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How to begin planning a wedding

Updated on February 25, 2012

The Engagement is just the beginning!

So the day has come, he has finally ‘popped’ the question. You have stopped running long enough for him to catch you – or in other words – You are ENGAGED!!! YAY!!! Now what?

Gurl, you have some planning to do!!

There are a gazillion things to do. First let’s breathe – in through the nose, out through the mouth – several times. There, that’s much better now we can think.

Let’s make a list. Lists are great for planning things; they aren’t set in stone so they can change. They do help to organize your thoughts in order for what you need to do though. Rather than make a bunch of lists that get lost in your purse or on your desk top get out a spiral notebook (very inexpensive) write something on the cover like “Wedding Plans’ in Sharpie marker so it doesn’t by chance get used for anything else.

The last wedding I attended

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bride walking in on the arm of her Father.Sisters - Bride, Maid of Honor and BridesmaidThe Happy Couple
Bride walking in on the arm of her Father.
Bride walking in on the arm of her Father.
Sisters - Bride, Maid of Honor and Bridesmaid
Sisters - Bride, Maid of Honor and Bridesmaid
The Happy Couple
The Happy Couple

The Short List!

Let’s start with the ‘short’ list:

1. WHEN are you planning on getting married? It’s important to know what time of the year you want to get married. Keep in mind that June is the ‘marriage’ month and there may be a lot of other weddings that your guests will be obligated to attend.

2. HOW much money do you have to spend? If you are on a budget this is perfectly fine, you will need to keep your budget in mind when planning, always. If you can afford a wedding planner that is great too, it will take away some of the worry of what needs to be done.

3. WHAT type of wedding do you want? Do you want a traditional church wedding? A Backyard wedding? A specialized wedding ie; horseback wedding, sky diving wedding, snorkeling wedding?

4. WHERE do you want your wedding? The venue is something that should be thought of right away. If you belong to a church then you probably are assuming you can have it there. Check with the Secretary of the Church to see if it is available on your date. Most churches have a set amount that they charge to use the church for your wedding. On average it runs around $250.00. It is your wedding, you are not required to get married in a church, and you can have the ceremony anywhere you wish, provided you can find someone to perform the ceremony. Is the reception at the same place as your wedding? If not you will have to find a place for the reception.

5. WHO will perform the ceremony? Again if you’re a member of a church you might think you have to have the minister as the one who performs the ceremony, this is not necessarily true. If there is someone else specific that you have in mind, again check with your church to find out if that person can do the job. There is also a charge for the person performing the ceremony. Ask them what their fee is.

17 easy steps to the Wedding of your Dreams!

The list gets a little longer as you go, but taking one step at a time will keep you from spinning in circles wondering what to do next. Continue to breathe – in through the nose, out through the mouth.

1. What to wear? Are you the girly girl who must have a gorgeous dress? That is fine, this is the one time you want to dress up and have all eyes on you. This will be YOUR day, make the most of it! You can start (if you wish) by shopping online for something that you think will suit you. If you have a wedding boutique in your town, call and make an appointment to look at wedding dresses. It’s best if you make that appointment so the person showing you the dresses will have some time set aside just for you. If you know someone who can sew, contact them. Look at patterns with them there is nothing wrong with having a dress made just for you. It may cost a little less doing it this way as well. If you are purchasing one made for you at a boutique make sure you have a good 2 months before the wedding, it does take time to make these beauties. Plan fittings into your schedule as well. Keep in mind that your veil is most likely not included in the price of your dress. You will either have to purchase one separately or make your own.

2. Guest list. You are going to have to get with your intended to discuss who he wants invited. This will also figure into the cost of the wedding (more people = more food for the reception). If you have a parent involved you will need to talk to them to get names and addresses of family members that you wish to invite. It’s perfectly fine if he doesn’t want to do a lot with participating in the plans; a lot of guys will just say ‘tell me what I’m wearing and what time to show up’. Don’t get angry with him if he feels this way, also if he wants to be part of the plans, let him know what he can do to help.

3. Venue for the reception. If you do not belong to a church or organization that has a building, you are going to have to do some calling around. You will need a good location for the reception. Things to factor in are; How many people will it hold? Is there a kitchen available? Will they let you prepare foods (or someone do it for you)? Do they require you have catering? Will you be required to purchase their food? How much does the building cost? Depending on the building this could be around $1,000.

4. Your colors. Are you going to have specific colors in your dresses and decorations?

5. Your Maid of Honor (or Matron) and your bridesmaids. You will need to know who your maid of honor will be. Best friend? Sister? Sister of the groom?

6. The dresses for the bridesmaids. Are you purchasing them? Are they purchasing them? You may have to understand if money is an issue for them. Remember the longer the dress, the more it may cost. If you are shopping at a bridal shop it could get costly. If you have someone making your dress will they have enough time to make the bridesmaids? Plan on at least $200 for each dress (it could be less but it’s best to plan for more)

7. Groomsmen. Your fiancé will need to know who his best man will be. The number of your bridesmaids may depend on how many ‘best friends’ your groom has. You will have to discuss this with him. If you are going ‘all out’ on this wedding you will want to consider tuxedos for the Groom, Best Man and the Groomsmen. There are MANY places that have rentals for tuxedos. This will cost about $125.00 per rental. Sometimes they have specials for the Groom. If all of the Groomsmen rent tuxes from one place theirs are either ‘no cost or a free suit’. Your colors can be incorporated into the vests and ties of the tuxes. Each one matching that of the dress of the maid of honor and bridesmaids.

8. The Wedding cake. Yes this is important. Everyone wants to see a cake at a wedding. If you happen to have a ‘cake decorator’ on the guest list even better! Sometimes the cake will be a ‘gift’ to the bride and groom. For those decorators who do this, it is advertisement for them. If you are going to a cake shop, give them a call first to set up a cake tasting. Take your groom and possibly your mother. Mom’s always have an input on the cake. Cakes can get expensive, so be prepared to put a deposit down at the time of the tasting. If you’re having 100 people at your reception plan on $300 for your cake depending on the type of cake as well as the decorations you want. You will need to know how many are going to be on your guest list before ordering. Each cake has a ‘serves’ amount you don’t want to overdo it or under do it.

9. The Invitations - You will want to send out twice as many as you plan on having. So if your list is at 100, send out 200. Send these out at least 1 ½ months before the wedding particularly if you are also sending RSVP’s. Also remember that many people do not RSVP, so keep your list handy so you can make phone calls to determine if they are coming or not. Many people will say they are coming yet at the time of the wedding something will come up and they don’t show. Try not to be disappointed, this happens. People who aren’t part of your wedding will have their own lives to lead. If you are ordering your invitations plan on $3.00 per. This will include the cost of postage.

10. Flowers – Are you going to have a bouquet? What type of flowers do you want? What type can you afford? Can you make your own? Boutonnieres and corsages will be needed for the bridesmaids, Groom and his men, parents of the bride and groom as well as any ushers you may have.

11. The Food. If you are having a ‘cake and coffee’ reception you won’t have to go any further. If you want a meal for your reception you will have to do some thinking. Are you going to have it catered? Keep in mind that catering will get expensive. Figure bottom dollar $20 per plate; it only goes up from there. So at 100 people that will cost $2,000. Do you know someone who is a good cook? Is it possible to get them to prepare the food for you? Will your venue allow this?

12. Alcohol. Will you be having alcohol at your reception? Does your venue allow it? Who is going to pay for it? Traditionally the groom’s family does this part of the wedding but in today’s world things have changed, you may be expected to pay for it. Are you going to have just beer? Mixed drinks? Do you have someone who will ‘bartend’ for you?

13. Smoking. Back ‘in the day’ this wasn’t considered, most places (with the exception of churches) allowed smoking. Now, most of the Country has gone to non-smoking status. If you or your Groom is a smoker you may need to find a place that either allows smoking or at least has a place for you to do so along with your guests. I understand that if you’re not a smoker you may not think this pertains to you BUT if you have guests who are smokers they will not be as busy as you are and may decide to leave the party early if you haven’t planned for them.

14. Decorations. Are you going to decorate? Do you have someone who can decorate for you? If you aren’t much of a decorator get with someone who is! Keep in mind if you are having the wedding at one venue and the reception at another you will have to decorate two different places.

15. Music – What type of music do you want? A live band? A DJ that plays CD’s? Maybe they can double for you as a ‘MC’ (Master of Ceremony). Check your local paper for those advertising.

16. Photographer – You may want to look in your local newspaper to see who is doing this. Remember this can get costly.

17. Delegate. Yes, you can ask friends and family to help you with this. Give them things to do for you. They might be happy to be included in the preparations! Ask first; then give them tasks if they agree to help you!

This isn't you is it?

Yes, you still have to think of others!

Keep in mind when planning your wedding that those around you may be excited for you at first, but they will have other things going on in their life. If you wish, give them tasks to do, this will take some of the load off of your shoulders. You may have to remind them to get these tasks done, do not get angry with them!! It is your day, not theirs so it will not be upper most in their minds.

There are many more things to do in planning a wedding, this is just the beginning. The more you get into it, the more you will learn. These are just a few basic questions to ask when beginning to plan your wedding. Keep your spiral notebook handy for any ‘new’ ideas you may have.

You want your day to be as successful as possible and you want your guests to have as much fun as they can. With proper planning your wedding can be the day you always dreamed it would be!

Remember the TV show Bridezilla is just that, a show. You truly don’t want to be called a ‘Bridezilla’ do you?

Yes there are other things that may come along such as Center pieces and table favors and anything else I may have forgotten, with proper planning and keeping that list handy you can tackle just about anything!!


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