Monday, April 14, 2014

Ten Steps to Start Planning Your Wedding

Now that you are engaged and we have told you a few things to keep in mind before you begin planning, I'm sure you are wondering where to begin. Planning a wedding, no matter how large or small, is a production like no other. Unless you are an event planner or someone who just enjoys this sort of thing, it will quickly consume your life and you will be quickly counting the days for it to end, simply due to the overwhelming feeling that you are feeling. I know it is easy for me to say because I plan events all the time, but as long as you stay on top of things, it will be smooth sailing!! But before we can get to the end, we must start at the beginning. So, here are ten steps to start planning your wedding….

1. Set a budget- This is the first and most important step. Unless you are blessed with a bottomless Tory Burch, Michael Kors, or Louis Vuitton, you must have the conversation with your parents, your family, your fiancé, etc. to decide who will be contributing and how much. There is no reason to begin looking at anything without knowing what you have to spend.

2. Choose 2-3 possible dates- To be safe, it is always important to have a few potential dates chosen. Base your date on an important date to you, a preferred time of year, vacation plans, etc. Even football season here in the South can deter guests from attending a wedding unless you're planning to show the game at your reception.

3. Begin your guest list- Even though you may want to invite everyone you have every known, your guest count is important for multiple reasons. For starters, your venue capacity, catering menu (per person costs), stationary budget, the list goes on and on. Knowing who are "must haves" and having that count will help to determine how many "wants" and "sorta wants" to invite.  For example, if your list already contains 100 "must haves" and your budget is $30,000, you theoretically have $300 to spend per guest. Once you take other expenses (your dress, flowers, band/dj/ photography, etc), that number will lessen and you will easily see how many people you can comfortably add.

4. Decide on the style/feel of your wedding-  I know the word "theme" sounds so cheesy and sends people running for the hills, but everyone has a distinct wedding style and there are so many to choose from. Whether it is a style (glam, preppy, rustic, southern, etc.) or based on a specific color scheme, there is a vision you have in mind for your wedding. You don't have to plan each detail, but have an idea or focus of what you want so that you can move forward in your planning.

5. Decide what is important- Most checklists tell you to book your venue here. While that is a very  important and logical next step, we at Over the Top want you to take a moment to discuss with your fiancĂ© what is most important to y'all. Sometimes it is the venue, but sometimes it is the photographer, the videographer, the caterer, etc. One local videographer I have worked with can be booked almost 2 years out. Securing one vendor may determine the date for the wedding and if you book a venue too quickly, it may result in missing the one vendor that is the most important thing to you.

6. Start researching- Once you have decided on steps 1-4, it is time to start doing some research. Start researching the thing (vendor) that is most important to you, as well as top venues (if that is not the most important thing) and begin scheduling appointments. These are the most important things to have booked- contacts signed and deposits made- before proceeding with the remainder of your wedding planning.

7. Keep researching- If you have not considered hiring a wedding planner at this point, now is a good time to consider it. Wedding planners can be invaluable to you. Many consider it to be an extra cost, but it should be factored into the budget, just like flowers and food. I will be posting about this soon, but for now I will leave it at that.

Moving on, now is the time to begin researching and interviewing your remaining vendors to round out your wedding day needs. These typically include: florist, baker, entertainment, caterer/liquor, photographer, videographer, rentals, transportation, stationary/invitations, tux rental, hair/make-up, favors, etc. Each vendor tends to have their own style and something to offer. Use word of mouth and references to help guide you, in addition to your own research. It is a general rule to thumb to never interview more than three in any one category. Once you meet with a vendor and know what they have to offer compared to what you want and need, an easy decision on who to hire usually follows.

8. Hire your remaining vendors- Once all meetings are done, it is time for decisions. Continue on with signing contracts and making deposits. Some of these must be done in order. For example: you can't visit a rental company before you know the venue and what you will need to rent. You probably can however visit a rental company before you visit the bakery because adding a cake stand later tends to not be a big deal. But you can make sure the said rental company isn't already renting out to four other weddings in town on your wedding day.

9. Design Details- Now that vendors are booked, they are going to start wondering exactly what they are going to be doing, especially the ones who are expected to create something. Now is the time to begin looking deeper into your initial wedding style for specific inspiration and details you want. Pull pages from magazines, make a new boards on Pinterest, anything you need to do to start your collection to show. Vendors can't read your mind and everyone's own definition of a single concept can end up in disaster and an unhappy bride. Visual cues and inspiration help to keep everyone on the same page.

10. Wedding Dress Shopping- The day every little girl dreams of! Well, most every little girl…. My piece of advice to you- be choosy about who you take with you when shopping. Your mother is not going to want to miss this day and it is good manners to also invite your future mother-in-law. Your sister(s), future sister(s)-in-law may appreciate an invitation, and best friend/maid/matron of honor also may like to come, but bringing your entire bridal party tends to be unnecessary for multiple reasons. You don't want to take away from the special-ness of the moment with your mother, but you also don't want to open yourself up to 25 opinions by having a posse with you. A way to include everyone in this is to invite your bridesmaids to a fitting once the dress is decided upon. It is your choice who to invite, but it is important to think it through before issue invites freely. Wedding dresses typically take a long time to come in and almost always need alterations, so it is a good idea to start on this task early.

Remember that no matter what step in the process you're at, take a deep breath and take one step at a time. It will all come together and will work out beautifully!!!


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