The first step in wedding planning is simple, and probably the most fun: envision your dream day.
Now is the time to unleash your inner bridezilla, and go nuts over every detail. Do you want an indoor wedding or outdoor? This will affect every decision you make about your wedding; everything from colours, to locations, to attire, and the guest list is affected by whether you decided to have an indoor or outdoor ceremony. Once you have decided that, you will want to think about the season you want to get married in. Are you a winter or summer kind of couple? Fall or spring? Where do you want to get married? In your hometown or at a destination? Or maybe it is just somewhere that is special to you and your significant other. Figure out where, geographically, you want to make one of the most important commitments in your life.
After you’ve got an idea of the when and where start dreaming about the ‘what’. What colours do you want? Do they go with the season you decided on? What about your location? Are you going to be somewhere where there is a lot of blue, like the ocean, or are you going to have a mountain setting for your big day? While you don’t have to make any decisions about setting and time yet, it is always good for you to consider the little things while envisioning your dream wedding, to make those decisions easier for you down the road.
After you’ve thought about all that, you are ready to move on to step two of planning your wedding: set a budget and pick a date!
Now, why set a budget right away? For starters, it helps you organize your timeline of events, as well as your planning schedule. It allows you to set financial goals, and lets you know how long it will take you to save that money. It will also ensure that you and your significant other are on the same page, as far as how much you want to spend on your big day.
Once you have decided on how much you want to spend on your wedding overall, it is good to begin to break down each component so you have an idea of how much to allocate to each. Estimating (to the nearest hundred), will help you over budget, and possibly help you save some money in the end!
One of the most expensive parts of a wedding is the food. Catering can cost up to 50% of your wedding budget, so be prepared for that. This percentage is obviously based upon how many people you invite, but many reception venues require a minimum amount to be spent on food and beverages. One of the only ways to save on food and beverage is if you were to bring them in yourself – a lot of work to do if you are going to go with a large wedding, and may not be possible with your reception venue. Even though the food can be very expensive, it could also be the best food you have ever had in your life, so make sure that you get what you are paying for!
The second biggest money spender in a wedding is the attire. Bridal dresses can cost anywhere from $100 to $5,000, before fittings, shoes, jewelry, and of course, your fiancé’s attire. While the attire can be very expensive, it is one of the few components of weddings that you can have complete control over, financially. If you don’t want to spend $2,500 on a wedding dress, you don’t have too. There are many ways to save on bridal attire, and you don’t even have to buy an official wedding dress. Seen a cool dress in a local store? It will work as a wedding dress if you want it too – there are no rules as far as what the bride has to wear anymore.
All of the other wedding expenses (entertainment, flowers, photographer, gifts, decorations, stationery, reception and ceremony venues, and transportation if needed) can average between 5% and 10%, depending on what is most important to you. If you don’t want to spend money on a professional photographer, don’t! Create a hashtag and have everyone at the wedding take pictures (which they will be doing anyway) and tag you and your significant other in them! Or, if you have a friend who is a photographer, see if they would be willing to give you a discount! Other things you could do yourself to save some money would be to create all the décor yourself! This can be a lot of work though, so it is always good to look at the costs of a professional decorator first!
Now that you have set a budget, and have an idea of how long it will take for you to save that amount of money – if you don’t already have it saved to begin with – it is time to set a date! The first choice for many couples is a date that has significance to them. The date they started going out, or the date that they got engaged, or maybe it was the date of the first time they said: “I love you”. It can ultimately be any date you want, but to have a day with already positive connotations to it is always a plus!
You have envisioned your dream wedding, set a budget, and decided on a date. Now, it is time to start the actual planning!