How to Start Wedding Planning

Want to start wedding planning but unsure of where to begin? Here are some tips for making wedding planning manageable and fun!

Fun news, my fiancé and I are planning on getting married this Summer! This means that the last few months have become filled with wedding research and planning. In fact, my fiancé makes fun of me, because I get wedding related ads ALL THE TIME now.

So far, I actually enjoy wedding planning. Talking about our preferences together has definitely helped both of us get more excited for our big day. Needless to say, even with the excitement, wedding planning can feel pretty overwhelming. And, there are many people who just don’t enjoy it. Regardless of which side you fall into, hopefully these tips will be useful as you begin prepping for your wedding. Full disclosure, this is not a perfect or complete way to plan your wedding. These are just some things that have been helpful for me!

Step 1: Decide on a Budget

To start wedding planning, I advise sitting down with your significant other and deciding on a budget. When coming up with a number, think about 2 things: this is the most important day of your life, but it is also just a day. What I mean in saying that, is that you can justify spending money to make this a great experience but also don’t want to go so over the top that you’ll look back and wish you’d saved that money for other things such as housing, a car, or savings. I know people that spent $40k on a wedding and others that spent $1k. Bottom line: determine something that you both feel comfortable with.

Whatever you do, decide on a budget and then STICK TO THAT BUDGET!! I cannot emphasize this enough. I have come to realize that everything with the word “wedding” attached to it is significantly more expensive than you’d expect. AND that a wedding is comprised of a few large purchases and then a million costs here and there. It can be easy to justify overspending on just a few things, but then before you know it you’ve gone *way* over budget.

Having a budget will guide the rest of your wedding planning process, so tackle that in the beginning! There are lots of free or inexpensive resources you can use such as wedding planning apps like Zola and The Knot, to help you think about all the different wedding expenses.

Step 2: Discuss Expectations

Next, discuss wedding expectations with your partner. Are you wanting something inside or outside? Big party or intimate elopement? Timing of the year? Having at least one (probably multiple) conversations like this will help you to create a shared vision.

With my fiancé, talking about these things helped a lot! I found out that there were some aspects of the wedding that mattered to him that I hadn’t even considered. Because our experiences at weddings have been different, we had similar but also different ideas of what the wedding day can look like.

One thing that has helped us is switching from saying “I don’t care” to “I don’t have a preference” when talking about aspects of wedding planning. I know that sometimes wedding planning can feel frustrating if it feels like only one of the partners is really involved. Changing the way we talked about our preferences has helped us better communicate and identify things that are important to each other.

Starting wedding planning with a more clear, shared understanding will do wonders in making it a more enjoyable experience. You can side step a lot of misunderstandings and save time!

Step 3: Identify the Most Time Sensitive and Costly Items

Once you have a general idea of what you want your wedding day to look like, it’s time to start the research/decision part of the wedding planning. To make the process feel more manageable, my fiancé and I decided to pick one or two things to focus on researching at a time. This way, we could gather helpful information, assess the options, and make a decision that we both felt good about.

Some people plan a wedding in years and others do it in just a few months. Depending on how much time you have, some matters may be more pressing than others. In our case, a few big decisions we wanted to research were finding a venue, looking into rings, and booking a photographer. With each of these decisions we talked about a price range that fit into our overall budget and then tried to find 4-5 potential options. This way we could compare the features and prices of each side by side.

Note: There is this phenomenon called decision fatigue that comes from making lots of decisions. Even small decisions require mental energy, so it’s best to focus on spending energy on the more impactful decisions. My suggestion is to practice satisficing. This is being satisfied with the first option that meets the minimum requirements of what you’re looking for. Of course, this doesn’t have to apply to every decision. But what napkins to buy for your wedding? Spend less time researching and settle on the ones that match your wedding colors and fit in your budget.

Step 4: Create a General Wedding Planning Timeline

Once you have the few largest decisions out of the way, you can make a timeline for accomplishing the other tasks you need to complete before your wedding. There are lots of ways you can do this. You can make a checklist, create a Google Sheets page, or (easiest) just use one of the features in a wedding planning app. Breaking down tasks into assignments to complete each month or week will help you continue to make progress but at a more bite size pacing.

AND, if your friends and parents are like mine, they will be asking how they can help you with wedding planning. When you know what is left to get done, you can say that you’d love their help researching things such as potential vendors, decor ideas, songs for the reception or registry items. They don’t have to pick for you, but they can help gather info, so you don’t have to spend as much time on it. If people are willing, definitely delegate!

Other Wedding Planning Tips

  • Don’t stress. Have fun! If you don’t love planning, focus on how this will be a celebration of your love for each other.
  • Plan early for your honeymoon! If you want to travel, getting tickets and hotels earlier will be really helpful.
  • Make sure to still take pictures with your significant other. Life gets busy, but if you want a wedding slideshow then make sure you document your relationship along the way.
  • Plan what YOU want. Yes people will have recommendations and opinions, but it’s YOUR day. If you don’t love certain styles or traditions, don’t have them at your wedding.
  • Look online for creative ideas. There are tons of ways to customize your wedding so that it truly represents you as a couple and fits your budget.
  • Over communicate with your partner. Obviously don’t be overbearing, but keep each other updated and in the loop about your preferences, feelings, and opinions.

I was honestly kind of nervous to start wedding planning. Both my fiancé and I are the first ones in our families to get married, so I just wasn’t sure where to start. It felt like a mountain that was so high I didn’t know where it ended. However, I am super big into organization, so breaking down the wedding planning process has helped both of us relax and feel capable. Try out these tips and if you have tips to share, leave them in the comments!!

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