Whether you are a natural organizer or not, the earlier you get started planning out the basics of your wedding, the less stressful the event becomes.
Here’s a quick To-Do list to get you started:
- Got a ring? Get it sized right away.
- Insure it on your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy as soon as possible. Insurance company stats show wearing a new ring for the first few months is the time it’s most likely to be lost.
- Have an engagement photo taken. It’s not as cheesy as you might think. In addition to being a great keepsake, it’ll come in handy to use for “Save the Date” announcements.
- Sit down with your significant other and work out the approximate “when.” What time of year, what month, where (in general), and then share your info with family and friends.
- Be flexible – this is why you share that info early. You want to know that your cousin’s big Hawaiian wedding is also scheduled for that month, or that your parents are planning to be in Europe then.
- If needed, reschedule with this new info in mind.
- Lock in a date and begin to set up general parameters and budgets, building in a little wiggle room as things shift:
- What type of wedding you both have in mind
- Church? Formal or informal? Event hall? Outdoors? Backyard? Small and private or the bigger, the better? Minister or wedding officiant?
- Set up a preliminary wedding budget
- Settle on a tone and budget for rehearsal dinner
- Agree on the style and tone for reception, including approximation on the number of guests.
- Check your dates with the venues you have in mind. Again, it helps with stress to be prepared to be flexible.
- Know what is super important to both of you, and what is okay to compromise (Afternoon wedding vs. evening? Different church? Catering venue?)
- Pro Tip: Running into planning difficulties with venues? Talk with your caterer’s party planner or event manager. They do a lot of weddings and receptions and likely know of venues you never even heard about with just the vibe you may be looking for.
- Be sure to consider inclement weather like rain or strong wind, especially if your wedding or reception is outdoors. Have a back-up plan.
- Parking is more important than you think. Ask about it in advance – especially if your event is on the large side.
You’re ready to announce:
- Now that you have a date, time and place, send out “Save the Date” announcements.
- Three-to-six months in advance is a good rule of thumb. Email has become accepted, but be sure you do it well. Include your engagement photo and use an online announcement service for attention and polish.
- Figure out bridesmaids and groomsmen. Consider what kind of pre-wedding event you want to plan (girls getaway weekend someplace, or the like) and set that up. This is a good time to consider what planning an event like this and how easily (or not) it may be for your BFFs.
- Begin dress-shopping.
- Figure out how many people you will be inviting. It’s an important number that will affect many things, moving forward.
- Work with your caterer to set up a basic menu type (appetizers, sit down meal, bar, desserts, etc.) with your best guess as to number of attendees.
- Most caterers will have pre-set menus to offer plus well as numerous add-in options. You will likely save money by going with pre-set dinners. In addition, since your caterer will be very familiar with the entrees, you can rest assured they are crowd favorites.
- Pro-Tip: Ask for a tasting to decide what foods you’ll enjoy serving. Most reputable caterers will do this for you.
- Most caterers will also allow you to have vegetarian or gluten free options and children’s menus. But be sure to ask in advance.
- Be sure to discuss timing of appetizers (when served) and whether they will be served by a waiter (butlered) or available as self-serve.
- Sit-down dinner? Plan a seating chart. Assign table numbers.
- Buffet service? You can still pre-set seating arrangements. But more and more weddings keep it simple with open seating.
- Que the cake-cutting with an announcement – of course. But figure out timing in advance with your wedding planner for a smoother transition.
Figuring out the bar is another important decision, beginning with timing. The bar should always be the first thing to offer guests.
- An open bar, the priciest option, still means determining which specific brands you will serve. Your caterer will have suggestions on which brands are most popular. Feel free to add family or couple favorites.
- Wine and beer only is an acceptable and less expensive option (generally a light beer and a regular beer choice, plus 2 reds and 2 whites)
- Pro-Tip: A fun middle-road is to have wine and beer, plus a specialty cocktail or two. Perhaps one named after the place you met, or college team, or something lighthearted and fun. That way you can keep prices manageable without sacrificing on fun.
Weddings and receptions can be a lot of fun! To make sure yours is, anticipate and plan as much as possible in advance – and know that last minute changes do frequently pop up. Be prepared to go with the flow, and enjoy every minute!
Naturally, we’d love to help you with your wedding, reception, and planning. We have a great track record of success. Check us out!