So, you're newly engaged and you're thinking about wedding planning! Congratulations - this is an exciting moment to celebrate. But where to start?
After the initial excitement dies down and the Instagram likes have rolled in, your brain will likely fill with a ton of questions. When do we want to set a date? Where should we have the wedding? Do we want a big or small event? Traditional or modern? How on earth am I going to find vendors?
It's a lot to take in, so I'm sharing a few wedding planning tips from personal experience both as a bride and a vendor in the industry to help you get started.
Nail Down Your Wedding Planning Budget
Sitting down with your fiancé, the first place to start wedding planning is with the budget. It's probably the toughest part of the process to predict and finalize from the outset. But, having an idea of where you're both comfortable budget-wise is essential. Getting on the same page from day one will save you a lot of time and grief, and keep you in check with your long-term goals. This conversation will also help you understand each other's vision for the day, no matter how big or small. Pick a number and be sure you agree on how much flexibility you have.
From there, you want to set your list of priorities. What are the must-haves for the day? What can you go without or go basic on? Deciding how to prioritize your budget will also help ensure you're investing where you feel you're going to get value for your money. For me, photography, food and drinks were areas that were important for me to invest, whereas linens and stationery were not.
Common wedding planning items to account for include:
- What you'll wear (dresses, suits, tuxedos, accessories)
- Hair and Makeup
- Invitations & Stationery
Knowing where you feel good about spending your budget and agreeing on these priorities will be a huge baseline to establish as you start reaching out to vendors.
Set The Big Wedding Details
Next, you want to cross off the three biggest things on your wedding planning checklist. Date, venue and must-have guests.
Date and venue go hand-in-hand. Most engaged couples have an idea of a timeframe they're looking at, so using that to reach out to venues will help narrow down what's available. Consider looking at Friday and Sunday wedding dates, as well as holidays, as these are more common than ever and often less expensive.
The third-biggest wedding planning detail to have finalized around this time are must-have guests. The cost of many venues will be determined by number of guests, and knowing your budget ahead of time and your must-have guest list, you can ensure you find something you can afford and still accommodate your nearest and dearest.
Start Your Vendor Outreach
Now that your wedding planning has a budget, venue and date, and list of priority areas to invest, you can start vendor outreach! You need budget, venue and date secured to start this outreach as this will make sure your vendors of choice are available and can accommodate your booking.
A great starting point is referrals from friends and family, or a good old-fashioned Google search. Wedding Wire and The Knot are also incredibly helpful sites to get started on your vendor searching.
For makeup clients, I always recommend reaching out as soon as you have your date finalized and you know you want to book, and this is generally the case for most vendors. In a post-COVID world, wedding availability is a bit more complex than usual, and most vendors operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
Keep track of your outreach, any required deposits and costs, and communication details in a spreadsheet or document you can easily follow. This will ensure you're honouring your budget and keeping communication straight. Make note of vendors who are professional, courteous and timely during your outreach - this is almost always a good indication of level of service!
Great vendors will make sure you're informed every step of the way during your wedding planning process, and they'll make sure you don't miss any critical details. You want to find vendors who will truly act as your partner and help you make your day perfect - you'll only do this once, but they do it all the time, so rely on their expertise and assistance to make your vision a reality.