(Closed) how to start planning for a wedding….. so overwhelmed.

posted 5 years ago in Beehive
Post # 2
80 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: January 2016

I did not hire a planner. My venue offers day of coordination. Some venues have a preferred list of vendors that they may want you to use and some venues even charge you extra if you decide to not use someone on their list. My venue has a list of vendors that they usually work with but it is not required that we work with them. I have found that for me, it was easier to find a venue that included a lot of ammenities. Like my venue includes day of coordination, all of the tables, chairs, tablecloths, sound system for the DJ, lighting, security guards, and bartenders, and a catering kitchen. 

I think the easiest way to start planning is to of course set up your budget. Then figure out what is most important to you. If you have a specific photographer or venue you want, you should contact them and get a deposit down. 

Post # 3
1994 posts
Buzzing bee

It depends how big of an event you’re having if you need to hire a professional wedding planner.

I for one, am very detail-oriented so I’ll be planning my wedding.

I’d buy a planner off Amazon and make a wedding binder to keep organized and have a section for every part of wedding planning. You need a budget, date, venue, invites, save the dates, wedding bands, dress + veil + shoes, photographer, flowers, makeup and hair, decor, cake, catering for food and dessert and drinks, entertainment/music, decide on your bridal party and your partner’s groomsmen, tuxes, transportation, hotel accomodations, registry, honeymoon. 

Basically Google will be your best friend. You can find reviews on a lot of the vendors you’ll be needing. Every venue is different and some include certain things like decor. Some veneus also have catering minimums you need to spend to have your wedding there. I’d e-mail potential venues, then set up a time to see it and narrow possible locations down from there. Bring a list of questions with you!

Don’t stress, just stay organized and be happy you’re getting married ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 4
758 posts
Busy bee

I’ve been using Google docs for everything.

We started by making a rough guest list — who NEEDS to be invited, and who do we want to invite. From there, I found a few venues, emailed for quotes, and picked my top 3 for Fiance and I to go visit.

We picked a venue, and picked a date based on what they had available. Then we started on photographer/DJ (catering was done through the venue).

Post # 5
1552 posts
Bumble bee

Before anything else, determine the number of guests and book a venue.

Post # 6
5154 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

Kslim13:  I did not hire a wedding planner – my venue has a coordinator who handles everything so a wedding planner would have been pointless. 

The first thing I did was find a venue. I knew I wanted a low maintenance venue. That means, it wasnt a space that I had to rent tables/chairs for or decorate myself or find an outside caterer. My venue had all of that in a beautiful ballroom.

After we selected the date and venue, I moved on to booking the bigger things – DJ, photographer, florist, etc. Most wedding venues can give you suggestions. I used the DJ that my venue suggested and found the other vendors through friends/coworkers that had previously been married. 

I think the big things is a good place to start – venue, photog, DJ, florist. Figure out what kind of wedding you want (do you want it in a place you can decorate yourself or do you want an already done up ballroom?) and then start making appointments to visit venues. 

Post # 7
446 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

Kslim13:  I would start with creating a small binder. To save money, create your own tabs and get plastic sheet covers. I used a wedding website (The Knot) to create an online wedding planner as well. It generates a month by month guide AND emails you based off the month timeline – which is super nice.

Most importantly – have fun with it and don’t stress. Give yourself plenty of wiggle room. Also, a lot of stuff says do this by 9-12 months, etc but you don’t need to follow that. I got all the pricey stuff is almost payed off ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 8
3470 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA

Step 1 is to think about your budget.  Decide on a rough idea of how much you’re willing to spend, and who is going to be paying for what (i.e. are parents helping? are you and your Fiance paying? Who is spending what and when? do you need to save, or is the money already available for deposits?) 

Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to start thinking about your “dream wedding” and what aspects are most important to you.  For example, for my husband the single most important thing was the food, so I knew we’d be spending a lot of our budget on that.  For me, it was the flowers.  Growing up the daughter of a gardener and a florist, this was a major part of my image so these were our top 2 priorities.  Think about the kind of wedding you want to have because that will dicate the next factor… 

Select the kind of venue you want for your theme/style (estimated guest count, indoor/outdoor?, day/night?, formal/casual?) and begin viewing.  It’s best to not get your heart set on a date until you picked a venue because you might need to adjust it by a week or two depending on their availability.  

Every venue is different in terms of what they do and don’t include and/or allow.  So, it’s hard to decide how much of your budget should go to venue because the price can be so varried. But once you have a few that you like, talk to them about dates and their policies/contracts.  If they don’t offer a service ask them what their policy is on vendors.  Some have a recommended list to help you get started, others have an “approved” list of vendors they will allow on their site.  Others will offer packages that take care of everything for you in one stop.

This was another deciding factor in my wedding because we decided to cater it ouselves, so we had to find a venue that allowed that and that eliminated most of our top contendors.  

Once you have your venue selected and date secured, you’ll have a much better idea of what pieces are “next” because you’ll know what vendors to interview and which are already taken care of.  This will also help you flesh out your details and things because you’ll be able to picture the site and know what you have to do for decorations and things.  

Post # 9
595 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

Good advice from PPs! Start with budget since it will determine how many guests you’ll be able to have, and what kind of venues to look at.

Create a system of organizing everything! I have a Google Docs spreadsheet with different tabs for everything (they have a a great template you can use at http://www.google.com/weddings), but I also have a big binder that has all of my contracts and paperwork.

Create a rough guest list. It doesn’t need to be finalized just yet, but is more to give you an idea of about how many people you’ll want to invite. Pad it a little knowing you may end up inviting others that you forgot about and that a certain percentage will also not be able to come.

From there, you’ll be able to start thinking about venues. Look at places that can accommodate the amount of people you want to have. Different venues have different policies. Some venues do absolutely nothing except provide a space, while others are all inclusive and require you use only their vendors. It will be up to you to decide which route you want to go. Here is where having a spreadsheet really really helps, because you’ll be able to look at all the venues in the chart and compare based on that. Good luck!!!

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by  michellia.
Post # 10
604 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

Kslim13:  For us, it was determining a rough budget, rough guest list, and researching venues. Fiance and I did A LOT of discussing about general feel/theme to the wedding. Did we want rustic, modern, southwestern, etc… because the venue really does contribute to that feeling.

We also did a bit of calling around to caterers and other vendors for ballpark pricing due to the fact that SOME of our potential venues had “preferred” or set in stone vendors you had to work with. That made our decisions easier too.

What frustrated me was that some venues wouldn’t give pricing over the phone or email so when we showed up, saw a gorgeous venue, then choked at the price, we wasted everyone’s time ๐Ÿ™‚ Basically my advice is:

1) set a relative budget

2) come up with a ballpark guest list (even just knowing, 75-100 people, 125-150 people) helps you book a space. If you know you want at LEAST 125 people, that crosses quite a few potential venues off your list. (or if you want fewer, some venues will want you to guarentee a certain amount of guests or food/alcohol costs up front, so maybe you won’t have enough folks to meet that).

3) Start venue shopping w/ your Fiance. We spent quite a few weekends last summer visiting venues and meeting with their coordinators, narrowed it down to the one we wanted, toured it again, and booked.

Once you have your venue, you can start putting together the rest of the pieces (caterer, photographer, etc).

Oh an also, engagement photos are a fun way to try out a photographer you are very interested in booking for the wedding, consider that!

Post # 11
599 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2016 - Charleston, SC

Kslim13:  when we got engaged, we created a list of places we wanted to see. before we saw any venues or talked to vendors, we figured out how much we had to spend, then picked a venue that we were comfortable paying for.

We did hire a partial planner to handle decor and day-of. I would suggest one ..they can actually save you a lot! Certain DJs gave a 10% discount for using a planner, and several of the caterers and bar services suggested to us also give a discount for working with our specific planner. TBH, i would hire someone before picking a single vendor so they can help you with budget allocation and give you venue suggestions that fit in your price range. 

Post # 12
303 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

Kslim13:  If you go to TheKnot.com and make a profile you can use their wedding planning timeline machine that you put your date into and it gives you a more personalized timeline of when to do things! I know it helped me so much cuz I wasn’t sure when to do certain things. It feels really good to have a timeline of everything!

Post # 13
2098 posts
Buzzing bee

Been there! Take a deep breath.. you have plenty of time and you’re already here so you’ve already found an awesome resource ๐Ÿ™‚ 

<br />first of all – Check out some books from the library- its free! A practical Wedding is one, look for more recommendations. 

2nd of all- Realize that you have to take things step by step, especially at first. Don’t let yourself swewat any other detail except the most important from which so many other details are decided– THE VENUE. Yes, it really is the most important decision for so many reasons inlcuding cost, guest count, what if any other vendors you need, etc. So just think about what you really want in a venue and then get to your venue research. Don’t let yourself worry about anything else that comes later (dress,food, tables, guest list, etc) or you can get overwhlemed. venues tend to book up about a year before the wedding dates, so just keep that in mind and know how much time you have before things get competetive. Then talk at length with your fiance about what you want from your venue and what wedding you both imagine and a ballpark for budget. Then go start looking at them. 

Looking at venues can take a while. You have to make appointments and it can be tricky to see more than 1-2 per day. Some don’t tour on Sundays….. so just accept that for about a month or two you may be spedning a lot of time looking at different venues. It also can mean a lot of driving as they tend to be spaced further from cities (well, “affordable” venues in my area are always at least an hour away! Depends on your budget and your desires. 

After venue you can start your dress mania, but really allow yourself to only worry about venue selection for now ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Post # 14
2098 posts
Buzzing bee

(And its good to look at budget calculators to see what percentage of budget goes towards venue. It is very very very easy to assume that if you budget is for ex 20K you can spend up to 6 on venue but that would be incredibly wrong. LOL. If you go to one of those suggested breakdowns like at theknot you can put in your estimated budget and it’ll tell you what it recommends for venue. Remember to factor in when you tour venues whether or not you have to use their caterer. Some venues have reasonable site fees, but their required caterers are quite $$$ and alchohol too. 

Lastly, realize that if you get a totally DIY venue (like I did) you may have some less obvious but adding up costs such as A)dance floor B)rentals like chairs tables glasses plates C)servers D)lighting sometimes even E)porta potties 

I think I still saved some, but not as much as I THOUGHT orginally I was saving, because renting all that stuff isn’t free. It’s also way more work and you have to like planning and getting into details. for me its ok because i like planning, be in control of details and feel in control of food and booze which is important to me. 

Post # 15
332 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

All the PP’s pretty much said it! Start with a budget. That will help you figure out what kind of venue you can afford. Then choose a venue. Search online for venues in your area. Once you tour a venue, they should be able to give you info about what they offter in their packages. If you don’t want to do all of the work yourself as far as paying for every little thing (tables, linens, lighting, dance floor, etc), choose a venue that is all-inclusive or at least covers the basics.


The Knot checklist is really helpful because it lets you know what to do during what month.


After we had the venue booked, we got our photographer. Photographers book up quickly depending on how popular they are, so I wanted to be sure I had the one I wanted. Just a tip!


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