Congratulations, you’re planning a wedding!! The beginning of your wedding planning journey may seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! Once things are broken down a little bit, it’ll be way easier to breathe and enjoy the process. That’s why I wanted to share the most important questions you and your partner need to discuss first.
Welcome back to my “You’re Engaged – Now What?” series! This is part 2 of the ongoing series. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part 1 of the guide and continue on for help, advice, and free printables!
Related Content: “You’re Engaged – Now What?” Series
1: So You’re Engaged – Now What?
2: The First Questions to Ask Your Partner When Planning a Wedding
3: What You Need to Ask Your Ceremony Venue
4: Questions to Ask Your Reception Venue
5: Top Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping
6: Finding The Perfect Bridesmaids Dress
How to Start Planning a Wedding
When planning your wedding, take things at your own pace. There are so many timelines out there that say X needs to be done by Y and Q needs to be scheduled by R, and if you don’t have F picked out by G or even E than you’re behind and your whole wedding will be a disaster!
Don’t believe those timelines for a second!
You don’t need to have your officiant picked a year and a half ahead of time, and you definitely don’t need to have your favours prepared six months in advanced. That being said, the timelines you will find do have one really great tip in common – book your vendors as soon as you can. You won’t get screwed over if you don’t, but it will save you so much stress. Also, you won’t have to fight to find ones who are still available if you book very ahead.
That being said, does that mean “what vendors do I need to book?” should be the first question you ask yourself? Absolutely not! You won’t be able to book any vendors until you know your answers to the following six questions.
Without further ado, here are the first six questions newly-engaged couples need to answer in order to get a start on planning their wedding:
1. What is your vision for the wedding?
Having a vision for your wedding day is important for planning a wedding. Agreeing on a vision is crucial.
This is the point of the process where you and your partner should discuss your “must-needs” for your wedding day. These could be anything from full-coverage videographer, an open bar, Rice Krispie cake, live band, light-up dance floor, ceiling treatments, seven flower girls, late night station, etc. Whatever you NEED for your day NEEDS to be discussed now with your partner.
Having these priorities set out gives you an idea on where to first spend your time, energy, and money. If your partner insists on a venue with an open bar, that will add quite a bit to the overall charge. If you insist on a videographer that will include a twenty-minute film – well, those aren’t cheap.
There are ways to dance around with your dollar though! To gather some tips and tricks, try joining some frugal wedding groups, such as Weddings Under 10K (Reddit) or Brides on a Budget (Facebook). One tip that is often shared is to look into hiring students or apprentices for your vendors if you’re willing. They are often not too bad but charge way less than a full-time professional.
2. What is our absolute max budget? Where are we getting the money? Is anyone going to help pay for our wedding?
Now that know what the combined needs for your wedding day is, it is time to talk money. Getting the money related information figured out first thing allows you to get a sense of what type of wedding you can actually afford. You may want your wedding favours to be filled honeypots with the tag “Meant to Bee”, but your budget may not agree with the $3 per pot pricing. This is the point of your process where you find out what “must-needs” are realistic.
You don’t need to set a strict budget per category of spending, but it’s a good idea to come up with an absolute max number you both are comfortable spending. Sit down with your partner and discuss where you are getting the money. Write down exactly how much money you are getting from each source (ie. savings account, loan, parents) and add it all together for your final number.
Once you settle on a maximum spending ‘allowed’, keep the total on a piece of paper with you whenever you’re planning the wedding and subtract vendor pricing from it as you go. This way, you’ll have an easier time staying within budget. It will also help keep surprises at bay as you get closer to the big day.
3. How many guests do we want to invite?
Guest count is another number that needs to be figured out early on into the wedding planning process. Most vendors charge at a “per guest” rate, which makes the number of guests you plan to invite to have a huge impact on your final number. I suggest you and your partner write a list of people that you want to invite to the wedding. Either use the notepad on your phone, a pen and paper, or a Word file. Write your list separately first, and then come together to write down all mutual friends. Don’t forget to add-in those plus 1s!
Keep in mind that your parents may request you invite a friend or two of theirs. This may seem annoying, especially if you’re paying for everything yourself, but keep in mind that they are just excited that their “baby” is reaching such a big milestone. Ultimately though, it is your choice on who you want to be there on your big day.
4. Where do we want to get married? (Ie. Church, ceremony venue, a family member’s house, beach, etc.)
You probably already talked about where you want to get married during the visioning part of the process. However, this is the time to really dig into the details.
This part of the wedding planning process was my absolute FAVOURITE! Tim and I knew from the start that we wanted an indoor wedding due to getting married in winter. But finding our dream venue was difficult.
Some venues do not offer an aisle to walk down and some do not offer indoor ceremonies. Some, believe it or not, only offer a ceremony to be held in front of a noisy waterfall, no microphones, with a flower wall between you and your guest. This way, they can neither see nor hear you. Perfect! (Yes, this was a real venue we looked at. We ran out.)
So, think about your “must-needs” in terms of your venue. If you decided you wanted an outdoor wedding, do you want lots of greenery or lots of flowers? Or a combination? If you’re planning an indoor wedding, what do you want the inside to look like?
Write these “must-needs” down and keep them with you when you start to go viewing venues.
5. Will we have a reception? Where will it be located? Will the reception include a full dinner or hors-d’oeuvres or both?
This part of the process is similar to above – you probably already got some ideas during the visioning process but now is the time to dig into the details.
If you do plan to have a reception, ask yourself what you want it to be like. I found the most important question to be: do you want your ceremony and reception to be held at the same venue? Deciding this will be critical to when you begin to view venues. If you do not have a preference, consider how your guest will go from one venue to another (especially consider this if you’re providing alcohol at either venue).
In addition, do you want to provide a four-course meal to your guest or just a little buffet? Do you want a late night table? What size dance floor will you need?
Write your answers down to each question and keep them in mind when you begin viewing venues for your reception site!
6. Should you hire a wedding planner?
Hiring a wedding planner is not a requirement, but it will definitely save you a lot of stress! If you find that your work takes up so much of your time that you don’t even have a free moment to think about the wedding, I would recommend hiring a planner who can do all the dirty work for you. A wedding planning will help with contacting all the vendors for quotes and weeding out the ones who are out of budget. Experienced wedding planners are often pretty savvy at getting deals from vendors!
However, if you do have a lot of free time or just genuinely enjoy planning events (or are too frugal), you will probably survive just fine without hiring one. Just remember to stay organized and keep on top of your spendings!
It’s going to get stressful, but try to enjoy the process. There’s a good chance you’ll miss it right after. Good luck!
Want more insight into my wedding planning journey?