-out; you’re offering them an opportunity to participate.

Step 4: The Venue

Once you have your guest list, and your ideal dates, you can start researching venues. This choice in venue is certain to dictate the aesthetics of your wedding and the budget more than any other decision.

Think about what kind of venue you’re looking for (ballroom, outdoors, trendy restaurant) and make a list of the venues that fit your description and also fit your budget and location requirements. Narrow it down to three or four and arrange for a site visit.

Tip: Try to learn as much as you can about those venues before your visit. What is the capacity? Do they have required caterer? Can you bring in your own alcohol? Do they provide table and chairs, or must those be rented from elsewhere?  The answers to these questions might rule out the venue before you even walk through it.

Step 5: The Budget – Breakdown

You and your partner (and your family, if they are paying) have decided on how much money you’re willing, able, and comfortable spending. Now it’s time to talk about what you’ll be spending that money on. Remember those questions I provided in Step 4 (Catering? Alcohol? Rentals?) ? These all need to be taken into account.

It will help to sit down with your partner and talk about what is most important to you on your wedding day. Want an epic dance party? Put a little more towards an amazing band or DJ. Are you and your partner a couple of foodies? Focus your budget on catering- cocktail hour, dinner and dessert.  Can’t stop thinking about your best friend’s gorgeous wedding photos? Invest in a top-rate photographer.

It’s okay to revisit and revise as you move along. Maybe you didn’t realize how much that award-winning photographer would cost. Consider spending a little less on centerpieces to even the budget out.

Tip: Use caution when considering DIY options. Many times these projects do not save you time or money. I mean, if you really love the idea of folding 1,000 origami cranes, that’s one thing. If not, you might be better off finding other ways to save money.

These five steps will give you a good foundation for planning your wedding. With them out of the way, you can focus on the fun things like picking out that perfect dress and diving into Pinterest for décor inspiration.


Now, maybe you’ll get to this point and think, “There’s just so much left to do and so many decisions left to be made. I need some help.” Or maybe after reading this article you’re thinking, “I really don’t want to research venues and worry about budget. I want someone to handle all of this for me so I can just enjoy my engagement!” That’s where our Wedding Services come in!

  • Full Wedding Planning – for the couple who doesn’t want to worry about a single detail other than getting married

  • Partial Wedding Planning – for the couple who has a few vendors already booked, but need a professional to bring all the details together.

  • Wedding Management – (A.K.A. "Day-of Coordination") for the DIY couple who has everything planned and is ready to let someone else run the show while you sit back and enjoy their wedding day

Let’s make your dream a reality. CONTACT US today for a free consultation!


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