No longer a dream, you’re faced with the reality of planning your wedding and you have no clue where to start. A whirlwind of thoughts goes through your mind. “What do I do next? Where do I start? Who do I call first? What date should we pick? Where should we have the wedding?” And the list goes on.
Relax and breathe. Here’s the shortlist of decisions you’ll want to make after getting engaged.
Decision #1 - Are you going to plan your wedding yourself or leave it to a professional?
It’s important to determine this up front. If you’ve never been married before then chances are you really don’t know what it takes to plan a wedding. Let’s be clear, planning your friend’s birthday party or your mom’s retirement party is not the same. Trust me!
My recommendation is always to hire a professional. A professional will know all ins and outs, have the right connections, be your advocate and your voice of reason, and have the knowledge to help you avoid costly pitfalls. They’ll be able to plan your wedding in a fraction of the time it would take you to do all the research.
But if planning a wedding on your own is your vision, go for it, doll. Just make sure you pack your patience. It’s gonna be a long ride! You’ll be dealing with multiple vendors, family, friends and advocates with opinions, and sometimes conflicting feedback. Make sure you are very organized and devote considerable time each week to the planning process. This will be instrumental to your sanity.
Decision #2 – Local or destination?
Where do we get married? Some couples know right away, while others differ in opinion. In the last 5 years, I have seen a shift and huge increase in couples wanting to say their “I dos” in sunny destinations like Jamaica and Mexico.
Here are some of the things I ask couples to consider when I’m consulting with them on this choice:
Guests: Your guests are a very important part of your wedding and should be taken into consideration. If there is someone extremely important to you that you want at your wedding and he or she is unable to travel for whatever reason (fear of flying, mobility, pregnancy) then you may opt to do a local wedding.
Also, how important is the size of your wedding to you? If you want a huge wedding with over 200 guests, you will most likely have to consider local. But if you are okay with a smaller more intimate wedding, then destination may be an option.
Budget: How much do you want to spend? Can you get what you want locally or will you have to resort to a destination wedding? Note: Planning a local wedding with a guest list of 100 is approx. $35K, where the same wedding would cost approx. $15-$20K in a sunny destination.
Another important question is how much do you want your guests to spend on the cost of travel? How much can they afford? Keep in mind that when you have a destination wedding, the bulk of the expenses fall on the guests. If they can’t afford the selected destination, chances are they are not going to attend.
Decision #3 – When should we get married?
This one probably seems like the easiest choice, but you’ll be surprised how difficult it can be to pick a date. Why? Well, if you’re considering destination, then you need to give guests at least a year’s notice. You’ll also need to research the weather for that destination to find out when the rainy and hurricane seasons are so that you can plan around that.
If you are planning local, then your wedding window is probably April to October, unless you are doing a winter wedding. Once that’s decided, then it becomes a negotiation to figure out if the venue, church (if applicable), and photographer are available on the same day. If yes, fantastic. If no, then back to the drawing board. This is why I say it’s not always that easy to land on a date.
Hopefully, I have shed some light on the challenge of starting your wedding planning process. Stay tuned for more articles to help you plan your dream wedding!
In the meantime, Happy Planning!