You’re ready to start wedding planning: Awesome! But now what?
Wedding planning can be a complicated web of to-dos, so here’s a basic list of where to get started and in what order.
1. Wedding Planner
Whether you’re looking for a full-service planner or a ‘day of coordinator’, you’re going to want to hire them first. Planners are key in providing recommendations and consulting on big decisions, and often can help you save money on the other vendors you hire. Most people start off planning thinking “I can do this myself” only to eventually realize (after a lot of unneeded stress and extra costs) that they really do need a planner. Make the smart call and hire the planner before anything else. You’ll get to truly take advantage of all the value a professional brings to the table.
For many couples the venue will be their biggest expense, so knowing what you’re spending is key to building an accurate budget. Details about the space will ultimately dictate other expenses, like whether or not you’ll need to account for furniture rentals, transportation, lighting, or portable restrooms. Venue availability will help narrow down your exact date, which most other vendors will require for booking. It also sets the tone for theme and décor decisions. Plus, since rental rates will likely increase over time, you’ll lock in the best rate by booking early.
At this point, your next stop is the photographer. (Yay! Time to call me!) In-demand photographers can book up quickly, so if photography is important to you, you’ll want to book earlier over later. An added perk: If you’re planning on doing engagement photos, you can have them ready when you make your save the dates or set up your wedding website.
Catering is usually the second biggest chunk of the wedding budget (next to venue), so it’s a good idea to start talking to caterers next. Knowing your budget for food is helpful because there are often unexpected costs in this category (ie.: kitchen and serving equipment, servers, generators, trash disposal, staff tips) Catering will help fill in some important logistics gaps (like whether or not you need a kitchen brought in to your venue).
It’s a good idea to consult your florist as you start envisioning theme, colors, and décor. Some flowers may be out of season or over budget, so if your vision centers on a particular look, you’ll want to know before you really commit. Knowing your floral plan will help you decide how to fill in the rest of the décor.