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 WEDDING PLANNING
HOW TO START PLANNING YOUR WEDDING

GETTING STARTED...

Start planning your wedding as far in advance as possible.  You will find that many of the essential components required when planning your wedding like churches, wedding reception facilities, photographers, caterers, bands and d.j.s, etc. can be booked a year or more in advance. An outline of the first components to focus on in the wedding planning process is included in the wedding planning timeline guide.

Planning your wedding well ahead of time will allow you a better selection and sometimes (usually) better pricing than if you wait.

Advance wedding planning will also save you - and everyone around you - a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress.

Start with the wedding planning basics
Give some thought to the style of wedding you want - and when and where you would like to be married.  Then, determine a list of key people who will be part of the wedding party and estimate the number of guests you expect to attend your wedding ceremony and wedding reception.  If it is going to be rather large or very complicated wedding consider hiring an experienced wedding planner or consultant to assist.   See the section on "Wedding Planners and Consultants" found later in this wedding planning guide.

Make a wedding planning "to do" list or obtain a list of essential things that you will need to do or select
You will find a free checklist and "General Wedding Planning Timeline" later in this wedding planning guide to get you started. There are also free wedding planning lists that can be found in just about every other wedding publication on the planet OR you can purchase a wedding planner from our wedding bookstore if you have a burning desire to spend money.

Set up a wedding planning filing system
Keeping everything organized will make the wedding planning process much easier and there are a number of simple ways you can easily organize and track your wedding planning progress. You do not need an expensive wedding planning program to do the job.  Free or relatively inexpensive computer programs are available that will allow you to keep track of all the details, create guests lists, etc.  Odds are good that you probably have a database program on your computer that can help keep track of guest lists, seating assignments, prices, budgets, etc. You are also going to need to establish a hard copy filing system to keep track of wedding supplier quotes, contracts, etc.  A simple document file and file folders with labels will easily do the trick.  Also, we recommend that you buy 1 (one) special notebook with pockets that you will put all of your written notes, reminders and wedding planning "to do" lists into. 

Determine your approximate financial position
Add up the amount of money you can personally afford for your wedding as well as funds that are available from parents, etc. If you are planning to save additional money for use for your wedding budget, start saving money for your wedding now.  In the initial stages of planning your wedding, determine how much you want or need to save by the wedding date and how much you can comfortably afford to save by the wedding date. Then, open a bank account to use ONLY for saving money for your wedding budget and start banking a predetermined amount from each paycheck.

Contact various wedding ceremony and reception locations and wedding suppliers to determine probable costs associated within each type of wedding supplier.
Make a list of what your requirements are from each type of wedding supplier and give each wedding supplier the same requirements. Giving every supplier the same requirements will make the task of comparing prices and making a final wedding supplier selection much easier for you.  If you don't know what your requirements are, simply talk to several suppliers, compare notes from those conversations and develop your requirements based on what you have learned from the conversations.  You will find sections about selecting different types of wedding suppliers later in this wedding planning guide.

Set up your test wedding budget
After you have listed the required supplier types and expense items (a complete list of wedding expense items can be found later in this guide) for your wedding, i.e. ceremony and reception facility, photographer, caterer, wedding cake, decor, entertainment, etc. enter the cost range amounts next to the supplier type.  Once you have entered in the cost ranges for each wedding supplier type, add up the totals to determine the probable cost range. While you are at it, file all of the information you have received from the different wedding suppliers so you can refer to it later when making your final selection. For ease of comparison, try to keep each wedding supplier category filed individually, i.e. all caterers together, all entertainment together, etc. You can also make a master list of the suppliers with the corresponding costs so you can make a comparison at a glance. You will find tips relating to selecting different suppliers later in this wedding planning guide.

Compare your test wedding budget against your available funds and modify your budget
Based on how important specific items are to you, you can usually decrease the total wedding cost or shift costs from a component you feel is less important to another component that is more important to you.  For example, you could reduce the cost associated with wedding music entertainment by switching from a wedding band to a D.J. or you could reduce your food costs by selecting buffet service rather than a plated dinner service for your wedding reception.  You will find lots of other money saving wedding planning tips and ideas  in the other sections of this wedding planning guide.

ONE MORE VERY IMPORTANT THING BEFORE YOU START...

BEFORE
you register for anything at a bridal or wedding planning show,
BEFORE
you send in a postcard to receive a free wedding planning guide,
BEFORE
you register at any wedding related website to access their latest and greatest wedding gowns or wedding planning ideas...

STOP

Consider for just a moment that in many (most) cases your personal information is going to go on a "lead list" that will be sold to anyone who is willing to pay for it.  That means that you are probably going to receive hundreds of calls, junk e-mails and junk mail for everything from credit cards - to time shares - to life insurance -  and everything else in-between.

We do not think you should be - or need to be - deceptive when contacting individual wedding suppliers.  It is highly unlikely that they will give out your personal information without your permission because they do not want to lose you as a potential client.  (The exception may be some wedding reception facilities and hotels who have been known to give weekly lists of potential or booked clients to their key wedding suppliers.)

HOWEVER, if you are planning to register at a bridal show or a wedding related website or send in for a free wedding planning guide, here are a few tips that will save you a world of aggravation and wasted time...

  • Get a Free E-mail Account or create a unique email address to use as an e-mail address while you are planning your wedding
     

  • Get a Personal Mail Box to use as a mailing address
     

  • Get a Voice Mail Box to use as a contact telephone number rather than giving out your home or cell number

By using these inexpensive tools you can easily screen every e-mail and every phone call PLUS you can simply turn them off when you want to.  If you volunteer your personal e-mail address, address or phone number and the information gets on the "lead lists" you will be dealing with unwanted solicitations for years.

After you have selected the wedding suppliers you intend to work with, provide them with the direct contact information they will need.

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