As you plan, remember to stay clear of the “runaway mind” (the term coined by my mother to explain what happens when our thoughts become obsession). “Runaway mind” can easily happen to the best of us especially during wedding planning. Our thoughts will go a million different places trying to cover every detail and make the best decisions. What venue? Who will caterer? What flavor of cake? Where should I begin? Here is my two cents on the first eight steps to take (or at least things to consider).
Step 1. Determine your three must-haves between you and your groom.
List three things that are necessary for your wedding. These are nonnegotiable. Everything else is dispensable or the budget can be minimized to ensure these three things are included. For example. Is it a must that you get married at a particular venue? If the venue is pricey, consider a smaller guest count, minimizing your bridal party or lowering the budget for your wedding gown. Is it that you must have a band over a DJ? Consider not as many flowers or a less expensive venue. Weddings can easily exceed budgets if everything is paramount. Focus on your top three and give and take elsewhere when wedding planning.
Step 2. Set your budget.
Review your must-haves and then realign your budget to allow for more funding for those three items. Be flexible in all other areas. Budget breakdown templates were developed to make the budgeting process easier but you may find it does not work well for based on your unique desires. That said use the breakdown for what it is. A template. Remember that you may be prepared to spend more or less in certain areas based on your nonnegotiable items. If the template recommends 10% for flowers and 5% for invitations, you may find that, because flowers are important to you, that you need 13% for flowers and only 2% for invitations. Be flexible to make sure your top three must-haves are covered.
Step 3. Pin then edit.
Pin away on Pinterest. Then narrow the scope of pins. Find the common thread and remove any pins that seem like outliers. Remember to determine the ambiance you wish to feel and convey on your wedding day. Is it based on your venue? Your colors? Your love story? I then recommend you step away. After a week or so, revisit your ideas. Do you still love them? Narrow the scope of Pinterest pins again to further make your day cohesive with the mood you wish to convey for the day. Remember to place the focus on your top three must-haves you established at the beginning of your wedding planning. Now stop pinning. Seriously. Keep pinning and you will get lost in the weeds. Oh the places pinning goes.
Step 4. Establish a happy union between best time of day and venue.
For many of you, the first thing you do in the wedding planning process is book the venue. Often, this is because the venue is most important so you will get married the date and time the venue is available. If, however, it is available any time of day or the venue is not top priority, speak with your photographer about best lighting before establishing a definitive ceremony, cocktail and reception time. You will want to make sure you can actually see your memories and look your best in your photos for years to come. Too often, the photographer is juggling lighting around the time you have set and it might not be ideal for capturing the best shot no matter how good the photographer. Once you determine the best time of day, then book your venue and secure your window of time.
Step 5. Find the venue that best fits your ambiance if location was not the main factor in your decision making process.
Step 6. Determine your guest list.
See if the number of guests you plan to invite seems reasonable with your budget. Will you have to give up one of your three must-haves to have people present you do not know? Catering for a large group adds up quickly and even more so if you plan to have a bar. This is why I am an advocate for more intimate events. The lower the head count, the further the budget goes for flowers, invitations, attire and so on. I also personally feel it makes the event more special as well.
Step 7. Base your flowers, invitations, save-the-dates, favors, food and cake (pick a flavor you love), etc. all on one cohesive style and theme that you have created through the narrowing of your pins.
Step 8. Find your gown based on how you wish to look and feel.
Note when I say find your gown as Step 5, this does not mean it needs to be done extremely far in advance. Take a little time. Think of the wedding as an extension of your style and consider the overall styling and feeling you wish to convey when choosing your gown so your gown, your wedding and you are cohesive (A princess wears a ball gown in a castle am I right?). Is your wedding more romantic? Maybe your wedding is more modern or glamorous. In my opinion, a wispy bohemian wedding does not pair well with a fully sequined, art-deco gown (but hey, it is your wedding so just aim to feel fabulous). If anything, make sure the gown is amazing for your body type and not too trendy because classic and timeless is always ideal.
Two cents given. Happy planning!