elegant historic wedding venue

10 Ways to Choose a Date for Your Milwaukee Wedding

While it’s not always the easiest task, choosing a wedding date is an important—the most important!—parts of planning your Milwaukee wedding. Your Milwaukee wedding venue, caterer, and photographer are all going to ask when you want to get married. This guide can help you sift through all the factors that may play a part in choosing the right wedding date.

Milwaukee Venue Availability

If you have your heart set on a particular wedding venue, try asking the wedding venue for available wedding dates during a particular period. You can ask for open wedding dates during a season, month, or year.

Season

A seasonal wedding is a full-sensory experience, highlighting a couple’s favorite tastes, smells, and colors of the season. If you have a favorite season, choose a date in that season and get ready to coordinate all your favorites seasonal items into a wonderful wedding atmosphere.

Off-Peak Days & Times

Choosing an off-peak time or day is a perfect reason for couples who want an unexpected wedding date or have a tight wedding budget. (Read more tips about managing your wedding budget.) With this approach, you can choose dates in non-typical months (i.e. not June, September, October) or on weekdays that couples don’t normally choose.

Family Dates

Do you want to acknowledge a relationship that inspired your special union? One way is to ask if you can set your special day on their anniversary.  

Special Relationship Dates

Every relationship has special milestone dates: the day you met, your first date, the day you got engaged. Any of those dates—or another special day—is the perfect candidate for a wedding date. If you want to share the significance of the date, include it on your wedding website and on a story board at your wedding.

Career

If your career comes with an incredibly busy season, plan to say “I do” when you have a moment to breath (and meet with vendors, and confirm details, and…). Once you’ve narrowed down a season, ask your favorite wedding venue for an available wedding date during that time.

Wedding Vendor Availability

It’s not unusual to want a favorite wedding caterer, photographer, or another vendor included in a wedding—even before you know where to hold your Milwaukee wedding. In these cases, wedding planning starts by asking wedding vendors what dates are available. Some wedding venues require couples to use specific vendors, making it important to ask about their vendor policy when interviewing potential venues. (Don’t forget to ask these other Milwaukee wedding venue questions as well.)

Holidays

Do you love holiday trees? Or the wonder of the holidays? A holiday wedding is a great way to create the wonder of the season with your favorite holiday details. This approach also works for couples who love Halloween, Juneteenth, or any other wonderful holidays.

Family & Friend Availability

A wedding is a celebration, and it’s natural to want everyone to be involved, which is why you should ask friends and family you are particularly close to if they can attend. While it’s important to make sure that everyone is at your wedding, remember that this is your special day. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to find a date that works for everyone.

Length of Engagement

Planning a wedding does take quite a bit of effort and time. If you want a larger wedding, it might be helpful to give yourself more time (though it is possible in less time, especially if you use this guide for planning a wedding in 6 months or less). Once you have chosen a wedding date, it’s time to organize your wedding planning, choose a beautiful Milwaukee wedding venue, and enjoy the journey (with a few fun, de-stressing dates) to your special day!

unique spring wedding idea: patterned black and white table coverings with purple pastel chair bows

Milwaukee Wedding Planning: How to Create the Perfect Wedding Guest List

Compiling the perfect wedding guest list is a key part of wedding planning. This step-by-step guide can guide you through the process (and help you choose the perfect Milwaukee wedding venue!).

Step 1: Decide whether you would like to host a family event or adults-only wedding.

For some Milwaukee couples, this can be the first step or final step when the budget is tight or guest count is higher than the venue capacity (which should be a top question on your list of Milwaukee wedding venue interview questions).

The good news is that there is no disadvantage to hosting a wedding with kids or adult-only event. If planning a wedding for kids and parents, plan on adding children-friendly foods and entertainment options to your reception (such as coloring tables, bubbles, movie room, etc.) For an adult-only wedding, clearly categorize where you are drawing the line, such as “16 and over” or “18 and over.” (You can also use these tips for planning an adults-only wedding.)

Step 2: Make your own version of the 70-15-15 rule.

The 70-15-15 rule is different for every couple, but the premise is the same. Basically, this rule divides up the guest list into three separate lists. The largest portion (70% in this case) are guests of the couple, while the remaining 30% is divided between the bride’s and groom’s parents. For a complete breakdown, a 200-person guest list would be divided into 140 guests chosen by the couple, and 30 guests chosen by each of the parents.

This step should be accompanied by a conversation about the wedding guest list with any family members or friends contributing to the wedding (either with effort or financially). Be very clear about your numbers and rationale for your final guest number when you discuss the guest list with family members. It can eliminate a lot of drama and hurt feelings later!

Step 3: Compare your guest count to the venue capacity.

When crafting a guest list for your Milwaukee wedding, always make sure your final guest invite list is within the venue capacity. (You should ask about the venue capacity when first contacting a Milwaukee wedding venue.) The venue capacity is not an arbitrary number; instead, it is chosen to ensure the safety of guests.

When considering your Milwaukee wedding venue capacity, don’t feel like you have to cut the guest list down to the exact number. Typically, couples should plan on 80-90% of guests attending the wedding. This means that couples can plan on setting a list that is above the venue capacity, but should be careful not to sky rocket over that magic number (and remember that more guests equate to a higher budget as well).

Step 4: Divide up the guest list.

If you are worried about your guest list being too long, start divvying up the guest list. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to separate guests into categories, such as “friends,” “family,” “co-workers,” etc. As you divide up the list, put guests at the top of the list that you’d really love to attend. The “maybes” can go on the bottom. This simple wedding planning step makes it a lot easier to trim down the guest list.

The second way is to divide the master guest list into circles of separation. The first list would be those closest to you, the second would be a step further from you…and the degrees of separation would continue. When trimming, cut the guests on the last lists (those not the closest to you). Once you’ve got the list trimmed to your final number, it’s time to move on to the next step and enjoy planning your Milwaukee wedding!

Your COVID-19 and 1451 Renaissance Place Event FAQ’s Answered

This blog was originally posted on March 31, and is now updated with the latest information as of May 22, 2020.

At 1451 Renaissance Place, we understand that these are stressful, uncertain times. However, we are certain that if we take care of each other, the day will come when everyone can safely celebrate together!

While we wait for that day, we wanted to answer some of your most pressing questions about how the threat of COVID-19 has affected events at 1451 Renaissance Place. Hopefully, these answers can alleviate some stress and reassure you for the future. (Please feel free to contact us with any other questions.)

Is 1451 Renaissance Place temporarily closed?

May 22 Update: Though we are still not able to host large events, we are available to answer your questions, schedule socially responsible in-person tours and hold and reserve future dates.

Yes. For the safety of our staff and guests, 1451 Renaissance Place is temporarily closed. At this time, we are contacting couples with upcoming events to assist them with setting a new date and coordinating details for their big day.

How can we reach 1451 Renaissance Place?

May 22 Update: The best way to reach us is by emailing us.  We will do our best to get back to you during the next business day, but please note our response time might be a bit delayed as we guide our couples and clients through the rescheduling process. Your celebration is just as important to us and we will respond within 48 hours!

If you require immediate assistance, please mark “urgent” in the subject line. If you prefer that we respond with a phone call, please provide your phone number and an Event Specialist will call you back. 

Can I reschedule my event date if it has been cancelled due to the Safer at Home restrictions?

May 22 Update: Absolutely!  We are currently rescheduling affected celebrations to alternate available dates within 12 months of the original date. 

Is there a fee for rescheduling?

May 22 Update: We are transferring 100% of deposits from affected dates to any available dates within 12 months of the original date.

When do you anticipate holding events again at 1451 Renaissance Place?

As soon as it is safe to do so! We know this is vague, but, like everyone else, we are also waiting until it is safe to do so. In the meantime, inquire about your dates and follow these CDC guidelines. Stay tuned for further updates on our Facebook page and website.

Will vendors let us transfer my deposit and date?

We cannot speak to arrangements with outside vendors. However, most local Milwaukee vendors have been working to accommodate clients, and get back to doing what they do best – giving every couple the service they deserve! 

Is 1451 Renaissance Place still taking new event reservations?

May 22 Update: Yes! Now is a great time to gather information, make plans, and nail down your dates! As an added bonus, if you reserve your date before we re-open, we will take $500 off your required deposit and reflect that same discount in your overall guaranteed minimum! Contact us for available dates and more information.

We understand that couples and businesses are taking this time to plan their events and confirm their venue. It is a great time to gather information (especially on our blog and website), make plans and nail down dates! We encourage any couples or organizations interested in 1451 Renaissance Place to contact us for available dates and information.

When is your next open house?

May 22 Update: We are hoping for a June 3, 2020 Open House. Please contact us to confirm and reserve your spot.

How do we get updates on 1451 Renaissance Place?

Please check our Facebook page and website for more information about future Open Houses and events.

What event planning can be done during my quarantine?

This is a great time to do some research (especially on our blog!), gather information and contact vendors.  Our experienced event planners are happy to help you in any way we can, including holding or reserving a date, scheduling tours (including live virtual tours!), contacting outside vendors and coordinating the details on your behalf. 

Do I still have enough time to plan my 2020 event?

Definitely!  And we can help!  Our advice to any couple is, “don’t put off your dreams!”

Stay healthy and thank you for your interest and support. We look forward to being in touch soon, and to a time when social distancing is a thing of the past.

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

10 Questions to Ask BEFORE Planning Your Milwaukee Wedding

Planning a Milwaukee wedding involves a lot of conversations, but the most important conversation is the first with your fiancé. This conversation is your chance to discuss what you want and don’t want on your big day, plus a few other details that get your new marriage started in synch.

What is our favorite wedding style?

This may be one of the most important questions wedding couples ask because it’s a crucial part of searching for a Milwaukee wedding venue. The wedding venue sets the foundation for all other wedding details, and creates a powerful first impression on guests.

Are you a couple who would prefer an elegant wedding with an upscale wedding atmosphere? A celebration in a wedding reception venue with historical details and a story? Or an outdoor wedding with natural elements? Fortunately, there are quite a few Milwaukee venues that fit almost every couple’s style.

Do we have a favorite wedding date? What season works best for our wedding?

For some couples, their wedding date is obvious. It’s the day they met, the date of their first date, or a special family date.

For others, the wedding date isn’t as clear. In these cases, couples don’t have to be as specific about their date. If you fall into this category, you and your fiancé should look at the season or month you would most prefer. Once you have decided on a month or months, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue what dates they have available during that period. In addition to the date, you should also ask potential Milwaukee venues these other wedding venue questions. Once you have the date set, you can select and contact other wedding vendors (if the Milwaukee wedding venue has an open vendor policy).

What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for it? Has anyone offered to help us with expenses?

A wedding budget is a vital part of planning a Milwaukee wedding, and your chance to get your marriage off on the right foot. When setting a budget, use a wedding app or wedding budget checklist to decide on a total amount and allocate funds to high-priority wedding details (i.e. Milwaukee wedding venue, food, etc.)

The next step is to break down the budget a step further. This is your chance to discuss your finances and get on the same page about how you are going to pay for the wedding. If any friends or family have offered to help with wedding expenses, discuss who they are and who is going to contact them to see if they are still willing to help. In addition to setting a wedding budget, this conversation eliminates any hard feelings later from surprise credit card balances or overspending.

Do we want a big wedding or smaller affair?

For some couples, your budget or family size dictates the guest list. For others, this topic warrants an in-depth conversation about how many people you want at your ceremony and wedding reception. Have you always pictured a smaller wedding or a huge let’s-invite-everyone affair? Is there room for compromise so you can have a wedding with a somewhere in-between guest list?

The size of the wedding is also a criteria on the wedding venue checklist. Milwaukee wedding venues typically come with a capacity for guest safety and comfort. Once you have decided on an estimated wedding size (it doesn’t have to be exact!), ask each Milwaukee wedding venue for the amount of guests they can accommodate.

Do we have time for wedding planning? Do we need some help?

While wedding planning may sound like an all-or-none proposition, the answer for many couples is somewhere in between. Some couples want to manage every detail, others want to put their vision into the hands of a local Milwaukee wedding planner, while others need help with some of the details so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

This is your chance to decide which category you fall into and who you want to plan your wedding (or help plan parts of your wedding). Wedding planners are either independent contractors or are associated with a venue. The perk of the latter is that they are familiar with the venue and local vendors.

If you decide that you need wedding planning services (either full- or part-time), ask the wedding venue if they offer it as part of their services. If you prefer an independent wedding planner, ask the Milwaukee wedding venue for recommendations.

Is there one thing we really want at our wedding?

Even if you and your fiancé have been together for a long time, their answer might surprise you! This is your chance to discuss what details are really important to you and what you really, really want on your big day—besides your fiancé, of course.

wisconsin wedding venue with beautiful love sign and local flavors

What to include? The Ultimate Wedding Website Checklist for Milwaukee Couples

We love to help Milwaukee couples plan the wedding of their dreams, and a wedding website is an important part of the wedding planning process. A wedding website is an excellent way to keep guests up-to-date on wedding details, give friends and family gift ideas for showers and the wedding, and provide additional wedding information for out-of-town guests. If done well, a wedding website gives guests tons of information that they can get at their convenience (and you won’t have to answer tons of questions!)

Best yet, this part of the planning process should be fun and complete! That’s why we put together these wedding website tips and a checklist for Milwaukee couples who want a stellar and helpful “wed-site.”

Wedding Website Do’s and Don’ts

Do make a wedding website as soon as possible (like right after you are engaged!)

Don’t include too many specific details in your story, which can be a security risk that can be used against you.

Do try to build a website that fits with the theme and look of your wedding.

Don’t forget to include a full schedule of wedding activities (both before, on the day of, and after)

Do share your wedding website address on your shower invitations, save-the-dates, and response cards, plus in individual emails.

Don’t share your wedding website on your formal wedding invitations or on social media, which can create hard feelings from friends who aren’t invited.

Do be careful about including details to wedding events that only certain guests are invited to.

Don’t include any photos that could embarrass you or your family or friends.

Do ask members of your wedding party before you add them to the wedding website (if you want to add them, this is up to you).

Don’t send out the wedding URL until you have it finalized.

Do add a frequently asked questions section, which can be very helpful for guests.

Don’t hesitate to ask your wedding venue staff questions and for recommendations for local vendors.

Do change the website to a “just in case you missed it!” site with photos and information from your wedding day after it is over.

Wedding Website Checklist

___ Your Names

___ Your Story

___ Wedding Date

___ Wedding Party (Planning tip: ask members of your wedding party if this is okay. You don’t have to add this information, this is optional.)

___ Wedding Ceremony Location and Time (Planning tip: include the exact address, which is incredibly helpful for out-of-town guests.)

___ Wedding Venue Information (Planning tip: add pictures, the exact address, and a link to the Milwaukee wedding venue website, which can be incredibly helpful.)

___ Wedding Cocktail Hour Time

___ Wedding Reception Time

___ Wedding Day Dress Code

___ Accessibility (Planning tip: Ask potential wedding venues about handicap accessibility, along with these other wedding venue questions.)

___ Wedding Day Details (i.e. your social media hashtag, if your wedding is unplugged, if you are having a cash bar, etc.)

___ Local Accommodation List or Information about Blocked Hotel Rooms (Planning tip: Trip Advisor also has a helpful list of Milwaukee wedding hotels that you can provide)

___ Local Activity List for Out-of-Town Guests

___ Travel Information (Local airport information, local taxis, public transportation websites, local ride service links, etc.)

___ Gift Registries

___ Photos (Informal and formal photos of the couple—-like engagement photos—plus photos of the ceremony site and venue)

___ Online RSVP

___ Parking Information (Planning tip: look for a wedding venue with convenient parking accommodations.)

___ Attendance Information (Especially important for adults-only wedding)

___ Wedding Email (Planning tip: create an email address specifically for wedding planning.)

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

25+ Questions to Ask a Milwaukee Wedding Venue

The best Milwaukee wedding venues offer wow factor and check off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist. While that sounds simple, finding the best wedding venue in Milwaukee for your big day can feel overwhelming—especially when it’s so important to find the “one!”

These wedding venue questions can help you get through the process, and help you find a wedding venue that fits off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist: location, style, convenient parking, and any other items that are top priority.

Wedding Planning Questions

Determining what items are at the top of your checklist is step one, and can be determined by asking a few simple questions with your fiancé:

  • Where do we want to get married?
  • When do we want to get married? (Pro tip: use these hacks for choosing a wedding date if you don’t have a date in mind.)
  • What is our wedding style (i.e. elegant, rustic, vintage, etc.)?
  • Do we have any wedding vendors we want to use? (Pro tip: if you really want a vendor, look for a wedding venue with an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in vendors.)
  • Do we want to plan our entire wedding or do we need help? (Pro tip: even if you want to plan the entire wedding, look for a venue with a knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions…and answers the phone.)
  • How many guests do we want to invite? (Pro tip: you don’t need to have an exact number in mind, just an estimate will do.)
  • What is our budget?

Once you’ve answered these questions, the fun of finding the right wedding venue can begin! When researching and contacting wedding venues, use this list of “must-ask” wedding questions to narrow down your option to the wedding venue that is the perfect setting for your big day.

Milwaukee Wedding Venue Questions

Wedding Venue Availability

  • Is the wedding venue available on this day? OR Are there any open dates during this month/season? (Pro tip: If you have a tight wedding budget, ask the wedding venue about off-season dates or days of the week.)
  • Does your wedding venue hold more than one event on the same date? Will our wedding be the only event at the venue?
  • How many guests does your venue accommodate?
  • For couples needing a ceremony site: Can your wedding venue accommodate our ceremony and reception? If so, will my guests have to wait for set-up before the reception? (Pro tips: use these tips to find the best ceremony and reception wedding venue.)

Wedding Venue Cost

  • What is your venue rate? How many hours are included in that rate? Is there an overtime fee? Does that fee allow for time for set-up and take-down?
  • Does your wedding venue have a curfew when our reception needs to be over?
  • Do you offer wedding planning services? What is the cost of wedding planning?
  • What staff and services are included in the venue rate (i.e. coat check, venue manager, etc.)?

Wedding Venue Contract Details

  • Does your wedding venue have liability insurance? (Pro tip: while this question may not be the most glamorous, insurance can be important in case of an emergency.)
  • What is the wedding venue cancellation policy?
  • Does your wedding venue allow couples to bring in vendors? What vendors do you require us to use?
  • What is the venue alcohol policy? Do I need to hire a vendor that brings in the alcohol? Are bartenders included in the venue rate?

Wedding Venue Guest Accommodations

  • Is there parking at the wedding venue? Or is there parking near the venue? What is the cost of parking?
  • Is there an entrance for wedding guests with mobility issues? Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Are there local hotels and accommodations for my out-of-town guests? How far away are these businesses?
  • When can I tour the wedding venue? (Pro tip: always request a wedding venue tour because websites may not show every area of the wedding venue.)
bride above a beautiful wedding reception

Refreshingly Elegant Ideas for a Spring Wedding

Spring in Wisconsin is a time to celebrate—and these beautiful ideas for a spring wedding certainly do that! The snow is gone, the weather is warmer, and you can almost feel the spirits of guests raise with the temperatures. If you’re looking for ideas for a spring wedding that are as sunny as the weather, this list of tips can kickstart your wedding planning.

Choose a venue that makes an impression

The exterior of your wedding venue makes as big of an impression on guests as the weather—-and we can’t control that (especially in Wisconsin!). Couples can control guests’ first impression by choosing a beautiful wedding venue. For an extra elegant spring touch, choose a wedding venue with exterior lighting that gives guests something to talk about even before they step in the door. (Use these tips to choose the Milwaukee venue that’s right for your special day.)

floral centerpiece with tall gold vase and lilies

Look for spring bloom ideas

Floral touches are an expected spring wedding idea, but that doesn’t mean flowers can’t arranged or included in unexpected ways. For a one-of-a-kind presentation, ask your wedding vendors for new and fresh ideas that feel as unique as you are as a couple.

floral bouquet on table with sparkling back drop: outdoor touch for summer wedding

Think green

Spring is a time to celebrate green grass after a long, cold, and white winter. For a new, fresh outlook, couples should look for ways to include greenery in centerpieces or in other décor that spruces up the space—and make guests look forward to the real thing.

couple cutting cake on wedding date

Include fresh tastes in your wedding menu

A spring wedding menu demands fresh ingredients, giving guests a taste of the fresh air and beauty that is to come. This is a time to consider dishes with fresh fruits and vegetables, though couples should be careful to avoid serving too light of a meal that doesn’t fill guests up.

In addition to ingredients, a spring wedding is also the perfect setting for beer and wine tastings. For a truly local feel (along with these other ideas for a wedding with a local flavor), consider adding a tasting station with local ales and wines—ideally with ingredients that are as fresh as spring. Couples can also give guests the same experience by sending home small bottles of their signature drink.

beautiful wedding day after couple organizes wedding planning

Bring the outdoors in

If you truly want your wedding to feel like a celebration of the outdoors, try to bring the outdoors in. Couples can establish this atmosphere with topiaries and beautiful walls of greenery that make guests enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without the chill of a spring night.

outdoor picture of newlyweds at Milwaukee wedding venue

Be open to outdoor photos

Spring weather in Wisconsin can be unpredictable. Some days it snows, while other days the temperature swells—but that doesn’t have to ruin beautiful outdoor photos. When planning a spring wedding, do your extra due diligence by packing for any weather. (Use these tips for preparing an emergency wedding day kit.) A shawl can be a stylish touch in photos or a way to warm up after a stunning outdoor photo. If the weather looks rainy, an umbrella (for just you or for your entire wedding party) can be a perfect part of a one-of-a-kind spring wedding photo.

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

How to Find THE Milwaukee Wedding Venue of Your Dreams

The Brew City is full of beautiful wedding venues. How are you supposed to find the right Milwaukee wedding venue that fits your vision and pocketbook? One of the first lessons of wedding planning is that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Some of the most beautiful wedding venues can provide the perfect backdrop without breaking your wedding budget. The second lesson is that you should expect to allocate 40% of your budget for the wedding reception (i.e. wedding venue, caterer, etc.)

All these wedding planning lessons can make finding the right Milwaukee wedding venue seem like an overwhelming puzzle. Fortunately, this guide can help you through the process and help you find the right wedding venue that is the perfect setting for your wedding day.

Set a budget.

Before you start looking for a wedding venue, it’s important to set criteria for your search. You can do so with a conversation with your fiancé. This is the time to state anything you really want at the wedding, and discuss important details like the location, date, and how you’re going to pay for it. (Use this list of wedding planning questions to guide your discussion.)

Research, research, research.

The next step is to research local Milwaukee wedding venues. Fortunately, this step can mostly be done online, on websites and social media. However, there is a note of caution that comes with this step. Though pictures on the website and social media look great, never book a wedding venue without seeing it in-person. This is your time to ask questions and schedule a showing.

Interview your potential wedding venues.

If you want to narrow down your prospects, contact each Milwaukee wedding venue with these questions:

  • Is the venue available on this date/during this month/in this season? (If you don’t have a set date, it can be easier to find a wedding venue with available dates during your desired season or month.)
  • Will my wedding be the only event at the venue?
  • How many guests does your venue accommodate? Is there space for a ceremony and reception? If so, will my guests have to wait before the reception?
  • What is the venue rate? What does the venue rate include (i.e. equipment, staffing, etc.)? Is there an overtime fee if the reception goes beyond a certain number of hours?
  • What services are covered by the venue rate?
  • Does your venue offer wedding planning services?
  • Does your venue carry liability insurance? (This can be important in case a guest is injured.)
  • What is the wedding venue cancellation policy?
  • Can I bring in a wedding caterer or photographer? Or does your venue require us to use certain vendors?
  • What is the venue alcohol policy?
  • Is there convenient parking near the wedding venue?
  • Is the wedding venue handicap accessible?
  • Are there local accommodations for my guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)? How far away are these businesses?

Review the contract.

After interviewing your potential wedding venues, it’s time to tour your wedding venue (with this list of wedding venue tour questions) and review the contract. Once you’ve signed the contract for your favorite Milwaukee wedding venue, the fun next step can begin: envisioning and planning the day of your dreams.

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

When to Start Wedding Planning (and Where to Start)

“When do I start wedding planning?” is a wedding planning question that inevitably pops into your head—sometimes even before you’ve uttered yes! Even if you don’t ask the question, get ready for a barrage of questions from friends and family.

When to Start Wedding Planning

The best answer to the when question is when you’re ready—but with the disclaimer that if you wait too long you may not get your ideal date, wedding venue, or vendors. Planning your big day starts—surprisingly!—with a conversation with your fiancé.

Do we have a special date we want to get married on? Or a time of year?

The good news: you don’t need to have a set date before you start contacting venues and vendors. Some couples have a date in mind for months or years before they get married, while others set the date based on venue and vendor availability. If you’re in the latter camp (no date), you can use these tips for setting a wedding date or contact wedding venues and ask for open dates.

Either way, this is your time to discuss not only the date but how long you want to be engaged. There are some advantages to a long or short engagement. A long engagement gives you plenty of time for wedding planning, while a short engagement gets you down the aisle and into wedding bliss quickly (use these tips if you’re getting married in six months or less).  

Where should we get married?

Just as important as the date is the where of your wedding; this question can start as broad as choosing between a destination or hometown wedding. Once you’ve narrowed down the city, it’s time to start thinking about wedding venues in your desired location.

What is our wedding budget? How are we going to pay for our wedding?

A wedding budget gets your wedding planning kickstarted off on the right foot, giving you and your fiancé the chance to discuss your finances and financial means. This is also your chance to make sure you are allocating money for big-ticket items that make a big impact on guests (i.e. venue, food, entertainment); a wedding budget checklist can be a big help during your discussion.

Do we want a large or small wedding?

Your guest list count doesn’t need to be final, but an estimated guest count is big part of choosing the right wedding venue and setting a wedding budget. Because of the implications on budget, it’s okay to flip flop these questions and decide on how many funds you have first—and how much you want to spend on each guest.

Do we want to plan the wedding ourselves? Or do we need help?

There is no doubt that wedding planning is a big undertaking, so it’s a good idea to decide on how much of it you want to tackle yourselves. This is an opportunity to review your available time and support system, and decide if you need a full- or part-time wedding planner or can take the wedding planning checklist on yourselves. If you decide you want wedding planning help, it’s time to decide if you want to hire a wedding planner from your wedding venue or a professional with an independent business.

What is our style? What do we really want from our big day?

Your style as a couple gives you direction as you plan—and your discussion gives you the chance to get on the same page about it! In addition to the wedding style (i.e. elegant, traditional, rustic, casual, natural), this is your opportunity to voice any preferences you really want on your big day. Your fiance’s answer may surprise you!

First Wedding Planning Steps

Once you’ve discussed the important details, decide if you want to start wedding planning now or in the future. If you’ve decided on a long-term engagement, start booking the big details now (i.e. venue, caterer, entertainment). You can get to the rest of the checklist later!

Get organized.

The very first step is to get organized, with a binder or paper-free. Either way, take a few minutes to kickstart your wedding planning with the app, wedding checklist, deadlines, and tips that keep you organized as you plan your big day.

Set a date.

Your wedding date is a core detail that is going to be brought up with almost every vendor, so it makes sense to set a date as soon as possible. This can be done by using a special date (i.e. when you met, a signature family date, your first kiss, etc.) or contacting venues to see what dates are available.

Research and choose a wedding venue.

The process for choosing a wedding venue is worthy of a full multi-step venue guide, especially because the wedding venue is the foundation of all your other details. Once you’ve decided on a location, it’s time to search for wedding venues near you (or in your chosen location) and narrow down the options based on style and the venue’s answers to your wedding venue questions.

Start interviewing vendors.

Some wedding venues require that you use certain vendors, while others have an open vendor policy that allows you to choose your favorite caterer and vendors. If you need recommendations for vendors, don’t hesitate to ask the venue staff and start contacting them with vendor questions.

wedding reception with MR & MRS letters in front of a shiny background at a rainy wedding

10 BIG Wedding Planning Questions Answered

Wedding planning is an effort that comes with a million questions. What kind of dress are you going to buy? Who’s going to stand up in your wedding party? While we can’t help you with those details, we have put together a list of the most common wedding planning questions that we hear time and time again as we help couples plan their big day. These answers can get you started planning the day of your dreams—and enjoying the process!

What is the first step in wedding planning?

Congratulations on your engagement! The first step of wedding planning is surprising to many couples, because it doesn’t involve shopping or scheduling a wedding venue tour (those important steps come later).

The first step of wedding planning is a discussion with your fiancé. This is your time to voice any preferences you have for the big day, and to ask these important questions (i.e. location, finances, style, date, etc.)

Should we hire a wedding planner?

Contrary to popular opinion, there are three answers to this question: yes, no, and a little bit. The first answer (yes) is perfect for couples who don’t have time to plan. The second answer (no) is typical for couples who feel they have it covered—either alone or with friends or family. The third answer is perfect for couples who need part-time help with details, either with an independent planner or a convenient venue wedding planner.

How can I keep my wedding planning organized?

Every couple has a different system for wedding planning. Some couples use wedding apps, while others use a wedding binder filled with free wedding printables. No matter what the method, the key to organized wedding planning is to have a great wedding planning checklist, wedding budget spreadsheet, and the time to track your progress and expenses. (Other tips for efficient wedding planning can be found here.)

What questions should I ask wedding venues? How should I book a wedding venue?

The wedding venue is the crux of wedding planning—after all, that’s where most of your big day takes place! The wedding venue is the background of your big day, so choose the site carefully! Because the decision is so important, it’s important to interview each wedding venue to find out the availability, cost (including additional fees), venue capacity, and any other important details (such as parking!)

Because this contact is so important, it’s important to ask 20+ questions that get you the answers that help you decide whether to schedule a venue tour.

Never book a wedding venue without seeing it in-person. Unfortunately, online pictures don’t always tell the whole story. When touring, couples should ask to see every space, including the restrooms, changing areas, and parking spaces (which are incredibly important to guests!) From there, couples can use this step-by-step venue booking guide.

When should I book my wedding venue?

Because the wedding venue is so important, it should be one of the first reservations you make. A wedding venue should be chosen and confirmed AT LEAST 12-14 months before the big day. If time is tight, you may still be able to find an open date, especially if you consider a weekday or Friday night (these dates may be more affordable as well). If you would prefer to hold your ceremony and reception at the venue, ask if there is space for both.

When should I hire a wedding caterer?

Once your wedding venue is booked, it’s time to choose key wedding vendors, including the wedding caterer. Some wedding venues have an in-house caterer that they require couples use, while others have an open vendor policy. This policy allows couples to use any wedding caterer as long as they are licensed and carry insurance.

When should I send out invites? What information should I put on my wedding website?

Typically, a save-the-date wedding invite should be sent out six months before your big day, but the actual invitations don’t go out until a couple of months before. Any additional information about the wedding day can be published on a wedding website, such as local hotels and parking information. More wedding website tips can get you from start to publish.

How long is a wedding reception?

This is one of the common wedding planning questions. Most wedding receptions last 4-5 hours, and revolve around a few simple wedding reception planning steps.