How to Plan Your Wedding
A wedding is a fun and joyful occasion, and the planning process is full of excitement and anticipation. With some time, patience, and a little flexibility, you can create a beautiful and memorable day for you and your future spouse! Planning a wedding is complicated, so you’ll need to do some in-depth research as you go. In the meantime, there are a few basic steps you can take to get started. Start by setting a firm budget, then work with your partner to set a date and put together your guest list. Once that’s done, you can start hammering out the many little (and not-so-little) details that go into making a wedding.
Developing a Budget and Setting a Date
Work with your partner to figure out how much you can spend. Before you can begin setting a budget, you and your partner will need to sit down and look at your income, savings (if you have any), and expenses. Start by writing down how much money you both make each month, then subtract your combined monthly expenses to figure out how much you will have left over.
- Try to figure out how much you can realistically save between now and when you plan to have your wedding. Then, decide how much of that money you are willing to spend on the wedding as opposed to other expenses.
- Make sure to take all your expenses into account. This could include things like rent, groceries, cell phone bills, student loan payments, and transportation costs (e.g., gas money and car maintenance).
- Leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses, like medical bills or vehicle repair costs.
Find out how much your families can contribute (if anything). It can be difficult to ask your family for money. If you have a close relationship with your family, however, there’s a good chance that they would like to help you in some way if they can. Have a direct and forthright conversation with your parents, grandparents, or other loved ones you are close to about whether (and how much) they can chip in.
- Ask your partner to approach their family as well if they feel comfortable doing so.
- You might say something like, “Hey, Dad, Christine and I are starting to plan our wedding! We think we can cover the costs of what we have in mind, but it would be a huge help to us if you and Mom could contribute something financially. If not, we understand—just talk it over with Mom and let me know.”
- Your loved one(s) may want to contribute a certain percentage of the overall costs, or they may have more specific ideas about how they’d like to help. For example, maybe your favorite uncle would like to cover the cost of the wedding bands.
- Never ask with the expectation that the person you’re asking will be able to help. Be gracious if they say no, and thank them anyway.
Determine how many people you want to invite. Sit down with your partner and put together a guest list. This doesn’t have to be your final list—just try to get a ballpark idea of how many people are going to be at your wedding. Even if your wedding is super simple, a larger number of guests means a bigger budget.
- The number of guests you invite will affect things like your food and drink budget, the size of the venue you need to reserve, and the number of invitations and wedding favors you will need to order.
Set some spending priorities with your partner. Have a conversation with your partner about what aspects of the wedding are most important to each of you. Each of you can start by writing down a list of “must-haves” and narrowing them down to your top 3. Then, put your 2 lists together and see if they work together. This will help you determine where you want to spend the bulk or your budget.
- For example, maybe your top priorities are to have a beach wedding, hire an excellent photographer, and have a live band at the reception. Your partner might want to splurge on the perfect tuxedo, keep the guest list as small as possible, and have their best college buddy in the wedding party.
- You can also make a list of things you’d like to have, but don’t consider necessary (e.g., professionally hand-lettered invitations or a cake designed by a particular baker).
Look for ways to cut costs. If your budget estimates are turning out a lot higher than what you’re willing or able to spend, take some time to re-evaluate your priorities. Start by looking for items or services that you don’t feel are essential, and cutting them
- For example, if you don’t feel the need for custom cocktails at the reception, opt for a simple beer and wine bar, instead.
- Other ways to cut costs include streamlining your guest list, having your wedding during an off-season period (like winter), and going with sentimental hand-me-downs (like family heirloom rings or your mother’s wedding dress) instead of new designer attire.
- Do a search online for other cost-saving ideas. Use search terms like “cut wedding costs” or “save money on wedding.”
Create a planning timeline. Once you’ve set a date and squared away your budget, you can make the organizational process feel a little more manageable by putting together a timeline. Make a list of all the major tasks you need to get done (e.g., “Hire an officiant,” “Secure a venue,” “Buy a dress”) and set dates or date ranges for accomplishing each one.
- You can break your timeline down by month or week, or you can use specific dates as deadlines (e.g., “Order the cake by June 27th”).
- Do a search online for “wedding planning timeline” or “wedding checklist calendar.” There are lots of helpful planning templates available on the web.
- As the wedding date draws near, you’ll also benefit from having a detailed timeline of the day itself. Work with your officiant, party members, and any vendors/professional service providers to set an exact timeline and make sure everyone is on the same page.