Wedding Planning Guide to Getting Started

You're Engaged! Now What?! How to Start Planning a Wedding

Now that you're engaged, you may be wondering how to start planning a wedding. It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed with all of the delightful details. Let's take it slow and think about the basics first. The Delightful Details' Guide to Getting Started will help answer "how to start planning a wedding?"



Congratulations! You have found the person that you will spend the rest of your life with. Let the excitement last as long as possible. Don't rush. Just take some time to celebrate with your fiancé, friends, family and loved ones.

Now that the champagne bottles have popped and you're getting used to the shiny, sparkly thing on your left hand, you may be thinking "Now what?!" Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Just the thought of getting started can be daunting if you've never planned an event before. Or if you have, this may feel different because it's personal. This will be a day you will never forget. You may have months or years to plan. So let's get started!

The Vision

Close your eyes... you've dreamed about this day your whole life. Or not. And, that's ok. Think about how you want to experience the big day with your fiancé. Do you see a small gathering of your closest friends and family? Or a large formal ball reminiscent of royal weddings?

It's important to have an idea of what you want the experience to feel and look like. Share your vision with your fiancé and ask what he/she has in mind as well.

Where are there differences? Are you on the same page? Or in different galaxies? Here is your first lesson in wedding planning (and marriage).

Lesson 1: Communication and compromise with your fiancé.

Remember, you're not the only one getting married. Ask how much he/she wants to be involved in the planning process. Honor the wishes of your fiancé and find ways you can incorporate his/her vision into your's.

Chances are there are things you will differ on. The beauty of marriage is being able to communicate through differences and find compromises to share experiences with the person you love.

Now that you both have a vision of your wedding day, it's time to get started on wedding planning.

The Numbers

Fact: Weddings are expensive. Before you get too carried away with turning The Vision into a Pinterest board, determine what your budget will be. Whether family members are covering the cost or you and your fiancé have saved up, you need to have a realistic idea of how much you have to spend. The key here is realistic. Here is your next lesson.

Lesson 2: There absolutely will be unexpected expenses.

Inevitably, there will always be something that is more expensive than you thought it would be. So make sure to plan a contingency amount into your budget for these unexpected costs. I will cover this more in our post on Budget Planning.

Next, consider how many guests you want to be a part of your big day. If you were envisioning the small intimate gathering, then your budget should match that. Same goes for a lavish wedding.

Again, stay realistic - you don't need to invite your entire Facebook friends list. For now, just have a general number in mind - let's come back to The People.

The Location

Focus on The Vision again - did you see a destination wedding in Costa Rica on the beach, or a backyard wedding at your parents home, or a vintage formal wedding in a historic home?

Start to research different locations available in your area or the destination you want to host your wedding. Remember to consider The Numbers - what is your budget and ideal number of guests?

Many venues will post basic information on their website including capacity and package information. Once you've narrowed it down to a few different options, setup site visits to view the space, ask lots of questions (future post idea!) and consider The Vision in that space. Take your fiancé with you and possibly a family member or friend. Finding your venue should be the exciting first step in your wedding planning journey!

The Date

You will remember this date FOREVER. So make it a good one!

One of the biggest mistakes in wedding planning is setting your heart on a specific date or month before you choose The Location. You should have a time of year or season as part of The Vision, but don't pick a specific date until after you narrow down The Location to your top two or three. At the end of your site visits, request the available dates from the venue manager.

Also consider that wedding season is different regionally. Planning a wedding in-season may significantly increase your costs. Choose a date that fits The Vision, The Numbers and The Location.

The People

Sit down with your fiancé to start assembling your list of potential guests to invite.

Start big! Write down everyone you would love to have part of your special day. Make notes of who you would like to ask to be part of your wedding party if you plan to have one. Consult your families as well to make sure you invite key family members.

The list may be much longer than you expected. Keep in mind that 20% of your guest list will likely not be able to attend.

Your guest list is a lot like Survivor. Some people may get voted off the island. Depending on your budget and venue capacity, you may need to make some tough decisions about your guest list.

Lesson 3: All is fair in love and guest lists - make tough decisions together.

The key to remember is that your guest list is the people you and your fiancé want to share this day with. Make these decisions together and confront any sticky situations as early as possible.

The number of guests you invite will be the basis of many future decisions in the process. Your guest list will be fluid until you are ready to send invitations so revisit it often.

Congratulations - again! You've made it through the first tough decisions in the wedding planning process. That wasn't too painful, right? Hopefully you are excited and ready to tackle the next steps in how to start wedding planning.

Stay tuned for my next post on Budget Planning!