Staci C. Franklin
5 Steps To Jumpstart Your Wedding Planning
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Congratulations! You’ve found the love of your life, the person that you want to share your life with and the two of you have decided to celebrate your love with family and friends but you have no idea where to begin. Below you’ll find a few tips to help you jump start your wedding planning process so that it will be the dream you always imagined!
1. Set Your Date. You’ve gotten engaged and now it’s time to set the date for your wedding day. There are several things to consider before you do this. What time of the year have you always envisioned having your wedding? Maybe you’re someone who loves the summer months, therefore you know that you want to have a summer wedding in June, July or August. Or maybe you like the Christmas holidays and you’d like to get married during the holiday season or on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Other items to consider are work and/or school schedules for you and the groom as well as that of your potential bridal party and the guests that you are inviting. For example, if you’re an accountant or tax preparer, you probably don’t want to plan to have your wedding in March or April as you’ll be busy with tax season. The last thing you want is the stress of your job in addition to getting ready for a wedding. Don’t get me wrong, life brings about plenty of unexpected happenings, however it doesn’t make sense to plan to have your dream wedding during a time that you know from the beginning will be a busy time of the year for you.
2. Set your Budget and Stick to It. Any way that you cut it a wedding is something that you have to be prepared for financially. Even if you’re the type of couple that isn’t going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your special day, you should still expect to put out thousands.
§ Get on the same page. No matter what one party thinks there are two minds working together to plan the wedding. You might have different opinions in terms of spending when it comes to your fiancé, so you will want to make sure that you two get on the same page. Come to an agreeable amount of money that you’re willing to spend so you know what dollar amount you’re working with.
§ Create a realistic guest list. Although we love the idea of being able to invite our great aunt Darlene who we’ve only seen 3 times in our life, it’s time to set a realistic guest list that fits within your desired budget. The less people you have equates to less money being spent on food, drinks and décor. Weddings are supposed to be intimate celebrations of love, so choose guests that are actually close to you.
§ Ask your parents. In most cases they will be willing to help you with your wedding. They may be willing to gift you certain items for your wedding such as your wedding gown, the flowers or the bar. It definitely doesn’t hurt to ask and they can be a great help when you want to stick to your budget.
§ Make room for overspending. Now that you have a general idea of how much you’re both comfortable with spending, set aside 10 percent of your total budget and plan only to spend what is remaining. For example, if you have a $25,000 budget you’re going to set aside $2,500. This money will be used to take care of any last minute or unforeseen items that may arise (and they will). When you do this, you are sticking to your original budget and you’re not overspending or putting yourself in major debt that you’ll being paying for long after the wedding.
3. Hire a Professional Wedding Planner. Planning your wedding can be difficult, stressful and time consuming. With the help of a professional wedding planner, it can give you the ability to enjoy your time before you say “I do”. A professional wedding planner will help you find vendors and find the venue where you want to get married. Additionally, they will have established relationships with many vendors and can possibly negotiate best pricing for your wedding services. They will also take responsibility for your wedding by being there for you on your special day to make sure that everything is running smoothly from the beginning to the end.
Communication is key especially with your wedding planner. In most cases, you’ll be able to contact them at any time of the day to make sure your vendors have the right times for deliveries, or to ask questions about the caterers or even about appointment dates and times.
4. Decide on a Wedding Style. Determining your wedding style is a key element in jump starting your wedding planning process. Before you start to select vendors and venues, you want to have a grasp on the style of wedding you want to have. It doesn’t make sense to look at outdoor venues if you and the groom are not outdoors type people. Or why go through the trouble of looking at burlap and wood wedding decorations if rustic is not your style. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort if you determine what you like early on in the planning process and then move forward with securing venues and vendors that can deliver on the style that you have in mind.
5. Select a Venue. One of the most important parts of any wedding is the venue you choose to host your special day. An important element to consider before choosing a venue is the onsite accommodations, especially when considering a hotel. This is an item that is generally forgotten when people try to find a venue, particularly for a wedding. You need to find out if they have some type of onsite accommodations for your guests, whether it’s inn rooms or special hotel rooms. If not, you should consider hiring transportation to make sure that everyone that is drinking can safely return home or to their hotel. Remember, weddings are often filled with alcohol and the last thing you want to worry about is friends and family drinking and driving.
Special packages are great when selecting a venue for your wedding. Many venues will have some type of pricing that tells you how much it is to rent the hall, how much it should be for food and drinks if supplied in house, and even if they have any decorative services that you can use to your advantage. Choosing a venue with complete packages can help to save you time and money as you won’t have to go searching for a caterer and décor expert as well.
Make multiple visits to the venue to make sure it is the right one for you. Going off of what you see on the internet may not be what you see in person. Also, you may need to measure and map out the room so you know where all of your tables are going to go and where you’ll be able to place your décor. In the event that a venue doesn’t allow you to visit their property more than once, it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
Don’t commit too soon. Yes, you’ve fallen in love with the venue right off the bat but it might not be the right one for you. It may be beautiful and appear to have everything that you want but it could also be too expensive and lacking key elements such as audio/video equipment, tables and chairs or no allowance for your first choice caterer or serving alcohol. Even if you think you’ve found “the one” keep looking for a few days as you just might find something more inclusive.
When you take the time to follow these simple suggestions as you begin your wedding planning process, you are sure to reduce the amount of stress that comes with planning your special day!
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