Ok, so now you're engaged. Now what? Well, that is a very good question. I could help you answer that, but I am going to leave it to the expert. With her bubbling personality, trademark enthusiasm, fabulous style, and attention to detail; Jennifer Scheumann, of It's Your Day! Weddings and Events, is the one to call! Where do I start? What amount of my budget goes where? What are the most important things to do first? Jennifer will give you a clear and simple answer to these questions that won't leave you feeling like taking a road trip to Vegas!
Congratulations! You are about to embark on one of the most exciting times of your life, planning your wedding! When you start to spread the word on your engagement, people will automatically bombard you with the "What's the date? ...Where is it?" questions, so it will be time to get started with the planning! Here are some helpful tips to get you on your way...
First things first:
- Compile guest list: Start putting names on paper (or in a spreadsheet rather!) of your preliminary guest list. This means you and your fiancé, and both of your families should put together all the people you would like to invite. Tally this list to see what your total invited guest count is looking like. Rough rule of thumb: 10 - 20% of your invited guests will probably not be able to make it. Disclaimer: I have done weddings with 98% responses of "yes" so only you know your guest list and who will most likely make it! Be prepared to have to make some cuts. The higher the guest count, the higher the cost.
- Determine the Budget (least fun part of the wedding planning - but an essential part!) Find out who will be contributing to the wedding budget and how much. Get a total number that is realistic for you to spend.
- Make a Budget Breakdown Based on your priorities, and the areas that are most important to you, do a spreadsheet to allocate your budget and breakdown per each area.
Here is an estimate of the percentage that each area will contribute to the total budget:
- Coordination (Depending on level of service) 3% - 10%
- Photographer 8% - 10%
- Videographer 3% - 7%
- Ceremony (Rental Fee, Marriage License, Officiant) 1 - 5%
- Reception (Rental Fee + Catering Fees) 45% - 55%
- Entertainment (Ceremony & Reception) 3% - 13%
- Florist 4% - 10%
- Decor (Linens, Lighting, Chairs, etc.): 0 - 10%
- Stationery 3% - 5%
- Cake 2%
- Attire 3% - 6%
- Accessories 1% - 2%
- Transportation 1% - 2%
- Social Gatherings 1% - 4%
- Miscellaneous 5%
Decide on General Location and Approximate Date: Keep in mind that peak season
(April - October) Saturday evenings will be the most expensive at any venue. If you are open to a Friday or Sunday or a lunch event, it will be less expensive. Also, try to be flexible on the dates. If you fall in love with a location, you might have to work around their availability.
- Book Your Wedding Coordinator : Booking your coordinator at the beginning of the process will streamline the planning process and will save you a lot of time and energy!
- Start Researching and Touring Venues: Once you have your approximate guest count and time of year, you can start researching some locations online and from referrals.
If you are interested in a location call or email the location to find the availability and general pricing. Do not torture yourself by touring locations that are out of your budget.
When you find places that are in your budget, set up a tour of the venue. It is always good to make an appointment so that you can meet with the contact and they can answer your questions. Ask to see pictures of weddings, it will help you visualize. Once you have your locations narrowed down, ask the site(s) to do a proposal for you so that you can see the total cost you are looking at (e.g. site rental, food, bar, parking, labor, service charge, tax, etc. etc.) You will want to have a realistic quote from the site based on your guest count to determine if it is feasible in your budget. Once you have found the location and determined the price will work, sign the contract and book your location and date!
Congratulations, this is a huge accomplishment! Rough rule of thumb: On average, 50%
of your budget will go to the reception location (rental fee + catering total.)
- Buy Your Dress
- Book Your Vendors: As soon as your date and location are set, you can begin to book your vendors. It is important to do this as early as possible as many vendors book up far in advance. Use your coordinator's referrals, or if not working with a coordinator, consider the vendor referral list from your venue or personal referrals from friends or other vendors you have already hired.
- Once you have booked your location, date and all of your major vendors, you will have successfully completed the preliminary portion of your wedding planning! Hooray!