'Tis the season for engagements, and if you're one of those holiday engagements, congratu-freaking-lations!! HOW EXCITING!!! Your head is probably spinning right now, and with good reason. There's a LOT to think about as you start your wedding planning journey, and you'll want to make sure that you set yourself up for success as you start to navigate the wedding planning waters.
Over the years, we've seen a lot of clients come in midway through their wedding plans, having just realized that they can't actually afford the venue they've committed to, or that their guest list actually won't fit in the chapel they've booked. While we can certainly help solve those problems, we'd much prefer that you don't have to go through that stress in the first place. 🙂
There are a few things you should do before you book a single vendor. I know, you're super excited, and you just want to go out and book a venue, or buy a dress. BUT BEFORE YOU DO . . . make sure you have these four things in order:
1. Preliminary Discussion
Before you start the planning, have an honest, open discussion with your partner. You'll want to cover general things like size of the guestlist (big, medium, intimate), amount of money you want to spend (a lot or a little), and structure of the day. When discussing the structure your day will take, think about your personalities. Are you introverted or social? Partiers or more laid back? Formal or informal? Being honest about these questions will help you to narrow down the format you want your day to take, from elaborate, formal ballroom dinner and dance to casual, relaxed picnic in the park.
This can be such a tough one. How the heck are you supposed to know how much a wedding could, realistically cost? Well, realistically, the average Canadian wedding costs just under $30 000 these days. Now, obviously, there are a million factors that play into how much you spend, from food to level of formality, and it's all dependent on how much you're willing to compromise. But I always recommend trying to blend your wishes (from step 1) with the reality of how much money you have to spend.
Figure out what's realistic for you and your partner to contribute, and have open (often uncomfortable, but you have to do it!) conversations with your parents about what they will contribute. Set that amount as your budget, and STICK TO IT! This may mean making adjustments to your priorities, and compromising like crazy, but at the end, the goal is that you're comfy with where you ended up.
You'll definitely want to find a comprehensive budget spreadsheet to help with this, and do some research into realistic costs in your area. If you're looking for some guidance, check out the Wedding Planning Kickstart course I'm offering for FREE next week!! (January 21-24, 2020)
Budget and Guestlist go hand in hand, and it may be that you need to establish your guestlist first (especially if you have a large family, and you're expected to invite ALL of them!).
When determining your guestlist, consider family (including the friends your parents might want to invite, if they're covering any of the cost), friends (social, school, etc.) and work colleagues/friends.
Establish some guidelines (kids? no kids? plus ones? no plus ones?) and stick to them.
Make sure you have a thorough list before you start venue shopping. . . you'd hate to fall in love with a venue that's too small to accommodate all of your guests!
4. Plan your Planning
You probably already have some kind of wedding planning timeline document (if you don't, find mine here). Once you've determined your wedding style, budget and guestlist, take some time to put some planning dates in your calendar and set up a system of organization (binder, folder on your computer, Google Doc, etc.).
Then (and here's the thing): STICK TO IT! Things are busy, and timelines are a bit flexible, but just recognize that many vendors like photographers, coordinators, DJs, bands and officiants book up a year in advance, so if you'd like your pick of the crop, book early. 🙂
If you'd like more guidance through this process, I'm teaching a TOTALLY FREE COURSE next week, from Tuesday-Friday, January 21-24, 2020 at 8pm EST in my Facebook group, Wedding Planning, Simplified. Join the group and send me a PM if you'd like to be included, and I'll send you the handouts!