How to Plan Weddings – Early Planning
Planning a wedding can be a daunting task for those who are not organized. Just thinking about it can cause one to retire the thoughts and say, “I will start tomorrow.”
But thank goodness for those gifted in this area. There is a plethora of books, planners and internet resources to get one started. For example, Wiki How has a great article that can guide the happy couple in the right direction:
How to Plan a Wedding in Six Months
1) Prepare yourself mentally. Get into the right frame of mind. Be prepared to compromise. Enter into the planning of your wedding with an open mind and flexibility. You may have it all planned out in your mind but not keeping your ideas flexible will leave you frustrated and disappointed. Be ready to alter your ideas of what your dream wedding is. Not only will you need to be flexible with your planning but you need to be willing to make compromises financially. Don’t try to over plan or be too controlling. Take everything with a grain of salt and a sense of humor.
2) Decide on a budget and stick to it. This is the first step in planning any wedding but even more important when planning on a short time line. Because of the short time frame the money you spend won’t be spread out over a year or two. You need to look at what funds you have to spend and be able to live and pay your bills. You may need to scale down the vision of your wedding. It’s very easy to rely on credit but you need to seriously consider if entering into a marriage with enormous bills is a healthy start just to have an over the top wedding. No one wants to start a marriage in bankruptcy court. The number one reason for young marriages failing is financial stress. Keep your eye on the ball.
3) Work with your partner to make a guest list. Determine how many people you can entertain with the budget and space you have available. As you proceed through the planning process, your guest list size may influence your destination choice, and likewise your destination choice may affect how many people you can invite. If you start getting an idea of guests together early, it will help you throughout the whole planning process. Start getting their addresses together, but don’t worry about invitations until you’re sure you want to invite (and can accommodate).
4) Buy a wedding planner book or make your own. Make sure it has a calendar and pockets to store brochures and clippings. This helps you organize your ideas and helps you store contact information all in one place. Write down vendors you have talked to along with contact information and appointment dates and times. You can also add swatches of fabric and photos of flowers to show to your florist.
- Start planning as soon as you decide on a date! If you take care of everything in the beginning, you have more time to enjoy your engagement and more time to focus on the small, minor details (e.g. the font color of your invitations).
- Another suggestion, if money is not an issue, hire a planner to assist you through this process
5) Make a time line with a to-do list. The time line will differ depending on where you live and the bridal market. The time line could change drastically if you were planning your wedding for January or June. Most of the following steps need to be completed in the first month to month and a half to get the vendors (florist, photographers, dresses, etc.) booked or picked in time if you’re in an average sized city. When planning something fast the bulk of the decisions are made in month one. You just spend the other months fine tuning and hoping the wheels don’t come off the wagon.
6) Consider a destination wedding. These are usually the easiest to do on short notice. All you need to do is show up, get married and have a great time. This may end up costing you less money in the long run. Weigh your options. Most resorts have everything in place and can schedule multiple events with no problem on short notice.
- The travel will help filter your guest list and you may find only your best friends and closest family will attend.
- This often combines the wedding, reception and honeymoon all into one for more savings.
- Flowers and a cake are often included in the cost.
- Some hotels in Las Vegas (US) are able to do lovely and tasteful weddings. Don’t assume every officiant in Las Vegas is an Elvis impersonator.
- Give everyone a heads up if traveling outside the country. It takes time to get passports. Don’t wait for the invitation to go out. Remind everyone that it takes longer to get their passports and they shouldn’t delay. Don’t assume everyone knows that passports aren’t quick to turn around.
7) Consider a casual theme wedding. Have a great party instead of a formal affair. Be creative and try to plan something fun. Remember at the end of the day you’re still married, so try not to be as stuffy with your wedding when you’re short on time. Think out of the box and you’ll save your sanity and have a more memorable wedding than your friends who planned twice as long and spent ten times as much.
- Get married at the zoo and ride on an elephant. Have caged animals around the reception hall with their caretakers to answer questions. Have the bride wear a white cotton casual dress and the groom in khaki. You can also do a lovely suit and a white dress with an exotic flower in your hair.
- Get married on Halloween weekend and have everyone come in costume. Rent some great Victorian costumes (well in advance), Romeo and Juliet or any other couple. Decorate with cauldrons and dry ice. No one will forget it!
- Get married on the beach in the morning and have a reception at a local restaurant for a great brunch in a private room.
- Go to the mountains and get married on the slopes. Instead of the dresses and tuxedos you use white snow gear and dark snow gear. Pin lovely flowers to you ski jacket. The party can be inside the lodge.
- Find a sail boat and ask about having a modest party aboard for the ceremony, they can sail everyone back to dock for a great clambake or try a nearby restaurant.
8) Decide on a date and an alternate date. Call your ceremony location options to find out what is available and how the cost fits into your overall plan. If you wait, you risk the date being unavailable. If you find a place you like that is available and in your price range you should book it and not wait.
- If the site is out of your price range or booked, you can inquire about having it on an alternate day. Friday and Sunday weddings have become more and more common especially in large cities where there is incredible demand and cost associated with Saturdays. They may offer Fridays or Sundays at a reduced rate.
- Also ask of the possibility of having a morning wedding if there is another event later in the day.
- Be realistic, A Valentine’s Day wedding will be extremely hard to book on short notice unless you can be really creative. The prices also sky rocket on that day with supply and demand.
- Ask what the refund or cancellation policy is for booking on short notice. They may have contracts that state you must cancel at least 6 months before to get a deposit back. Since you are already within this window you should be very careful what you book and offer deposits. Also ask if the contracts can be changed since you are booking late. They may give you an extra month in the cancellation/reschedule window of time.
9) Research reception areas to see what is available in your budget. Consider the usual reception halls but also look into historic buildings, museums, vineyards, art galleries, botanical gardens, historic hotels with parlors. Zoos can also be a unique place for a reception that may be more affordable, available on a short time line and really make a fast turn around wedding memorable.
- Determine if a reception location is available where you are having the ceremony. This will make things much easier to plan and more affordable. You won’t have to arrange transportation for the wedding party and this will be one less thing to book and put a deposit on.
- If you are having trouble finding an available reception location, call your local caterer and ask them for a list of local reception sites. They are usually more than willing to help, especially if you are a potential customer.
- Consider having a wedding around a major holiday where churches and reception halls may already be decorated.
- You can easily have a wedding with 30 people attending in a parlor of an old home, historic site or building, lovely private garden or exterior site with a view. With so few people attending you can easily move the event to a great spot out of town so don’t feel like you must plan within the city limits. Consider the beach, neighboring town, parks, outdoor site with a great view or lovely historic site in your state.
10) Contact an officiant to conduct the ceremony. Certain religions or churches require couples to attend pre-wedding counseling. If you want a religious officiant, your officiant will likely want to meet with you and your partner before the wedding to discuss the vows, how they usually conduct ceremonies and other details. Don’t wait until the last minute. Ministers book well in advance but they can usually do several ceremonies in one day. You may need to be flexible with your time if you must have your preferred officiant. If they aren’t available you can ask if an associate pastor is available or if they can recommend someone else.
11) Think about splitting up the dates Compromise. Have a small wedding with immediate family and friends. Plan a big party/reception with all your friends and a big spread a few months after the wedding or on your first anniversary. You’ll have time to really plan. This is a common practice following intimate weddings. The benefits include:
- You can plan it on a Friday night and aren’t restricted to having a later afternoon or evening wedding.
- You won’t be stressed and can enjoy it
- You won’t have to leave mid-party for your honeymoon
- You have an excuse to wear your wedding dress or buy a great white cocktail dress.
- You get to celebrate twice.
- You can have a destination wedding or elope and still have a reception or party afterwards for all your friends to attend.