Welcome to engagement season! I have been asked so many times “where do I start planning my wedding?”, “I’m so overwhelmed, what do I do first!?”, “I don’t know where to start, we’re just going to elope.”. So, here is a list of 10 things to do to kick-start your wedding planning, and some questions to start asking yourself. This is a fun experience for you and your fiancé so please let us ease you into this, perhaps daunting, season of your life!
1. Solidify a Budget
Okay, hear me out, this isn’t the most comfortable discussion, but once you and your partner have a number in mind it is so much easier to allocate those funds in the most efficient way possible. Do you have any savings you can use? Are any family members contributing to your wedding fund? Do you want a longer engagement to save more for the wedding? These are some of the questions you and your partner need to discuss before moving forward and remember to keep this realistic and honest before you kick-start the planning process.
2. What are your non-negotiables?
Are you and your partner huge foodies? Then you are going to want to find the best caterer for your big day and you must be firm with these decisions. Then what about music? Have you always dreamt of a fun band to dance the night away? That is a non-negotiable and you should be going to see band showcases in the area and doing the most research for this while kicking off the planning. Be straight up with your partner about what you must have at your wedding, and don’t let anyone outside your partnership try to sway you into compromising on a non-negotiable item.
3. Lock in a Venue
This is where you are most likely going to spend the most of your money at once, so it is a big stressor for a lot of couples. New York City is a venue-crazy place to look, but it can be so fun with unique venues for all aesthetics. City skylines, river views, dark dance club, bright airy garden? We got it all. Figure out your vibe and go from there, keeping your budget in mind. If you don’t know where to start, you can find all venues within your area with a quick Google search. Once the venue is locked in, it is full speed ahead with kick starting the planning of your catering, florals, bands, DJ’s, and everything in between.
4. Time of Year?
This one goes hand-in-hand with venue, because a lot of venues have significantly lower prices during the off season (typically December-April). This is also where you get to talk about the vibe of wedding you want. Is being outdoors essential to you? Then I would recommend late Spring-late Summer. Are your families a big part of your lives? Then maybe I would suggest a November/holiday wedding to gather everyone together for an extra special holiday season. This one is totally up to you and your partner and may be dictated by budget.
5. Picking Your Bridal Party!
Your dream-team, who are going to be the people helping you through the planning process and celebrate the heck out of you the whole way through! Again, this could be dictated by budget but is a no-brainer a lot of the time. Even if it is, kick start this part of the planning process with caution and friendships can change over time too, so don’t rush into making this decision the minute you get engaged. The people in your wedding party should be the men and women in your lives that have supported you and your partner through it all, and who genuinely care about your happiness.
6. Wedding Size
Talk with your fiancée when you are kicking off your wedding planning about who you actually want to be there. If your budget allows, sure you can invite Aunt Betty from Australia. If not, this is time to make your A, B and C lists. Your “A list” is who must be at the wedding and who you are sure will RSVP yes. This is your immediate family and greatest friends. Your “B list” is the people you may have lost contact with but were there when you met your partner, your college roommate you haven’t seen in 5 years might be on this list. And that brings us to the “C list” – let’s say a lot of your A and B list guests cannot make it due to travel or childcare, that’s when you break out the C list. Your second cousin your mom wants you to invite probably will fall under this. It is kind of a formality to invite the C list, but you’d be so grateful if they did come. Keep in mind, a lot of vendors charge by the person so make sure your A, B, and C lists have people that are worth paying for and partying with!
7. Create a Wedding Timeline
While it is tempting to jump headfirst into planning every last detail after the excitement of getting engaged, please take your time. About 12 months out from your wedding, you should be looking into the base vendors like venue and church and researching caterers. 10 months out is when you should look into selecting a photographer and start dress shopping. There is much more to this that the Alinato team recommends, but create a rough outline with your fiancée and planners for when you need things to be locked in.
8. Create Mood Boards
Pinterest is going to be your best friend in this process. The wedding planning industry is all about visuals, so make a board for every aspect of your wedding day and that will help your vendors give an accurate quote and know exactly what you want. Create a board with general color scheme and visuals. Then, a board just for florals including bouquets, centerpieces, and any large installations you may want. Create a board for other décor like lights or disco balls that could be fun to incorporate with your floral vision. For my brides, a dress board will be super helpful especially if you are not sure what you want exactly but have an idea of what style/embellishments you like. This is one of the more fun parts of kickstarting your planning process!
9. Make Your Wedding Website
Another fun and creative part of the planning process, making your own website! This is where you can add all the details of the wedding, once they are locked in, including venue, timing, hotel information, wedding party profiles, and anything else you want featured for easy access for your guests. I have seen a lot of people using their website as an easy RSVP for their guests, use as a wedding countdown, and linking any registries. Having all of this information in one place will reduce the headache of people asking you a hundred different silly questions everyday.
10. HIRE A PLANNER!
Email or call us at Alinato Events to help you plan your wedding! It is so important to enjoy this time in your life with the love of your life, let us help you ease some of the stress that comes with planning a wedding. We will negotiate the best prices and have so many vendors that have become good friends who are always willing to work with our couples. Having a wedding planner is a necessary expense to save your mental well-being. Let’s kickstart this wedding planning together!
Bonus Tip: Breathe!
You got this; your day will be as incredible as you have always dreamt. At the end of the day, you are marrying the love of your life and you should have fun celebrating that love with those closest to you.
Alinato Wedding Planning Assistant