Sometimes, there are just so many options that it’s overwhelming. That is certainly the case for weddings, which are unique to every couple and usually planned without experience.
How could you possibly know which vendors to choose or what wedding dress type will have you regretting your decisions later?
By turning to those with experience in the industry, you’ve made the right choice. Your wedding is certain to be perfect after you follow this simple 10-step guide.
1. Know Your Limits
Getting engaged and wedding planning is one of the most exciting times of your life. The excitement is great, but often couples find themselves eyeing big dreams with small wallets.
It’s important to know that small, intimate, and simple weddings can be some of the most beautiful and enjoyable events. Many couples love the idea of inviting hundreds of people and landing extravagant venues but end up losing sight of what’s really important and not enjoying their event as they should.
There’s no shame in having a small event or a gigantic wedding, but which one you choose must be informed by your priorities and budget.
Create a Priority List and Stay Organized
Before you do anything else, sit down with your partner and create lists of priorities and desires. Make sure you both understand what you can’t live without and what you would love but don’t need. These lists are not only helpful and informative for you, but help you compile information that venues and vendors will want to know, too.
Everyone makes fun of the bride with a wedding binder or Excel document until she saves the day. Staying organized will help you stick to your priority lists and help you keep all your potential vendors straight.
Use Your Budget as a Guide
A top priority is to stick to a budget, and that doesn’t mean you should just write down a number. Your priority lists will help you allocate money within your budget as well. A venue will almost always be the most expensive part of your wedding, so make sure you realistically set aside money for that.
The rest of your vendors should fall in line after your venue according to what you care about most. Are you willing to spend a little more on photography but don’t care much for flowers? Think about what you both care about and use that as a guide to stay within your budget.
Otherwise, whatever vendor you book last will end up with whatever money is left in your budget (if there is any)!
2. Compile a Power Team
Your wedding event is always complete with your partner by your side, but the people you surround yourself with can make or break the planning process. Be aware of your friends and family’s strengths and weaknesses, including how they handle stressful situations.
Choose Your Bridal Party
In a perfect world, we could assign everyone important in our lives to a role within the wedding. Budgets and pure sanity restrict us from doing so. It can be really tough to decide who to include but remember their personalities and relationships with each other.
The people you choose for your bridesmaids and groomsmen will have some big responsibilities, and any of their mistakes can completely alter your big day. Choose people you trust to be reliable, handle stress, and work together as a team. Lastly, make sure they all enjoy each other’s company!
Be Aware of Stressors
Are there any family members or guests who you know will cause unnecessary stress during the planning process or wedding? Even if it’s your own mother, it’s important to be aware of their effect on you. If they stress you out, it could make your experience less enjoyable and your partner will be affected, too.
Talk to your bridal party about your known stressors so they can help mitigate bad interactions.
Decide if You Need a Professional Planner
Weddings are one of the most complicated and massive events that exist, and most people have never had to plan an event of that size before. It’s okay to admit you need help, just plan for a professional wedding planner in your budget.
Wedding planners can save you a lot of time and money due to their expertise and ability to handle most of the typical errands couples would run. They can also help handle issues with your bridal party and those extra stressors you identified.
3. Choose a Size and Build Your Guest List
Before you can start booking vendors, you’ll need to settle on a number of guests. In the beginning, it’s expected that you’ll only have an estimate. Generally, vendors will ask for a range like 50-100, 100-150, 150-200, and so on.
You can build your guest list in one of two ways. You can decide on how big you’d like your wedding and limit your guests to fit that, or you can write down everyone you’d like at your wedding and then search for venues that can accommodate that number.
How you go about choosing your size will have to do with your budgetary restrictions and what your priorities are.
4. Refine Your Bridal Style
You’ll need to know what aesthetic you’d like to achieve overall. When you talk to wedding planners, dress boutiques, and other vendors, they’ll need to know the wedding style you want.
For example, many couples will describe wedding styles as romantic, rustic, modern, or glam. There aren’t any set parameters for these styles, but you can look through inspiration online to find decor and outfits you like to refine your style.
Check out your venue options that accommodate the number of guests and your budget. Depending on the area you live in or where you are holding your wedding, there may be an abundance of one type of venue. You might have a lot of options on the beach, on farmland, or in urban areas.
The venue you choose will inform your bridal style a bit. For example, a Pomona event venue will have a different atmosphere than a northern lakeside venue. There’s nothing wrong, though, with fusing styles or giving the venue a little makeover.
A glam barn wedding sounds pretty fantastic.
What do you want your guests to wear? Offering this information on invitations or a website will help your guests feel comfortable when getting ready, and will set the mood of the event. You can have a super formal black tie wedding, let guests arrive in casual clothing, or choose anything in between.
Choose Your Bridal Outfits
There are no set rules for matching your bridal attire to your venue, but generally, couples choose to match the rest of the event. Flowy boho or short dresses typically adorn beach weddings while church weddings generally have modest, chapel-length dresses and veils.
Remember to keep in mind the typical weather for your chosen time of year and dress accordingly.
5. Plan for Extra-Marital Events
Some couples have week-long wedding events while others have a quick elopement. Either way is great, but remember to plan in advance for what you want. Don’t forget to think about bridal party events, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and reception, the afterparty, the morning-after breakfast, and the honeymoon!
For example, will your holy matrimony happen in two places, with a church ceremony and hotel reception, or will you combine your event at one venue?
For any event you choose to have, you’ll need to plan a budget, location, and time. Knowing in advance can help you find deals and organize them in the most efficient manner. Some vendors will even take care of all the events for you, which can help in keeping things organized.
6. Research and Book Vendors
Once you know most of the specifics of your dream wedding, you can begin seriously researching and booking vendors. You may have been looking all along to get an idea of what you like, but now it’s time to start contacting them.
Remember to stick to your budget and keep your priorities in mind. It never hurts to talk with multiple vendors because you aren’t committed to anything until you sign a contract.
Follow the Trail of Good Relationships
If you have a venue already, or you have tours with venues, you can ask for their preferred vendor lists. These lists include vendors that they have worked with successfully many times and trust them with their clients.
It’s always good to get some first-hand honest reviews from people who have worked closely with vendors.
When you get a recommendation from your venue about a professional photographer, it means that photographer knows all the great spots to take pictures. The same goes for a live band, who will know the protocols of the venue for setting up equipment and noise restrictions.
Check Online Presence and Social Media
Any great vendor has a strong online presence, and many have taken to social media to show off their work. Portfolios are everything to wedding vendors, so they’ll want to display successful jobs with previous clients. Browsing their galleries, portfolios, and social media accounts can help you get a feel for their style, work ethic, and even their services and pricing.
Even better, save your favorite work by them to your phone or device. That way, if you speak with them, you can show them examples of their previous work that you’d like them to emulate for your own event.
Choose Good Vibes, Always
A vendor might have extraordinary work displayed on their profiles and websites, but carefully look through their online reviews and ask around. Personality means a lot when working together.
A vendor might do great work, but maybe people have complained that they were late, didn’t listen to requests, or had terrible communication skills. These are red flags to consider when booking a vendor.
Even if a vendor has a good reputation, it’s always a good part of the process to meet with them before signing. Everyone is unique, and that’s great, but it also means not everyone works together well.
A high-strung couple might not appreciate a laid-back vendor, and that’s okay. You’ll be able to get a feel for their process and personality when you meet them.
Read the Contracts
Always read the entire contract before signing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify. Wedding vendors have huge responsibilities, so they need to legally protect themselves when things go awry. Unfortunately, vendors contracts usually end up long and filled with legalese.
Especially after the pandemic, couples should be extra careful about clauses regarding cancellations, moving dates, deposits, and more.
7. Send the Stationary
When you’ve gotten a lot of the vendors booked, it’s time to finalize that guest list and start sending out invites! There’s quite a bit of invitation etiquette that you can search for online, including timelines and address rules.
You’ll need to send out save the dates to your guest list first so they can mark it on their calendars. As you get closer to the wedding, you’ll be sending out wedding invitations with RSVP cards. Whoever is in charge of the rehearsal dinner will be sending out invites as well to the close family and bridal party involved.
8. Take Care of the Legal Stuff, Too
When you’re taking care of all the fun details like venues and florists, you might forget that marriage is a legal matter, too. It’s very important to research the marital laws in your state. Make sure you both apply for a marriage license, secure any permits you might need, and of course, get an officiant!
After it’s all said and done, drop off the license at the right municiple building so they can process your documents.
9. Finish Off All the Details
As you get closer to the day, make sure you both have gotten wedding bands and bought all the final touches for your outfits. Don’t forget a garter if you want one, your jewelry, and even a toss bouquet for that lucky person to keep.
Set aside tip money and extra cash in case something comes up last minute. Do a last check-in with all your vendors, write your vows, and pack your honeymoon bag. Start making a to-do list in advance so you don’t forget any details in the hectic days leading up to your wedding.
10. Relax Before the Big Day
You’ve done so much hard work! The wedding day can be full of adrenaline and socializing, so most couples need to set planning aside and engage in some self care before the big day. Think about what helps you relax and laugh so that you’re ready to shine.
Throw a Wedding You’ll Never Forget
If you’ve followed all the steps to this simple guide, you’re prepared for the perfect wedding day. Your vendors, venue, and guests will all thank you for being organized and thoughtful in every detail. You’ll be happy, too, as you skip off to your well-deserved honeymoon.
Electric Loft offers a beautiful, historic, and affordable wedding venue option to anyone looking to wed in Pomona. Check out our blog for more advice, and contact us if you’re interested in our space!