Planning a wedding is a big undertaking, but you don’t need to hire an expensive wedding planner to do it. You can plan a wedding by yourself with some organization, resourcefulness, and following these tips:
1. Get organized
As with planning any event or other undertaking, you have to stay organized. Doing so will help you keep everything under control and give you back a measure of your sanity and peace of mind.
Get organized in the way that works best for you. Some newlyweds-to-be prefer using free online tools, like those available at MyWedding.com and The Knot, while others use binders, notebooks or other devices. Just make sure you have one place to put everything wedding-related: pictures/inspiration, vendor contacts, your guest list and so on. Even simply stuffing everything into a file folder will serve you better than having important information stored all over the place.
2. Set a date
When you go to set a date, be realistic. Don’t plan on attempting to work a full-time job, have a social life and plan a fancy dinner soiree with 300 guests in just 6 months. It’s not going to happen.
Most weddings are planned in 9-12 months. This allows you time to find a good venue, purchase dresses and suits, hire a caterer and baker, find musicians and complete the myriad of other tasks involved with planning a wedding. If you have a helper or are planning a simpler affair you may not need as much time. However, it’s always better to have extra time for planning than to be pinched for time as the big day gets closer.
3. Finalize a guest list
Knowing how many people you’re likely to have at your wedding is one of the most important aspects of wedding planning. It will guide you in determining the length and style of your celebrations, what venue to use and how your budget is allocated.
4. Determine your style and priorities
Are you the type to throw a huge formal ball with hundreds of guests, premium hors d’oeuvres and a string quartet? Or do you prefer something smaller with the feel of a backyard barbecue? Before you spend a dime, sit down with your fiance and discuss what you both want out of the wedding.
Settle on a style or theme and determine what’s most important to you both. This is not only good practice in communication and compromise but it will also help you get the best wedding and stay within your budget. Make a list of your priorities, too. If you both want fantastic photos but don’t care too much about having an artistic cake, keep that in mind when shopping.
5. Set a budget
Once you have your date, guest list and overall vision set down, make a realistic budget. How much can you both contribute to the wedding? How much do you expect from parents’ contributions? Remember that going into debt for a wedding is not advisable in any sense, so be very careful using credit cards and avoid loans. Don’t count on money from others either until you actually have it.
When you’re setting up your budget, your priorities list should be nearby. If you don’t want fancy invitations but would like that designer gown, don’t allocate 20 percent of your budget towards professionally engraved pocketfolds on premium paper. Remember too that the simplest way to cut costs is to reduce your guest list. For example, if you’re spending $50 a head on food and drinks, inviting only 100 people will cost you $5,000 less than inviting 200 people.
6. Recruit a dedicated helper
Every newlywed-to-be needs a planning helper. Whether it’s a parent, attendant or a motivated friend, having someone to give advice on the centerpieces, accompany you to dress fittings and help assemble favors is a great boon. Always ask nicely, and repay the favors in kind!