How to start wedding planning?

posted 2 years ago in Engagement
Post # 2
1372 posts
Bumble bee

1. I think it prudent to first gather a tentative guest list so that you know the general amount of people who could be in attendance. Kids or no kids? This will matter later. 

2. With that number in mind (yes, it will no doubt change), select some venues that will hold that many people but won’t hold SOOOO many more people that you’ll be paying for that extra space for no reason. 

3. Then tailor your venue selections: Do they offer both ceremony and reception options? (This depends on whether or not you want those events to be separated at different locations. If separated, begin researchin TWO kinds of venues.) Do they provide catering, or do you need an outside caterer? What other services do they provide that won’t have to hire elsewhere?

4. This may be optional, but it’s probably helpful: Create a wedding website. (zola, theknot, etc.) You can provide your guests with registry info, RSVP options, places to stay or where you’re planning on booking suits, itinerary, etc. You need only BEGIN the website now; provide new information to your guests as you know about it. 

5. Save-the-dates (if needed) and invitations. Once you have a general list of those invited, begin searching for invitations and such. Order them, fill them out, send them. (This sometimes takes a while if you don’t already have everyone’s addresses.)

6. In the interim, begin thinking about wedding theme (if at all), decor, theme color, and table settings. Start looking around for what you might like. 

Most things after this require that you’ve gotten your RSVPs. 

7. Caterer. Once you know how many people will attend, you’ve got to research and book a caterer. You can’t possibly know what to order until you know approximately how many people will be in attendance. 

8. Consider ordering place settings and table decor and such once you know how many people (and, as a result, how many tables) will be there. 

9. Booze. Will you need it? How much? What kinds (wine, beer, mixed drinks, or a combo)? Open bar? Cash bar? Open bar until a certain time and then charging? Does the caterer do this, do you need to buy kegs and such from the local liquor store? Dry wedding? 

The rest can occur as you’re doing the others:

– if children are allowed, then setting up activities or areas for them is to be considered

– choose a wedding party, get confirmation, and plan the researsal and rehearsal meal (is necessary)

– wedding dress, tuxedo, bridal party clothing: fittings, ordering, etc. 

– find a DJ, wedding band, etc. Discuss the type of music, special songs, etc. As it gets closer to the date, begin to discuss timelines of songs (first dance, father-daughter dance, etc.) 

– book a local suite of rooms for out-of-town guests


There are no doubt MANY things to be added to this list, but I feel like the order in which I placed the numbered events is at least reasonable. Good luck! 

Post # 3
2706 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - St Peter\'s Church, East Maitland, and Bella Vista, Newcastle

DeniseSecunda : Some good advice here, but there is one MAJOR thing missing: budget.  Before you do anything, you need to work out how much you are going to be able to spend.  If you have a large guest list and a small budget, you will be limited in what you can afford in terms of a venue and may need to do an afternoon “cake and punch” reception rather than a full sit down dinner.  There are some good budget tools out there which will help you work out how your $$$ should be divided up across the different things for your wedding.

Also, you absolutely can’t wait until RSVPs are in before booking a caterer – RSVPs shouldn’t be required much more than a month before the wedding and that is WAY too late to be booking a caterer.  Caterers will charge you per head, usually, so if you say “we’re inviting 120 people” when you book them, they’ll base things off that, but if it turns out you only have 90 attending then you’ll only be charged for 90 people.  Final numbers are usually required 2-3 weeks before the wedding, but the caterers will need to be booked a LONG way in advance of that.  Also with alcohol, cash bars are generally considered to be pretty rude – you’re asking your guests to attend your wedding (often at expense to themselves – attire, travel etc), and bring you a gift, so to turn around and ask them to pay for their drinks is not cool.  You don’t have to have a full open bar – beer and wine alone is fine, but please don’t ask your guests to pay for anything.

My top tip is that an all-inclusive venue is WAY easier and usually just as economical.  Our venue included catering, unlimited beer and wine, provided tables, chairs, all linens, glassware, cutlery and crockery, and basic decorations.  Much less to stress about.

Post # 4
1013 posts
Bumble bee

Have you checked out the site A Practical Wedding? It has an amazing “beginner’s” guide on wedding planning.

Post # 6
517 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

becks90 :  The Knot app has a checklist. Its great!! Tells you what to do month by month!!! 

Post # 7
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2018

Some great checklists here, and all those things need to be considered but also consider what is most important to you; is it that a certain person/people attend, perhaps from overseas or who might have other weddings to attend already, then speak with them first.

Is it a venue you have had your heart set on? A photographer you just must work with?

For us for example, I knew my best friend had a wedding August 2018 already that I need to avoid, and my Fiance has friends overseas and in the forces.


Venue was always going to be my parents’ farm for reception and I was content that I’d find a marquee/tipi etc and photographer/band – didn’t have a desperate preference for any in particular.

 I really wanted a particular church but had a good second if that was the blocker.

So for us, it was friend availablity, then the church. When that came good, we booked it and fixed the date, sent save the dates. We then found the marquee, photog etc. 

It’s a bank holiday Saturday in a remote area so about 8 photographers were already fully booked but we have found one we LOVE. As for bands, that was fine.


Post # 8
9604 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

 I would start with budget, guestlist, venue. When you have venue booked, you have a wedding and then youll scramble to fill in the details because youll have to haha. Lots of good checklists on line on theknot, weddingwire etc.

After venue come the vendors who can only do one job a day: caterer, florist, photographer, band/dj if needed. 

Post # 10
545 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2018 - Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Get the venue and date locked in first before anything. Choosing a hotel venue with an included catering and bar package makes life easier as you don’t have to bring in all those people separately. I also hired a planner who’s currently setting up Tier 1 vendors right now and will be sending checklists, etc and doing a ton for me (we just locked in the venue yesterday so it’s still really early). I can do a lot myself but as I get knee deep into planning there’s bound to be something I am going to forget to do so having a planner to keep me on track will definitely keep me sane. If you can afford one, it’s definitely worth it to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. 

Post # 11
433 posts
Helper bee

WedHappy app has all todo list by month. 

Below are major things:

Decide budget

decide guestlist

Book venue

book caterer/ rentals

book DJ

book florist/ centerpieces

decide bridal party



Your dress

bridemaids dress

Book cake



Post # 12
40 posts

I’m 11 months out from my wedding and I have been living by the wedding checklist by The Knot since I also don’t have a wedding planner, they also have a neat budget tool that gives you an idea of how much you should spend where, obviously you can give or take the budget elsewhere if other areas are more important to you (I’m not booking a florist because I could care less for real flowers versus fake flowers). I think it’s a good idea to just do some researching on your own and browse the many wedding websites. I’ve looked at The Knot, Wedding Wire, and obviously Wedding Bee. 

And if you ever have a question that you’re not sure of an answer, seriously just google it, someone has probably had that same or a similar question before, lol. I’ve googled so many questions that I feel like is a dumb question but have found many others who have had the same question.

Happy planning! 🙂

Post # 13
900 posts
Busy bee

First, budget.  Budget dictates everything. There are some good online calculators that help you take your overall budget and divide it up into categories – i.e., expect to spend about 50% on your reception (including venue, catering, alcohol, rentals, etc) and 8-10% on your attire. 


Next, guest list. 


Third, determine what vibe you want for your ceremony and reception which will help you pick a wedding date and venues.  If you have your heart set on getting married in your childhood church, you’ll need to call them and find out what dates they have available.  Then, as you call reception venues for appointments, you’ll narrow down the list based on the dates they have available. 


Next, research reception venues that are available on your dates and visit the ones that meet your budget / guest list needs. You’ll want to understand if you’re able to bring in outside vendors or if you can purchase your own alcohol or if you have to get everything through their on-site or pre-approved vendor list.  


Keep referring back to budget and guest list throughout this whole process. If you have a $10k budget and a 200 person guest list, you’d allocate $5k for reception (50% guideline). A venue that has a $2k rental fee would only leave you with $15/guest ( $3k divided by 200)….there is no way you could cater a full meal, serve alcohol, and buy a cake on $15pp.  So you would either rule out that venue or slash the guest list to 50 where you’d have a more realistic $60pp budget.  


Once you’ve determined budget, guest list, and booked a venue that works for both, then you can start checking off the smaller ticket items: attire, invitations, floral/decorations, officiant, etc.  Again, lots of great resources on the internet to help keep you on track, time-wise- ie, how many months out to buy a dress, mail invitations, etc. 

Post # 14
203 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

becks90 :  I’ll keep it short (ish) and sweet because I know all of the info at first glance can be overwhelming. 

FIRST: Determine your tentative guest list and a budget. Doesn’t have to be a solid budget, but I would have discussions with fiance and parents (and his parents) about what people are willing to contribute. This will be paramount. 

Second: Find a venue. This can take time. Is there a place you find has special meaning between you and FI? Is there a place that has a wonderful accomodation for weddings near you that people (out of towners) can get to easily? Venues book up one, two, even three years in advance in some cases. Put your deposit down and select your date. Once that is done, you can get all the other essentials. 

Third: For me, it was photographer. But it is because our photographer is VERY highly sought after so I had been following her for like a year before we were engaged. We were lucky to get a date that coincided with availability with venue. 

Fourth: Take some time on the rest. If you are less than 10 months out from your desired date, look for a dress. Those babies can take months to procure. Have a specific style in mind, maybe a couple favorite designers, and go from there. 

I have found that a lot of the wedding mags have great tear away check lists for timelines. Pick up two or three, get some inspo, and follow their timelines but loosley. 


This didn’t end up being short but I hope it helps. My wedding is 9.1.18 and we have the venue, guest list, budget, save the dates, and dress (as well as bridal and groom parties) solidified and now I am kind of coasting until a couple months from now. Good luck! Let me know if you have questions.

*Edit: Money is a huge concern. Things will come up that you want to add on, or ideas pop up for little things, and it can snowball out of control. I should take my own advice here but really try to stick to budget. Otherwise you will be in debt. Find ways to DIY little things. That can make a huge difference.

Post # 15
73 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2018


becks90 : is what I found and it breaks down everything that’s generally involved with a wedding and rough time frames. It’s been very helpful for me. Something to be midnful of if you’re wanting to have it around a holiday you may be looking at premium charges for venues or all the best ones could be booked up. 


What I also did was put together a wedding binder to keep everything together, and I picked up Wedding Planning for Dummies. 

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