Hi there! If you're here, it likely means that you are planning a wedding. If so, congratulations! Hopefully you haven't allowed the wedding planning to totally stress you out-this should be such a fun and exciting time for you!
Whether you're completely stressed out or you're super laid back about the planning, we want to offer 10 tips to help make your planning a little easier.
1. Establish A Wedding Budget
You're engaged! Whether you've decided to have a short engagement or wait a year or so to get married, there will eventually come a time when you will have decided it's officially time to start the planning process. You may have a plethora of Pins in your "Dream Wedding" Pinterest Board, but before you can jump on turning any of that "Pinsperation" into a reality, you've got to establish a budget. Are you and your fiance paying for the wedding yourselves? Will your parents be paying for it? Will your parents or in-laws-to-be be pitching in? This is such important information, because it will help you know how much you will be able to spend on what.
2. Start With the Venue/Date
Once you've established a budget, the best place to start is with booking a venue. Have you always dreamed of a small ceremony on the beach? Did you envision yourself getting married in the church you grew up in? In the mountains? At a park? The location of your first date? Until you know where you will be getting married, it is unlikely that you will know when.
Fun fact: We had a wedding venue booked before we even got engaged! We happened to hear about a beautiful, local venue, and after visiting it we found out that they only had one more date around the time we'd hoped to get married. We jumped on that date, and had it booked before Matt "put a ring on it"!
Wedding venues tend to book at least a year in advance, so that's definitely something you want to book as soon as possible.
3. If Possible, Book an All-Inclusive Venue
Some venues charge you a fee just for booking the location, and then it is up to you to find a caterer, DJ/band, bakery, a place to rent tables and chairs from, etc. Finding all of those vendors can get overwhelming, but if you find a venue that works with their own vendors, then the majority of the planning can be done as soon as you book the venue! Our wedding venue offered a package that included the tables and chairs, linens, dishes, a florist, photographer, DJ, officiant, caterer, bakery, wedding planner, a honeymoon suite, a breakfast the morning after our wedding, and more! All we had to do was taste test and choose our menu items, pick out our flowers, and select our color scheme for linens. Not having to seek out any of these vendors made our planning so much easier! It was fun only having to worry about the taste testing and the fun stuff.
4. Decide What the Must-Haves Are For Your Wedding
Because we were planning on moving out of state after our honeymoon, it was important to us to have as many people at our wedding as possible. With a large guest list, we needed to find a venue that would still be within our budget while providing a large number of seats, meals, etc.
Another priority for us was having a great photographer. We opted out of using the provided photographer because his photos weren't the style that we were looking for. Matt had a friend living out of state who was/is a FANTASTIC photographer, and we did what we could to get him out to California to photograph our wedding. To this day, we absolutely love our wedding photos and we couldn't be happier with our decision to hire him.
Having a one-of-a-kind, designer wedding dress was not one of my must-haves. In fact, I was hoping to find a beautiful dress at a thrift store because I really enjoyed thrifting. While I didn't find a dress at a thrift store, I found a secondhand dress online that I loved the moment I saw photos of it. Because it was a pre-owned dress and was being sold by a private seller, I was able to negotiate on the price and paid half of its original value. Luckily, when I received it, it needed very little altering and was in perfect condition!
Having your priorities set helps with budgeting. If the photography is most important to you, then find ways to cut back on other things in order to get the photographer you want to hire. For example, if having a big, elegant cake is not so important to you, maybe you can find a family friend or family member who can help with baking something else. Some weddings even serve doughnuts and cookies instead!
5. Have a Check-List and/or To-Do List
Having a checklist, a wedding planning book, or some sort of list that tells you what you need to do, plan, pay for, etc. is a life saver! I originally started planning my wedding with the The Knot wedding planning book, but found it to be a little overwhelming and that a lot of what was on there didn't apply to my wedding. Instead, I opted to use the planning tools on WeddingWire. Like most things, if you don't stay organized and keep track of everything you need to do, wedding planning can get stressful and overwhelming.
6. Find Fun Ways for Everyone to Get Involved With Planning
Of course, not everyone will want to be involved in planning your wedding, but for those who do, it's easy to find fun ways for them to be a part of it all! Most information that I found on wedding traditions said that it is traditional for the bride's family to plan the wedding and the groom's family to plan the rehearsal dinner. My in-laws had such a great time planning the rehearsal dinner, and truly did a fantastic job. Another fun thing we got them involved in was planning our honeymoon. We knew they were great at finding travel deals and at planning awesome vacations, so we asked that they plan our honeymoon with our budget and surprise us. This took a major load off of our shoulders because we didn't have to plan a single thing in regards to our honeymoon, and gave them a super fun project! Of course, they blew us away with the trip they planned and we had an amazing trip.
When it came to my bridesmaids, I wasn't exactly sure how involved they were supposed to be, but I found a couple ways to have fun with them in the planning process. Since I got my dress early on and ordered it online, we didn't have the traditional dress fitting you see in movies. Instead, I had all my girls over to my house and tried it on for the first time in front of them all. It was so much fun! We then went shopping for their dresses! It was fun getting to be the one to sit back and watch others have fun finding dresses, and was fun getting to go shopping with all my girls! Another fun thing we did was have a DIY party to make some wedding decor. We all contributed to making fun centerpieces, and then I had a group of women that were close to me but not in the wedding arrange the centerpieces and wedding decor on the day of the wedding. This gave me a way to get more people involved in the wedding who weren't necessarily in the wedding.
7. DIY What You Can
Going back to that Pinterest Board I'm sure you have, do you notice how expensive wedding decor can get?? Try creating the decor yourself! This doesn't always save a ton of money because it can definitely add up when you're making frequent trips to Hobby Lobby (sorry mom and dad), but if you can cut some of the cost of wedding decor by making it and you have the time, go for it! Our wedding had lots of hand painted signs and handmade decor, and we loved it!
8. Make it Personalized
We didn't exactly have a single "theme" for our wedding, except that it was definitely a Matt and Kay wedding. We met in a Starbucks, so we had a lot of coffee throughout our wedding-we gave out bags of coffee beans as favors, had a tray of coffee beans that held the name cards, and served Starbucks coffee to the guests. We also love to travel and had hopes of traveling often, so we incorporated maps and globes into our wedding. We are also pretty big nerds, so we liked to have little nerd easter eggs throughout our wedding-our cake topper was Star Wars themed, we had a Hobbit book on one of the centerpieces, we had elegant instrumental versions of our favorite movie soundtracks playing in the background before the ceremony, my garters were Star Wars themed, our entrance to the reception was done through a tunnel of lightsabers held by our wedding party while we wore Storm Trooper and Vader masks. On each of the tables at the reception was a table number with pictures of each of us at the age of the numbers. Our wedding theme may not have looked cohesive, but it all was us!
9. Plan to Get Guests Involved
A fun way to get guests involved is to have them submit song requests when they RSVP to the wedding! This way, anyone who plans on dancing can request a song that they love to dance to, or anyone with a sense of humor can request a song that will make everyone laugh.
Another way we got our guests involved was by having them download the Wedsocial app and share all the photos they took on the wedding day. While we strongly recommend asking guests not to have their phones out during the ceremony (they are difficult to navigate around for the wedding photographers and don't look very good in the professional photos), it is so much fun to see the reception photos from the points of view of the guests! After our wedding, we enjoyed going through all the pictures that our guests posted!
10. Create a wedding website!
We cannot stress this enough-get a wedding website!! We created one through WeddingWire and loved it! we were able to share a background of our love story, include directions to the wedding venue, list our registries (having them all in one place is so convenient!), list hotels near the venue, post all of the details of the wedding ceremony (date, time, etc.), and provide an easy, simple way for the guests to RSVP and select their choice for a meal. Through WeddingWire, we were able to keep track of all of the invited guests, create and print a seating chart visual, have all of our wedding registries in one spot, keep track of our budget, have a checklist of the vendors we had and needed, and go through checklists. You can also use the planning tools to have people RSVP to the rehearsal dinner and bridal shower! 10/10 for WeddingWire-seriously!
There you have it: our 10 tips for smooth wedding planning. The planning and creating can get overwhelming no matter how smoothly things are going, so remember that it is absolutely okay to take a step back and reevaluate. I remember being so determined to make a quilt to have my wedding guests sign, but I was not even close to being done days before the wedding. I had to be convinced, but I finally decided to let that idea go and felt SO much better once I did!
Did we leave anything out that you would add? Tell us what you would recommend when planning a wedding!
Thanks for reading!
If you'd like to get a glimpse of our own wedding, visit this link
for video, and this link for photos!