wedding planning: what to do first

Will and I currently have a fridge full of save the dates and wedding invitations and have lots of friends who have recently gotten engaged.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Getting married a month after college graduation, we were one of the first couples out of our friends to tie the knot. Because we have already gone through the wedding planning process, a lot of our friends come to us with questions and we always love to help and share the things that worked well for us. Since I have gotten so many questions about it lately, I thought a little series on wedding planning might be a good way to share our wedding planning process and hopefully answer questions and help brides and couples along the way.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Woodhouse wedding planning

When Will and I look back on our wedding, we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We loved the details of our special day and are glad all the preparation and thought that went into it paid off. I don’t claim to be a wedding planner, but there are a lot of things I learned and can share from experience that might help a bride-to-be. First, I will guide any bride-to-be to a planner.  I used the Southern Living Wedding Planner, which was really helpful, but since my wedding Southern Weddings has come out with a planner that has also gotten good reviews.  Aside from getting a tangible planner, we found these 5 things most important to complete before moving on to anything else in our wedding planning. The order is important here.

1. Budget
2. Guest List
3. Dreams and Inspiration
4. Venue
5. Priority Vendors (photographer)

This list is in order for a reason. Your budget may affect the size of your guest list; the number of people you invite may determine which venues you can use; and the date you reserve the venue will determine what date you give the rest of your vendors to check their availability. Dreams and inspiration come into play before the all-important venue selection because you don’t want to sign a contract for a venue that may not fit your dream wedding. This is where you should think about your style, setting, size and spending.

Weddings are expensive. It took us a while to get over the “sticker shock” of how much everything costs, and how much there is to pay for. While your budget and the size of your guest list may have the largest impact on your venue options, you should also think about how the venue fits into your ideas for the rest of your wedding. This is not where your little detailed ideas come in yet, just big picture. If you are having the ceremony and reception in different locations, this is also where you will want to think about your ideal reception and the ease of traveling from the ceremony to the reception site. If you have always dreamed of a reception under a big tent on a large field, a ceremony at a venue in a city might not be your best option. This isn’t to say you can’t do both, but think about your overall vision before booking your venue.

Woodhouse wedding planning

After scrambling to do all of that, I found it really helpful to list out the for the rest of my wedding planning process to list out the items that were important to us to include, and creating a coherent feel for the wedding. Will and I came up with our top priorities and 10 buzzwords that included details, emotions and the overall vision we wanted to have for our wedding day. Priorities will change from couple to couple, but we knew that we wanted a great photographer. We will keep our wedding photos forever, and we wanted to be able to have beautiful pictures to look back on for the rest of our lives. For some people, priorities may be having a great band, serving delicious food, or making sure your wedding is very cultural. Once you have set your priorities, list your 10 buzzwords that will guide the look and feel of your wedding. By using these priorities and buzzwords to guide your wedding planning, your smaller details will come together coherently.

Woodhouse wedding planning

Woodhouse wedding planning

Weddings take a lot of time to plan, are easiest with good organization and often must be an “all-hands-on-deck” process when you get closer to the date. While your fiancé may not care at all about the types of flowers used in the ceremony and the font used in the program, there are plenty of things they can do and ways they can help. The same goes for lots of members of your family who want to help. In order to coordinate all these tasks, it is important to write down all of the tasks that need to get done and delegate. I’m planning on sharing more tips on organization, registries, how to make sure all of the planning and execution goes well, staying on budget and more in later posts. I’m excited about this new topic – I hope it is fun and helpful!

You can see more of our wedding on Graham Terhune’s blog and in The Knot North Carolina

Woodhouse wedding planningAll photos by the talented couple at Graham Terhune Photography

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