How To Plan A Wedding

Posted on February 24, 2020 at 9:56 am

Hands with wedding rings

Planning a wedding is something that many of us dream of doing from a young age. You’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and now there’s just the small matter of arranging the wedding day itself.

We’ve put together a wedding planning checklist to help you make sure you have all the essentials covered. These are the big things that you’ll want to be in charge of yourself, and you can delegate responsibility for less crucial things like wedding favours to your soon-to-be in-laws.

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Set a wedding budget

Piggy bankThe first thing you need to know is how much you can afford to spend on your wedding. It’s important to be realistic about how much you can save in time for the big day, and just as important to know how much you are willing to spend on the day itself. Some couples love to throw a huge party for all their guests, while others prefer a smaller ceremony and to spend more on a memorable honeymoon.

Whatever you choose, remember that there are a lot of hidden costs that come with weddings so, as a general rule, it’s a good idea to plan to spend around 15-20% less than your absolute maximum budget. This will leave you with a comfortable cushion for any additional expenses. We highly recommend using a wedding budget planning spreadsheet to keep track of all your costs throughout the planning process!

Tip: Wherever possible, don’t mention to vendors that you’re arranging a wedding! Some will try to sell you their “special wedding package” which will often be the same as any other package but with a significantly marked up price!

Establish what you can compromise on

Having an honest conversation early on with your partner about your wedding day priorities will save a lot of stress in the long run. If you simply must have a specific venue, then you may need to compromise on the size of the guest list, or the date you can book. You should take care to accommodate things that are important to your partner, even if they’re not necessarily a priority for you – it’s their day too, after all!

Create a guest list

Wedding guests raising a toastHow many people you choose to invite to your wedding significantly impacts how much the day will cost. It affects the size of the venue, catering costs, even smaller costs like wedding favours and invitations. You should also establish early on who has control over the guest list. If you accept financial support from either set of parents, it is often expected that they will get an allocated number of guests to invite. If you intend to set the guest list yourself, it’s worth communicating this early to avoid any arguments.

If you find that you have too many potential guests on your list, ask yourself the following questions to whittle it down to a more manageable size:

  1. Have you spoken to them in the past 3 years?
  2. Do you want everyone to have plus one?
  3. Did/would they invite you to their wedding?
  4. Do you actually want to invite them?

Choosing not to invite certain people can make you feel guilty but, ultimately, this is your wedding day and you’re footing the bill. An alternative option is to have a smaller guest list for the ceremony and sit-down reception, and to invite other friends and family to join the party in the evening.

Who to include in your wedding party

Traditionally a wedding party includes the following roles:

  • Maid of honour and best manWedding party walking
  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen
  • Mother/Father of the Bride
  • Mother/Father of the Groom
  • Flower girls and page boys
  • Ushers
  • Ring bearer
  • Grandparents
  • Wedding officiant and readers

Of course, your wedding party can be as big or small as you like. Be aware though that if you insist on your bridesmaids/groomsmen wearing expensive outfits, it can be expected that the engaged couple will contribute to the costs for these. Be practical over who to select for each role too. In other words, consider picking a best man who is comfortable with public speaking, and don’t choose your untrained dog to be the ring bearer!

Get the wedding dress

Bridal GownNo matter how many episodes of Say Yes To The Dress you’ve seen, choosing a wedding dress is always a big challenge. There are many options to choose from, all with a price tag to match. Our best advice to avoid heartbreak is to set a hard budget before you even set foot in a shop, and simply don’t look at any dresses that exceed this budget.

Some people choose to wear a wedding dress handed down by a family member or to get a second-hand wedding gown. This is a highly economical option as there can be huge discounts on outfits that have only been worn once.

Set the date and venue

Table With FlowersThere are a couple of things to bear in mind when selecting a date. Firstly, the time of year you wish to get married at will significantly affect the price and availability for your venue. Secondly, choosing to get married on a weekday is becoming much more popular due to how much cheaper it can be. This may impact who can attend your wedding, but if you’re on a tight budget it’s definitely an option worth considering.

When choosing your venue, your main considerations should be budget, capacity, and location. You need to be able to afford to hire a venue that can meet the size of your guest list, and be sure to consider how easy it is for guests to get to the venue. Getting everyone down to your local church will be much easier than asking everyone to travel to a remote or overseas location.

Whatever you choose, be sure to book your venue well in advance and send out your save the dates with plenty of notice to make sure your desired guests can all attend.

Book the vendors

Now that you’ve got the bare bones planned, it’s time to add the fun stuff! Make sure not to forget the following:

  • Officiant (if not included in the venue package)
  • Caterer (if not included in the venue package)
  • Photographer/videographer
  • Cake
  • Transport
  • Wedding band/DJ
  • Hair & make up
  • Miscellaneous entertainment (photo booth, giant party games, karaoke, etc)

Don’t forget that for big chunks of the day, your guests will be left to entertain themselves. So it can be a nice idea to give them something to do while you’re busy with various photoshoots.

Tip: cut music costs by curating your own wedding playlist! You’ll only need to worry about hiring a sound system and getting your guests to suggest a song on their RSVP is a great way to get them involved throughout the day!

Once you have your wedding plan in place, actually stick to it! It can be very easy to get swept up in the romance of the day, but the last thing you want is to come back from your honeymoon to a load of debt. And most importantly, enjoy the process! Most of us only intend to get married once, so make the most of it!

Sign that says "happily ever after"