WHERE TO BEGIN WHEN PLANNING YOUR WEDDING
You’re getting married! *swoon*
So, uh, what now? I mean, these parties don’t just plan themselves. Once the initial euphoria from your engagement wears off, you face the task of turning your dreams into reality. And holy moly, for a lot of people, planning your wedding is an overwhelming thought! But fret not, dear reader, for many couples before you have managed this task and they have wisdom they’d like to share.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
Beginning the wedding planning process can be completely overwhelming. Likely this is your first wedding planning experience, and there is pressure to pull off the best/most creative/most amazing wedding ever! Pinterest is both the best and worst thing you can read when looking for inspiration, as those gorgeous venues/dresses/decor most often represent fantasies and dreams, not reality or affordability.
Perhaps the best place to start is by listening to couples who have recently gone through all of this. So I asked some past wedding clients what they thought. Not surprisingly, they all said the same thing: decide what you want before doing anything! And one bride summed it up perfectly:
“Figuring out what kind of wedding we wanted (destination vs local, big vs small, fancy vs simple) and what kind of budget we could work with – that was the first step.”
Now, trying to decide everything you want, heck, just trying to narrow down WHAT you want…it can be hard! What you need is some way to help focus your thoughts, to help winnow down the choices.
6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
Answering these 6 questions will give you a great start with your wedding planning.
Do you want a local wedding, a destination wedding, or an elopement?
Are you hoping for lots of people to attend, or just a select few?
Do you have a specific date in mind, or are you flexible?
Are you set on a specific venue/location?
Do you want to plan this wedding yourself, or do you want to hire someone to help you?
What kind of budget are you working with?
Done? Good. Because now that you have narrowed down your options a bit, you can move on to the most important stage. What matter the most to you on your wedding day? Food? Photos? Fun? This is where you need to spend some time thinking, discussing, negotiating – this will set the course for all the decisions that follow.
Listed below are the priorities from recent couples who were willing to share what was important to them. Your priorities may well be different, and that’s great. What’s important is that you come up with a list of what matters to you.
The real brain twister comes next – working with the budget you set earlier. Now is the time you can start doing some preliminary number crunching to see what you can afford, and what is out of the realm of possibility.
Trying to find the average cost of a wedding is a little like asking what kind of ice cream tastes better – everyone has an opinion, nobody knows for sure, and there really isn’t a single place that tracks this kind of info. However, we do have some guesses, and it may be surprising. What’s really interesting is seeing the difference between what people expect to pay, and comparing that with what most people end up actually paying. In many cases, couples start out with the belief that you should be spending around $10,000 for the entire wedding (look at this). And while it can definitely be done, it looks like an average wedding in Canada costs around $30,000 (sources here and here).
Even if you are being conservative in your estimate, weddings are costly, and staying on track once you have a budget in mind is one of the hardest things you will encounter. So what’s the secret to staying on budget? This advice might sum it up best:
“Determine the three things that are the most important to you and your fiancé and make sure you spend on these things, and be willing to cut from other areas that hold less importance to you to stay within budget and without missing out on what matters most.”
There are a few other suggestions that came up, such as managing your guest list, ditching traditions that don’t mean anything to you, and picking a few DIY projects rather than hiring professionals. Keep in mind that the things people spend the most on include food, venues, photography, engagement rings, and wedding dresses.
A FEW MORE TIPS
You should be set, now, to start researching your vendors and getting into the nitty gritty of your planning. And as you are going along, it may be worthwhile to keep these tips in mind.
PINTEREST: Be wary of Pinterest! As I mentioned, it is both the best and worst planning tool around. While it’s full of great inspiration, nothing will raise the expectations of your wedding faster than looking at all the amazing (and expensive) options available!
VENDOR SELECTION: Be particularly selective when dealing with vendors who will be interacting with your guests. It may be tempting to choose less expensive options for the major vendors, but in most cases there is a reason they charge more, and how they interact with your friends and family will be remembered long after your wedding day is over.
GUEST LIST: The Guest list will likely be a source of frustration. Discuss this early on with all the players (fiancé, family, etc) so you can gage who really needs to be invited, and who doesn’t. Perhaps you simply want to escape the process altogether and elope, or maybe your guest list includes everyone you have ever met. Choose what’s right for you, but be prepared for some negotiations, and having this conversation early can ensure you pick the right venue from the get-go.
Remember – the wedding day is supposed to be a magical day, but magical doesn’t have to mean ridiculously expensive or overly complicated. Keep sight of what really matters most to you. And keep in mind – the important part really is the exchanging of vows with your partner. The rest is just a big party.