You’re engaged! (Congratulations!) Once you’ve taken the time to spread the news, drink plenty of champagne, and call each other “my fiancé/e” over and over, it’s time to make some wedding planning decisions. But where to start? I know it can be overwhelming, so I’ve put together my list of the first seven things that should be on your To Do list.
Agree on the basics. You don’t need to pick a color scheme just yet, but before you make any other decisions, it’s a good idea for you and your partner to talk about how you envision your wedding. That way, you’ll both be on the same page. Small wedding or big one? Winter or summer? Formal, casual, or somewhere in between? Discuss your expectations and what’s most important to each of you.
Choose a destination. In the same way, it’s a good idea to agree on a location early on. Perhaps you want a backyard wedding in your home town or the city where you live. Or perhaps you’re dreaming of a destination wedding somewhere exotic. Narrow down your ideas to at least a country, state, or region.
Choose a date (range). Choosing an exact date will usually depend on your venue and other factors. However, it’s a good idea to settle on a month or at least a season early on. If nothing else, it means you’ll have a ready answer when people ask (and they will!).
Set a budget. Creating a budget can be a difficult and awkward task, but it affects all the rest of your wedding planning decisions. Best to get it out of the way now! Sit down with one or both sets of parents (if applicable) and come up with a number you’re all comfortable with. It’s also a good idea to agree who will pay for what. Once you know what you can afford to spend, use a spreadsheet or other tool to track your expenditure.
Draft your guest list. Once you’ve set the budget, it’s time to figure out who you’re going to invite to the wedding. Start by jotting down your ‘must have’ guests and use this as a minimum head count. It’s also a good idea to ask your families for input, especially if they are footing all or part of the bill. They may have a longer list than you expect!
Book the venue. With an estimated guest count and a budget in mind, you can start researching and visiting venues. Where you choose to say “I do” can make a big difference to the style of your wedding. Venue availability may also dictate the wedding date. So, be sure to confirm your booking and pay the deposit before you start shopping for décor or sending out those Save the Dates!
Hire priority wedding vendors. Maybe you have your hearts set on a particular band or caterer. Or perhaps there’s a top photographer whose work you’ve been following on Instagram. Many top vendors get booked up well in advance, so if you know who you want to work with, contact them early. It’s also a great idea to get a wedding planner on board, since they will be able to refer you to their network of trusted vendors and save you a lot of time and research.
Now that you have the most important wedding planning decisions in place, the rest of the process will flow more easily. Happy planning!