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How to Start Planning a Wedding

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Once the euphoria of a fresh engagement wears off, the anxiety of actually getting married starts to set in. If you’re wondering how to start planning a wedding, you’re certainly not alone.

A wedding is both a celebration and a production. There are a lot of little details and long-term planning that goes into a large wedding that you and your guests will remember for the rest of your lives. Look no further for advice and motivation to get started planning the wedding of your dreams.

Things to Keep in Mind When You Start Planning a Wedding

There are so many considerations to planning a wedding. For starters, you have to understand the limitations of your budget and stick to it. If you start looking into dresses or venues you can’t afford, your wedding expectations may never feel fulfilled.

More importantly, your wedding is supposed to be a celebration of you and your partner’s love. It is about what you two want for the day and how you want to celebrate. Needy friends and family will likely try to tell you how to celebrate– don’t listen to any of that!

Be sure to stay true to yourself and what you want for the day of your dreams.


Wedding Logistics

There are a lot of logistical things to be mindful of when starting to plan a wedding. One way to make sure you keep everything organized is to put all of your ideas in a specific word document or bookmark folder. When you have all of your resources in one place, it makes it easier to manage. 

best wedding planner book

Another way some brides start to plan is to buy a wedding planning journal or book. A wedding journal can help you keep track of important dates, make daily to-do lists, and manage your budget. A resource like this is a great place to start planning a wedding.

There are also wedding planning apps and websites to organize your process!


Anxieties about Planning a Wedding

If you are starting to plan your wedding, it is normal to have some anxieties. For starters, many people are uncomfortable with the attention that being a bride or groom brings. Similarly, the pressure to throw a fun party for your guests may seem overwhelming. 

However, it is important to put this aside and to just get started on planning step-by-step. Once you get the wedding ball rolling, it won’t stop! If you are so anxious that you still can’t start planning, wait to set a date until you make sure you’re ready to get married.


Wedding Planning Timelines

wedding planning

There are a lot of different timelines that you might see when getting started planning your wedding. However, you will probably have to make certain modifications depending on your specific wedding.

For example, many wedding timelines follow about a year. That being said, if you’re engaged in summer and want to have a winter wedding, then you either need to modify your schedule to be married in six months or wait a year and a half. Either option can work– but your timeline will look very different.

If You Have More Than a Year

If you have a year or more to plan your wedding, you’re golden. Most wedding timelines start at the 12 month mark, so if you have more than that, you have plenty of breathing room. In fact, you can take a standard timeline and add extra time to it.

For example, many timelines say you should create your guest list between 12-10 months out– however, if you have extra time, you can take up to 4 months to decide who to invite.

You can even manage smaller details, like shopping for your wedding dress, further ahead of time, making the planning process easier.


Modified Timelines for Fast-Approaching Weddings

If you want to be married in less than a year, things become a bit more difficult. Certain vendors, like venues, photographers, and caterers, book much further ahead than you’re looking, limiting your options. It can also be difficult to get certain wedding dresses.

That being said, it’s definitely possible to do, and many people have amazing weddings planned on a short timeline. A little bit a day goes a long way! You can check out a 6-month timeline and even a 3-month one.


First Steps on the Wedding Planning Timeline

No matter how fast your engagement is moving, your first steps will be the same. Once you get started on these five things, the rest of the details will very likely fall into place. 

Be sure to enjoy these early wedding planning steps as much as you can. Remember– planning your wedding should be fun! This is a special time in your life that you’ll never experience again. Stop to smell the wedding roses once in a while!

Announcing Your Engagement

proposing to fiance

The first thing you should do is announce and enjoy your engagement! Whether it’s just a simple Instagram post or in the local paper, letting your friends, family, and even a few acquaintances know that you’re engaged is a great way to celebrate a new step in your life. Maybe you’ll even throw an engagement party!

One way to celebrate is to get engagement photos, which are not only a meaningful keepsake of your engagement, but can also help you set an aesthetic palette or theme for your wedding.

They can also go on save-the-dates you might send later or on a wedding website. Figure out when to take engagement photos based on your timeline.


Setting Your Budget

budgeting for wedding, saving money

Most important is setting your budget. You can’t really plan your wedding without a set budget. Your budget defines everything else about your wedding– the venue, the food, and the number of guests are all directly reliant on your budget. 

That is not to say that you can’t have a great wedding on a lower budget. It is just important to know when planning! Once you have a budget set, you can start to think about how to have the wedding of your dreams, whether that is to have it at a unique venue or choosing to keep it small.


Choosing a Date

check schedule

Now we’ve discussed timelines, you can’t know where you’re at if you haven’t picked a date! Obviously, most people get married on a weekend, but be sure to do whatever is best for you. Since you know the differences between planning with more than a year ahead versus a tighter schedule, it should be easy to keep planning from here. 

There are also other things to keep in mind when you pick a date. For example, if there’s a specific season you want to get married in, then you’ll have to account for that.

If you want to get married outside, you’ll have to think about your area’s climate, to avoid picking a date that will be too cold or too hot. There are also dates with personal significance or holiday themes– your date might be dependent on those things as well!


Finding Inspiration

outdoor wedding themes

The next step to getting started planning your wedding is to begin to search for some aesthetic inspiration. Many people use Pinterest for this. Starting a Pinterest board is a great idea because you can compile a lot of different inspirations onto one area.

If you’re really indecisive about how you want your wedding to look, maybe start to think about other weddings you’ve been to that you enjoyed. Without an idea of your theme or color schemes, it will be hard to pick a venue and your decisions on date and even budget can be impacted.


Looking and Booking Venues

Another great way to get started is to begin to explore, or even pick, a venue. Like everything else, a venue can really set your earliest planning motions going. To begin exploring venues, start to think about where you want to get married. Near your family? At a destination? There are so many options for venues.

Further, most venues have a certain “look”. If you want to have a wedding with a beachy theme, start to look for venues by a beach. If you want to have a wedding with a country/rustic look, see if there are barns you can rent out.

When you have narrowed down a few venues, a lot of the smaller details will come to you much more easily.


Refining Some Early Details

If you’re a real go-getter, you can start early on some things that might come later. Even though many websites have a set timeline, many things can be completed or decided earlier in the process than one may expect.

Even though we recommend getting to the above things as early as you can, if you have real wedding planner’s block, some of the below decisions may get you started for planning the wedding. At the very least, they can help you imagine your wedding in the earliest stages.

Choosing a Wedding Party

large bridal party

One thing that might help you figure out how you see your wedding is to ask close friends and relatives to be a part of the wedding party. This can help you with your date, if you have to work around a loved one’s commitments, or location, if anyone important to you can’t make it to a certain place.

Further, your wedding party can help you with a lot of the planning. Often, the wedding party will plan showers and pre-wedding parties for the bride and groom. Delegating some of these smaller responsibilities to good friends might clear your metaphorical plate.

Propose to your bridesmaids early so they can help you with other planning steps!


Wedding Planner– Yes or No?

wedding decorator

If you’re starting to plan a wedding, one important consideration is if you actually want someone to plan it for you! A wedding planner can be a huge help if you’re stuck on how to get started planning your wedding. 

A wedding planner takes over many of your responsibilities, like decorating and corresponding with vendors. They also know a lot of tips and tricks that will make a wedding incredible. If your budget can allow it, a wedding planner or decorator can assist you getting started planning your wedding.


Theme Ideas

greenhouse wedding

Many people already know their dream theme for their wedding. From Disney princess to Halloween madness, a specific theme can be a lot of fun at a wedding.

If you’ve had your wedding’s theme planned for who knows how long, you’re in a great spot planning-wise, because you have an ideal to structure everything around.

If you’re not sure about a theme, maybe do some research and see if anything draws you in. If nothing does, that’s okay too– most weddings don’t have easily definable or kitschy themes, just a color palette and a vibe.


Settling on Your Guest List

Another step that can help you begin to plan is to settle on your guest list that will be invited. This will give you an idea on size, which can help in relation to your venue and budget. It will also make the wedding seem more approachable and concrete if you’ve been having trouble imagining it.

If planning ahead, you can also reach out to your list and get their addresses for save-the-dates. This will help if anyone is slow to get back to you, then the save-the-dates won’t come late.


Next Steps

You’ve started planning your wedding! With any big project, starting is the first step. As you get closer, you’ll do even more fun detail work, like shopping for the wedding party, cake tasting, and vow writing!

The Rest of Your Timeline

This timeline from Pinterest is the most extensive we’ve seen so far– though it puts it on a 12-month track, ticking off each box in order will still be important no matter when you start planning. The key to begin planning a wedding is to go one step at a time!

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Katie Sheets

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