I got engaged this summer & didn’t start planning until a month ago! Hah, it’s definitely a daunting task!
I started by having a tentative budget. My number started at 3k, but when I really started to research, I realized that it would be nearly impossible to do a medium sized wedding for kind of money unless I wanted to get incredibly crafty and ask for lots of help from other (neither of which I want to do!). I realized a better estimate was about 4k for a 90-100 person wedding with my restrictions and vision. I also live in MI, so it’s a bit easier to get away with this kind of budget here.
Secondly, I created a guest list. I divided it up this way: My mom’s side of the family, dad’s side of the family, and my “extras” (such as friends etc..), then I did the same for my groom. So I ended up with 6 groups, and I also prioritized them by MUSTS and WANTS. By dividing it this way, it was sooo much easier to tackle and make changes to in a reasonably simple way. Your tentative guest list basically has to be the very first or second thing you do, because everything else hinges on this count.
Thirdly, I went internet crazy looking up venues. At this stage in the game, you really don’t know if your venue will include catering and bar service, so it’s best to wait on looking into those things until you’ve found your venue, done a walk-through, and negotiated price. I found my venue first, then set my date after finding what they had available open, and checking to make sure that our immediate families could attend, and our bridal party. I wouldn’t worry so much about everybody else, because frankly, it’s too much of a hassle to coordinate around too many peoples schedules, and people will prioritize accordingly..
My venue provided everything but catering and bar service, so I then went about sourcing catering by looking online, getting references from my venue, and asking at some of my local favorite restaurants. I found a restaurant that would cater my evening reception using their lunch menu, and it was incredibly reasonable! Don’t be afraid to tell them your budget, and then let them decide if they can work within it. You’d be surprised what they can come up with if you stand firm! As far as bar service, I hit craigslist and found a fabulous freelance bartender with 20yrs of experience who was willing to plan my whole bar and serve for 4hrs for a meer $100!
Lastly, attend to the details, and don’t let them eat you up inside! I got my invites for free (literally!) on partypop.com just by seeing a superbowl commercial that advertised it. Granted, I haven’t got them yet, but they really are legit and they print them on 80lb cardstock with matching envelopes and use an online RSVP system (they give you a wedding website) for totally free, and even mail them to you for free!
Just remember, it’s your wedding, and you can omit anything that doesn’t suit YOU as a couple! There are so many things I’m not doing to save money, and my guests probably won’t miss almost any of it! Plus, I did all that planning in a month! It can be done 🙂