Be Prepared For Questions
Any couple who has ever planned a wedding abroad will tell you that they were swamped with texts, emails and calls about how to get there, where to stay, what to do and everything in between. So be prepared to do your homework, create a document or a wedding website with accommodation options and costs, flight options, directions on how to get to the venue, ideas for excursions, local hair and makeup, restaurants etc. You’re asking your guests to travel, so in return, they’ll require you to become their local tour operator and travel guide.
Photo by Matt + Lena Photography via One Fab Day
Organize All Wedding Materials
If you want to know how to plan a wedding, one thing rules above all else: organization. You can keep essential documents in a virtual, sharable space so you, your partner and any family members can share access and edit things together so that everyone is on the same page. But for those who prefer physical materials, you can never go wrong with a good, old-fashioned wedding notebook. After all, you’ll need a place to store physical receipts, brochures and other items from vendors. A master checklist is also a good ideaclick here to customize your own wedding planning checklist through The Knot.
When To Start Planning
So many couples and their families forget to pause and celebrate their engagement before rushing into potentially-stressful wedding planning logistics. That’s why Goulding tells couples to wait at least one month before diving into wedding details. She says, My advice is for couples to at least wait a month after getting engaged to start planning their wedding.”
However, there are tasks that need to be completed before the actual planning process begins. Couples should discuss their general vision for their wedding and their priorities during this time. You also need to set a firm budget and pick a wedding date before approaching any vendors. Your budget will determine all the decisions you make so having a clear and defined idea of how much you are willing to spend is key, reminds Goulding. One month is typically a sufficient amount of time to make these initial decisions.
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The Day Of The Wedding
It’s time to celebrateyou finally made it! After so many long months of planning, your wedding day is finally here. Relax and enjoy every minute of your special day. “Once you get to the day of your wedding, have fun and take it all in,” Tangerini says. “You have spent months planning and preparing, so let your vendor team take care of everything for you that day. They are professionals and know what they are doing!”
Think About Your Honeymoon
While you’re certainly wrapped up in how to plan a wedding, don’t forget your honeymoon too! You and your S.O. will want to enjoy some much-earned R& R after the big day, so think about what kind of honeymoon you’d like to take, and when. You certainly don’t have to set foot on a plane immediately after your reception ends, though can if you’d like. At the very least, consider taking a minimoon first before a full-blown honeymoon at a later date. After all, don’t you want to ring in newlywed life with a hot tub and a chilled glass of champagne?
To be sure you have enough time to plan your postwedding getaway, stay on top of key deadlines for renewing your passports, booking flights, and securing lodging and extra activities. And if the thought of planning a vacation on top of your wedding sounds like an added stressor, we recommend working with a honeymoon travel agent. Not only will they hook you up with VIP perks and benefits, most of their services are free too.
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Choose Your Wedding Invitations
Consider picking out your formal invitations while your save-the-dates are top of mind. You dont have to send them until about 6-12 weeks before the wedding, but theres no harm in getting them ordered early.
Its traditional to send out cardstock invites, and its lovely to have a hardcopy invite to frame after the wedding. Visit a stationery store, or browse invite websites online. Select invites that reflect your wedding style and theme. The words you select will also set the tone for your wedding. For example, use traditional language for a classic wedding and opt for laid-back wording for casual, rustic, or beach weddings.
If you want to buck the traditional trend, there are many lovely digital options for invites as well, including Paperless Post, Greenvelope, and evite. These are perfectly acceptable, and , theyre eco-friendly and usually more affordable. You can even give invitees a link to your wedding website and have them RSVP there.
Pro tip: As people RSVP, add them to a free wedding seating chart tool so you can begin to assign seats, add in dietary restrictions and meal choices, and make special notes for your catering team that they can reference as you plan your menu.
Get Your Marriage License
You need a before you can officially get married. Usually, youll get the license from the city or county clerk, depending on where you live. Call your municipal or county clerk to find out the license requirements because they vary by state or local government. Things you and your partner may need to provide include:
Birth Certificate or passport
Certificate of divorce or death certificate
Pro tip: Something no one tells you about a wedding certificate is that, in most states, including California, its not a piece of paper you can grab from the office and fill out at home. Weve heard stories of people swinging by on a lunch break with a friend who they definitely were not getting married to then having to explain to the court what was going on. Save your friend the embarrassment and only go to the office with your partner when youre both ready to sign the paperwork.
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Top Tips For Planning Your Wedding
1. Before you start doing anything, pick a timeframe that works for you. Dont pressure yourself to get married within the year if that will be too much of a rush. 13 months is average but take as long as you need.
2. Work as a team with your other half dont try and do all of the planning yourself, and remember that communication is key. You can also delegate to friends and family you trust.
3. Only choose suppliers youre comfortable with and who understand your style and vision. The last thing you want is a photographer who you don’t gel with as they’ll be around all day.
4. Consider figuring out a social media strategy for your big day. Is it important to you that no-one is distracted by their phones, or that day guests dont post photographs until the evening guests arrive? Check out our guide on how to have an un-plugged wedding for more information.
5. Consider setting up a wedding website. Your guests are likely to have a lot of questions for you, so to avoid endless voicemails and WhatsApp messages, set up a wedding website where they can check out details of the big day, see the schedule and view your gift list. Itll save so much hassle.
6. Talk to other married couples! Ask them what worked and what didnt. After all, experience is the greatest teacher.
8. Read every contract before signing. Read reviews, find out about cancellation policies and get clued up on their payment methods its always better to be safe than sorry!
How To Stay On Track
How do you ensure you’re sticking to the usual timeline? Hiring a wedding planner is one way to do so. This persons job is to keep you on track and make sure you are completing every step in plenty of them. But if you cant afford one or want to plan yourself, there are plenty of tools to assist you.
Wedding planning books and magazines come with checklists to keep you organizes Choose one that is detailedthat tells you exactly when to send out invitations, contact a florist, get a sample menu from the caterer, and more.
Goulding also says many couples keep a wedding planning binder or an Excel spreadsheet. She advises writing everythingbig or smallthat needs to be done in it. Listing out the tasks that need to be completed each month is crucial to ensuring all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted for the day.
She also recommends apps like ClickUp and Asana to help manage and track a timeline. Project management apps are perfect for wedding planning as they allow you to delegate tasks, keep multiple lists, as well as providing an overall snapshot of your wedding planning journey, she shares.
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Send Out Your Invitations
This is an exciting moment in the planning process. Once those invites are in the mail, or you pressed send on your digital invites, the big day starts to feel more real.
Pro tip: Artist and owner of Invitations by Dawn has this to say about wedding invitation etiquette on her blog:
Tip 1. Everyone invited should receive an invitation. Don’t overlook people you know will be attending .
Tip 2. Clearly print the names of all invited on the inner envelope. This is your chance to state each person by name .
Tip 3. Only one invitation per married couple.
Tip 4. Indicate a plus one is welcome by writing and guest after the recipients name on the inner envelope.
Tip 5. Invitations to unmarried couples should be sent to the closest friend but each persons name should appear on the inner envelope.
Do Take The Initiative To Plan Itbut Don’t Plan The Entire Thing Yourself
Whether you’re the honor attendant or a family member, it’s never a bad idea to get the bridal shower conversation going . But just because you’re game to coordinate and lead the charge doesn’t mean you have to take it all on yourself. Enlist the other members of the bridal party and even the families of the bride and her fiancé to give input and help out too. The best way to go about it is to get everyone together and ask what each person wants to help with instead of assigning duties. Anyone who’s hosting should be included on the invitation as well.
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Pack Your Overnight Bag
If you’ll be spending your wedding night at a hotel or any location other than your home, you’ll need to pack an overnight bag with the essentials Now’s also the time to pack your wedding purse, your wedding day emergency kit, and a tote bag of any essentials you’ll need with you on the big day.
Treat your wedding jewelry to the TLC it deserves. Your rings will be at the center of attention, so give them a deep clean so that they shine to their fullest potential.
How Do I Start Planning A Wedding
If you’re just engaged and not sure where to start, we’re here to help. Planning a wedding can feel like a lot at first, because it is! But staying organized from the beginning is key for completing your wedding planning checklist with ease. Before you jump into the nitty-gritty, take some time to enjoy your fiancé status. Post those and show off your sparkler to everyone who comes your wayafter all, when else will you get the chance to?
When you are ready to dive into planning, treat yourself to a brand new wedding planning notebook to keep yourself on track and motivated. We also recommend making an account on The Knot, and not just because we’re biased. Our comprehensive suite of wedding planning tools exists to simplify and streamline the planning process. On our website , you can make your registry and wedding website, keep track of RSVPs, connect with vendors, and use the checklist and budgeting apps to keep your planning on the right track. Our tools will literally walk you through every step of the process. And, not to mention, it’s all 100% free. So, what are you waiting for? Get started here.
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Do You Pick A Wedding Date Or Venue First
One of the most important parts of a wedding is the venue itself. You want to find the perfect venue for your big day. However, the problem with wedding venues is that theyre frequently booked out well in advance. This means if you have a preferred date, you may be out of luck when it comes to reserving a venue.
If you have a specific date in mind, you should be looking well over a year in advance to ensure you get that date. On the other hand, if youre flexible about the date, you can let the availability of venues decide for you.
Do Pick A Date Early On But Don’t Forget To Ask The Vips For Their Availability
Even if you’re planning to wait to host the bridal shower until shortly before the wedding, you’re going to want to make sure you pick a time when most, if not everyone, can come. Figuring out multiple schedules can be a lot of back and forth, so it’s best to start early and pick a date way in advance. Depending on where guests live, they may need to make travel plans, but if most people are local, you have more options. It’s possible not everyone will be able to come, but there are at least a few people in the immediate family and the honor attendant who should definitely be there, so their schedules might be the deal breaker.
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Research Your Suppliers Online
You wont be able to meet all your suppliers like you can at home, so you will have to trust them. Before you book anything, make sure to do your research online – read reviews, find real weddings and check out their social media. When you find people you like, have conversations by email and Skype if possible, try and build a relationship and remember to embrace the local way of doing things.
Photo by The Fashion Wedding via One Fab Day
How Far In Advance Should You Plan A Wedding
Of the many years, months and days that make up a lifetime, few are as memorable as a wedding day. You want those memories to be good, of course, which means its imperative that you adhere to a strict timeline when it comes to planning your nuptials.
The timeline varies for different elements of the wedding. Some aspects must be planned at the very start, such as the venue, while others can wait until the months or weeks leading up to your special day. Lets take a closer look now.
Venue: 12-18 Months in Advance
This is the most important element of your wedding, the one that will set the tone for the entire event. Book a venue as soon as the question gets popped!
Want memories that last a lifetime? You need a good photographer, so dont wait to book. This is especially true if youre having a destination wedding, and will need to source a photographer from the area to which you are traveling, or will need one to travel with you.
Stylist: 9-12 Months
If youre not doing hair and makeup yourself, then make sure you lock down your stylist ahead of time, especially if theres travel involved.
Officiant: 9-12 Months
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