How to plan a wedding

First thing’s first: planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at first (trust me, I do it for a living). While recruiting a professionals to help out can be pretty ideal, maybe you’re working under a tight budget, or maybe you simply love going the DIY route. It may be a lot of work, but it is possible to plan your own dream wedding!

First thing’s first: planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at first (trust me, I do it for a living). While recruiting a professionals to help out can be pretty ideal, maybe you’re working under a tight budget, or maybe you simply love going the DIY route. It may be a lot of work, but it is possible to plan your own dream wedding!

It just takes a bit of organization to keep everything on track when you’re faced with endless decisions, lists, deadlines and, you know, your own life to deal with. The trick is taking things one step at a time and recruiting friends and family (including that future spouse of yours!) to help. And give yourself plenty of time to plan. You’ll make things so much harder on yourself if you try to plan and oversee every detail and try to do it all at the last minute. A longer timeline is your friend here—aim for around a year if possible. Now, where do you begin?

Once you’ve spent some time spreading the news of your engagement and actually enjoying that special time, the budget will need to be the very first thing you finalize to get the wedding planning train going. And that can involve some uncomfortable conversations if you have any family members who are planning to chip in for the big day. So don’t delay! Have those conversations early and determine the amount everyone is comfortable spending, and then build in a 10% “splurge cushion” for any unexpected costs or urges you’ll inevitably succumb to. Be prepared for a reality check when it comes to budgeting for this big day. Many couples don’t realize the costs involved and may find that their dream wedding is a bit out of reach. In that case, be prepared to prioritize. You really can have your ideal wedding on almost any budget if you iron out what exactly is important to you and focus on those few things.

With the budget in place, it’s time to start getting inspired and delving into the nitty gritty details! Have some fun with this part; now’s the time to indulge in all those bridal magazines (ahem, BRIDES!) and blogs to get a sense of the style of wedding you want. Think about weddings you recently attended. What did you like? What would you do differently? Real life experience is always the best form of inspiration. Don’t forget to involve your fiancé in this step as well! Your wedding should represent both of you as a couple.

Organization is key when planning your own wedding. You’ll have so many balls up in the air at once, you’ll need a way to keep track of everything. You can use spreadsheets or one of the many wedding planning management apps or programs out there. Just find what works best for you and stick with it. Just remember that even with the most meticulous planning and organization system, there is bound to be some chaos from time to time. Try your best to plan ahead and don’t be too hard on yourself.

The most important thing to keep in mind: Try to have some fun! This is your wedding after all! Don’t get too hung up on those tiny details and focus on what’s truly important: a happy marriage with the person of your dreams.

Now that you’re armed and ready to begin the planning process, here are some of my top tips for planning an unforgettable wedding.

(And for more specific info on what to do the week before your wedding, check out our guide here!)

Mindy Weiss, wedding planner to the stars and The Wedding Shop by Shutterfly’s Style Partner, is our go-to expert on all things wedding. With more than 20 years of planning weddings and events for top Hollywood personalities (think Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and so many more), her best-selling The Wedding Book, and line of stylish bridal flats with Rollasole, Mindy is the ultimate authority on planning an unforgettable wedding.

How to Plan a Wedding Step by Step?

How to plan a wedding - Set Your Budget, and Stick to It

Set Your Budget, and Stick to It

Your budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members will be contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. If you’re footing the bill yourself, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances. Once you’ve got that magic number, stick to it!

How to plan a wedding - Create a List of Priorities

Create a List of Priorities

Sit down with your fiancé and figure out the three most important aspects of your wedding. Is it the food? The booze? The DJ? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget.

How to plan a wedding - Find Inspiration & Create a Vision Board

Find Inspiration & Create a Vision Board

With so many sources of inspiration out there, it can be a bit overwhelming. Find one or two mediums you like best, whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, trusty bridal mags, blogs, etc. and start researching. Get a good sense of the type of style you like—translate that into something you can show your vendors. You can create a board on Pinterest or even do some old-fashioned cutting and pasting onto paper (we can’t help but suggest doing your cutting and pasting from issues of BRIDES!).

How to plan a wedding - Work As A Team With Your Fiancé

Work As A Team With Your Fiancé

Don't feel like you're in this wedding planning process alone. Turn to your fiancé for help along the way and even make wedding planning something fun you do together.

How to plan a wedding - Limit Your Options

Limit Your Options

Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the inspiration that’s out there. Once you decide on your wedding style, try to stay focused on that.

How to plan a wedding - Get Yourself a Wedding Planning Book

Get Yourself a Wedding Planning Book

When you don’t have a wedding planner, a wedding planning book is the next best thing. Something like Mindy's The Wedding Book will include tons of expert advice, tips and tricks and even examples of timelines and checklists. Better yet, search BRIDES.com for answers to all your etiquette questions.

Wedding Tips - Get Organized

Get Organized

You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word/Google Docs—anything, really—as long as you have all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc. in one place. There are also some great programs and apps out there that can keep you organized.

Wedding Tips - Create a Master Checklist

Create a Master Checklist

You can find tons of examples online broken down by the months, weeks or even days. Find one and adapt it to your own wedding.

Wedding Tips - Don’t Rush Into Decisions

Don’t Rush Into Decisions

It may be enticing to book the first photographer or florist you meet, but take a step back and weigh all your options before making any quick decisions.

Wedding Tips - Pick an Ideal Time Frame

Pick an Ideal Time Frame

Are you envisioning a spring garden wedding? Or do you want to be surrounded by gorgeous autumn leaves on your big day? Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible if possible so you’re not too constrained when trying to book a venue and other vendors.

Wedding Tips - Make Your Wedding Website Guest Friendly

Make Your Wedding Website Guest Friendly

Your wedding guests, and even your family members, will have a lot of questions for you. Avoid getting endless emails, text messages, and voicemails from your guests by putting up a wedding website where they can check out the details of your wedding and even have a day-of itinerary that lets them know where they need to be and when they need to be there.

Wedding Tips - Select a Theme

Select a Theme

Whether it’s a few colors or an actual theme (like the Roaring Twenties or Festival Chic, for example), choose something to design your wedding around. It will be much easier to make design decisions and will make things look cohesive.

Wedding Tips - Have an “On-Site” Wedding

Have an “On-Site” Wedding

In wedding lingo, an “off-site” wedding is one where the venue doesn’t have a commercial kitchen and where you need to bring everything in – think places like a park, beach or even an open field. If you’re planning your own wedding having an “on-site” wedding somewhere like a hotel, restaurant, resort, etc. will make the planning process much easier.

Wedding Tips - Create Your Guest List

Create Your Guest List

This can be a pretty harrowing process and one that will depend largely on your venue and budget. Sit down with your fiancé and family and create a wish list of guests. Chances are you’ll need to make some cuts. You should also decide whether you’re inviting children and who will be allotted a plus-one.

Wedding Tips - Choose Your Wedding Party

Choose Your Wedding Party

Your bridesmaids and groomsmen are there for emotional and tactical support through your wedding planning process. Choose friends and family you can trust and who you truly want standing next to you during this monumental occasion.

17

Talk to Other Married Couples

Did you just attend a wedding you really enjoyed? Chat with that couple! They probably have some expert tips and tricks for you. Sometimes friends and family are the best source.

How to plan your own wedding - Use Vendors You’re Comfortable With

Use Vendors You’re Comfortable With

Build a team of people you really vibe well with. They should have a good sense of your vision and you should be able to trust them to execute it well. Make sure they appreciate your business so you don’t feel bad when you inevitably have to call and ask questions!

How to plan your own wedding - Get A Second Opinion

Get A Second Opinion

Be sure to investigate prices from vendors before you sign on the dotted line. If there's a vendor and a package price that you like, always look for a second opinion. Ask around and see what over vendors are charging before agreeing on a price.

How to plan your own wedding - Read Every Contract

Read Every Contract

This is important! Be sure to read through every detail of your contracts with vendors. Make sure all the details are correct, and read through important things like payment and cancellation policies before signing. Don’t forget to double check that the date and event times are correct.

How to plan your own wedding - Take Time Between the Wedding and the Honeymoon

Take Time Between the Wedding and the Honeymoon

Planning a wedding and a honeymoon at the same time can be expensive, but also very time consuming. Consider taking time off between your wedding and your honeymoon so that you can save up and reset the button on your planning priorities. It helps to just focus on one thing at a time.

 22

Recruit Help

Remember that you’re not in this alone! Your bridal party, family members and especially your fiancé are here to help. Be sure to delegate some tasks to take some of the load off of you.

How to plan your own wedding - DIY Strategically

DIY Strategically

DIY can be cost-effective and can add some nice personal touches to your big day. Just don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with more work than you know what to do with. Feel free to go the DIY route with things that can be done well in advance, like favors, table numbers, etc. For things like flowers or food that need to be done close to the wedding date, professional help is best.

How to plan your own wedding - Figure out Your Social Media Strategy

Figure out Your Social Media Strategy

Whether you want to broadcast your wedding to the world or have an unplugged wedding, strategy is key. Hashtags, signage and photo booths are a great way to get guests posting on social. If you’re more private, include signage about an unplugged ceremony or have the officiant make a quick announcement before proceedings begin.

How to plan your own wedding - Add A Personal Touch

Add A Personal Touch

With all of the wedding traditions that people tell you that you should have at your wedding, be sure to plan in some personal traditions too. If your family has any wedding traditions that they've done in the past, or if there is something you want to start for future generations, don't be afraid to give your wedding a personal touch.

How to plan your own wedding - Don’t Get Too Bogged Down by Tradition

Don’t Get Too Bogged Down by Tradition

Your wedding should be all about you as a couple. If certain traditions make you uncomfortable or just aren’t your style, create your own traditions.

How to plan your own wedding - Focus on the Big Picture

Focus on the Big Picture

Don’t get too hung up on the small details. Your guests won’t notice if your table runners are the wrong shade of blue or if the appetizers came out 15 minutes late. The second you walk down the aisle let go of all the small stuff. Hey, you’re getting married!

How to plan your own wedding - Don’t Forget to Make it Legal

Don’t Forget to Make it Legal

In the midst of all the crazy planning and small details, don’t forget to actually plan time to get your marriage license! Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on, but keep in mind that marriage licenses are typically only valid for a couple months – so plan accordingly.

How to plan your own wedding - Finalize Set Up Details

Finalize Set Up Details

Check with your venue to find out when vendors can arrive for set up. The earlier, the better but some venues may have other events going on the same day. Get this information early and review with your vendors.

How to plan a wedding - Consider a Day-Of Coordinator

Consider a Day-Of Coordinator

Even when a full-service wedding planner isn’t in the cards, hiring a professional to oversee the day-of details can be a game changer. This person can keep track of vendors, keep everything on schedule and do all the tasks you won’t have time to do while you’re getting ready and having the time of your life.

How to plan a wedding - Create a Schedule of Events

Create a Schedule of Events

Create a schedule for the run-of-show at your wedding. Include things like when vendors will arrive, when the ceremony will be, when the first dance will happen, when the cake will be cut, etc. Be sure to give a copy to your MC, photographer, maid of honor and anyone else that should be in the know.

How to plan a wedding - Take Some Time Off

Take Some Time Off

For the sake of your own sanity, make sure you schedule some time for you and your fiancé to be together and do anything but wedding plan. Trust me, you’ll need the break! Consider taking the week before the wedding off work, both to make sure last minute details are completed, and just to chill.

33

Say Thanks

Gratitude goes a long way. You should always arrange for small gifts for your wedding party and anyone else who played a big role in your planning process. Don’t forget mom and dad!

Advice of a wedding planner  - Have Fun!

Have Fun!

What will guests notice most? A stressed out bride and groom! Be sure to have fun on your wedding day and truly enjoy the moment.

Source: https://www.brides.com/gallery/how-to-plan-your-own-wedding