Men may not fully understand the pressure, excitement and joy of planning your special day but other women get the picture. It is by and large, one of the most important days of your life and one of the biggest most memorable parties you will organize. Is there a sense of pressure involved with planning the big event? Of course! Planning your wedding is a big investment of creativity, your time and money no matter how big or small you plan to make the event.
So where do you start planning your wedding? The whole thing can seem rather overwhelming when you consider that it is the Bride who is responsible for the conceptualization of theme, venue and all the miniscule details that personalize the wedding for your guests. You want people to have fun too, while celebrating your relationship and the future you are planning together as a happy couple. And since a wedding planner isn’t always in the budget for the average bride, the ingenuity and creativity to pull off the event will come from you.
Before you hit the panic button, there is plenty of good advice to help you plan your perfect wedding. It can be done and on a budget too, if you step into the role of a savvy event planner. We have some professional tips to help you take charge and get started (and yes some things that he can help with too).
Step One: Pick the Date
Get out your planner or tablet. Deciding on your event date is not as simple as pulling up a calendar and checking your own availability or aiming for a season when the weather will be great. There are a number of other factors involved with deciding on your date if you want a full house in attendance.
What to check:
1. Bride and Groom vacation availability (for honeymoon afterward).
2. Availability of family and friends (you will need to check with them individually).
3. Venue availability for your preferred date(s).
4. Major events in your city which can impede your event or drive prices higher for services.
A professional event coordinator would look at other events to determine affordability. For instance, if you plan your wedding on a weekend when there is a major convention (such as a trade show) the cost of occupancy will go up, making it more expensive for your guests to find hotel accommodations. Major events can also limit resources in terms of florists, rental cars and even caterers or service staff on busy weekends. Pick a quiet weekend off peak for the best service and deals.
Step Two: Set the Concrete Budget
Sit down and establish a budget in stone. As weddings are so meaningful and exciting there is a tendency to rationalize overspending on small things that quickly add up to a giant bill afterward. Avoid the temptation of over spending and you will also avoid the resentment of paying for your wedding for one to two years afterward. Create a budget and stick to it, and have fun being resourceful with your set budget.
Don’t forget that part of setting your budget is also coming to an agreement about invitations. There are many close family and friends who you will want to invite, but if you have a large social circle you will need to draw some limitations on the number of people you invite to stick to your budget. Distant family and friends will understand the need to keep the event manageable for budget reasons, just be honest about it.
Step Three: Decide on the Venue
If you are planning to host your wedding reception at a venue, be prepared to book as much as six months to one year in advance, depending on where you live. This is also true for booking a service at your Church or a local Chapel. Preferred weekends for weddings (May, June and July are peak months) book quickly in advance to secure the date. Be prepared to provide a deposit at the time of booking also (usually 5-15% of the fee) to save the date. According to CNN Money the average cost of a venue wedding is $28,427 in 2012.
You don’t have to choose a venue to have a memorable and intimate celebration. There are a number of other affordable options including beach weddings, parks (which can be rented with a parks and recreation permit) as well as backyard weddings which are increasing in popularity. Tent rentals are also popular and can provide an elegant alternative to a pricey venue with delivery and installation as well as set up services and catering rentals.
Step Four: Catering
The best budgeted weddings can sometimes fall apart when it comes to catering. Emotions are a factor as we want our guests to feel loved and appreciated with a stylish, designer meal to enjoy and beverages. Feeding a crowd will get very expensive quickly if you insist on a menu that is elaborate. Give your caterer a budget to work with and allow them to devise a meal that will fit within that budget.
You can cut corners dramatically with catering, depending on the venue and policies. For instance, do you have some relatives who make great desserts? Allow your family to volunteer the coffee table treats (cookies and squares) to save on dessert costs and also add a personal touch. Thinking of putting red and white wine on the table? Consider multi-tasking your host gift with the wine, creating small bottles with a custom label for your guests as complimentary beverages with dinner followed by a cash bar that will fit with your budget.
Step Five: Attire
If your idea of picking the perfect wedding dress involves visiting multiple bridal shops with your family and bridesmaids, then you should have that experience, if it is very important to you. However you can expect to pay a premium for your gown and bridesmaid dresses by visiting boutiques and specialty stores. Go online to find amazing imported (and affordable) wholesaler direct dresses and have it altered locally. Choose a bridesmaid dress that is both practical and affordable too, and one that they might wear again for another occasion. Wedding dresses online start from approximately $200 for gowns.
Step Six: Transportation and Vacation
After the other details are sorted, pick your honeymoon destination and book with a travel agent if you plan to go abroad for your trip. While you can book online, when travelling overseas it is advised that you consult with a professional travel agent that can prevent problems with books as well as provide information on travel safety and other considerations. If you are looking for a great deal, try the road less traveled when it comes to an all inclusive vacation. Traveling in off peak season will also save you money, but get advice on weather in off seasons before booking.
About the Author: Jessica Gray has been working as a freelance writer for a long time. She has a diverse background in fashion and style. She loves sharing her opinions on the latest fashion trends and is an expert on flower girl baskets.