Are you planning a wedding? If so, congratulations!
Learning how to plan a wedding can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming. There are so many things to think about: the venue, the catering, the flowers, the dress, the bridal party… Whew! It's enough to make your head spin.
That's why we've created this step-by-step wedding planning checklist to help you plan your dream ceremony.
We'll take you through everything from choosing a date to sending out invitations, and we'll give you tons of tips and advice along the way. So sit back and relax – we've got this!
Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Wedding:
1. Set a Budget
According to wedding industry reports, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is around $28,000. This is a helpful number to keep in mind in the wedding planning process, but don't let it give you an excuse to spend more than you can afford.
The first step on your wedding planning journey is to figure out how much you can realistically afford to spend and set your budget accordingly.
Talk to your parents, any other family members who might be contributing, and your future spouse to get an idea of what kind of budget you're working with. You budget will determine whether you can afford a big or small wedding.
Once you have a number in mind, you can start allocating funds to different aspects of the wedding planning process. Generally, the largest expenses are the venue, food and drink, photography, and flowers.
However, don't forget to set aside money for smaller details like invitations, save-the-dates, favors, wedding bands, attire, and transportation.
By taking the time to create an accurate wedding budget and sticking to it, you can ensure that your wedding day is everything you've dreamed of without breaking the bank.
2. Pick Dates
There are a few things to keep in mind when picking dates for your wedding ceremony.
First, consider the time of year that you want to get married. If you're dreaming of a summer wedding, then you'll want to avoid months like June and July, when the weather is at its hottest.
Alternatively, if you're envisioning a winter wonderland wedding, then you'll need to pick a date early in the season before the snow starts to melt.
Second, take into account the availability of your venue. If you're set on getting married at a particular location, then you'll need to check their calendar and pick a few wedding dates that works for both you and them.
Finally, think about your guests and whether they'll be able to travel on the dates you're considering. You don't want anyone to miss your big day because they can't get time-off work or they can't afford the travel costs.
Once you've taken all of these factors into account, you should have no trouble picking the perfect date for your wedding ceremony.
3. Choose a Theme and Decoration Ideas
A wedding should have a theme that represents the couple getting married. The theme creates ambiance for the ceremony and reception. It can be classical, rustic, elegant, simple or even whimsical.
There are many ways to choose a theme that is perfect for your wedding. You can pick a theme that relates to your hobbies, favorite places, careers, or anything that has meaning to you as a couple.
If you are having trouble picking a theme, consider using your favorite colors as a starting point. Check out websites like Pinterest and Instagram for wedding inspiration and ideas.
Once you have chosen your colors, you can pick a wedding style that matches them. For example, if you choose pink and green as your colors, you could have a garden-themed wedding.
Your wedding style should be something that represents who you are as a couple and will be cherished by you and your guests for years to come.
4. Select a location
When it comes to wedding planning, one of the first decisions you'll have to make is whether to have a local or destination wedding. Both have their pros and cons, so it's important to weigh your options carefully.
Local weddings tend to be more convenient for guests, since they won't have to travel far. They can also be less expensive, since you won't have to pay for airfare or lodging to get to and from the wedding location. However, local weddings can also be more stressful to plan, since you may need to invite more friends and long-lost relatives.
Destination weddings, on the other hand, can be more relaxing for both you and your guests. Since everyone is away from home, there's less pressure to make sure everything is perfect.
But destination weddings can be more expensive and difficult to plan, since you'll need to find a venue and vendors in a new location.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to have a local or destination wedding is a personal one. There's no right or wrong answer, so take the time to consider what's right for you and your partner.
5. Find a Venue
In the wedding planning process, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is choosing a ceremony location and reception venue. It is common for the ceremony and reception to be at the same venue, but not all venues can accommodate both events.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider, and it's important to find a place that will suit both your needs and your budget. Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect wedding venue:
First, decide what type of setting you're looking for. Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? A formal or informal reception? Once you've narrowed down your options, you can start searching for venues that match your criteria.
Next, consider your wedding size and potential guest count. How many people do you expect to attend? Does the venue have enough space to comfortably accommodate your guests?
Another important factor to consider is cost. Be sure to get an estimate of all fees associated with the venue before making a final decision.
Finally, take some time to visit different venues in person. This will help you get a feel for the space and get an idea of how your wedding day would play out in each location.
6. Design Your Wedding Website
A wedding website is a great way to keep all of your wedding details organized in one place. Your guests can easily find information about your wedding date, location, registry, and more.
Plus, a wedding website is a great way to share photos and videos of your engagement and wedding day with your guests. If you're looking for a way to save time and money on your wedding invitations, a wedding website is the way to go!
You can even create an online RSVP form that will allow you to track your guests' response rate in real-time. All in all, wedding websites are a valuable tool that every bride should utilize!
7. Build Your Wedding Registry
A wedding registry is a wish list of items that a couple would like to receive as gifts from their guests. Many couples create a registry in order to provide their guests with some guidance on what to gift them.
Creating a registry can be a fun activity for the engaged couple as they get to start thinking about their new life together. In addition, it helps to ensure that the couple receives items that they actually need and want, rather than receiving a lot of duplicate items or items that they will never use.
Most importantly, an online registry takes the guesswork out of gift-giving for guests, which can be especially helpful for those who are struggling to think of what to give the couple.
Whether you are the one getting married or you are helping someone plan their wedding, creating a registry is an important part of the process.
8. Create Your Save the Dates
Save the date cards are a key part of wedding preparation, as they help to ensure that your guests can attend on the day itself. There are a few things to bear in mind when creating save the dates.
Firstly, you'll need to decide on a design. This can be anything from a simple card with the date and location to a more elaborate design featuring engagement photos and other information.
Once you've settled on a design, you'll need to print the cards and send them out to your guests. It's important to give your guests plenty of notice, so aim to send them out at least six months in advance.
Finally, don't forget to include all the essential information, such as the date, time, and location of the wedding.
9. Hire a Wedding Planner
While some couples choose to do everything themselves, hiring a local wedding planner can often save time and money in the long run. A pro knows exactly how to plan a wedding because they've done it many times before.
A good wedding planner will take care of all the event planning details, big and small, so that you can relax and enjoy your special day. They will also be able to work with you to create a unique vision for your wedding that reflects your personality and style.
Wedding planners coordinate with vendors, handle RSVPs, and make sure everything runs smoothly on the big day. Hiring a full service wedding planner takes a lot of stress out of planning a wedding, and for many brides it's worth the investment.
10. Select Your Vendors
When planning your dream wedding, there are many important decisions to make. One of the most important is deciding which wedding vendors to hire.
Some of the most essential wedding vendors to hire include a photographer, florist, caterer, and DJ.
A wedding photographer will help to capture all of the special moments of the day, while a florist can provide beautiful flowers for the ceremony and reception.
A catering team will take care of all of the food for the event, and a DJ will provide music and entertainment.
By taking the time to carefully select each vendor, you can ensure that your wedding is a truly memorable occasion.
11. Reserve a Hotel Room Block
There are many reasons to reserve a hotel room block when planning a wedding. First, a hotel block can be a convenient way for out-of-town guests to stay close to the wedding venue.
Second, booking a block of rooms often comes with a discount, which can help save on overall wedding costs.
Third, having a room block ensures that there will be enough rooms for all of your guests, even if some of them wait until the last minute to book their hotel accommodations.
Finally, reserving rooms in advance allows you to have more control over the type of rooms that are available, so you can ensure that your guests have the best possible experience.
12. Buy Your Wedding Dress
When shopping for a wedding dress, it is important to keep in mind the venue and time of day of the wedding.
A formal gown may be too much for casual daytime ceremonies or beach weddings, while a less formal dress may not be appropriate for an evening event.
It is also important to think about the overall style of the wedding. A more traditional ceremony may call for a classic silhouette, while a more contemporary affair may allow for a more fashion-forward design.
With so many choices available, it is important to take the time to try on a variety of dresses to find the one that best suits your style and the feel of your wedding day.
13. Select Your Wedding Party
When it comes to selecting who will be part of your wedding party, there are a few things to consider.
First, think about who you want by your side on your big day. This might be family members, close friends, or even co-workers.
Ultimately, you should choose the people who will make your day special and who you know will support you through the planning process.
When it comes to deciding how many people should be in your wedding party, there is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on what you want and what will best fit your wedding day.
If you have a large family or close group of friends, then you may want to have a larger bridal party. This can help to make sure that everyone feels included on your special day.
Alternatively, if you prefer a more intimate setting, then you may want to keep your wedding party small. A smaller number of bridesmaids and groomsmen can be more meaningful and easier to manage on the day of the wedding.
The most important thing is that you are happy with your decision and that all of your closest friends and family are by your side on your wedding day.
14. Build Your Guest List
Size does not always dictate how grand or intimate a wedding should be. If you are someone who craves being surrounded by your nearest and dearest on your big day, then a small wedding may be ideal for you.
You can avoid the astronomical costs that often come with weddings by only inviting those closest to you and limiting your guest count. However, if you are looking to host a lavish affair, then inviting more wedding guests may be the route you want to take.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how many people you want to invite to your wedding. There is no right or wrong answer, so go with your gut and invite the number of guests that feels right to you.
15. Design Invitations
The design of your wedding invitations can set the tone for your entire wedding, so it's important to choose a style that reflects your personality and taste.
When it comes to weddings, there are many different invitation styles to choose from - from traditional and formal to more modern and minimalist. There are even lovely digital options, too.
Here are a few things to consider when designing your invitations:
The overall theme or style of your wedding. Are you having a beach wedding? A rustic country affair? A glamorous black-tie event? The style of your invitations should be in keeping with the overall theme of your wedding.
The formality of your wedding. Is it a formal sit-down dinner or a more casual buffet? Will there be dancing? The level of formality will dictate the wording of your invitations.
Your budget. Wedding invitations can be quite expensive, so it's important to set a budget before you start shopping around. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money on invitations, such as ordering them online or printing them yourself.
When it comes to designing your wedding invitations, there are endless possibilities. By taking the time to consider your options and choosing a design that reflects your unique style, you'll be sure to create something your guests will love.
16. Order Your Wedding Rings
When shopping for wedding bands that will compliment your engagement ring, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, think about what style you prefer. Do you want a simple band or one with diamonds?
Second, consider what metal you would like. Gold, platinum, and silver are all popular choices.
Third, think about whether you want a matching set or if you and your soon to be spouse would prefer to have different bands.
Fourth, take into account your lifestyle. If you work with your hands or are active in sports, you may want to choose a band that is less likely to scratch or dent.
Finally, decide what budget you are comfortable with. Wedding bands can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
17. Create a Playlist
When it comes to picking wedding music, there are a few things to consider in order to ensure that your reception is enjoyable for all.
First, think about the overall tone you want to set for the event. Is it a formal affair or a more laid-back party? This will help you determine what genres of music to include on your playlist.
Next, consider your guest list. What kinds of music do they like? Make sure to include something for everyone, from older relatives to young cousins.
Finally, don't forget about the most important part of the wedding: the happy couple! What kind of music do you and your partner want to hear on your big day?
Whether it's a special song that reminds you of your relationship or simply your favorite artist, make sure to include something that will put a smile on your face.
18. Pick Your Wedding Flowers
Before you go shopping for wedding flowers, sit down and think about the overall style and feel you want for your wedding. Do you want something classic and elegant? Romantic and whimsical? Fun and funky?
Once you've decided on a general direction, you can start looking at specific flowers. Research which blooms will be in season on your wedding date, as this can help to keep costs down.
Work with a florist to come up with creative ways to use less expensive filler flowers such as pampas grass or eucalyptus, in order to stretch your budget. And don't be afraid to ask for advice - a good florist will be happy to help you create the wedding of your dreams.
If you want to go the DIY route, consider sourcing your flowers from a wholesale florist to save money on bulk flowers.
19. Decide Which Pre-Wedding Events You'll Host
Weddings are a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate the happy couple. However, the days leading up to the wedding can be just as special.
Many couples choose to have pre-wedding events, such as engagement parties, bridal showers, and bachelorette or bachelor parties to commemorate their love and to give their guests a chance to get to know each other.
These events can be a great way to build excitement for the big day and to create lasting memories. And of course, they’re also a lot of fun!
20. Schedule Your Bridal Shower
A bridal shower is a party given in honor of a bride-to-be. It is usually hosted by the maid of honor or another close friend, and it is typically held a few months before the wedding.
Guests at a bridal shower will often also give the bride-to-be advice on marriage and relationships. In addition to gifts and advice, bridal showers often include food and drink, games, and music.
They are typically lively and fun events that help the bride-to-be feel more prepared and excited for her upcoming wedding.
21. Consider a Bachelorette and Bachelor Party
A bachelor or bachelorette party is a pre-wedding celebration for the bride or groom-to-be. It is an opportunity for friends and family to come together and toast the upcoming nuptials.
While some couples choose to have a joint party, others opt for separate celebrations. Either way, there are plenty of good reasons to have bachelor or bachelorette parties before tying the knot.
For one thing, it can be a great opportunity to relax and de-stress before the big day. With all of the wedding planning and preparation, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to take a step back.
A bachelor or bachelorette party is the perfect time to do just that. In addition, it gives everyone a chance to connect with one another and create lasting memories.
As any married person will tell you, your wedding day goes by in a blur. Having a bachelor or bachelorette party beforehand ensures that you'll have some time to really enjoy your loved ones' company.
22. Schedule a Rehearsal Dinner
A rehearsal dinner is a wonderful event that allows you to spend time with your closest family and friends before your wedding day. While a fancy dinner is not required, it is a nice way to thank everyone who has helped you with the wedding preparations.
The first step in planning a rehearsal dinner is to decide who will be invited. In addition to immediate family members and the wedding party, you may also want to invite other close friends and relatives.
Once you have finalized the guest list, you will need to select a date, time, and location for the event. The rehearsal dinner can be held at a restaurant, private home, or other venue. It is important to choose a location that is convenient for all of your guests.
After you have chosen the date and location, you will need to select a menu. Depending on your budget and the number of guests, you may want to hire a caterer or cook the meal yourself. Regardless of how you choose to prepare the food, be sure to include some of your favorite dishes.
Finally, don't forget to send out invitations! Rehearsal dinners are typically informal pre wedding events, so there is no need for formal invitations. A simple phone call or email will suffice.
23. Hire an Officiant
One of the most important elements of the wedding is the officiant. The officiant is responsible for performing the ceremony and setting the tone for the entire event.
As a result, it is important to take care when choosing an officiant. Here are a few tips for selecting the right wedding officiant.
First, consider the style of your wedding. Are you planning a traditional religious ceremony, or do you prefer something more modern? The officiant you choose should be on the same page with your vision for the event.
Second, take into account your personal relationship with the officiant. Ideally, you should feel comfortable and relaxed in their presence.
Finally, make sure to ask about their fees up front. Many officiants charge by the hour, so you'll need to budget accordingly.
24. Apply for your Marriage License
Couples who are planning to get married usually need to obtain a marriage license.
In most states, this process is relatively simple and can be done fairly quickly. However, there are a few things that couples should keep in mind when applying for their license.
First, it's important to apply for the license well in advance of the wedding date. In most states, you can apply for a license up to six months before your wedding date.
Once you have your license, there is usually a waiting period of at least 24 hours before you can actually get married. So, if you're planning a last-minute elopement, be sure to check your state's requirements.
Second, many states require that couples show proof of ID and undergo a blood test before obtaining a license.
Finally, couples will need to decide on their legal name change options before applying for the license.
25. Plan Your Honeymoon
A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and it is important to take the time to plan it carefully. Here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect honeymoon.
Start by deciding on a budget. This will help you narrow down your options and avoid overspending.
Once you have a budget in mind, start thinking about where you would like to go. Would you prefer a beach destination or a more adventurous trip? Check out this list of honeymoon destination for more ideas.
Once you have an idea of the general location, start looking into all-inclusive honeymoon packages. Be sure to read reviews online and compare prices.
Once you have booked your accommodations, start thinking about activities. What kind of things would you like to do on your honeymoon? Would you like to spend time relaxing on the beach or exploring natural attractions? Be sure to consider your interests when planning activities.
Last but not least, don't forget to pack for your honeymoon! Make sure to bring all of the essentials, as well as any special items that you might need for your specific destination.
26. Write Your Vows
Your wedding vows are a chance to express your love and commitment to your partner in front of your friends and family. The vows you write should be personal and reflect your unique relationship. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your vows.
First, think about what you want to say. Your vows should express your love for your partner and your confidence in your relationship.
Second, keep it simple. Your vows don't need to be overly complicated or flowery. Instead, focus on communicating your feelings in a clear and concise way.
Third, don't wait until the last minute to write your vows. Give yourself some time to reflect on what you want to say. By taking the time to thoughtfully write your vows, you can ensure that they will be a lasting expression of your love for each other.
Finally, read your vows aloud to each other before the big day. This will help you both get a feel for how they sound and make any necessary adjustments.
27. Decide Who Should Give a Toast
When it comes to wedding toasts, there are a few things to consider. First, think about who will be the most meaningful speaker. This could be a close friend or family member who can share a personal story about the couple.
Alternatively, you may want to choose someone with a strong relationship to the couple who can speak to their character.
Next, consider who will be the most entertaining speaker. This is often someone with a great sense of humor who can keep the crowd engaged.
Finally, think about who has the best delivery. This is generally someone who is confident and comfortable speaking in front of an audience.
Ultimately, the decision of who should give a toast at a wedding comes down to what will be most meaningful and memorable for the couple and their guests.
28. Choose a Wedding Cake
When it comes to wedding cakes, there are endless possibilities. From classic tiered cakes to modern masterpieces, the options are seemingly endless. With so many choices, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect wedding cake for your special day.
First, consider your budget. Wedding cakes can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, so it's important to have an idea of how much you're willing to spend. And don't forget, the longer your guest list is, the bigger the cake you'll need.
Next, think about the style of your wedding. Are you planning a formal affair or a more relaxed celebration? The style of your wedding will help dictate the style of your cake.
For example, a formal wedding might call for an elegant tiered cake while a more laid-back event might be better suited for a fun and festive sheet cake.
Finally, don't forget to consider your guests. If you're inviting people with dietary restrictions, be sure to select a cake that everyone can enjoy. There are plenty of delicious options available, so there's no need to compromise on taste or quality.
29. Build Your Seating Chart
When it comes to wedding reception seating, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you'll want to decide whether you want a traditional seated dinner or a more casual cocktail reception.
If you opt for a seated dinner, you'll need to create a seating chart. The first step is to figure out how many guests you'll have and what size table they'll be sitting at.
Once you have that information, you can start placing guests at tables. If you have any VIPs, such as family members or close friends, you may want to seat them at the head table.
After all of your guests are placed, double-check the chart to make sure there are no empty seats and that everyone is seated comfortably.
30. Generate a Wedding Hashtag
One of the fun things you can do before your wedding is create a unique hashtag. This will allow you and your guests to easily find and share photos from the event on social media.
To get started, brainstorm a list of possible hashtags with your fiancé. Try to be creative and come up with something that is both unique and memorable.
Once you have a few ideas, do a quick search on social media to see if any of them are already in use. If not, go ahead and choose your favorite!
Be sure to promote your hashtag in the months leading up to the big day, so everyone knows to use it when posting photos. And don't forget to check back after the wedding to see all the great memories that were captured!
31. Use a Wedding Planning App
A wedding is a huge undertaking, and there's a lot to keep track of. Fortunately, there are now wedding planning apps that can help you stay organized and on top of everything.
With a good event planning app, you can keep track of your budget, create a guest list, and find vendors in your area. You can also use the app to track RSVPs and send out reminders.
And if you're feeling overwhelmed, the app can provide helpful tips and articles on wedding planning.
Whether you're a bride-to-be or a Maid of Honor, an app can be a valuable tool in helping you plan a successful wedding.
32. Consider Premarital Counseling
Premarital counseling is a type of therapy that helps couples prepare for marriage. During premarital counseling, couples will discuss a variety of topics, such as communication, conflict resolution, and financial planning.
In addition, couples will also have the opportunity to explore their individual expectations and needs for the relationship. Ultimately, premarital counseling can help couples to identify potential areas of conflict and develop strategies for managing these challenges.
By attending premarital counseling, couples can enter marriage with a greater understanding of each other and a solid foundation for building a successful relationship.
Congratulations, you've come to the end of our guide on how to plan a wedding! We hope you found it helpful.
Now that all the major decisions have been made, it's time for the fun part – finalizing all the details of your dream wedding and enjoying your big day!
If you still have questions or need help with anything, don't hesitate to reach out to us. And finally, congratulations again on this momentous occasion!