Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now what? Time to start planning a wedding! The question is…
Where do we start?
The very first thing you should do is talk about the type of wedding you both want. Do you want an intimate wedding with only your closest family & friends, or do you want to go big & invite extended family & all your friends too? Or you might just want to make the whole thing all about the two of you & just elope!
While I love all the options, I’m not going to lie, Elopements are my fave! Why? Because it’s all truly about the couple! No one is worried about making parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, etc. happy. The couple is always so much more relaxed & full of joy because they aren’t worried about anything!
Then, pick your wedding date! You can’t plan a wedding without a wedding date!
All about the Benjamins…
Okay, so now that you’ve decided what kind of wedding you’re going to have, it’s time to talk budget! Depending on the type of wedding you decided on has a lot to do with how big, or small, your budget should be. Weddings are expensive, it’s a fact, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.
There are things that tend to take the largest portion of your budget, & they happen to be the things you should book first. Here’s an example of how your budget should be prioritized when planning your wedding.
What do I book first? – 12-18+ months
The first two things you should book after you get engaged and start planning your wedding are:
1) Your wedding venue.
Depending on the time of year, & year if it’s 2020, you plan on getting married can determine how far in advance you need to book your venue. For 2020 weddings, for instance, 18 months+ is a good rule of thumb, but otherwise, 12+ months is fine. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you will either not get the wedding date you want, or you’ll have to go with a second or third choice venue.
2) Your photographer & videographer.
Again, 2020 wedding dates play a big factor in how far out you should be booking. For instance, I’ve had 3 October 2020 weddings booked since April of 2019. On average, full-day weddings (usually on a Saturday) book 18+ months in advance, but that doesn’t mean that a closer date won’t be available.
Elopements (which are usually mid-week or days other than a Saturday) book anywhere from 8 months to 2 weeks prior. While you run the risk of not getting the photographer you really want waiting until the last minute, you can usually make it happen.
I offer both photo & video coverage. For full-day weddings, you will have a team of 4 if you choose both photo & video coverage. 2 Photographers & 2 Videographers! If you choose to elope or have an Intimate Wedding (10-25 guests) with both photo & video, your team will consist of 1 photographer& 1 videographer.
Why so far in advance?
I know it seems so far out, but these two vendors are the ones that book out the farthest in advance, so you have to jump on it as soon as you can. You want to be able to book with your first choice venue & photographer, not your second or third choice.
In most cases, your photographer will help you to find your other vendors and plan out a timeline of the day. If you plan on hiring a Wedding Planner, they will also help with these things, but the timeline should be done by your photographer & built on by your planner. It only makes the photographer’s job easier on your wedding day!
I personally build a wedding day timeline for all my couples as part of their package because it only helps me keep everything moving smoothly throughout the day. It also ensures I get all the shots the couple has prioritized in the best lighting situations. And it takes a lot of pressure off the couple because they know that I’ve got it all handled!
You can view a sample wedding day timeline here.
Engagement Photos & Save the Dates. – 9-12 months
You’re engaged! It’s time to get those Engagement Photos done & your Save the Dates sent out!
I know that most couples are not the most comfortable in front of the camera. For that reason, I chose to include your engagement session with your Wedding Collection. I want to get to know you & have you get an idea of how things will go on your wedding day with zero pressure! Plus, you get pretty pictures & custom digital Save the Dates!
Not all Wedding photographers include the Engagement Session in their packages. Also, some couples choose to get their Engagement Photos done before booking their wedding photography. If you were to do that when working with me, I’d credit you back the cost of your Engagement Session.
Also, think about using this time to have your hair & makeup trial.
Time to propose to your wedding party! – 9-12 months
I don’t really mean propose, although some people do. You’ve got an idea of who you’d like to stand by you on your wedding day, so now’s the time to ask them if they would. Think about little gifts, they don’t have to be expensive, to ask them. Greetable or Boxed Gift Co. both have really cute options for bridesmaids! For groomsmen, Groovy Groomsmen Gifts has fun stuff too. You can also find really fun stuff on Etsy!
You can always ask by having a heartfelt conversation with each one. Just let them know how much they mean to you & why you couldn’t picture your wedding day without them.
Start planning the wardrobe! – 9+ months
Most wedding attire needs to be custom-tailored & it may take you a bit of looking to find exactly what you & your fiance´want to wear on your big day. Some couples even opt for more than one look, it’s all up to you. Since it will need to be tailored to you, you’ll want to start the process at least 9 months before your wedding day!
Wedding vendors! – 9+ months
It’s time you start calling all the vendors that your photographer, planner & venue have suggested. Every vendor has a team that they love to work with on a wedding day based on experience. That said, while we love when you trust our suggestion, you should also look at other vendors if the ones that we’ve suggested don’t vibe with you. We’re professionals, we can work with anyone!
So these vendors include caterer, DJ/band, Photobooth (which if you’re working with my team you know we offer) & florist.
Order your Stationary! – 6-9 months
I love when my couples have beautiful Invitation Suites! My faves are hand done & I have local fave too. EG Letters is an amazing calligrapher in Las Vegas. I have worked with her on a bunch of projects & I am always blown away by her work! If you’re considering going that direction with your invitation suites, definitely check her out! Also, I’d love an invitation suite sent to me so I can have it to photograph with your details!
Who’s officiating? – 6-9 months
Again, I have a few faves when it comes to Las Vegas Officiants! Peachy Keen Unions & Sandbox Weddings are my go-to’s. If you’re getting married outside of Las Vegas, ask your Planner or other local vendors for suggestions. I’m happy to help with the search as well!
You can even have a family member or friend officiate. They can get ordained here, just make sure to check the state laws as well so it’s all legit.
Bridesmaids? Time to get those dresses! – 6 months
It’s time to choose what your bridesmaids are wearing. First, pick a color. You can choose 1 color or a color scheme. Then you need to decide if everyone will be wearing the same dress or if you’re letting your girls choose the style that compliments them best? What about length? Do you want them all in long, short, or mid-length dresses?
After making all those decisions, let them know what you’ve decided & where they can find them. Just make sure each of your bridesmaids has her dress ordered in time to have any necessary alterations done before the wedding.
Let’s start the Timeline – 4-6 months
Like I mentioned before, I’ll get to planning the Photography Timeline, which coincides with the day’s events. If I’m not your photographer, no hard feelings 😉, ask if your photographer will be putting this together or just going off of your planner’s timeline. Most photographers prefer to put their own together & give it to the planner to coordinate the rest of the day.
Rentals? Time to book those! – 4-6 months
Some venues include the tables, chairs & linens, but if yours doesn’t now’s the time to get those booked! This is also a good time to think about if you’re wanting to have a “lounge” for cocktail hour or not.
Send out those pretty invitation suites! – 2-4 months
This part can be kinda time-consuming, depending on the number of guests you’re inviting & if you’ve chosen to have your invitation designer add the mailing address & return address for each invitee or not. I suggest having this done for you because when I was planning my wedding, I did it myself & it was such a pain in the ass! Why did I insist on doing it myself? To save a few bucks! But it ended up costing me more time than it would have cost me money! Totally your decision, but I suggest you have it done for you!
Get glam! – 2-6 months
It’s time to hire the glam squad! In Las Vegas, my go-to squad is Makeup in the 702. They are a mobile hair & makeup team with 10 artists. They have also been in business the longest in Las Vegas & are amazing with all hair types & skin tones!
Outside of Las Vegas, I know a fantastic destination Hair & Makeup team, Jireh Artistry!
Wedding day essentials… – 6 weeks
Now’s the time to get those final details handled! Make sure to have a wedding day “oh shit” kit! It literally saved me on my wedding day! We had to sew my cousin into her dress because the zipper broke!
The kit should include the following:
A basic sewing kit with thread to match your dress/jumpsuit/suit & that matches all those in your wedding party. A tide pen. Safety pins. Eye drops. Paper straws. Bandaids. Clear nail polish. Deodorant. Hair spray. Q-tips. Tylenol/Aspirin. Tissues. Bobby pins. Pressed powder. Blotting sheets. Your favorite snack bars. Water.
You should also have your garters & wedding bands by now too.
Confirm the details! – 4 weeks
Confirm with all your vendors. Add any additional hours as needed, if you wait until the day of most likely you’ll be charged an overtime fee instead of the regular rate your vendors charge.
Also, give your song list to your DJ & let your venue know of any special requests.
Seating charts, vows & toasts! – 4 weeks
Plan where your guests will be sitting, maybe even have your guest mingling so they meet new family members or friends.
If you’re writing your own vows, now’s the time to start getting that together. Esthetically, having custom vow books is really nice for photos & keepsakes!
Make a list of those who’ll be making toasts at the reception as well. I would also suggest letting them know to keep it under 3 minutes if possible, especially if you have several people making toasts!
Confirm all the details! – 2 weeks
I reach out to my couples 2 of weeks before the wedding to make sure I have all the deets on the wedding day. Including putting together a shot list & confirming the timeline.
The final push! – 1 day
It’s time for the wedding rehearsal & a celebratory dinner with your family & bridal party! Some couples like to have their photographer & videographer there for these. It will be an additional cost but can be really fun to capture those last hurrah moments & also gives them a chance to see how the wedding will happen. And plan their “attack” for the next day!
Let’s get married!
It’s your big day! Don’t stress, it’s not worth it! Just let the day happen. Things are bound to go awry, but it’s okay! You’re marrying your best friend & the love of your life, enjoy it! Let your planner (if you have one) & your vendors do their thing. We got your back & it is our mission to make your day absolutely the best ever!
Hopefully, this helps in your wedding planning process! I’d love the opportunity to chat with you & see if my team might be the right fit for your big day! So, let’s do it! You can schedule a time for a quick convo here or just get in touch via email here.
I can’t wait to “meet” you!