How to Plan Your Own Wedding Like a Pro in 16 Steps
Just engaged? Unsure where to start with planning your own wedding? Check out this roadmap to plan a wedding like a pro in 16 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, don’t let that intimidate you or allow you to think you cannot plan your own wedding. Just because you have not planned a wedding before, it does not mean you can’t take it on and plan it well, for that matter!
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.
We want planning your own wedding to be a fun process, with as little stress as possible! With this recommended wedding planning process, your event will be impeccably organized and your day will feel like a dream when you finally get to celebrate. Below, we’re sharing the 16 steps you should take to can plan a wedding the savvy way! Keep reading to see how you can plan your wedding like a pro!
1. Set Your Wedding Budget & Stick To It:
Before you get into the fun stuff, you need to tackle your finances first. That’s why this is our #1 Wedding Budget Tip! Your wedding budget will guide all of your decisions about your wedding. Setting a wedding 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 wedding inspiration for decor styles, attire, accessories, colors, florals, a wedding cake, linens, 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!
Savvy Wedding Planning 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!
Savvy Wedding Planning 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 that 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 set a date for the big day, 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. Your bridal party will need to be kept in the loop of your plans as well as your expectations for their involvement on the big day. It’s also a nice idea to do something special to propose to your best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids and groomsmen, but don’t feel like you have to go overboard!
10. Create a Wedding Website
Wedding websites are a key component of modern weddings. While you might not consider it on your list of wedding essentials, it’s a huge help in terms of sharing all the relevant information with your guests. If you want to avoid being a stressed-out bride by answering dozens of the same questions over and over, creating a wedding website is the ticket! From listing your registries, hotel accommodations, the starting time of your wedding ceremony and reception and more– you’ll give your guests all the important info they need to attend and celebrate your special day. It’s also great if you use a site like Joy that allows you to restrict certain details to specific guests so you can inform and collet RSVPs for various wedding events like rehearsal dinner information, engagement parties, day after brunch and more.
11. 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, officiant, band or DJ, and day-of wedding coordinator (if you want to work with one!) Having a coordinator can be a big help with organizing things like rehearsals, your wedding day timeline, and overall logistics on the big day. Once you have decided on which pros to hire, start to consider other details, like stationery, transportation, etc.
12. 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.
13. 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. Make sure you have a wedding website set up to collect RSVPs digitally for more convenience (and less postage!)
14. 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. You want time to find a band that perfectly complements your engagement ring as well as a style that suits your future spouse. 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.
Savvy Wedding Tip:
Don’t have your ring bearer walk down the aisle with the actual rings! This is a great job for a best man.
15. 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).
16. 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!
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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 own wedding day? What other tips would you add to our list? Join us in the community to talk all things wedding planning!