It doesn’t matter how much time you get to do it, planning a wedding is no easy feat. In fact, most people already have a vision in their minds of what they want their extremely special day to be like. If you fall into either of these categories, you have come to the right page. Here, you will find the ultimate wedding planning guide to set you up on this very detailed and important task.
If you are thinking of hiring a wedding planner to handle all of this for you (and who hasn’t heard horror stories of thing turning sour last minute), this guide will help you keep a check on the preparations while appearing and feeling better informed. The A-Z wedding planning guide will make all of that a piece of three-tiered white cake!
It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone that a lot depends on the budget you set for your wedding (yay, capitalism!). This means that everything from the decision of how many wedding guests you want to the venue, food, décor, outfit and all the other stuff in between will need to be considered to make a decision.
To make things easier to plan, set a maximum budget first that you do not want to exceed in any case. Then, depending on the allocation of funds and resources later, you decide how much you can lower it. We can’t give you a number, but an average estimate for weddings in North Carolina is about $28,000- which doesn’t include the engagement ring or the honeymoon.
While we can all acknowledge that this is not a light number, weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime event. If you feel daunted, you can always choose to go for a better-budgeted intimate wedding (you can read about it in another post on our blog).
Discuss your Vision
The more extravagance you want for your wedding, the higher the budget will have to be. You must take into account what aspects of the wedding you are willing to splurge on and what needs to be kept on the down low. Depending on how small or big you want your event to be, there will be many things to decide on and execute.
For this purpose, you must have a sit-down with your significant other where the two of you share expectations of the outcome. It is important to make sure you are on the same page if your wedding party is to be a successful one, so try to accommodate one another as much as possible; your significant other may be looking forward to this day just as much as you.
Use inspiration from social media apps like Pinterest- it will serve as a great skeleton for you to work on and manipulate.
The Guest List
Get ready for some broken hearts and angry outbursts- the wedding guest list is about to be made. This is one of the most important parts of your wedding decisions and it should be determined quite early on; the number of guests does not only dictate the size of your venue, but also affects the budget quite substantially.
Who do you want to share the joy of your special day with? It is an important question and one necessary to answer. You may face a little rising of tempers but don’t worry; it will work out eventually!
Revisit the budget if you want after making the list and see if any changes are required using a maximum per head charge; $200 per head is usually a good estimate to work with; you can always downsize later.
Set a Date
Okay, this is obviously important, and you need to start at least 10 months in advance! The months especially popular for weddings are June, September, and October; people want the bright sunny aesthetic of spring- or an autumn orange wonderland. Now choose what kind of visual you have in mind and pick your favorite month, narrow it down to the weekend- and you’re halfway there!
Keep track of the weather during the months that follow up to the wedding- you don’t want unexpected showers to ruin your outdoor photoshoot, do you?
Ask your close friends and family members, especially those that are part of the wedding party, if they can veto any of the dates. You really don’t want the disappointment of not having you favorite aunt show up!
Sometimes the wedding date may need to be slightly switched around depending on venue availability; these two decisions greatly overlap. Keep enough of a margin to slightly adjust your date.
Choosing a Venue
Again, availability of a venue depends on how early you book it. Decide on a tentative date at least 10 months in advance so you can start looking around for venues that would suit your other requirements. These are the other few factors you should keep in mind.
Accessibility and Parking
The location you choose for your wedding should be accessible to all wedding guests- it is only considerate. The path leading to and from the parking area has to be okay for kids to walk down and your grandmother too. The guests are here for you, and it would be a great gesture if you could make it as comfortable for them to attend as possible.
Speaking of parking, the parking area is an important thing to consider when booking. Most venues are at a distance from main city areas so there is plenty of space; still, some double-checking would not go amiss.
Size and Aesthetic
Small spaces as wedding venues are usually present aplenty, but large venues are harder to find. This is not to say that you should ignore early booking if your wedding party is small. Trust us, deciding the venue beforehand will save you from a hundred hassles and anxieties later on.
The beauty of the venue is yet another story. You need a place that has the perfect combination of indoor and outdoor beauty to get the best of both worlds in your photographs. If you are located in the Greensboro area or nearby cities, we have a whole other article in our blog section for aesthetic venues you can go for. Go check it out!
Catering to Appetite
This is where things get tricky. The menu of your wedding lunch will be remembered as part of the whole magical memory, so hire the best caterers you can find! This may involve a lot of food tasting visits, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Take care to include items in the menu for people who are vegetarians or vegans to save yourself from the embarrassment of them going hungry at your event! Ask on your menu card whether anyone has special allergies that need to be taken care of. If all these things are considered, your guests are going to be very happy with the food no matter what- just be kind!
The Three Courses
Just keep in mind that a couple of options each for each course need to be decided on. Just in case people have a preference. They will inform of you via RSVP what their preference is and this way no food will go to waste either!
Wedding Cake Design
Okay, the cake is next up! Your wedding cake will not only be the dessert for the day, it will also be the centerpiece of your wedding décor and festivities. Cutting the wedding cake with your new spouse is a special moment that will definitely be caught on camera- this is why your baker should not only be skilled in taste but also in cake ornamentation.
Take the wedding theme in consideration when going for the cake design. If your venue decoration is all floral and white, your cake could be covered with white buttercream and some edible flowers- or fondant figurines featuring the happy couple on top; the options are virtually endless.
For more decoration ideas and trends for your cake design, you can refer to another blog post on our website and shortlist the ones you like best!
Well, you have to have an open cocktail bar at your wedding! Usually, white and red wine is offered by the catering service in the package you choose. Ask them this question beforehand and see if you can customize the services further. It depends on you whether you want your guests to be served at their seats or to self-serve the drinks.
Just remember to have many drinks for everyone- it’s a party after all, go all in!
Once all of the above important decisions have been made, it is time to set about getting your wedding cards printed. The design, color, and pattern depend completely on your tastes. Some people like to match the theme of the wedding with the cards- but you don’t have to comply with any rules when it comes to designing.
Your cards can embody your couple personality too; if you are a fun couple that likes adventures, maybe your card could feature a cartoonized version of you two on a yacht. If you like sophistication in your life, however, and want to go for a more traditional approach, try a pale background with a few floral accents and some gold embossed writing.
The content of the card also needs to be carefully arranged. Proofread it, then proofread and edit it again. Take your time with it so you have plenty of time to make adjustments and changes if you wish. Have another pair of eyes go through it before you send to print.
The ideal time to send out wedding cards is 6 to 8 weeks before the event; give your guests time to RSVP and confirm their attendance.
RSVP to the Right People
Usually, wedding cards include a response card with ‘M’ followed by a blank line- this is where your guests will enclose this with the return envelope, while also mentioning whether they will be bringing a plus-one.
Your card should have the phone numbers for people who will receive the response card so that presence can be confirmed through the phone via a call or a text.
Hold tight, this might be an emotional ride. Popular culture tells us how coveted the position of the best man and the maid of honor is. Take this decision with utmost care- these aren’t just honorary positions but those of great responsibility. The duties of a best man or a maid of honor go beyond just standing beside you during the wedding; they have to keep the rings, plan the bachelor party (or bachelorette), give the most emotional toast ever and overall keep you calm and ready for your big day.
The person you think is most qualified to handle all this responsibility is the best person for the job. Disappointments and cries of betrayal might ensue if you have more than a few close friends, but this is an honor you choose to bestow on the best of the best. Be wise about it.
Popping the Other Question
One decided on whom, you must now decide how. Popping the question to your maid of honor or your best man is going to be a memorable moment between you two, a memory you will cherish as a milestone in the journey of your friendship.
There are many ideas available over the web for inspiration for how to ask. Glitter in a box, balloon messages, stringed picture stories- all of these are great ideas and you can find some that are even better. Don’t let this moment be ordinary.
Dress and Tress
Okay, another difficult decision to make- what will you two wear?! Now we don’t mean to add panic to the situation, but you need to start planning months in advance if you want the wedding dress made on order. The make-up and hair appointments need to be set up, the footwear and accessories need to be chosen- so get cracking.
The Wedding Dress
Unless you want to wear something readymade or off-the-rack (gasp!), the wedding dress or tux design should be picked pretty early. There are various ideas depending on whether you want to go traditional, modern, or somewhere in the middle. The neckline, the cut, the shade- everything needs to be picked out and the detailing has to be finalized. Don’t worry if you haven’t done such a thing before, your tailor will assist you in all of this.
Make sure you include the outfits of the rest of the wedding participants- your bridesmaids need to be given a color and design too! For a detailed entry on popular wedding dress trends from 2019, there is another one of our blog posts.
Don’t forget to color-coordinate the happy couple’s outfits so they complement each other!
Hair, Make-Up, and Accessories
Most people want to keep their wedding make up light and glowing, especially if it is a day event. Book your make-up artist and hair stylist way beforehand so there is no chance of a clash.
For accessories, consider bringing into play your ‘something old.’ Rummage in your mom or grandma’s closet and borrow the most exquisite earrings they own. Your jewelry is a big part of your aesthetic and if they have sentimental value on top of beauty, bull’s eye!
The florist is an essential service person to hire. Depending on your overall decoration theme, flowers can be used in many forms and ways. Centerpieces need to be set in a beautiful arrangement on every table, the bouquet in the bride’s hand is a vital wedding custom, and boutonnieres have to be pinned on the lapel.
The kinds of flowers you want depend on the theme you want to go with. White flowers can be added for an ethereal feel and a more summery look can be incorporated using marigolds in the decoration. You choose what you want the style to be and the florist will follow. Here are more ideas on what flowers can do.
The set-up of the aisle and the arrangement of the event is also a job you must delegate. Some venues offer a basic outdoor or indoor set-up that you can add or modify. Setting up of the tables and chairs, the food tables, the aisle archway, the stage- all of this has to be handled by the designer who is furnishing and decorating your venue.
Sometimes, the venue designers have their own florist- this will make things much easier since you wouldn’t have to convey the vision to the both people separately.
Do you want a live band playing at your wedding? Who doesn’t! You or your significant other may already have a band in mind; if that is the case, book them as early as possible. If you don’t have an idea for who to hire, look around your area for the popular musicians that will do a good job. You need a good soundtrack for your wedding, or it is barely complete!
Hiring a Photographer
Last but not least, the service that needs special attention while being booked: the wedding photographer. Firstly, check if your photographer deals in weddings and look over the portfolio available on their website or social media page. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect from your pictures.
The style and aesthetic of the photographer will translate through to your pictures, so ensure that your choice is well-made. It is okay to want to communicate with them in person to see whether they are open to suggestions and directions. Ask them as many questions as you like- your satisfaction is of utmost importance. At Doug Burke Wedding Photography, our priority is the client’s satisfaction and approval.
Ah, the raw emotion of love that erupts during a wedding ceremony! Arguably, the best part of the wedding is tying the knot itself. The vows, especially if personalized and spoken from the heart, can induce tears of emotion and joy in all your wedding guests’ eyes.
Take your time and decide what you would like the ceremony to be like. Whether there will be a walk down the aisle, personalized vows or standard ones, who will do what minor job- all of this needs to be listed down and properly planned- don’t try to wing it on the day.
Don’t Skip the Rehearsal!
During all the chaos of the wedding preparations, many couples are tempted to skip the rehearsal dinner and launch directly onto the event. We find it our duty to warn against that. To make sure that there are no hiccups in your plan, there needs to be a rehearsal so everything can be fine-tuned down to the last detail.