Things to Consider When First Planning your Wedding
Aside from renewal and fresh starts, spring is also a time for the beginning of wedding season. It was this time last year that I was still in the midst of my wedding planning and DIY executions. And it was this time the year before that when I got engaged and started thinking of what I wanted for a wedding. So with this in mind, I want to share some wedding planning and DIY tips for brides-to-be who are jumping into this part of their life.
I’ll cover some of the basic first steps to planning a wedding: selecting a venue, choosing a photographer and finding the wedding dress. I’ll also cover a few of the other things you’ll want to start on after these are done.
If you want to know more about my or Dana’s weddings and what we did for these areas, check out our Best of Our Weddings post.
The wedding venue is straight up the most important part of the wedding! It will be the most expensive part of your wedding and can often be the basis for all the other elements of your wedding. Especially if your venue includes food and alcohol like mine did. The great part for us was the price also included a DJ, a value that could not be beat. But we didn’t compromise either.
When selecting a venue we considered the following:
- Ceremony vs Reception Location – we opted to do the ceremony at the same venue as they offered a great outdoor space, but a great rain alternative that was separate from the reception space
- Distance from our Place of Residence – I didn’t want to have to drive more than 15-20 minutes to get to the venue
- The Aesthetics & Scenery – I didn’t want to have to worry about backdrops, lighting of having expensive decor, so I chose a space that offered its own beauty and matched with the style of my wedding. The outdoor backdrop was important for photographs – I even visited the venue a few weeks before to scope areas out for photos.
- Size of Wedding – We wanted the space to match our wedding size so that it did not feel crowded or under-attended
- Venue’s Flexibility – The venue we chose ended up offering the best flexibility in the meal planning. We were able to work with them on whether or not we could bring in our own midnight buffet etc. They also had great selections of table linens, worked with our room set-up, let us use items like an easel for our seating chart and table number holders.
- Accommodations for Guests – Our venue was a bit in the country and so did not offer any hotels close by. But I made sure to offer hotel options with a 15 minute drive.
The photographer is another important part of the wedding experience because it is the part that best captures the memories of the day. When selecting a photographer the one thing to consider outside of style and price is reviews from previous customers. A personal recommendation or some kind of referral from a friend comes at no higher regard. Other things to consider are:
- Packages and flexibility – do they insist you take a package or are they willing to build one with you?
- Travel fees – ask about these upfront
- The cap on photographs – some photographers only edit a certain number of photographs
- The photographer’s attention to detail – look at their portfolio to see if they edit with an eye for detail
- Their interest in your wedding – do they treat you as an individual?
- Wedding photographer versus normal photographer – wedding photographers are better equipped to handle wedding situations like like bridal parties, family pictures and romantic moments, they also usually love weddings.
The last big thing to worry about in your early stages of wedding planning is the wedding dress. I suggest this be tackled as early as possible to a) avoid disappointment in availability and b) to build excitement! The process of shopping for a dress is as fun as you make it. Here are some things to consider:
- Who you invite to come with you – pick wisely, you’ll want support to be on your side
- Budget – stick to it give or take $100, otherwise don’t consider it in budget
- Styles – this is the time to think about the best style for your body versus best style in a magazine
- Timelessness – always consider things like will this dress date my wedding?
- Footwear and underwear – Bring heeled shoes and a good bra so you get a better feel for the dress
- Alterations – make sure you choose the best place for these, which may not be where you bought the dress.
Go with your gut! I bought my dress in a different colour than what I tried on and it gnawed at me. I was so unsure the whiter colour would be suited to me and I was worried the dress would not look as good in all white. The good news: the dress was even better and just as I imagined, roving I was right to go with my gut. The dress is an extension of your style and who you are, so make sure you go with your gut!
Other Planning – 10-12 Months Away
- Budget: Talk with your partner about the top priorities, for your wedding and use this to allocate budget. This means you might have to cut elsewhere so use this as your guide. Make sure to cover who is paying for what as this will affect your budget. And lastly make sure to start roughly planning our budget timelines i.e. when you will have to make certain payments so you can plan ahead.
- Wedding Party: Discuss with your partner on numbers and names and make sure you pick people you are very close to and who will support you leading up to and on your big day. Make sure you actually ask them and hope they will be honoured!
- Save the Dates: Once you have the venu and date you can send out a save the date. But first you need a guest list which is a lot of work and you will need addresses confirmed. Start with a list of people who are a must and add from there keeping in mind you can send out more invitations than save the dates. Get these designed or DIY it and then have them printed and mailed out any time form 1 year to no later than 4 months away.
- Inspiration! Also take the time to explore ideas and inspiration, especially during wedding season.
These are the big first to-do’s on your wedding planning list. Once you get these checked off, take a much deserved break.
Stay tuned for my next post that will share how I got inspired for my wedding theme.