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15 Steps to Plan a Wedding: a Step-by-Step Guide to Wedding Preparations

October 20, 2022
By
Liz Arnold

A lot goes into planning what will most likely be the most wonderful day of your life. From the perfect location to the guest list, from wedding transportation services to your outfit, it’s not easy to keep track of everything when you plan a wedding. Once you have found the perfect partner and decided to join your lives together, you may be wondering where to start with wedding planning.

This step-by-step guide to planning a wedding will help you stay on top of all the elements that come into play in the wedding planning process so you can have an amazing time on your special day.

#1. Set Up a Strict Wedding Budget

Weddings are expensive, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of making your day as unique as possible. If you are wondering how to start to plan a wedding, the first thing on your to-do list is determining your budget – and sticking to it. It will determine everything else, from your venue to the number of guests and the type of celebrations you can organize. It is common for families to contribute financially to plan a wedding. If that’s the case for your family, have an open conversation early to figure out expectations.

#2. Prepare Your Guest List

Once you have determined your budget with your partner and your families, if they choose to be involved in the process of wedding planning, it is time to decide who will be invited and who may be left out to accommodate your wallet and venue restrictions. It’s not always easy to organize a wedding and manage everyone’s expectations, and setting up the guestlist is definitely a moment when emotions can run high. Everybody probably has an opinion between social obligations, family ties, shared history, and affinities. Stay calm and use this moment to gather addresses for every potential guest.

#3. Consider Hiring a Wedding Coordinator

steps to plan a wedding

At this point, you may realize that the steps to plan a wedding can feel like a full-time job. If you live far from your wedding location, have a busy lifestyle, or do not enjoy the process of planning a wedding as much as you thought you would, you may want to hire a wedding planner to handle the details for you and free your attention for the fun stuff, such as entertainment and wedding attire, without worrying about the nitty-gritty details. Wedding planner basic services include finding the venue, negotiating the contracts, and offering options that match your vision and budget.

#4. Determine the Wedding Style

If you are set on figuring out how to plan a wedding by yourself, now is the time to browse social media and magazines to find weddings that inspire you and your partner. If you have hired a wedding planner, they likely have a portfolio of past events that can help you determine your wedding style. If you are a visual person, you can create a vision board, either physically with bridal magazine cutouts or using websites such as Pinterest, to keep things harmonious. Make sure to include personal details about yourself, your partner, and your history as a couple.

#5. Choose a Date and the Wedding Venue

One of the most important steps to plan a wedding is to find the perfect venue and determine the date. These two elements are intimately linked to each other. You may need some flexibility on your date if you have your heart set on a specific venue. 

The location and date of your wedding will also strongly influence your budget. You may cut down on costs by choosing a date off-season or by opting for a Friday or Sunday wedding instead of a Saturday. It is best to decide on your wedding date at least one year in advance and check for local events, such as conferences, graduations, or sports competitions, that could affect hotel availability in the area.

#6. Finalize the Guest List

Once you have decided on a venue available on your preferred date, you will have a better estimate of how many people can be present to see you saying your vows based on your venue’s capacity. You may need to make some tough decisions in the process.

#7. Read all of Your Contracts

guide to planning a wedding

One of the most important pieces of advice for wedding planning for beginners is to make sure to read all your contracts thoroughly before signing on any dotted line. Although paperwork is the last thing you want to deal with as you organize a wedding, they contain important details regarding the services offered, cancellation policies, the timeline, payment plans, and so on. 

Make sure that you check every detail to avoid nasty surprises, especially if anything goes awry during the wedding planning process. Although some policies may be industry standards, others can put you in a dangerous position.

#8. Send Out the Wedding Invitations

After finalizing the guest list, make sure you have an up-to-date address for all your guests and determine a +1 policy to avoid hurt feelings. Send out invitations early enough so your guests can find accommodation and transportation, especially if they need to travel far for your wedding, and include an RSVP deadline.

#9. Buy the Wedding Attire

On to the fun part! Custom wedding gowns may need up to a year to order and leave time for alterations, so start your search early. Wedding party ensembles should also be ordered at the same time, typically around the six-month mark, while the groom and groomsmen can be ordered five months before the wedding.

#10. Take Some Time Off with Your Significant Other

Planning your wedding can be all-consuming and leave little time for enjoying each other’s company, taking a toll on your relationship. Make sure to take some of the pressure off by spending some quality time with your partner, with any wedding-related discussion being off-limit.

#11. Buy the Wedding Bands

how to start to plan a wedding

Based on your taste and budget, make a special date to find the rings you and your significant other will wear for the rest of your lives. You may also want to get the bands and the engagement ring insured in case of mishaps.  

#12. Don’t Forget to Make It Legal

A wedding is a fun and emotional celebration, but it also has significant legal ramifications! Do not forget to get your wedding license and gather all the documents you will need to receive it to avoid undue stress. Things can get even more complicated if you plan a wedding in another country, so research thoroughly.

#13. Postpone Your Honeymoon Planning

After a few stressful months into the process of wedding planning, you are probably looking forward to spending some time with your significant other away from it all, swimming in newlywed bliss. However, planning your honeymoon can be just as stressful, not to mention expensive. Consider leaving some breathing room between the wedding and the honeymoon.

#14. Write your Vows

Your vows are a unique opportunity to tell your future spouse everything you love and appreciate about them. So forget about the material details of planning a wedding and remember the reason behind this celebration: your relationship and the promise you make to love each other for the rest of your lives.

#15. Don’t Forget about the Wedding Transportation

Your wedding is a unique opportunity for your guests to celebrate your love, but it can also be stressful for them if they are not familiar with the area – or if they decide to celebrate a little too enthusiastically.

Hiring a wedding transportation company will help keep your guests comfortable and safe as they travel between their hotel, ceremony, and reception location. It is also a great way to keep track of the wedding party and spend time with your nearest and dearest.

Contact us for a personalized quote or if you need additional information for your wedding planning process.

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