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From Venue Selection to Writing Vows: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide

The Ultimate Wedding Planning Guide

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you’ve recently gotten engaged to the love of your life. And now that the wedding bells are ringing, you’re naturally excited to start this new chapter of your life, even if you are nervous about wedding planning at the same time.

First of all, congratulation! And secondly, we assure you that there’s no need to panic. We understand that wedding planning is no small feat, and the process is long and tiring, but we’re here to lend you a helping hand. With our complete wedding guide, you’ll be all caught up on all the important aspects of planning in no time.

To help you relax and get into character, let’s kick off with some really interesting and fascinating engagement facts.

Interesting Things about Engagements in the US

As common as engagements are, we bet you didn’t know these engagement facts:

  • Did you know that more than 60 percent of guys don’t keep the ring-buying process a secret? They’re more likely to consult their girlfriend, so there are no blunders with the design and material.
  • Only 37 percent of brides-to-be are completely surprised by the proposal; the rest are in on the secret.
  • Nearly 2,000 couples get engaged at the Disney World every year.
  • While most men don’t like to wear an engagement ring, 29 percent of the population do. So if your man insists on wearing one, don’t freak out.
  • Since summers are the most popular time to get married, the most popular month for engagements is December.
  • Engagements are usually between 12–18 months long, averaging 14 months.

This gives couples plenty of time to get started on their to-do-lists and find the right flowers for the bouquet. From picking a date to writing vows and choosing a venue, there are a lot of things to look after. Planning a perfect celebration requires a comprehensive checklist, so let’s get started.

Chronological Wedding Planning

It makes little sense for you to plan everything right after getting engaged or wait till the last month to do everything. Balance is the key to a successful wedding, which is why we’ve made a 14-month-long sequential checklist which will let you keep your full time job without getting overwhelmed.

Fourteen to Eleven Months Before

At this point, you mainly need to focus on your options. This period is all about finding inspiration and scrolling through your Instagram feed to take screenshots of wedding gowns and picture-perfect décor. This is everything you should cover in these months.

Set a Budget

Your bank account pretty much sets the tone for everything. Bridal dress, décor, menu, flowers and even the wine you’ll serve is dependent on how much capital you have. If you or your fiancé’s parents are contributing to the expenses, make sure to talk to them early on so you know where you stand.

Make a Wedding Folder

Whether you want to use the notes section in your phone, make a folder on your laptop, or set-up a hardback binder, it’s important to start jotting down everything you want from your wedding.

This includes leafing through bridal magazines, saving links of your favorite bridal gowns from couture week, finding bridal shops that fit your budget, and so on.

Work Out Your Wedding Party

Work Out Your Wedding Party

Your acquaintances, high school friends, relatives, neighbors, and cousins you haven’t talked to in months—everyone will want to be at your wedding party. Who you want to invite is completely up to you and your fiancé—and of course, the budget.

Make a list of everyone you want to invite and if the list isn’t aligning with your budget, you’ll have to prioritize.

Once you’re finished with the headcount and the database of everyone who’s likely to be a part of the ceremony, get started on other relevant information such as RSVPs, contact information, addresses and so on.

Set a Date

You don’t need to pinpoint an exact date this early on, but you do need to figure out a tentative month with your fiancé. This will make planning and meetings with vendors a lot smoother.

Hire a Wedding Planner

To make things easier from here on, it’s best to start looking for an event and wedding management company in your area. Many couples opt for one to make things easy and hassle free; however, a management company comes with certain limitations and can cost you more than what you bargained for.

A better and cost-friendly alternative is talking to vendors on your own. This is everything you need to do if you’re planning with the help of friends and family instead of a planner.

Reserve a Venue

Are you planning on holding the reception and ceremony in two different places? If yes, factor in travel time, commute, and the timeline of the ceremony. Multiple venues will likely put more strain on your budget, so you can consider a few budget-friendly options.

  • Find venues that offer all-inclusive options so you don’t have to rent furniture, tents and décor.
  • For the reception, pick a beach, backyard, or another low-budget location that offers more intimacy and less formality.
  • Keep your wedding on a weekday if your guest list is small and the budget is tight. Rental venues are typically more expensive on weekdays compared to weekends.
  • To deal with weather and other environmental factors, always keep a backup plan if your ceremony or reception is in an outdoor location.

Research Florist, Bands, Photographers

Start compiling the contact information, rates, and services offered by photographers, florists, bands, and caterers. Talk to multiple vendors so you can weigh your options and pick the right choice after considerable contemplation.

Research Florist, Bands, Photographers

You don’t have to book them at this point, but it’s best to start talking to them so they know what you want and expect in the upcoming months.

Eleven to Eight Months Before

We’re getting close to the wedding, so it’s time to start finalizing important details such as photographers, venues, and caterers.

Finalize the Wedding Date

To finalize the bookings, the first and foremost thing you need to do is decide on the date. Pick a date and stick to it, because once you start hiring vendors and services, there’s no looking back.

Book a Photographer

If you’re going with the most sought-after wedding photographers in the area, the chances are that you won’t be able to find a booking if you delay the hiring further. Photographers often have a time period in which they take bookings; they stop entertaining requests after that.

Most photographers offer videography services as well, so you don’t have to worry about that separately.

Hire the Entertainment

Attend gigs of the bands you’re short-listing for your wedding. If you’re going with a DJ instead of a band, talk to them about your choice of music and listen to what they have to offer. Once you have a favorite, reserve them.

Meet Caterers

Food is something you shouldn’t choose in a rush. In these months, you should start meeting with caterers and arrange tastings of the menu as well as the wedding cake. There’s a high probability that your chosen venue offers its own catering service, but if they don’t, hire an outside vendor within these months.

Book an Engagement Shoot

You can use the wedding photographer for engagement shoots as well. This will allow you to see their work first hand. Not to mention, you’ll build a positive working relationship—which will be crucial on wedding shoot—with the photography team.

Pick Out a Dress

Whether you’re ordering online, buying off the shelf, or working with a designer, the wedding gown is an extremely sensitive aspect of wedding planning. At this point, you should have a clear idea of what you expect from your bridal dress so you can start hunting for it.

Once you’ve found the perfect dress, shop for accessories, veil and shoes to go with it.  

Pick Out a Dress

Eight to Six Months Before

It’s time to start looking for a wedding officiant and assign bridesmaids and the bride of honor duties to your favorite people. Below, we’ve mentioned everything you need to work on at this point.

Send Out Invites

Your engagement pictures are likely ready at this point, so pick a picture and use your favorite one for the ‘save the date’ card. Prioritize out of town guests over friends and family residing in the vicinity.

You should also set-up registry as soon as you send invites. You should be registered at three retailers at a minimum.

Book Staying Arrangements

Start looking for motels/hotels or other rental options for the guests’ stay. It’s better to book a block of room within one building, but you can leave it to the guests if they want to make their own arrangements.

It’s better to take the task upon yourself especially if you’re getting married in your city of residence. Not only will you know the options well, but you can also pick a hotel close to the reception and ceremony venues.

Six to Four Months Before

Shop for Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Take your bridesmaids for fittings and pick a color that matches with the palette of your wedding.

Shop for Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Arrange Transportation

Are you booking a limousine? Or a vintage car? Whatever you want, start looking for the options and book the ride as soon as you find your favorite option.

Schedule Hair and Makeup

Unless you’re planning on doing your own hair and make-up, now is a good time to start talking to beauty salons in the area. Hire one that’s affordable and offers quality services.

Four to Two Months Before

Start talking and finalizing plans for the honeymoon, simultaneously. At this point, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of the remaining budget and what kind of honeymoon you can afford. Here is what else you need to do in these months.

Purchase Wedding Rings

It’s a simple enough process. Pick a day and visit the jeweler together to buy your wedding rings. You can get them engraved or customize them any way you want.

Purchase Wedding Rings

Plan Rehearsal Dinner

If you want a rehearsal dinner, send out the invites for dinner to whoever will be in attendance. You can choose the wedding venue for rehearsal or pick a nearby restaurant; whichever suits you and your partner the best.

Enjoy a Bridal Shower

Get your sister, cousins, and friends in the mood of a bridal shower. This is your chance to flaunt the engagement ring and receive gifts from your loved ones to start off your new life.

Enjoy a Bridal Shower

Two Months to Two Weeks Before

It’s time to get the legalities and wedding documenting order. The process in the US is fairly simple and you can easily obtain in under a week. After that;

Lay Out the Timeline

What will your wedding day look like? Settle on final details such as the number of toasts, choreographed dances, the first dance, and the travel timeline. This will help you stick to the schedule. Once your timeline is finalized, email it to all the guests so they have a cheat sheet against their expectations.

Assign Seating

Seating is very important to keep the ceremony organized and controlled. If there are going to be kids at the wedding, plan their sitting area away from the cake and drinks.

Settle All Payments

Any advance payments that you need to pay to vendors and wedding planners should be settled at this point. This will foster a positive relationship between you and the service providers—preventing any bad blood at the final hour.

Finalize Your Vows

Work on your vows if you want to. Ask your partner for feedback and input if you’re unable to find the right words.

Pro-tip: During the wedding planning, you need to plan and organize the honeymoon, simultaneously. Booking tickets and hotels as well as securing visa takes time so better start early on. The process can span over several months since visa processing takes time, anyway.

Work With Us

For décor, food, cake and every wedding essential, talk to us to get it all under one roof if you’re getting married in California, Los Angeles, Orange County or any other surrounding areas. At BeDazzle My Events, we provide top-notch wedding essentials and accessories at affordable rental prices.

You want a stage or a floor dance or may be just chairs for your backyard wedding? We’ll do it all!

Want to know more about our services? Get in touch with us here.

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