How to Plan a Wedding according to a Wedding Photographer

with tips from Wedding Planner article entitled How to plan a wedding step by step written by Kim Frost. As a Photographer I'm very used to planning things and visualizing how things may look in my head, but I know that isn't for everyone. Plus that's not something you can generally get away with when you need multiple people to take part in your wedding day. My first wedding I was walked through planning and what shots to snap by friends and family and now after seeing similar things happen time and time again I'm here to help with your planning. This is not a list for elopements because they deserve their own list, but there's some overlap. Here's what generally goes into planning weddings.




1. Set a Budget

When it comes to figuring out how to plan a wedding—you’ll need to decide how much you can spend on your wedding. It can be an over whelming time sink no matter your budget. It might not be the most fun part of the process, but it’s a task that really needs to be completed first. The last thing you want is to fall in love with a venue, vendor, dress, etc. and realize it’s completely out of range. So sit down with potential contributors and/or be brutally honest with yourself to come up with a total budget, and then divide it up by vendor or service accordingly leaving room for "wiggle room" to keep decisions flexible before booking anything.


2. Get Inspired

One of the most fun parts of planning a wedding step by step is gathering inspiration. Think about how you want your wedding to look and feel. What did you always want as part of your wedding? This is the fun brain storming phase! Are you going for a super-classic and formal vibe? Or perhaps an event that’s more relaxed and rustic? The choice is yours, but it’s a good idea to start perusing Pinterest, Instagram, and wedding websites to start considering color schemes, décor ideas, and more. You can save what you find in a folder on your phone and/or note app to reference later. I recommend starting this process early on, but really ramping up once you’ve selected your venue and set a date.




3. Start Thinking About Who You Want To Share This Time With

You don’t have to have a final guest list until a bit later, when thinking about how to plan a wedding step by step, coming up with an estimated guest count early on is important. There’s a big difference between a 50-person wedding and a 300-person wedding, particularly when it comes to your venue options. So before you start browsing wedding venues, get an idea of how many guests you’ll host. You'll also want to use this time to choose the people who will stand beside you on your big day—your wedding party. So go ahead and select your bridesmaids, groomsmen, groomsladies or bridesmen and ask them to take on this important role. Plus a photographer/videographer note here, you can begin the process of telling them all to not be in a hurry to disperse before all the group photos/videos are done with them on your big day. ;)


4. Narrow Down the Dates

You won’t officially “set a date” until you book your venue. But, we recommend choosing a few potential wedding dates before you start looking at venues. First, think about the season in which you’d like to wed—and if a Saturday night wedding is a must (convenient, but potentially more expensive and competitive) or if you’re open to a wedding on a different (perhaps less in-demand) day. Then, take a look at the calendar, taking into account work schedules, holidays, family conflicts, etc., and narrow things down to a few choice dates. Having some potential wedding dates in mind will be very helpful during the venue selection process.





5. Choose a Venue

Now that you have a budget, an estimated guest count, and a few potential wedding dates in mind, you have all the information you need to book a wedding venue—one of the most important parts of our how to plan a wedding guide. Read online reviews of wedding venues near you, visit in person, and work with your partner to find your dream wedding location. Once you’ve thoroughly read your venue’s contract and signed on the dotted line, you’ve officially set a date for your wedding—and the real fun begins! Note: Some couples hire a wedding planner before choosing a venue, others wait until afterwards—it all depends on the type of assistance you need.





6. Start Your Registry

Pretty much immediately after you announce your engagement, your loved ones will ask: “Where are you registered?” When thinking about how to plan your wedding step by step, it’s a good idea to create your wedding registry relatively early on in the process. Your family members and friends may want to purchase engagement gifts—you can always make changes and additions to your registry later on.


7. Create a Wedding Website (and Wedding Hashtag!)

Setting up a wedding website is the easiest way to do keep your guests in the loop, and one of the most important steps to planning a wedding. I can certainly help with this offering a public photo site in addition to your optional private site for your wedding photos and videos. Your site can have a downloadable .PDF of all of the important information about your big day like the date, location, travel information, room block details, and more with an easy to remember website name that you can actually write down without being a coder. Now’s also the time to create your wedding hashtag to use on social media leading up to your wedding day.






8. Book Vendors

This is where we come in at generally. The average couple hires 13 vendors to help create their dream wedding day. That may seem like a lot, but it’s important to hire the right people to ensure that your big day runs smoothly. Here's a vendor booking timeline to figure out when to book each pro, and reading online reviews to help choose the best of the best.



9. Finalize Guest List

If you haven’t already, it’s time to create your final wedding guest list. Remember that if your parents are contributing financially to your big day, they’ll get a say in who’s invited. Be sure to keep your venue’s capacity in mind as well, and don’t invite more people than the space can handle. Even though you’ll likely receive regrets from some guests, you don’t want to risk it.


10. Send Save-the-Dates

It’s time for your guests to mark their calendars! Save-the-dates should be sent as far in advance as possible to ensure that your loved ones can plan accordingly.


11. Purchase Attire

Give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect outfit for your wedding day. Particularly when it comes to wedding dresses, it can take months from the time you purchase your attire until it’s properly tailored and ready to go, so don’t wait until the last minute.





12. Figure Out Rehearsal Dinner Details

The rehearsal dinner, which usually takes place the night before the wedding, requires some planning as well. It’s important to figure out who’s planning (and paying) for this event well in advance—and make sure a venue is booked and details are hammered out in a timely fashion, about six months before the big day.





13. Plan the Honeymoon

You may be thinking a lot about how to plan your wedding step by step, but don’t forget about the honeymoon! If you’re planning on jetting off on your honeymoon shortly after your wedding, it’s time to choose a location, book your travel and accommodations, and start planning an itinerary.





14. Attend Those Pre-Wedding Events

Engagement parties, showers, bach parties, and more—your schedule will likely be jam-packed with pre-wedding events. While the soon-to-be married couple usually has little role in planning these celebrations, you’ll need to clear your calendar to attend as guest of honor.


15. Send Invitations

Wedding invitations are usually sent six to eight weeks before the big day—and the RSVP deadline is typically about two or three weeks in advance. Sending your invites on time is one of the most essential steps to planning a wedding.


16. Buy Wedding Bands

An important symbol of marriage, be sure to browse and purchase your wedding bands a few months before your nuptials. Your wedding band should feel comfortable (you’ll be wearing it pretty much all the time!) and suit your personal style.





17. Create a Seating Chart

Work with your venue and planner to determine how many tables your wedding space can accommodate. Then, use an online tool to figure out who sits where—keeping relationships and family dynamics in mind. Once you’ve finalized your seating chart (usually a week or so before your wedding), be sure to send to your caterer, venue, and stationer so that escort cards can be created.


18. Obtain a Marriage License

If you’re thinking about how to plan a wedding step by step, remember one of the most important tasks—obtaining a marriage license so that you and your partner can actually get legally married! Every state has different marriage license laws, so be sure to study up beforehand. Make sure that you get your marriage license at the right time—in advance if there’s a waiting period in your state, but not too far in advance if the license expires after a certain amount of time. If you're interested in changing your name after the wedding, that marriage license will be a critical step in the process.


19. Confirm Your Wedding Details with Vendors

In all likelihood, you’ve been in close contact with all of your wedding vendors in the days and weeks leading up to your big day. Make sure that you’ve tied up any loose ends and all of your vendors have all the information they need (and have been properly paid!). Wedding planners are super-helpful in this regard, and will assist you in making sure your vendors know where and when to be present.





20. Get Married!

The big day is finally here! You, your partner, your families, and your vendors have worked hard to follow all the steps to planning a wedding—so enjoy every minute!





bonus

"What do we want our day to look like?" vs. "What do we want our day to feel like?"

Having a Pinterest wedding can be good and gorgeous, but even those Pinterest details should be based in what you love as a couple. The wedding decor inspiration is all beutiful– not just because someone else used it, but because it resonates with you too!

Before picking your color palette or deciding on a ceremony backdrop, create a mood board inspired by a list of words you want your wedding to feel like. Words like intimate, wild, elegant, cozy, adventurous, eclectic, timeless are a good starting place. If you are working with a wedding designer or coordinator, and you tell them that you want your wedding to feel like “us,” it’s important that you know what that feels like. As you’re describing your wedding, pull from words you would use to describe you as people and as a couple, too. Last but not least, don’t forget to think about the things you love doing together and how you can incorporate that into your day! Is coffee the lifeline of your relationship? Do you spend all your time loving on your fur baby? Do you frequent record stores and make each other playlists on Spotify? These are all details that can be included in your wedding in some way that helps it feel like you!


Need a photographer for your upcoming Wedding? Free travel for weddings in both Carolinas! Check out my work and holler at me!


-Yeager

Wedding Photographer

& Videographer


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