How to Plan Your Own Wedding Like a Pro in 15 Steps
Just engaged? Unsure where to start with planning your own wedding? You're in the right place, sister. Check out this roadmap to plan your wedding like a pro in 15 simple steps.
One thing most (but not all!) wedding professionals have in common is their penchant for organization. Because they plan, create, and work dozens of weddings each year, they have their systems down to a science. But, just because you have not planned a wedding before and might not have your system down (yet!) certainly does not mean you can’t take it on and plan it well.
The key to planning your own wedding is – you guessed it – organization. Events have tons of moving parts, and if you try to plan your soiree without a system you will quickly become disorganized. Outside of recommending that you start a Google Drive with a shared folder to keep everything in one spot, we also wanted to create an outline for you to follow.
Below, we’re sharing the 15 steps we recommend taking so you can plan a wedding the savvy way! We want you to plan in a way that’s fun during the process and feels like a dream when you finally get to celebrate. Keep reading to see how you can plan your wedding like a pro!
📋 PS– get a copy of our free wedding planning checklist here.
1. Determine Your Wedding Budget:
Before you get into the fun stuff, you need to tackle your finances first. Your wedding budget will guide all of your decisions about your wedding. Setting a budget that makes you feel comfortable will only help to guide you to make the best decisions you can make, while also not going into debt. Make the time to crunch those numbers and get a realistic figure before you move into any further planning.
2. Consider Wedding Dates:
You do not need to set a wedding date this early in the game, but it is helpful to narrow down potential seasons and months for your wedding. Having a general idea of when you would like to get married will help venues, in particular, to guide you. Plus, a general idea will also help you to focus on what type of inspiration to search on sites like Pinterest. Why look for spring flowers if a winter wedding is ideal?
3. Purchase a Wedding Book:
We wrote a book on how to plan a wedding on a budget, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it! 😉 Whether you purchase our book or another one, having another guide with step-by-step instructions will prove helpful. We also love when books have room for you to jot down your own notes!
4. Pin Your Inspiration:
Pinterest can cause you to go down a rabbit hole, which we do not necessarily endorse. But, pinning inspiration for wedding styles, attire, colors, florals, and wedding details can prove helpful. As you pin, double back to see if you can spot patterns in the inspiration you’re saving. If you can, you’re getting close to truly understanding your ideal style, which will help you to DIY or work with wedding vendors. Once you have a solid amount of inspiration (sometimes 20 photos is enough!), try to stop pinning. Having too many ideas typically only serves to overwhelm you, so stop while you’re ahead.
5. Set Your DIY Plan:
Once you have discovered the details that inspire you, consider deciding which items you would like to DIY for your wedding. Keep these items on a list you can refer back to (and check off!) as you purchase supplies, make a sample, and finally finish your project. The key with DIY done well is to keep the number of projects you decide to take on in check. Doing too much will only make the process overwhelming, and DIY should be something you look forward to doing!
Pro Tip: Create a timeline for your projects, and make sure to avoid jotting down your finish date as the day before your wedding. We promise that’s not what you will feel like doing!
6. Outline Your Guest List:
Your guest list guides your wedding budget (and vice versa), and the number of loved ones you invite to your wedding will also help to determine plenty of other decisions, like your wedding venue. Having a rough idea of the number of people you and your partner want to have present at your celebration is key!
7. Research, Tour, & Book Wedding Venues:
Once you have an idea in mind for your wedding style, now is the time to start researching wedding venues. As we mentioned, you will also want to consider your guest list. Ask friends and family for recommendations, search online, and pop onto Instagram. Before you arrive for your tour, review the number of guests the space can accommodate, the cost, and whether or not you can host your ceremony and reception onsite. Once you have toured your ideal spaces, book your venue!
Pro Tip: Hosting your ceremony and reception at the same venue makes the day easier for everyone, especially if you’re considering not working with a wedding planner. The less movement that needs to occur between spaces, the better!
8. Set Your Wedding Date:
The reason we recommend waiting to set your wedding date until after choosing your wedding venue is because it leaves more options open. If you see a space you love, you will likely find it easier to consider all of their open dates in a month or season rather than having your heart set on one particular date. While setting your date, keep travel, holidays (and sports seasons), and weather patterns in mind. Once you have a date, you can start announcing it, particularly to your wedding party and additional wedding vendors.
9. Ask Your Wedding Party:
You can definitely ask your friends and family to be part of your wedding party well before this point, but it can also be helpful to wait. As excited as your crew will be to stand beside you on your wedding day, their number one question will be, “When are you getting married?” In order to make this an easy yes for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, it’s helpful to be able to answer that question before they ask it.
10. Research, Meet, & Book Wedding Vendors:
Your wedding date, venue and location, budget, and style are all important factors to know as you contact more wedding professionals. They’re all some of the first questions you will be asked, and it’s helpful to be able to answer them. We recommend booking vendors who can only work one wedding on a particular date first. So, have a game plan in mind for pros such as your photographer, videographer, caterer, florist, band or DJ, and day of wedding planner (if you want to work with one!). Once you have decided on those pros, start to consider other details, like stationery, transportation, etc.
11. Find Your Attire:
You can definitely purchase your wedding dress right off of the rack, but many dresses will need to be ordered. In order to allow enough time to try on, order, alter, and finally pick up your wedding dress, the best thing to do is to start shopping 10 months prior to your wedding. The same is true for the groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. Truly, the earlier you start looking for attire, the more relaxed you will feel.
12. Mail Wedding Stationery:
To ensure your guests have plenty of notice before your wedding date, many couples mail their save the dates around eight months in advance. This is particularly important as guests work around busy schedules and potentially book travel in order to celebrate with you in person. You will want to follow up with your wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before your wedding day.
13. Purchase Wedding Bands:
Don’t forget to purchase wedding bands! The best time to shop for wedding bands is at least 2-3 months before your wedding day. This is because bands sometimes need to be ordered, and it’s also possible they will need to be resized. Once they’re in, hold onto them and decide who will be in charge of making sure they make it to the altar on your wedding day.
Pro Tip: Don’t have your ring bearer walk down the aisle with the rings! This is a great job for a best man.
14. Obtain a Marriage License:
Every city and county has specific guidelines in place for obtaining a marriage license, but the universal rule is, generally, that you can’t officially get married without one. Do a quick Google search for your area, and visit your city or county’s website in order to learn more. For the most part, you will want to obtain a license 14-30 days prior to your wedding. And, make sure to note there is typically a cost for a marriage license! Be prepared to pay $100 in some areas (of course, this can vary).
15. Celebrate Your Wedding:
You have planned and planned, and now it’s finally time to celebrate your wedding day! On this day, you will want to feel like a guest at your wedding. So, delegate roles to family and friends. Put someone in charge of answering vendors’ questions, nominate someone to wrangle family members for photos, place another person in charge of making sure gifts are collected at the end of the night, etc. Above all, make sure you have fun with your favorite people!
As we hope you can now see, planning your own wedding with the right amount of organization is definitely possible and – dare we say – enjoyable. Are you planning your wedding day? What other tips would you add to our list? Join us in the community to talk all things wedding planning!