wedding planning advice: where to start?!

Ok, so you’re engaged. first things first: post ring pics on all social media channels. Done? Good. (I’m totally kidding, by the way).

Time to start planning your wedding. Easy, right? Um, not quite. Even for those of you who have had your dream wedding ‘planned’ down to the napkin rings since you were 11, when it comes to actually planning a wedding, knowing where to start can be daunting! Unless you’re an event planner by trade (or maybe a teacher), there’s a good chance that you’ve probably never planned an event for more 25 people before. Wherever your levels of expertise and anxiety are, we’ve got a few tips to get the wedding planning started off on the right foot.


Get on the same page.

Sit down with your fiancé, preferably over a drink of your choice (I mean, you just got engaged! Do what you can to make wedding planning more like date nights and less like business meetings). Talk about what a perfect wedding would look like to each of you, and keep an open mind to what the other person says – you may be surprised at how much thought they’ve put into this already. Look for the similarities in your visions for the wedding, and make note of those. One of you may want a casual affair at a hall, and the other an extravagant, formal party, but if both of those visions include a huge guest list, where all of your friends and family are invited, your visions may have more in common than you think.

After talking thoroughly about your hopes for the day, start to narrow down what you agree on, and what is most important to you individually and as a couple. Like any decision in a relationship, it’s important to compromise when necessary, and to respect and value the other person’s feelings.

Make a list of priorities – trust me, you’ll need to refer back to it if you get to the point that wedding planning starts to feel like a runaway train. Defined priorities will also help you make decisions throughout the process. Even if the list includes less physical things (i.e. ‘we want our wedding in a hotel’) and more emotional things (i.e. ‘we want our day to feel like a celebration and inclusive of our cultural heritage’), defined priorities will help make the whole wedding planning process smoother.


Be realistic about how much work you want to (and are able to) do.

These days, there’s almost an assumption that you will DIY a bunch of the elements of your wedding. Let us just remind you – those things take both time and work. If you’re planning a wedding while also starting a new job and plotting a move across the country, trying to fit in hand-folding 200 paper cranes for decor may be a bit tricky, to say the least. On the other hand, you may be too busy to DIY your wedding details, but you may have a small army that includes your mom and aunties that would feel honoured and included if you asked them to create a hand-crocheted photo booth backdrop. Be realistic about the time you have to spend on the wedding, and make plans accordingly. If you start to feel like bringing your vision to life will be out of reach, consider hiring a wedding planner, if you weren’t already. I’m telling you, wedding planners are worth their weight in gold – and they can usually save you money (through referral discounts and industry knowledge) as well as tons of time.


Budget.

Set one. Stick to it. Seems easy, right? It’s usually not.

However, it’s SO important to keep your wedding within your budget – being stressed about paying off your ‘wedding debt’ is not a fun way to start your marriage. Again, be realistic – the average wedding cost is creeping up to the neighbourhood of $30,000, but there are tons of ways to save money, and plenty of couples who have awesome weddings for a sliver of that cost. The key here is to define where money is coming from, and where it is going – and this is one of those places that the priorities that you determined in the beginning will help you make decisions. Is the cost of something stressing you out? Decide whether it’s in line with your priorities – if it is, it stays. If it isn’t, it might just be time to cut that part out (or choose a lower-priced alternative).


Decide on a theme.

We’re not necessarily talking about a Harry Potter wedding theme where all decor is strictly in Gryffindor colours (although, a well-done themed wedding can be pretty epic!). Aesthetic themes, and themes regarding the atmosphere you’d like to create at your wedding will help make decisions throughout the process. “Relaxed and rustic” is broad, but will still help with both decor and timeline planning, as will a more specific theme such as “formal, extravagant and entertaining, with coral and mint details.”


It’s a family affair.

Ahhh families. For some they’re a source of overwhelming support and help. For others, family can be a big stressor and a difficult area to navigate. Choosing the level of involvement that your family has and communicating your expectations clearly is important, although we can’t promise that there won’t still be drama. Unfortunately, weddings seem to be breeding ground for family drama – everyone has expectations and opinions, and many family members aren’t afraid to let you know when they don’t like a choice you’ve made. There are a few ways to minimize the stress, though.

Keep in mind that when someone offers to pay for something, it sometimes means that they expect to have influence over it. Saying ‘no’ to financial help can avoid drama, but it can also be minimized by discussing expectations clearly. If there are strained relationships with family members, sometimes the best thing is to have them simply attend the wedding, and nothing more.

On the other hand, when you have family members who are extremely excited and eager to help, get them on board! Let them know what areas you need help with, and let them choose where they can best be of service. Be considerate of what your family members have going on in their own lives, and adjust your expectations accordingly. It can be difficult, but most couples walk away from their wedding with great memories of sharing their big day with all of their loved ones.

Anything we missed? What areas of wedding planning are you finding hardest to navigate? Do add your thoughts to the discussion in the comments below!