Category Archives: wedding planning first steps

beautiful wedding day after couple organizes wedding planning

Step-by-Step: Where to Start Wedding Planning

Planning your wedding is a journey that can takes a million turns…but they all lead to a wonderful big day. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide that (hopefully) makes those turns not so curvy and helps you enjoy the ride.

Step 1: Sit down and talk with your fiancé.

Every couple gets excited about different details…the dresses, tuxes, wedding menu, décor. The list could go on and on. But before you head to the store or start scheduling meetings, take a step back.

The first step of wedding planning—-where you should really start planning your wedding—is a conversation with your fiancé. This is the time for you to discuss your wants (“what is one thing you want in our big day?”) and important details (“what time of year do we want to get married?”), such as the location (city and state), date/time of year, size of the wedding (large or intimate), and budget.

The latter should involve a lengthy discussion of how much you both have for the wedding and how you intend to pay for it. This part of the discussion may lead to talks with other family members or friends that have expressed interest in contributing.

As you discuss the wedding budget (this wedding budget worksheet can help), ask yourselves how much time you have to devote to wedding planning. If the answer is “not much,” make sure you allocate funds to hiring a full- or part-time wedding planner. (The pros and cons of hiring a wedding planning may be helpful in your decision.)

Step 2: Choose a wedding venue.

The wedding venue is the backdrop for your big day; it sets the tone style wise for nearly every other detail. Before you start visiting wedding venues, ask yourself what style you prefer (i.e. rustic, historic, elegant, modern) and what date or time of year you want to get married.

If you don’t have an exact date, don’t stress (and read through these tips for choosing the right wedding date). In some ways, having a month or season in mind can actually help you find the right wedding venue. Once you and your fiancé have decided on the time of year (and year), you can contact wedding venues and ask them what dates are available during your preferred time period.

In addition to style and date, you and your fiancé should also set criteria for your wedding venue (this wedding venue checklist is helpful). You don’t want to choose a wedding venue that is too big or small, so it’s helpful to have an estimated amount of guests in mind. You should always tour wedding venues before signing on the dotted line, but make sure you ask these wedding venue questions and look for these important details during the tour.

Step 3: Get organized.

Once the biggest details are confirmed, the next step is to organize yourself for the next steps of wedding planning. If you are hiring a wedding planner, this is the time to choose a wedding planner; many wedding venues offer full- and part-time wedding planners that can handle as little or as much of the planning process as requested. The major advantage of hiring a venue’s wedding planner is that the professional is intimately familiar with the venue and local wedding vendors.

If you are taking on the wedding planning yourself, this is your chance to decide whether to use digital or printables (in a binder)—or a combination of both—to manage your wedding planning checklist and deadlines. When a digital approach is your top choice, this list of the best wedding apps can help you choose the app to download. If you prefer paper, it’s time to start downloading these wedding planning printables and establish the system that gets you from planning to enjoying your special day.

The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist

Once the glow of popping the question wears off (and the “yes!”), the next logical question is “where?” The good news is that there are quite a few wedding venues in the Milwaukee area that make a beautiful backdrop for any couple’s big day.

Narrowing down those options to the perfect wedding venue can feel overwhelming, because choosing the right wedding venue is a big choice. This is the site of your wedding, after all, and it’s incredibly important.

The right wedding venue is the foundation of all your other wedding details. It can be the perfect backdrop with a staff that makes wedding planning less stressful—-or the complete opposite. That’s why we put together a wedding venue checklist. This guide can help you choose the best wedding venue that fits all your criteria and makes you and your guests say “wow!”

Of course, before you start venue hunting, don’t skip the crucial steps of setting a budget and asking your fiancé some crucial wedding planning questions. From there, use this wedding venue checklist to narrow down your options to a list of venues worthy of a venue tour.

Venue Availability

___ Available on wedding date (If you don’t have a wedding date, ask the wedding venue for available dates during your desired season or month.)

___ Exclusive use of wedding venue (This is important if you don’t want other events held at the wedding venue at the same time.)

___ Guest accommodation (Use these tips to set a wedding guest list. Always ask the wedding venue for the number of guests they can accommodate for comfort and safety.)

___ Ceremony space (Applicable if you want to hold your wedding ceremony and reception at the venue. Also ask if guests need to wait for breakdown and set-up after the ceremony.)  

Venue Cost

___ Budget-friendly (Don’t forget to ask how many hours are included in the rate, if there are any overtime fees, and what equipment is included in the cost.)

___ Wedding planning services (This is important for couples who want help with some or all of the wedding planning.)

___ Venue staffing (Ask if there is any staff included in the rate, such as an on-site manager, coat check, and bar staff.)

Venue Policies

___ Liability insurance (Very important! Be careful about booking a wedding venue without insurance.)

___ Cancellation policy (Be sure to ask just in case of an issue. If you are in the military, ask if the date can be moved without penalty.)

___ Vendors included (This can include the caterer, décor, equipment, and even the photographer.)

OR

___ Open-vendor policy (An open vendor policy allows you to select and bring in your vendor of choice, such as your favorite caterer.)

___ No limitations on volume and alcohol

Wedding Venue Accommodations

___ Guest Parking (Ask to see the parking lot to make sure it is close and affordable.)

___ Handicap Accessibility

___ Close to local accommodations for out-of-town guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)

Your First 5 Wedding Planning Tasks: Where to Start

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningEverybody has that one thing they really want in their wedding: unique wedding favors, a fantastic DJ, that must-have band, the one-of-a-kind cake or menu option.  Fact is, it’s easy to get caught up in all the details and miss out on a few—and important—wedding planning details.  It can make you miss out on the best site for your reception, the quality caterer, and all the other big details that leave an impression on your guests.  So where do you start wedding planning? Here are five big details that’ll get your wedding planning off on the right foot—and create the perfect foundation for your big day.

Fiance & Family Conversation

We know this first step isn’t technically a wedding detail, but it is vitally important to the wedding planning process.  Talk to your fiance about the guest list (specifically how many), budget, style, and any specific requests or wants they want (you may be surprised!).  If you have other family members that have expressed interest in helping you with planning, talk to them about any guests they want to invite, any financial contributions they may want to make, and any special requests they might have for your big day.

During your conversation, set a date or a time of year for your wedding so you can start to research and confirm the major details of your wedding.

Wedding Venue

It’s time to turn your vision into reality. Start with the one detail that sets the backdrop for your vision, and plays a major part in creating the right atmosphere for your big day.  Decide the area you want to hold your wedding in, and any special needs you might have (i.e. handicap accessibility, parking, close to hotels, etc.)

Contact venues that fit the location and any special needs you have, plus fit the style you and your fiance want for your big day.  For instance, if you’re looking for an elegant venue with character, look for historic venues in the city with plenty of parking.  When you contact the sites, make sure you ask for a list of fees (along with these other questions) to make sure your final cost fits with your wedding budget.

Catering

Not everyone can create a delicious spread that fits your atmosphere and delights the taste buds, so make sure you book a quality caterer right after you book the venue.  Some wedding venues require you to use a specific caterer; if you have a caterer you really want to use, ask your wedding venues if they have an open vendor policy.  Open vendor policies allow you to bring in whatever vendors you want and ask the staff for recommendations for others if you don’t know.

Entertainment

If you want excellent wedding entertainment, don’t wait to contact and book entertainers.  The best wedding entertainers’ (bands, DJs, etc.) calendars fill up fast, so make sure you don’t procrastinate.  As soon as you have your date and wedding venue, start contacting and booking the right wedding entertainer for your big day.  Many venues have limitations on how long your wedding entertainment can play, or sound restrictions, so make sure you ask your venue about entertainers before you sign on the dotted line.

Dress shopping

Once you have your backdrop set and have a set wedding atmosphere, it’s time to fill in all the details that make a coordinated wedding—including the dress!  Make sure you wait until after you book the venue to make sure you don’t have a mismatch, such as a traditional hall and a modern dress or a contemporary dress with a historic hall.  It’s time to make sure all your details fit together for a beautiful, coordinated day—and to have fun wedding planning!