Monthly Archives: February 2020

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.