You just got engaged….Now what? 

Engagement Ring
This is a wonderful time in your life.  You just got engaged to the love of your life, you are overrun with joyful emotions…..and it is time to plan the wedding.  Wedding planning can be stressful for many as it requires a lot of work, time and attention, a difficult task when both of you work.  This is why many people choose to hire an wedding planner.  A great option and will eliminate most of your stress.  A wedding planner comes with experience, knowledge of great vendors and locations, and will help your wedding day be a smooth event.  Buuuuut….. that’s for another time. Let’s say that a wedding planner is not in your budget and you wish to plan the wedding yourself, or at least with the help of your fiancé, family and/or friends.  Here are some tips for planning a wedding.  First…SET THE DATE, a budget and then create a timeline.

To start with, get yourself a simple 3 ring binder and a packet of tabbed page dividers.  Having a packet of 3 ring pockets inserts will be helpful as well.  This is great for magazine clippings, internet print outs and other samples that you will come across along the way.  If you are tech savvy you may want to get a wedding planning app for your phone.  The Knot has great apps for your wedding, including a great wedding planning app for both iOS and Android.  Click here for more app info.  The next thing you will want to do is create a realistic budget.  While you can have a wedding on a shoestring budget, typically they are not cheap. There are 4 Vendors that you will want to put your focus on:

  • The Venue – It pays to spend a little extra on a nice venue that looks beautiful to start than to spend money to cover up and enhance a bad venue.
  • Photography and Video – These are your memories.  Invest in those memories.  Additionally, having a great photographer will make you look and feel good no matter what. One thing that many brides with a tight budget have as a regret is not spending more money to get a great photographer.  Don’t have any regrets for your wedding, it is too special a day.
  • Floral – Flowers and a great florist can transform your wedding and location into an amazing event.
  • The Dress – Spending so much money on a dress you are only going to wear one night seems a little ludicrous.  But finding that perfect dress will make you feel so amazing that it is worth it.  Now there are other ways to save on the perfect dress such as dress rentals, but that too is for another time.

Creating a Timeline
Now lets review the main items in your timeline.

9-18 months

Garden Wedding location

  • Start planning the guest list – A rough count will also help you when choosing your venue as some venues have a minimum or maximum.
  • Find and reserve the venue – Will you have a separate location for the ceremony and reception or all at one location and save on drive time.
  • Plan your wedding party – You know once your friends and family hear you are engaged they will all be asking you “who will be your maid of honor and best man”, as well as the rest of the wedding party favorites.
  • Engagement Party – If you plan to have an engagement party, now is the time to plan it.
  • Book your officiant – There are many different options.  You may have one based upon your religious affiliation, there are also great non-denominational ministers, or you may choose to have a friend or family member ordained over the internet to perform you wedding.
  • Hire your photographer/videographer – Having the option to pick a good photographer that you like is important, not what’s left because you waited.  And the sooner the better as most will book 9 months – 1 year out.
  • Research and hire a Musician – Whether band or DJ, don’t do it yourself and rely on iTunes or Pandora.  Choosing the right musician will help you stay on time with your reception timeline and knows how to read a crowd and play music that will keep your event going strong or according to your wishes.
  • Research Caterers and Florists.
  • Mail your save the dates.

8 Months

Wedding Invitation

  • Refine your guest list.
  • Research hotels for your out of town guests (have hotels choices with  3 different price points), and reserve a block of rooms.
  • Meet the caterers.
  • Meet with your florist.
  • Purchase or reserve your dress.
  • Register – Plan to register with at least 3 stores.
  • Invitations – Either hire an invitation specialist or begin deciding on your style and what you want for your invitations and purchase them.
  • Begin planning the honeymoon – Enlisting a travel agent is one great way, or if you like to do it yourself there are great online travel booking sites such as Just Travel Online (This site you can book your own travel or if you love to travel, join their travel club for incredible online savings).  Or there is Expedia, TripAdvisor, CheapCaribbean, and BookIt, to name a few.

6-7 Months

Wedding Cake

  • Explore. your options for Hair and Makeup.
  • Shop for bridesmaid dresses and decide upon groomsmen attire.
  • Meet with your officiant and begin discussing your ceremony ideas.
  • Reserve tables, chairs, linens, decor etc. if your location does not provide it. If it does, you will need to decide upon color scheme.
  • Cake – time to go cake tasting….yum….and decide upon your cake.
  • Take your engagement photos.
  • Purchase the wedding bands.
  • Arrange the transportation to and from the venue.
  • Begin creating your “day of” timeline.

4-5 Months

Bridal Bouquet, Bouquet, Romance, Wedding, Marry, Roses

  • Choose the flowers for the wedding party, attendants, cake etc.
  • Finalize the wedding invitations.
  • Cake is ordered.
  • Schedule Dress fittings and find appropriate shoes.
  • Schedule Hair and Makeup artist.
  • Choose you music.
  • Book a room for the wedding night.
  • Plan welcome basket for out of town guests.
  • Book rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and arrange the rehearsal guest list.
  • Book honeymoon if you haven’t already.

3 Months

wedding venue, wedding tables, wedding flowers, wedding decorations

  • Finalize the flowers.
  • Finalize the reception menu.
  • Create a list of people giving toasts.
  • Finalize the order of the ceremony and those giving readings.
  • Send an event schedule to your vendors.
  • Plan the reception seating – good to begin now as this tends to be a task for many.
  • Make sure you have all documents for your honeymoon:  Passport is current and necessary visas if required.  Deposits have been made.
  • Purchase your bride and groom flutes, baskets for flower girl(s), pillow for ring bearer, and guest book.
  • Order wedding favors for bridal party.

2 Months

marriage license

  • Mail the wedding invitation and prepare a system for RSVP’s.
  • Begin working on your wedding vows.
  • Bachelor or Bachelorette party – You don’t want to wait until the week before…..we all saw the movie.
  • Review your playlist with. your musician.
  • Apply for the marriage license.
  • Create a wedding day timeline.
  • Review the ceremony details with your officiant.

1 Month

Women's White Dress

  • Pick up your marriage license and prepare any documents if you plan to change your name.
  • Final fitting of your dress….hopefully.
  • Finalize the seating assignment.
  • Confirm times with all vendors.
  • Begin packing for the honeymoon.
  • Pick up the wedding rings.
  • Get thank you notes for your gifts.
  • Haircut and color if necessary.

Week Of

Related image

  • Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  • Pick up your dress and tuxedos.
  • Provide photographer and videographer with any special image requests and music for the video.
  • Payments to the vendors.
  • Prepare tip envelopes for the vendors.
  • Finalize transportation arrangements.
  • Book a massage and spa treatment.
  • Everything is packed for wedding night and honeymoon.
  • Break in your shoes.
  • Share timeline with wedding party.
  • Prepare a wedding day emergency kit (sewing kit, band-aids……a mini bottle of tequila?)
  • Give your readers their scripts.
  • Get a good night sleep the night before.
  • Plan who will return the tuxedos after the wedding.


Happy Bride Photo

  • Eat a sensible, healthy breakfast.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Give the rings to best man.

I hope you found this helpful.  In the near future I will be honing in on individual vendors and what to look for when choosing a specific vendor.  Have an amazing wedding!

Tips for planning a wedding