STEP 1 – AGREE ON YOUR VISION, STYLE & FEEL
You’re excited to get started, who wouldn't be. But hold on! Don’t start looking at dresses or locations or anything else until you take some time to sit down and talk with your fiancé. What is your overall goal for your wedding day? Make sure you agree, and then list the areas you’re comfortable making adjustments. This will save time, money and stress. Consider it an opportunity to create good habits for decision making as a married couple.
AS YOU BEGIN, REMEMBER....
- Your wedding should fit you! Allow your style and personality to be seen in everything that happens.
- Decide together which traditions you want to include and which you don’t.
- Don’t forget your guests! You are the reason for the celebration, but a great wedding remembers the enjoyment of its guests.
WHAT ARE YOUR PREFERENCES AND PRIORITIES? WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?
- Where do you want to have your wedding? Close to home, where your family lives, between the families?
- Where do you want your ceremony? Church, outdoors?
- Indoor or outdoor reception?
- Wedding and reception at same location?
- Are there any non-negotiables? Religious or non-religious ceremony?
- Traditional or non-traditional – do you know what traditional is?
- Anything you must do? Won’t do?
- Large or small guest list?
- Relaxed family get-together, fun dance party or both!
- Casual or formal?
- Large or intimate?
The list is endless. Only you can personalize your wedding. The key is balancing your time and priorities – DIY projects are normally time consuming. How much time do you have? What will you do to give your wedding the personal touch?
TIP: Find a comfortable, quiet place and complete Choozly’s interactive, DEFINE YOUR WEDDING STYLE worksheet. You’ll be off to a great start!
STEP 2 – CREATE YOUR WEDDING BUDGET
You’ve agreed on your style, you have a guest list, now it’s time to set your budget! Choozly compiled online data showing, on average, what couples spend. Using your total available budget, use average percentages to create expense targets in each category. Choose a location within your budget (no more than 48% of your overall budget). You will lower your stress and enjoy the planning process!
HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO SPEND?
- What resources do you have? Savings, parents, bake sales, sell the boat!
- If parents will help, have the 'how much' conversation now! It doesn't get easier!
- Come up with a total available budget.
WHERE WILL YOUR MONEY GO?
- Insert percentages into total budget to estimate how much you have for each category.
- Decide now what categories are your priorities and consider adjusting your budget accordingly.
- 48% will go to Location, Rentals, Food and Beverage Don't go over budget here!
- Book your top priority services earlier when you have more budget flexibility.
- As you search, remember, you rarely get ‘above average quality’ with a below average price.
* Choozly estimated prices are based on 100 guests, adjust your spending estimates accordingly.
TIP: Create a realistic budget that reflects your priorities using our helpful Basic Budget Guide
STEP 3 – ESTIMATE YOUR GUEST COUNT
The number of guests will impact the style and feel of your wedding. A wedding with 75 guests will not feel the same as a wedding with 200 guests. Which feels more like you? The number of guests may also impact your venue selection—which, including food, beverage and rentals will be the largest category in your overall budget. So, review your vision from step 1 and create your ideal guest list.
PREPARING YOUR GUEST LIST
- Do parents have a guest list? Parents often have guests they want to invite. Ask them early.
- Each guest can cost more than you think. Consider what each guest may need: ceremony and reception chairs, appetizers, meal, drinks, alcohol, place setting, favor, possibly another table, linen & centerpiece. For example, an invitee often brings a guest.
- Consider an “A” list and “B” list. If you have more guests than space, create two lists—an A list: people you definitely want to attend, and a B list: people you’d like to attend. Once you begin to get responses, move people from the B list to the A list as space allows. We recommend you don’t tell people they started on the B list
- Unless you have an unlimited budget, be prepared to disappoint some people. Sorry, in spite of your best efforts, people may get their feelings hurt. Do your best to support each other. Don't take it personally. They're probably hurt because they care and want to be part of the fun.
TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR GUEST LIST
- Start off small - From the moment you get engaged, tell your friends and family you are having a small wedding. This sets the exception early on that not everyone will be invited and also minimize future uncomfortable conversations.
- Be fair - Allowing each family to have the same number of invites makes which helps avoid future family drama and limits the number of guests. This is invites, not number of confirmed RSVPs.
- Close friends - We all have college and high school friends and you may have even attended their weddings several years ago. However, if you have not talked to them in over a year they may not make the cut.
- Who can you do without - It is difficult and you may feel you are leaving people out but this is your wedding and you have a budget. Consider not inviting plus ones, kids, second cousins, co workers, or parents of friends. Be sure these rules apply to both families.
STEP - 4 SEARCH LOCATIONS
Now you are ready to begin searching for your location. First learn from wedding experts on 'how to choose the right location' and common mistakes to avoid.