Once the excitement of your engagement subsides a little, beginning to plan your wedding can feel daunting. Knowing where and how to start is one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. Your wedding planning strategy should begin with bigger-picture, more general items, such as the wedding venue and guest list, with more minute details, like flowers and centerpieces, to follow.
- Get organized. Make a checklist of all the wedding-related items you need to reserve, choose, buy or borrow. Begin with the large and obvious items, including your budget, the date, the wedding venue, the officiant, the reception venue, the guest list and your dress. Further down the list, include photographers, bands or deejays, florists and caterers. Keep a binder or personal organizer specifically dedicated to your wedding planning, so you’ll always have a place to put brochures, business cards and magazine clippings that inspire you.
- Enlist the help of your family and friends. Many parents are overjoyed to help with the planning of their children’s wedding, and welcome the opportunity to get involved. You may have more willing volunteers available than you realized. If friends or family members express interest in handling a specific aspect of your wedding planning, such as finding a caterer or a florist, let them, and review their findings together, to choose a vendor that suits your budget and taste.
- Join a community of other brides-to-be for tips and information about vendors. Many online communities exist for wedding planning at websites such as The Knot (theknot.com) and One Wed (onewed.com). Hearing about others’ experiences with particular vendors can help you narrow your choice to include only cooperative and honest vendors and salespeople.
- Set up a wedding website. Establishing an online presence for your wedding will help remind guests about the date and location of your wedding, as well as guiding guests who wish to give a gift to your wedding registries. Include a guestbook on your wedding website, for visitors to post comments and suggestions for your wedding plans. Free wedding website templates are available through websites like One Wed and The Knot.
- Make a wedding-day timeline to help you identify gaps in your wedding plans. In your timeline, include hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute descriptions of exactly how you want the wedding day to proceed, including as much detail as you wish. For example, knowing you need to allow a half-hour for guests to get from the wedding site to the reception venue, shows that you need to arrange transportation with limousines, town cars, trolleys or other vehicles.