{Guest Post} A Walk Through Wedding Planning


When you walk down the aisle, you want to know that all the loose ends are tied and your event is paid for, put together, and will be a day that you and your partner always remember. There is a timeline of sorts that you can follow to help the planning process go smoothly and to ensure you budget properly. Read on to take a walk through wedding planning!

First, you have to set a budget for your big day. Whether you want to spend $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 or more; it’s important to understand that your budget is your starting point. You can have your dream wedding for less; it may simply take some creativity and bargain hunting! You also don’t have to spend years paying off your wedding debts if you simply set aside specified amounts for each of the main components during the planning process.

Next, be sure to follow a timeline when it comes to booking your venue, tasting your entrees, selecting your flowers, purchasing your dress, and when making payments.

inspiration board

Nine Months Prior to your Wedding (or earlier):

As soon as your engagement is announced, it is time to start looking for (and reserve) a ceremony site and reception venue. The sooner you make your selection and set a date, the sooner you can begin sending in payments, considering a theme, and planning for the number of guests you wish to accommodate. Many venues require an initial deposit (some require a percentage while others will accept any amount), so be prepared to write out a check the day you make your final choice. Regardless of your venue’s rules, it is a good idea to pay 10%-20% up front, simply to ensure you stay on budget, so if your reception costs $20,000, you should write a check for $2,000-$4,000.

You should also try on wedding gowns, make your selection, and pick out bridal party attire and color scheme. This leaves you with plenty of time for the dress to arrive, make alterations, and even payments on your dream dress. The average wedding dress costs about $1,000, so many wedding retailers offer lines of credit to their consumers, so you can pay off the dress bit by bit if you can’t pay it all off at once. Opt to pay more than the minimum monthly payment due to avoid fees and interest. If you’re really looking to save on this portion of the wedding, bridal stores like David’s Bridal carry wedding dresses for as low as $99.

Be sure to select and reserve an officiate and become familiar with any policies they come with, such as attending pre-marriage classes, additional donations to the church, and travel fees. This fee should make up a small portion of your budget (is usually no more than $500), and can also be paid off in small installments if necessary. If you are on a tight budget, consider asking a friend to become ordained online or opt to have a Justice of the Peace officiate.

Six Months Prior to Your Wedding                 

Shop around and book a photographer and/or videographer. Essential to cherishing your special day, a photographer and videographer sometimes come with steep costs. Save money by booking both from one company (be sure to ask for a discount if one is not offered) and by choosing a picture package that includes a photo album and/or the rights to the photos so you can print individual pictures out on your own. Many photo and video professionals also need a down payment the day of a booking, so expect to save and spend on average about $1,500 and to put at least $200-$500 down.

Your florist should also be booked at this time. Many couples budget about $500-$1,000 for flowers, which include the bouquets and boutonnieres. You can get the best deal when you opt to use seasonal flowers and décor.

Also, consider your entertainment options and book someone at this time. This should be your next biggest expense, underneath your meal and beverage package; because a great band or DJ sets the tone of the reception is always enjoyed and remembered by guests. Couples budget anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 and a down payment is always required (are you noticing a pattern?).

Finally, it is important to narrow down your dinner selections and select a bar package. On average, couples spend about $100 per head and this is by far the biggest expense of a wedding. While venues are flexible with the meal choices, you should know by now what you expect to offer your guests, so you can begin to design your wedding invitations and reception cards. When making your selections, a rule of thumb is to offer your guests an option of a chicken, beef, or seafood dish. This way, you have something everyone will enjoy. Much like flowers, you can also choose to have a seasonal menu, and your overall food costs will be more affordable.


Four Months  

Select and order your invitations. Many couples choose to skimp and print out their own invitations while others go all out. Your invitations should be about 2%-5% of your overall budget, so if you are planning on spending $20,000, your invitations should cost about $500. If you choose to order your invitations online, do a little bit of research to choose the perfect company. Minted, for example, lets you create unique high quality invitations and will impress any guest.

Be sure to also make another hefty payment for all your vendors to ensure that your tab is paid off prior to a few days before your event.

Two Months-Two Weeks

At this point, you should be scheduling alterations for your dress, finalizing payments, and planning for your honeymoon. You can also order favors and reserve venues for your rehearsal dinner and select thank you gifts for your wedding party. For unique and personal wedding party gifts, do a little bit of online searching until you find the perfect fit for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Websites like Etsy carry out of the ordinary gifts that will truly make those in your wedding feel special.

One Week

All your loose ends should be tied together and you should be prepared to make all final payments on all aspects of your special day.

By following a basic timeline and payment schedule, you can be sure to feel at ease as you walk down the aisle and get the dream wedding you deserve.

About the Author: Monica Nolan, a Texan at heart, has recently moved up north to conquer the big apple. With a passion for writing and all things that pertain to love, she has become a relationship and wedding expert.

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