Congratulations you’re engaged!!
You’ve told your parents, popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly, celebrated with close friends and family – now what?
I hear this question a lot from engaged couples; “What do I do next/first when it comes to planning my wedding?”
And it’s a fair question, because if you’re reading this it probably means you’ve never planned a wedding before. Lucky for you, I have. And I have some great wedding planning tips and strategies for you, but the first one is the most important.
Don’t start planning your wedding until you’ve ticked off the five things I’m about to share with you. Why?
This list of things to do before you start planning your wedding is the building blocks of a well-planned wedding. A wedding that exceeds your expectations, doesn’t go over budget and includes all of the special people in your life. And I know that’s what you want.
Delaying or skipping any of these steps could mean costly changes later or the special people in your life not being able to attend your wedding.
What are the five things? I’m glad you asked. Let’s dive into them.
Choose your wedding date
Choosing a date for your wedding is important because every other decision you make hinges on your date; from booking your venue and other suppliers to sending out Save the Dates. But unless you have an exact date in mind (for personal or special reasons such as an anniversary) being flexible about your date will help the other pieces of your wedding planning puzzle to fall into place.
Before you decide here are some things to consider:
- Are there any other family events on the date/s you’re considering?
- Are there any holidays on or around the date/s you’re considering?
- Are there people who must be at your wedding and who you should consult with before finalising a date? For example, if they live overseas and need to travel to attend your wedding.
- Is there a specific venue or supplier that you must have and so need to confirm availability with before choosing a date?
- Do you prefer to get married at a certain time of year?
After you’ve worked through these questions you should have your date or a date range that you can move forward with.
Set your wedding budget
This is the step I see engaged couples overlook most often and it almost always leads to an issue further on in their wedding planning – usually a shortfall in funds for the items that still need to be booked and paid for. Or having to go into debt to fund ‘their dream wedding’.
A better approach is to spend some time now to consider how much money you’re willing to spend on your wedding. And I know from experience that this is a hard question to answer because most couples have no idea about the cost of a wedding. And it’s hard to tell you how much a wedding costs because every wedding and every wedding budget is different.
Here’s a guide to the average cost of a wedding in Australia and Victoria.
ABIA surveyed 10000 couples and found that the average cost of a wedding in Australia in 2020 was $33,488.86 with an average guest count of 99. The same survey found that in Victoria the average cost of a wedding in 2020 was $36,358.76 with an average guest count of 109.
But before you start writing cheques keep in mind these figures are a guide only. The cost of a wedding can be considerably higher depending on the choices you make for your wedding day. As a Wedding Planner it’s my job to help you determine the budget for your wedding based on your vision and priorities for the day and the funds available to you. But at this stage of your wedding planning it’s helpful to be able to answer these questions:
- How much money are you willing to spend on your wedding?
- How much money do you currently have saved to put towards your wedding?
- How much more money can you reasonably contribute to your wedding between now and your wedding day?
- Is there anyone else contributing to your wedding? How much?
Once you’ve answered these questions, crunch the numbers to determine the sum of money available to you to fund your day.
Wedding vision and priorities
When you think about your wedding day, what do you imagine? Where are you? What is the style of your wedding? Does it have a theme? Does it reflect your personality? If you’re a foodie, is there great food? If you love music is there a band? Is it outside? In a Grand Ballroom?
Does your partner see what you see? Or does your partner have a different vision or set of priorities?
Over the many months of planning your wedding, you and your partner will have many, many decisions to make. And whilst you don’t have to be on the same page about every one of those decisions it’s important to be on the same page about the important ones. And being on that same page requires you to have a conversation now about what’s important to you, individually and as a couple. This conversation may require compromise and negotiation but it’s far better than you do this now, so you can move forward with planning a wedding that reflects what’s important to each of you.
How many people you intend to invite to your wedding will impact your budget, your choice of venue and even the style of wedding you have. There is no point planning an intimate wedding at the restaurant you met at if it only seats 35 and you simply can’t get your guest list under 120.
So, whilst you don’t have to draw up a final guest list now, you should have some idea of your numbers.
To do this, draw up a list of everyone you would invite to your wedding if you could. This is your A list. Then go through the list and cross off anyone you would be ok with not inviting. This could be work colleagues you’re not close to. Children of friends and extended family. Friends and relatives, you haven’t seen in years. This is your B list.
Neither of these lists is final. What’s important right now is that you have a rough idea of your numbers so you can be sure they work with your budget and the other choices you’re making – such as your choice of venue. And if they don’t, you may need to revisit the work you did on your priorities and vision for the day.
By now you have made some important decisions about your wedding day. No, they’re not final decisions but each one helps you to make the next, like choosing your venue.
Most couples choose their wedding venue first which is one of the reasons popular venues book out fast. This is why I recommend choosing your venue as a first step. As you consider venues think about the vision and priorities you have for your day, the style and size of the wedding you want. Will you get married in a church or are you looking for a venue that can accommodate both your ceremony and reception?
If you’re working with a Wedding Planner like me, I will help you choose a venue that ticks off all of your important boxes. Which brings me to the final step, considering what type of Wedding Planner you need.
Choose a wedding planner
Wedding Planners offer a range of different services that can support you as you plan your wedding. A full-service Wedding Planner will guide you through the planning process, help you design the look and feel of your wedding day, and be there on the day to execute your vision seamlessly. A Day of Coordinator will help with the logistics of your day and be there on the day to handle all of the details so you can celebrate. Which Wedding Planner you need depends a lot on the choices you are making for your day and how much time you have to put into your wedding planning (a wedding can take 250+ hours to plan!).
You can explore my range of Wedding Planning services here. Or even better, schedule an appointment so we can chat about your wedding day. I can recommend some wedding planning options for you and help you with the five things you need to do before you start planning your wedding day.