Planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at times. While couples often hire a professional to help manage their wedding plans, there are plenty of reasons why they might also opt to take on the majority of the responsibilities on their own too. Maybe you're working with a tight wedding planning budget, or perhaps you love all of the DIY possibilities—in any case, it's a lot of extra details, but it is possible to plan the wedding of your dreams on your own.
Your wedding will likely be the biggest party you'll ever throw—and figuring out how to plan a wedding can feel pretty daunting at first (and particularly so if you're planning a wedding amid the COVID pandemic). But whether you want a small, simple wedding or a big, lavish affair, the steps remain the same: Set a budget (a critical first step!), find inspiration, start your guest list; well, we break it all down one step at a time below. We recommend focusing on one task at a time, so you don't get overwhelmed by the wedding planning process. And if you're in a time crunch, go ahead and delegate some of these responsibilities to family members and friends—they'll likely be glad to help you as you navigate this process.
The organization is key to keeping everything on track when you're faced with decisions, lists, deadlines, and everyday life to deal with. The first step is making sure to give yourselves plenty of time for wedding planning. A longer timeline is your friend here—aim for around a year, if possible. And don't forget to involve your significant other in this step, as well. Your wedding should represent both of you, together as a couple. Looking for a Wedding Event Planner? Look no further, Vogue Ballroom have you covered.
So, where to begin? We've got you covered. Just remember to keep one crucial thing in mind: Try to have some fun! This is your wedding, after all. Don't get too hung up on the tiny details and focus on what's truly important: celebrating the love the two of you share and getting married, all while surrounded by your friends and family.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are the Steps to Planning a Wedding?
- 1.1 Set a Wedding Budget
- 1.2 Tell Your Parents
- 1.3 Construct a List of Wedding Day Priorities
- 1.4 Purchase a Journal and Use It
- 1.5 Get Inspired
- 1.6 Determine Your Bridal Style
- 1.7 Start Your Guest List
- 1.8 Pick Your Wedding Party
- 1.9 Narrow Down the Dates
- 1.10 Choose a Venue
- 1.11 Start Your Wedding Registry
- 1.12 Create a Wedding Website (and Wedding Hashtag!)
- 1.13 Book Vendors
- 1.14 Finalize Your Guest List
- 1.15 Send Save-The-Dates
- 1.16 Purchase Your Wedding Dress and Other Attire
- 1.17 Figure Out Rehearsal Dinner Details
- 1.18 Plan the Honeymoon
- 1.19 Attend Those Pre-Wedding Events
- 1.20 Send Wedding Invitations
- 1.21 Buy Wedding Bands
- 1.22 Create a Wedding Reception Seating Chart
- 1.23 Get a Marriage License
- 1.24 Confirm Wedding Details With Vendors
- 1.25 Get Married!
- 2 Is Wedding Planning Hard?
What Are the Steps to Planning a Wedding?
When it comes to planning a wedding, it's a good idea to follow a checklist—and tackle the listed steps in order. There's a method to the madness here, and sticking to a wedding planning checklist will ensure a smooth and relatively stress-free process. For example, there's a reason why you should set a date and book your venue before choosing your attire—to make sure your look is comfortable for your event's setting and season. And that's just one example of why following the steps to planning a wedding is so important; you'll find many more in the list below.
If you're someone who finds a wedding checklist a bit overwhelming, here's a list of the basic steps you'll need to complete to ensure your big day is a success. Of course, there are more tasks you may want to tackle, but we're just talking about the must-dos here. Ready to go into planning mode? Here's how to plan a wedding step by step.
Set a Wedding Budget
It's critical that setting your budget be the first step in planning your wedding. It might not be the most fun part of the process, but it's a task that needs to be completed first because it sets the rest of your wedding planning process into motion. The last thing you want is to fall in love with a venue, vendor, dress, etc. and realize it's entirely out of range. So sit down with your parents or other potential contributors to come up with a total budget, and then divide it up by vendor or service accordingly.
Look at your finances and figure out how much you already have in savings and how much you can save each month. Talk to each of your parents and ask them if they'd like to contribute to your wedding. Please find out how much they'd like to give you or what specific things they'd like to pay for.
Lastly, decide how much you feel comfortable going into debt. We strongly advise couples to avoid debt as much as possible. Since married couples fight about money more than anything else, why start your marriage with debt on your backs? At the same time, you may consider opening a new credit card just for the wedding that will earn you airline miles, cashback, or other incentives. It's a good way for you to keep track of wedding expenses and help you pay for your honeymoon. Just try to pay it off in full each month.
Tell Your Parents
It would help if you told your parents about your impending nuptials before anyone else. (Unless, of course, you are estranged.) Both of you should be present, and ideally, you will tell them in person so they'll have a chance to see your happiness up close, look at the ring, and start talking about the wedding. Traditionally the bride's parents know before the groom's do, but any order is excellent. (If you're a traditional couple, the groom may already have asked the bride's parents for her hand in marriage.) Then share the news with a few close friends—the ones who are likely candidates for maid/matron of honour and best man, or definite attendants in some capacity.
Construct a List of Wedding Day Priorities
Sit down with your partner and determine what the three most important aspects of your wedding will be. Is it the venue or a specific wedding date? Locking in a particular wedding photographer or live band? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget and help you focus your efforts on what counts.
Purchase a Journal and Use It
This will be a time of ten thousand moments you won't want to forget, as well as some frustrating times that you'll need to vent about, and not necessarily to your partner. The journal/planner you keep while planning your wedding will not only help you through this time but will be something you cherish for the rest of your life. If you're internet-savvy, consider doing some journaling online or starting a wedding blog.
One of the most fun parts of planning a wedding step by step is gathering inspiration. Think about how you want your wedding to look and feel. Are you going for a super-classic and formal vibe? Or perhaps a wedding style that's more relaxed and rustic? The choice is yours, but it's a good idea to start perusing Pinterest, Instagram, and the latest wedding trends to consider wedding colours, décor ideas, and more. We recommend starting this process early on but kicking it into high gear once you've selected your venue and set a date.
Determine Your Bridal Style
Find a few resources of bridal inspiration you like best—Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, trusty bridal sites—and start researching. Having a good sense of the type of wedding style you want helps immensely once you start meeting with potential vendors. Don't overwhelm yourself with all the wedding inspiration that's out there. Creating one or more Pinterest boards—or even a visual collage on a cork or poster board—will help you figure out what sort of look and feel you want and keep you aligned with your larger vision.
Start Your Guest List
While you don't have to have a final guest list until a bit later, when thinking about planning a wedding step by step, coming up with an estimated guest count early on is essential. There's a big difference between a 50-person wedding and a 300-person wedding, particularly when it comes to your venue options. So before you start browsing wedding venues, get an idea of how many guests you'll host.
Pick Your Wedding Party
Now that you've got your guest list, it's time to choose the people who will stand beside you on your big day—your wedding party. So go ahead and select your bridesmaids, groomsmen, grooms ladies or bridesmen (or anyone else you want in your bridal party) and ask them to take on this vital role. Check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help you organise a stress-free wedding.
Narrow Down the Dates
You won't officially "set a date" until you book your venue. But, we recommend choosing a few potential wedding dates before you start looking at venues. First, think about the season in which you'd like to wed—and if a Saturday night wedding is a must (convenient but potentially more expensive and competitive) or if you're open to a wedding on a different (perhaps less in-demand) day. Then, take a look at the calendar, consider work schedules, holidays, family conflicts, etc., and narrow things down to a few choice dates. Having some potential wedding dates in mind will be very helpful during the venue selection process.
Choose a Venue
Now that you have a budget, an estimated guest count, and a few potential wedding dates in mind, you have all the information you need to book a wedding venue—one of the essential parts of our how to plan a wedding guide. Read online reviews of wedding venues near you, visit in person, and work with your partner to find your dream wedding location. Once you've thoroughly read your ceremony and reception venue's contract and signed on the dotted line, you've officially set a date for your wedding—and the real fun begins!
Note: Some couples hire a wedding planner before choosing a venue. Others wait until afterwards—it all depends on the type of assistance you need.
Start Your Wedding Registry
Pretty much immediately after you announce your engagement, your loved ones will ask: "Where are you registered?" When thinking about planning your wedding step by step, it's a good idea to create your wedding registry relatively early on in the process. Your family members and friends may want to purchase engagement gifts—you can always make changes and additions to your registry later on. Use our wedding registry checklist to get started.
Create a Wedding Website (and Wedding Hashtag!)
Setting up a wedding website is the easiest way to keep your guests in the loop and one of the most critical steps to planning a wedding. Make sure to include all of the vital information about your big day on your website—date, location, travel information, room block details, and more. Now's also the time to create your wedding hashtag to use social media leading up to your wedding day.
The average couple hires 13 vendors to help create their dream wedding day. That may seem like a lot, but it's essential to hire the right people to ensure that your big day runs smoothly.
Finalize Your Guest List
If you haven't already, it's time to create your final wedding guest list. Remember that if your parents contribute financially to your big day, they'll get a say in who's invited. Be sure to keep your venue's capacity in mind as well, and don't invite more people than space can handle. Even though you'll likely receive regrets from some guests, you don't want to risk it.
It's time for your guests to mark their calendars! Save-the-dates should be sent as far as possible to ensure that your loved ones can plan accordingly.
Purchase Your Wedding Dress and Other Attire
Give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect outfit for your wedding day. Particularly when it comes to wedding dresses, it can take months from the time you purchase your attire until it's appropriately tailored and ready to go, so don't wait until the last minute.
Figure Out Rehearsal Dinner Details
The rehearsal dinner, which usually takes place the night before the wedding, requires some planning. Traditionally, the groom's family plans the rehearsal dinner. Still, it's crucial to figure out who's planning (and paying) for this event well in advance—and make sure a venue is booked, and details are hammered out in a timely fashion, about six months before the big day.
Plan the Honeymoon
You may be thinking a lot about how to plan your wedding step by step, but don't forget about the honeymoon! If you're planning on jetting off on your honeymoon shortly after your wedding, it's time to choose a location, book your travel and accommodations, and start planning an itinerary.
Attend Those Pre-Wedding Events
Engagement parties, the bridal shower (or a coed wedding shower), the bachelor and bachelor party, and more—your schedule will likely be jam-packed with pre-wedding events. While the soon-to-be-married couple usually has a minor role in planning these celebrations, you'll need to clear your calendar to attend as a guest of honour.
Send Wedding Invitations
Wedding invitations are usually sent six to eight weeks before the big day—and the RSVP deadline is typically about two or three weeks in advance. Sending your invites on time is one of the essential steps to planning a wedding.
Buy Wedding Bands
An important symbol of marriage, be sure to browse and purchase your wedding rings a few months before your nuptials. Pick a wedding band that matches your engagement ring, is comfortable (you'll be wearing it pretty much all the time!) and suits your style.
Create a Wedding Reception Seating Chart
Work with your venue and planner to determine how many tables your wedding reception venue can accommodate. Then, use an online tool to figure out who sits where—keeping relationships and family dynamics in mind. Once you've finalized your seating chart (usually a week or so before your wedding), be sure to send it to your caterer, venue, and stationery so that escort cards can be created.
Get a Marriage License
If you're thinking about planning a wedding step by step, remember one of the most critical tasks—obtaining a marriage license so that you and your partner can get legally married! Every state has different marriage license laws, so be sure to study up beforehand. Ensure that you get your marriage license at the right time—in advance if there's a waiting period in your state, but not too far in advance if the license expires after a certain amount of time. If you're interested in changing your name after the wedding, that marriage license will be a critical step in the process.
Confirm Wedding Details With Vendors
In all likelihood, you've been in close contact with all of your wedding vendors in the days and weeks leading up to your big day. Ensure that you've tied up any loose ends and all of your vendors have all the information they need (and have been appropriately paid!). Wedding planners are super-helpful in this regard and will assist you in making sure your vendors know where and when to be present for your wedding ceremony and reception.
The big day is finally here! You, your partner, your families, and your vendors have worked hard to follow all the steps to planning a wedding—so enjoy every minute!
Be present at the moment and feel the love—you're getting married! Don't worry about the minutiae and if some things aren't perfect. What will guests most definitely notice? A stressed-out couple who's overwhelmed with last-minute details. By the time your wedding day rolls around, try to relax and enjoy all of the special moments with your loved ones. Ask any married couple—it will zoom by.
Is Wedding Planning Hard?
We're not going to lie—different aspects of planning a wedding can be challenging for other people. Maybe you love decor but find creating a guest list nearly impossible. Or perhaps you love charts and numbers but find Pinterest completely bewildering.
The successful bride and groom do not plan their wedding alone—they get help. This may be from professionals, respected publications, online app resources, or trusted friends who've planned their weddings. Looking for the Top Wedding Planner in Melbourne? Look no further and check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners here.
- Consider hiring a wedding planner or consultant. Especially if you are a busy person or feel a little lost, a professional can be invaluable in putting together your ideal day and often saving you money.
- Use online checklists. They're accessible and accommodating if you're planning with your mother or future spouse in another state. They'll help you stay on top of all of your important to-dos.
- If you're like most couples, you'll come home from the bookstore with a few thousand pounds of wedding magazines—why not throw in a wedding planning book as well?
Fortunately, once you've hired your vendors, you'll have a team of people to assist you—and you can also delegate tasks to your partner, family members, or friends. If you're feeling completely overwhelmed and finding all of the wedding planning too much, it may be time to hire a wedding planner if you haven't already.