Now that you’ve had some time to enjoy your newly engaged status and show off your sparkly ring to your closest family and friends, you and your partner have some decision making to do. While the first question people will normally ask is, “When is the big day?” there are a few things you need to figure out first before you can properly answer.
Here are the top 5 things to do to really kick-start your wedding planning and put you ahead of the game.
1. Solidify Your Budget
Who’s paying for the wedding? Will the tab be all on the two of you or will you be receiving contributions from family? While these conversations may feel awkward, it’s best to get them over with and out of the way so you can move forward with a clear idea of what your limitations and expectations are, which will make decision making much easier.
Once you’ve ironed out who is paying for what, the two things you need to figure out regarding your budget are the overall wedding budget and reception price per person budget. Not sure how to approach this one? A good place to start is with the reception, as it takes up the biggest chunk of your overall wedding budget (can be up to 50%)
In Toronto, a typical venue can charge around $100 per person (more or less depending on time of year and menu selected). The rest of your budget is more flexible as it covers things like stationery, attire, transportation, etc. Once you’ve come to an agreement on a budget, it’s so much easier to tackle the next items on your to do list.
2. Iron Out Your Guest List
Looking to cut down your guest list numbers? Consider the old “A and B” list method. Put all your must haves (people who you need at your wedding) in the “A list” and those who you would like to have in the “B list”. Once this is done, go over the B List again and ask yourselves the following questions: When was the last time I saw/spoke to this person? Would having them there make or break our day? You’ll find that after you ask yourself a few key questions, that you’ll easily be able to eliminate people.
Figuring out your wedding guest list (even narrowing it down to a range versus a specific number is fine) is important because you cannot complete the next step of booking your wedding venue without one.
Download our easy to use Wedding Guest List spreadsheet to help manage and keep track of RSVPs, table arrangements, dietary restrictions.. and more!” and please use the bold and underlined text as the download link.
3. Pick A (Tentative) Wedding Date
The reason why I say a “tentative” date is because unless you’re booking far in advance or are flexible with the venue, the reality is that you may not always get the specific date you want. With that said, unless you have your heart set on a particular wedding date (perhaps there is a special meaning or sentimental reason for choosing it), it’s best to come up with three preferred wedding dates – just in case.
4. Book Your Wedding Venue
Now that you’re armed with your working wedding budget, guest list, and date(s), you can move onto the really fun part – venue shopping! Yay! The reason why it’s best to knock off the other items first is because when booking your venue, you will be asked for the first three above items.
A few things to keep in mind when hunting for your “dream” venue:
1. If you have your eye on a specific month, book ASAP (preferably 18+ months in advance) as there are only so many Saturdays in a month.
2. If you’re looking for a specific date, book 2 years in advance if possible to ensure you get what you want. There is only one date of each kind in a year after all!
3. Auspicious dates. Days like August 8th, 2018 (08/08/18) are considered very lucky in some cultures and tend to book very quickly and far in advance. So if you are looking to get married on a lucky or special day, book ASAP to reserve your spot.
4. Peak wedding season is anytime between May-October and so dates within this period tend to book faster than in the off season (November-April). If you’re very flexible in dates and venue, book up to a year in advance. If you prefer to be within the peak wedding season and have certain venues in mind, book no later than 18 months in advance to reserve your spot and avoid disappointment.
5. Send Out Your Wedding Save The Dates
Whether you do this by mail, electronically, or with creative personalized chocolate bars, once you have your venue booked, send out your save the date notices. This is especially important if you’re planning on having a destination wedding.
For a destination wedding, it is polite to send save the dates at least a year in advance so that people can plan and book their vacation time as well as save up for the trip. If your wedding is local, but during peak vacation time, send your save the dates 6 months to a year in advance to ensure that they don’t book any trips or attend another wedding on your special day.
BONUS – For all you eager and super organized couples, here is an extra tip to help keep you on top of your wedding game.
Secure Your Wedding Vendors
I like to call this, “The Dream Team”. Like venues, the rule of thumb is that if you have someone particular in mind, book as far in advance as possible. Don’t have anyone specific in mind? Then ask yourself what wedding elements are most important to you – food, décor, entertainment, etc. Once you know what’s most important to you, research which vendors will help you bring your vision to life.
Some of the top wedding vendors only work a certain number of weddings a year or month, and so if there is a specific band whose sound you love, or a photographer or videographer whose style you adore – put a deposit down. These are the players that will bring your dream wedding to life, so you want to be sure to secure the people you can trust to get the job done so that you can relax and enjoy your special day.
I know that after you get engaged your initial instinct is to snoop through Pinterest for inspiration, tear out pages of gorgeous wedding dresses from the latest Wedluxe magazine, and pick out your bridal party. Tedious tasks such as creating a budget, guest list and researching vendors seem the farthest from your mind at this point and can feel like a total buzz kill. But when you knock these housekeeping items off your list early in the game, you’re setting yourself up for a enjoyable wedding planning experience because you’ve saved the best for last.
Best of luck and happy planning!
Valerie Tesoro is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator dedicated to beautiful designs and flawless execution. Whether you require assistance with planning or wedding day of coordination, Valerie can help bring your vision to life.
Contact her today – she’d love to learn more about you and your dream wedding!