Getting engaged is so exciting. And the next step is the wedding! But the thought of planning it is daunting so you want to hire someone. But it’s expensive and you’re trying to keep costs low. What to do?! Don’t worry! You CAN plan your own wedding and still stay sane, I promise! I did it! How, you ask? I’m here to tell you exactly how so keep reading!
First, grab my Ultimate Wedding Planning kit . It’s free and chock full of details that are outlined so you don’t forget anything!
So how do you even begin planning your own wedding? How do you make sure you don’t get overwhelmed or forget anything crucial? These are real concerns for people wanting to plan their own wedding, but there are ways to combat these fears.
I will say that planning your own wedding does require some amount of organization and patience. It does take work to plan your own wedding, but it is completely doable!!
First, take a breath. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but just take it one thing at a time.
1. Start with the budget
Be realistic and honest with yourself. What is your real budget? Talk with your fiancé and figure out who is paying for what. Once you’ve figured out who is paying for it, figure out how much you want to spend. Remember: it’s easy to get carried away when planning. If your budget is unlimited, then sure, get carried away! But if you’ve set a strict number, then you need to stay on track. Use excel to write out a budget tracker and track everything! You’ll be happy you started tracking from the start and then your budget is less likely to get out of control.
2. Next, think about the guestlist
Do you want a huge wedding? Something more intimate? This is where the budget is so important because the more people you have, the more expensive it will be. If you have a super small budget but want to invite 300 people, you better start thinking of how to feed that many people on very little. Not only that, but some venues charge per chair at the ceremony and the more people you have the more centerpieces you'll need because you'll have more tables. Don’t be afraid to cut your list – if you haven’t talked to someone in years, they don’t need to be invited. If you have an aunt you haven’t seen or talked to since you were a kid, you don’t need to invite them. This is where your parents might have something to say but they need to know how firm you are on your budget and that you’d like to invite people who are actually in your life at the moment. It can be a tough conversation, but standing up for yourself is key.
3. Colors? Flowers? Theme? Oh my!
Using my checklist, start listing some of these things out. You may already have ideas in your head about your dream wedding or you may have ZERO clue what you want. Don’t fret! Use the internet for inspiration – Pinterest, Etsy, Michaels, and even Google can really help you find things you like. I used Etsy no only for buying cute things for my wedding but for inspiration. The same goes for Michaels (get the app, there's ALWAYS a coupon!). Don’t forget, always keep your budget in mind. If you want heaps of fresh flowers, your budget might get blown quickly so think about alternative options like faux flowers, paper flowers, or just less flowers. It’s fine to write a tentative plan – maybe even write down your dream wedding – but from there, be realistic with yourself on what you can or can’t afford.
4.Now you gotta pick the venue!
I’ll be honest: this was the most stressful part of the planning process for me. We had a pretty small budget so finding what I wanted while still in budget was difficult. I used WeddingWire for most of this process though, and it helped me narrow my search a lot. Use the excel spreadsheet included in my Wedding Planning Kit to keep track of venues you like, how much it costs to rent it, and phone numbers of the coordinators there. Then, make appointments to visit them. You can take your spreadsheet with you and write down pros and cons of the space. If you have a lot to visit, you should narrow it to 2 or 3 after visiting all of your choices. For us, it came down to our dream space (outdoors, surrounded by trees) and we opted to spend a little more to get what we wanted.
5. What about food? Alcohol?
Some places include food in their package and I HIGHLY recommend seriously considering a place that does this. It’s so much easier to deal with one vendor, instead of a million. If your dream space doesn’t include food, however, that’s okay! The Knot and WeddingWire both have lists of food vendors to make your search easy. Use the excel sheet here to help you figure out cost, food type, and value. Some venues make you choose from their own list, so be sure to check for this. I recommend picking your venue first and then caterer since sometimes venues don’t allow outside catering. If you decide to serve alcohol, the caterer usually takes care of that as well. But keep in mind, the food price usually does NOT include the alcohol price! Alcohol can get pretty pricey so make sure you take that into account when figuring out how much you want to spend per head. Some places may allow you to do your own alcohol and you would just pay the bartender. Not a bad option, except it will require a little more work to figure out how much alcohol you need.
6. Take a breath again
After figuring out the above details, a few months should have passed. I would recommend taking as much time as you can to plan. Trying to squeeze all that in can be overwhelming and difficult. And once you’ve mostly nailed those things down, take a little break. But don’t forget to keep a log of all your vendors (name and phone number), and money spent so far.
7. Nail down some details
As planning goes on, you’ll think of new and scrap old ideas many times. Trust me, it will happen. And that’s okay! Things will come together eventually and you can totally switch gears now and then. Switching your whole color scheme and theme is not advised, however. Since so many other things rely on these details, I recommend getting those set in stone pretty early on.
8. Think about music
DJ? Musician? Do your own music? I personally chose to do my own music – I rented speakers and a microphone and made my own playlists using Spotify. Not only did this save me money, but also the headache of interviewing DJ’s or musicians and worrying that they wouldn’t play what I wanted. I had full control of my music and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Obviously, this is one more step for you to do, so if you want to hire a DJ then by all means – do it! Don’t forget to add them to your vendor list!
9. Find a florist and don’t forget the cake!
Again, use The Knot and WeddingWire to help you find vendors like these. Don’t forget to keep your budget in mind! There’s no secret here, really. Just try to keep your prospective list short or you’ll feel overwhelmed.
10. Organize and mail your invitations
This can also include save the date's, if you're doing those (they are not necessary, but are fun!). Save the dates should go out about 4-6 months before your wedding (longer if it's a destination wedding) and your invitations should go out about 2 months before your wedding (again, longer if a destination wedding). I used Vistaprint for ALL my stationary needs. They have sales all the time (50% off sometimes!), so I highly recommend them! Use your excel sheet (from my wedding kit) to keep track of addresses and RSVP's as they come in. Give everyone a respond by date of about 30 days before the wedding so you have a pretty accurate count with plenty of time to spare.
11. Step back and realize how close you are to being done!
The big stuff is done! All that’s left is small details that you can figure out as you go along. The best thing about weddings is that you can do whatever you want because it’s YOUR day. You can veto old-fashioned traditions and add in something new and modern if you want. The choice is up to you and your fiancé and nobody else.
12. Get a day-of coordinator
After all that planning you did, I do recommend getting a coordinator for the day of to ensure everything goes smoothly. I enlisted a good friend of mine who already was married (so she knew how it should go) to do it for me, so you don’t necessarily need to hire someone. You really don’t want to spend your wedding day worrying about all the things falling into place, so this is something you really don’t want to skip.
Taking it one step at a time is really key in the wedding planning process. Using my checklist will really help you do just that and you’ll soon realize how possible it is to pull this off!
A wedding planner can certainly be useful but for some people (me), it just wasn’t possible to hire one. The thought of my planning my own wedding was exciting but I was also a little scared going into it. Luckily, I made it through with zero problems and I know you can too!