After you calm down and you’ve finished telling everyone you know and a lot of people you don’t know, it’s time to start planning. Big wedding or small wedding? Religious or secular wedding? Indoor venue or outdoor venue? The questions can be overwhelming.
Discuss it with your fiance, and take it a little at a time. After you’ve chosen a date, if you plan to have attendants, such as, groomsmen, a ringbearer, etc., ask them now. Decide on an approximate number of guests now, because many of your next decisions will be based on the size of the wedding.
First, decide where you want to get married and what type of reception you want. Make a list of the things you want at your wedding and reception, such as clothing, food, music, photos, flowers, etc. Think about which vendors probably have the longest waiting lists. Start with the wedding and reception venues and your honeymoon location, especially if they are popular or in another state. Some venues need to be booked a year in advance. Are you traveling somewhere to get married, or are you going to need hotel rooms for yourselves or guests? Book those accommodations now. You can always cancel some of the reservations later, if needed.
Now, make a guest list, and order your “save the date” cards and your wedding invitations. Mail the “save the date” cards as soon as possible. Mail the invitations 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding.
Next, if you need a wedding gown or bridesmaids’ dresses, those need to be chosen several months before the wedding date. Now it’s time for the officiant, photographer, limo, flowers, wedding cake, caterer, music, tuxedos or suits, etc. All of those need to be booked at least 6 months in advance.
Don’t wait until the last minute, especially if you’re having more than 50 guests. I can’t count the number of times that we’ve received calls or emails stating “I’m having a small wedding next month.” When we ask for more details, we’re told that there will “only” be 100 or so guests and multiple bridesmaids and groomsmen, a ring bearer, and 1 or 2 flower girls, and that the reception is a 30 minute drive from the wedding location. Often, there will be readers, singers, etc. during the ceremony. That is not a small wedding. A small wedding is 25 or less guests, 4 or less attendants, a short ceremony, and a simple reception at or very near to the wedding venue. We may be able to squeeze in a one hour event that’s not a long way from us, but that’s about all. That applies to most wedding vendors.
When you have a pretty good final head count for the number of guests, contact your caterer and the reception venue, so they can plan accordingly. 2 weeks before the wedding, contact all of your vendors to be sure they all have accurate information about the date, time, and location of the wedding and reception. More than few couples have forgotten to tell us that the time or location of a wedding has been changed. We always contact our clients a few days before the wedding to verify the information, but not all vendors will do that. It’s really your responsibility to provide that information to them in a timely manner. Remember, this may be the only wedding you’re worrying about, but they are trying to keep up with multiple weddings and other events.
Every wedding is different, but in general, the tips above apply to most medium to large sized weddings. Just remember to plan ahead, and keep everyone in the loop. Your wedding vendors want you to have your perfect wedding day and will do what they can to help you.
Congratulations on your engagement. Don’t let the wedding preparations make you crazy.