wedding planning groom and bride holding hands

The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Planning: 17 Steps to Your Dream Day

Our step-by-step guide to planning weddings is an overview of all the 17 most important wedding tasks an event planning bride must have on his to-do list.

When you start looking at what needs to be done in general, you might feel a little overwhelmed. Hope this guide will show some of the best ways to handle your wedding planning.

Remember that the assignments will likely take you between 1-12 months so you have some time to understand the wedding planning process more fully. The best way to document these 17 steps is to add notes with each stage in a spreadsheet. Your progress as a wedding planner will make planning for the wedding much quicker, and easier!

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll find yourself with the wedding of your dreams without breaking a bank.

There is so much to think about when it comes to a beautiful wedding. This includes wedding vendors, guest list, family members, wedding details, etc. With all these moving parts it might be crazy but don’t worry we got your back.

Wedding planning steps from start to finish.

Consider Opening a wedding registry on Amazon and set yourself up for success in your wedding.

Step 1: Identify Your Wedding Theme and Style

First of all, your first step of wedding planning is to choose a wedding theme and style: your style will inform the rest of wedding decisions. For example, if you pick a destination wedding, the date and season will be important factors in ensuring a successful wedding day.

There are four main wedding styles, traditional wedding, semi-formal wedding, destination wedding, or elopement wedding. Your style will help you determine the wedding date, wedding budget, wedding venue, wedding gown style, and wedding decor.

Once you have identified your style is time to get to wedding planning!

Step 2: Set Your Wedding Date

Knowing your preferred style will assist you in determining when and where to hold your event based on the type you want. If you choose a destination wedding, for example, your ideal time of the year is going to be largely contingent on where you are and where you desire to have the wedding take place.

If you’re arranging pre wedding events, keep in mind that the dates of your wedding will have an impact on when they take place.

Once you have locked down the wedding date, and the style it’s time to roll out the wedding timeline which is our next step.

Step 3: Draft a Wedding Planning Timeline

Before you start your wedding planning process you must first understand the timeline you’re working with. Ideally, a wedding takes about nine to twelve months from start to finish. A typical wedding month starts with a month of engagement and one month of wedding planning stages.

As you get closer to your big day, the days will count down towards your ultimate deadline of making it to the venue on time! If you choose to engage a wedding planner this is the best time to loop them in. If you chose to take a different approach like involving your close friend then that’s fine too.

The timeline should consider some important events such as;

  1. Engagement event
  2. Premarital Counseling
  3. Marriage Licenses process
  4. Pre-wedding events before the main wedding ceremony

Step 4: Set Your Wedding Goals

Determine what the most essential wedding objectives are for you and your partner. The typical wedding goals are to save money, have a small wedding, big wedding, family-only wedding, or get married quickly. Once you have decided on your wedding goals, it will be much easier to execute the rest of your wedding plans.

3 reasons why wedding goals are important;

  1. Keeps you on track with your wedding plans.
  2. Makes sure that your dream day is what you envision it to be.
  3. Helps you define a budget and spending plan.

Step 4: Estimate Your Wedding Budget

The budget is a wedding planner’s primary concern and it must be set before wedding planning. The wedding budget can not only dictate what you can afford but also how you can spend your money. If something is not included in the budget, it cannot be purchased or paid for.

Your budget might be low, medium, or high, depending on how much you can invest and spend. We recommend a budget envelope. A budget envelope is a six-month cushion placed after your wedding day to guarantee that you have time to recover and plan ahead.

Don’t just plan for your wedding, plan for your marriage. A wedding is one day, but marriage is a lifetime.

Discuss with your partner the non-negotiables on your budget, this might/might not include

  1. Wedding rings
  2. Bride Gown and Grooms Attire
  3. Reception venue
  4. Wedding planners
  5. Wedding guests

Step 5: Brainstorm on Wedding Venue

Wedding venue ideas and considerations will be the next tip in your plan for your own wedding. Where you choose to have your wedding will impact everything from catering, guest list size, décor, and your overall vision for the day.

A beautiful wedding can produce an unforgettable atmosphere if you plan it right. A plan for a wedding on a budget can guarantee you have the venue of your dreams without going over budget.

List down your preferred venues, what you like or dislike about them and how much they cost. You can even plan a site visit to have a clear picture of the venue. You can ask around for favors may be from friends and family members, someone who might know someone or own a great venue.

If you’re using a wedding planner you can ask them for a list of recommended venues, they usually have those.

Step 6: Set Your Wedding Guest List

Once you lock down on a specific venue, it’s time to decide on the guest list. Based on the location and size of the venue determine how many people you plan to invite.

The guest list is a budget wedding planner’s biggest concern. A general rule for a perfect wedding on a budget plan is that the more guests invited, the higher the overall cost of the celebration.

If you plan a small wedding, plan on having a smaller guest list. If your preferred wedding style is to have a large wedding, plan for a higher budget. This will enable you to accommodate everyone on the list.

Wedding guest list questions to ask yourself before sending out invitations :

Step 7: Design Your Wedding Invitation

The wedding invitations are an excellent way to set the tone of your celebration by sharing the theme with your guests, whetting their appetites, and encouraging them to start making arrangements. The invitation is typically the very first piece of information you provide about your ceremony which will include; when and where your wedding will be, who the hosts are, what the theme is, and when responses must be made by.

  1. Who is on the ‘Yes’ list?
  2. Will my wedding be during the day or night time?
  3. Who must be invited?
  4. How many people do I plan to invite?
  5. Who will be on a waitlist?
  6. How many people am I inviting from out of town?

You can use Canva to desire your wedding invitation if you’re looking at a DIY approach.

The theme of the wedding invitations can determine a plan for an unforgettable wedding on a budget because they can either create a more expensive look or provide an inexpensive foundation. The most important thing about creating your own invitation is to plan ahead because it can be a time-consuming endeavor.

You may also include the type of gift you want if someone chooses to bring a present. This might be either a cheque or a gift voucher, depending on the person’s preference.

Step 8: Decide on the Wedding Gown, Groom Attire & the Rings

At this point, it is necessary to decide on the rings, wedding dress, and groom attire. Depending on your budget you might choose to buy them locally, online, or rent them.

We highly recommend checking designs on Pinterest for inspiration purposes. Create a board and start sharing ideas with your partner and your bridal party.

Wedding dress shopping tips;

  1. Shop early for the best selection.
  2. Have a ‘gown wish list’ ready to make your shopping experience more productive.
  3. If you are buying your dress off the rack, make sure it is in good condition before purchase.
  4. Always bring someone with you during wedding gown shopping.

The next few steps will involve choosing the best wedding vendors.

Step 9: Decide on The Wedding Cake

The wedding cake is a significant element of any celebration. Most couples have a small assortment of flavors to choose from, generally between 1-4 choices depending on the size and budget of your wedding.

Deciding on the design can be done through Pinterest or at specialty baking shops.

Tips for buying a wedding cake:

  1. Avoid very complicated designs.
  2. Ask if your cake can be delivered to the venue on the wedding day.
  3. Determine how many guests will attend and order a cake that is big enough based on the number of servings needed per guest. There are two average serving per person for a wedding, so add an additional 2-4

Step 10: Select meals and beverages.

The next step in planning a perfect wedding on a budget is selecting foods and beverages. If you have been invited to other wedding celebrations, take the time to ask caterers/chefs what they recommend as far as food choices.

Many venues may include the service of a chef which means less work for you! Be sure to check with them to see if they have any restrictions.

Tips: Wedding food options, including vegetarian/vegan options and the importance of a tasting session with your caterer or bakery if possible before finalizing menu decisions.

Step 11: Decide on Decor

Many couples are interested in incorporating traditional rose petals, candles, and crystal accents. Flowers can be tagged at local marketplaces or ordered online for a personalized touch if your budget allows.

If you have extra time you might consider designing some of the decors yourself. Like invitations, you can choose to go with either an inexpensive route or a more expensive one.

Types of decor styles include;

  1. Elegant
  2. Modern
  3. Rustic
  4. Vintage

Elegant decor Can include anything from a feather or gold centerpiece on your reception tables, a crystal chandelier hung over the dance floor and a grand piano for musical entertainment.

Modern decor can be trendy with light colors and modern design flourishes. A popular choice is to hire a string ensemble as live music instead of an orchestra.

Vintage weddings are often characterized by wearing pearls, lace, and vintage decor.

Rustic Styles are influenced by nature and are usually using natural materials like twigs, branches, leaves.

Step 12: Selecting Reception Music/Entertainment

Having a wedding that is memorable and fun can be achieved through the selection of music and entertainment for your reception. The night should bring a mix of old, new, traditional, and unique songs to please all guests.

This includes sourcing for the best sound company, sound engineers, and Dj.

Wedding music options – choose wedding songs for the wedding party entrance, first dance, and wedding ceremony to match your wedding style. You can also ask the Dj to recommend some of his favorite wedding songs.

If you’re dealing with a band, make sure you’ve heard them before or attended one of their shows to avoid any weird surprises.

Step 13: Hire the Wedding Photographer & Videographer

Next, you need to hire your wedding photographer and videographer. The photography or video that you take on your wedding day represents one of the most important memories that will last forever. They capture all the details of your special day so it’s important to find someone who has an artistic eye for capturing wedding photos rather than someone who is simply a photojournalist.

Tips to hiring the best photographer:

  1. Get recommendations from your venue, family, and/or friends.
  2. Look at the cost of both digital images and prints.
  3. Inquire about how long it will take to receive the photos. If you order a package ensure that you have time post-wedding day to select favorite photos and approve them for printing before receiving all images.
  4. Agree on the package
  5. Request their portfolio to see their previous work
  6. Ask for a contract highlighting how much money should be paid upfront and how much after the delivery of the agreed package.
  7. Do a test shoot(engagement photos) with your photographer to get an idea of how he or she works with couples.

Step 14: Selecting your Wedding Party

Choosing the wedding party can be one of the more enjoyable tasks for any bride. The right people will make this process both simple and fun.

Tips on picking the bridal party:

  1. If possible, select people that won’t need to travel far for your wedding day (ie you’re having two weddings, one in each state).
  2. Keep it small. You don’t need to invite your entire address book, especially if many of the guests are not part of your closest circle of friends and family.
  3. Choose people that you trust and cherish.

Step 15:Create A Wedding planning checklist

Creating a wedding planning checklist is the easiest way to ensure you have thought about everything. Making a comprehensive plan can take some time, but it will allow you to check off every task as it gets done and keeps organized.

You can do this with the help of a wedding planning app, an excel spreadsheet, or even an old fashion wedding journal.

Additional checklist to consider;

  1. A wedding registry- You can open one online on Amazon.
  2. Wedding gift
  3. Guest count register

Step 16: Set date and time for rehearsal dinner

If you are having a rehearsal dinner, it should be no more than one or two days before the wedding. Assuming that the bridal shower and bachelorette parties have already taken place.

This will bring everyone involved on board and in one place before the bid day. Communicate your desires and clarify the objective with everyone.

Step 17: Final Touches

On the day of your wedding, your job is to be a bride. You will have a lot going on and there are many things that need to be taken care of. For example: making sure bridesmaids know where they should be and when, thanking everyone for their help, etc. If you don’t have a professional wedding planner, have one of your trusted friends take lead on the event.

Also, consider hiring a post-wedding coordinator. Their role is to follow up with all of the vendors to ensure that your wedding day goes perfectly. They are especially useful if you don’t have the time or energy following your wedding day.

5 Reasons why people go wrong during the wedding planning process

Reasons Non 1: Not Having a plan

Planning is essential to having any sort of control over the entire process. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into will save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

Reasons no 2: Not starting early and making a comprehensive list.

Even if you are generally organized, wedding planning is a time-consuming process that requires attention to detail. Putting it off until the last minute will only cause more stress and anxiety for both of you.

Reason no 3: Not communicating with your partner.

It’s vital to be on the same page as your partner especially if you’re taking on a large amount of responsibility. Keep the lines of communication open and share your thoughts whenever possible.

Reasons no 4: Not having a clear vision for yourself or your wedding day– For many couples, it can be difficult to know what they want out of a wedding day. Make sure to take the time to explore what you’re looking for and whether your partner is on board with those ideas.

Reasons no 5: Not being flexible-

There’s a lot that can go wrong during wedding planning, so it’s important to be able to roll with the punches and not stress out too much if things take a turn for the worst.

Ensure you research around Pinterest or visit your friend’s weddings to get some wedding inspiration. Please leave any feedback on how you found this article in the comments section below.