First Steps to Planning a Wedding

First Steps to Planning a Wedding


Congratulations! You’re recently engaged and you’re over the moon.

And then you have to start wedding planning, and that may not be as wonderful haha. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming! Having a plan is a great way to make this process as stress-free as possible 🙂

1. Make a Budget

Making a budget doesn’t sound like the most romantic part of wedding planning, but it is crucial. 

The most common cause for divorce is money fights & money problems. You want to have a wonderful wedding day, but more importantly, you want to have a wonderful marriage. Please do not start married life on worse footing by spending more on your wedding than you probably should. 

I truly recommend that you limit wedding spending to what you have in cash. How much do you already have saved? If you don’t have much saved already – if your wedding is 6 months away, how much can you save in 6 months? For your sake, please do not go into debt for your wedding. 

You can have a fabulous wedding on any budget. This may not be what the wedding industry tells you or what other wedding vendors will tell you, but you don’t want anyone on your team who doesn’t truly have your best interest at heart.

When making your budget, talk with your fiance about how much you’re willing/able to spend of your own money. And then have direct, exact conversations with any family members who also want to financially contribute.

Word of Caution: When accepting wedding-related money gifts from your family/friends, please be honest with yourself. Does this gift come with strings attached that will cause me stress? Is that worthwhile?  

2. Rank Your Wedding Priorities

Ranking wedding priorities with your fiancé early on is a great way to keep perspective during wedding planning.  A wedding can easily go over budget if you’re not careful and intentional about what it is you want most.

What’s more important to you? Hiring a specific videographer or a certain wedding dress? Having a priority list protects you from paying for things and then later being unable to spend on things you actually value more.

For a breakdown of Caili’s personal top wedding priorities, click here

3. Figure Out Who You Want to Invite

Sit down with your fiancé and list out everyone you absolutely want to invite. Then decide together how you want to handle +1s/co-workers/acquaintances. And then you may want to discuss this list with your parents as well. 

No other factor will impact your budget as much as the number of guests. The number of guests directly influences how many invitations, chairs, tables, meals, and favors you will be providing. Ask yourself how much you ideally want to spend on your wedding and be honest about how many guests that budget can cover while still providing you with the wedding you are dreaming of. If you choose to stretch your guest list, you may need to compromise on some other spending choices. 

4. Choose Your Venue & Set a Date

Step 1 (setting your total budget) comes before Step 4 (finding a venue) for a reason. If your total budget is $20k, spending $15k on the venue limits what you can spend on everything else. Will the remaining money be enough to cover everything else? If not, this may not be the best venue for you. 

And read your contract for the venue. When I signed the contract for my wedding, it didn’t click until later that I agreed to a mandatory 22% tip on all food and alcohol and 7% taxes on tens of thousands of dollars. Factor these costs into your money calculations before putting a deposit down on a venue. 

Pay attention to the catering options for a given venue. It requires less coordination work for you if the food/drinks are provided by the venue. However, you likely have more options to save money if you are able to bring in food/drinks from outside the venue. Keep this in mind before committing to a venue. If a venue doesn’t allow outside catering, look at pricing per person and get a tentaive idea of “each guest who comes will cost me an additional $___ for their food & alcohol.” You may need to adjust your guest list accordingly. 

And pay attention to what is already included with the venue. Set up & take down? Tables & chairs? Serving staff? These are things that you’ll have to budget/plan for if the venue doesn’t take care of them for you. 

Typically, a destination wedding shrinks the guest list since travel is not possible for everyone. If you’re like Jim and Pam and don’t necessarily want your office coworkers present at your wedding, Niagara Falls is definitely an option. 

Once you choose a venue that you love, work with the venue to set and book a date that works for you both 🙂 

5. Book the rest of your vendors

Once you have a date set, you can plan the rest of your wedding. Other vendors need you to have set a date in order to know if they’re available to work with you. 

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First Steps to Planning a Wedding

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