“Planning a wedding is a BIG job and you’ll spread out any potential stress over time if you simply spread it out.”

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You won’t be able to plan your wedding in one day… so break it up into bite-sized portions.

This wil not only decrease stress but allow you time to search your ideal vendors and up your chances of those dream vendors being available on your date. Unfortunately, sometimes vendors are completely booked no matter how far out you start planning but don’t let that stress you. There are plenty of amazing venues and vendors for you to fall in love with that will make your day everything you dream of.

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To get started as early as you can (to minimize stress and hopefully snatch up those ideal vendors), I always suggest that at one year out you should be focused on:

  • Budget
  • Venue
  • Guest List

Budget

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A budget is the first thing that you should figure out when planning your wedding as this determines pretty much everything you’ll be choosing for your big day. Budget will set venue size as well as your guest list.

All of this to say: STEP ONE IN WEDDING PLANNING, SET A BUDGET!

While this is one of the most important steps it can also be one of the most, simply because you might not know how much everything costs, unless you’re in the wedding industry. Taking some time to do a little google research or make a few phone calls can help you get a realistic understanding of what you will be spending.

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If you’re really wanting someone to help you through this process hire a wedding planner. They’ll give you a great idea of the costs associated with everything and get you some great deals through their connections and experience. (see my blog post all about why having a planner is the wedding stress life saver)

When you start planning and setting your budget, you’ll start to realize not everything you thought would be a priority is still a priority. Figuring out your budget will help you narrow in on what’s really important to you. For example, if you’re wanting a prime rib dinner but also want to have 200+ guests, setting a budget will which one you wanting to prioritize and which one you are willing to cut.

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Get a clear idea of where your money is coming from. Are you paying for the event yourselves? Are your parents helping? Do you have family that wants to gift you financial help? Having the money conversation with your parents is never easy no matter how great your relationship is, but instead of beating around the bush, lead with transparency. It’ll save a lot of headache and stress if you don’t tip toe around it. This takes the question out of your budget and you’ll know exactly what you can and can’t afford.

Once you know where the money is coming from, you’ve picked your priorities, and your budget it set, th

en it’s time to look for a venue!

Venue

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Your venue should be top priority. The venue is the backbone of the entire look and feel of your day so it’s pretty important. Not just being aesthetically aligned with your vision, you need to look at functionality as well. Some venues might be super cheap but your only renting the physical building, then you’ll be responsible for bringing everything else in.

On the flip side of that though, some venues that seem outrageously expensive will come with catering, furniture, and look incredible without you having to provide décor. Everything included might make you think differently of the price tag.

Which type of venue will work for you is a decision that only you can make. Some people get really sticker shocked at the big venues, while others prefer the bigger price tag in one spot instead of pieces together vendors themselves. By the same token, if you are a DIY and planning master then you might be more comfortable ordering and organizing everything yourself.

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When choosing the venue, you have to think about the date.

Rule number one when picking a date: is it available at your venue? Having flexibility with your date can really open up your options when looking at venues. If you’re willing to do a date any time in the fall instead of insisting it to be the first weekend of October, it’s going to be much easier to book your dream venue. If you have a date you MUST get married on, an anniversary or birthday, it’s fine! Just remember you might need to be more flexible in regards to vendors.

Rule number two with choosing a date is convenience. This means convenience for you AND your guests. Choosing a timeframe that matches up with your school schedule, military leave, health concerns, and family obligations is important so you’re not adding any additional stress. I would not recommend getting married during your finals week or on Christmas day hahaha. These kinds of dates can be HECTIC to work around!!

Rule number three when choosing your wedding date; timeline. If you want the biggest party that goes into early morning, don’t do a Sunday night wedding. If you want golden hour sunset photos directly after your ceremony or sunset as you walk into your reception, getting married at 3:00pm in the middle of August probably isn’t the best idea.

Guest List

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The last pillar is figuring out your guest list, and let me tell you, this is the piece that will require the MOST planning.

You need to decide very early on who is A list and who is B or even C list. This may sound harsh, but it will help so much when planning your wedding. A list are the people that you absolutely want there. I’m talking the family and friends that are integral to your relationship and the joy you’ll experience on your big day. B list people are people you love but are maybe more obligated to invite. Extended family, long time family friends, friends of parents, etc. Then there is C list, these are people you enjoy and would be fun to have there but would be the first to cut if you need to. This might be some co-workers or college friends you haven’t seen in a while.

Some couples allow parents and in laws to have input on the guest list. Which is all good if that’s something YOU are fine with. Even if they are paying for your wedding or a part of it, you CAN say no!

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I know.. That is a LOT to take into account! But if you can get these things decided right off the bat, you’ll be on your way to having the most amazing day at the perfect venue with the ones you love most!!!

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