Before getting engaged, I always assumed that the entire wedding planning process was fun — unfortunately, this is not the case. Don't get me wrong — finding your wedding dress, sampling delicious cake, and decorating the venue are very fun, but all of the nitty gritty details aren’t always a blast. So, in the interest of saving you a lot of frustration, here are 10 not-so-fun wedding planning things that should be done early on.
Photo Credit: Noble Photography
1. Spread the News of Your Engagement
One of the first things you want to do after the big “YES!” moment is relax in your bride-to-be glow while some romantic Michael Bublé song plays in the background. You’re finally getting married, and everything just seems right in the world... until you remember that there are at least 20 people who will be offended if they find out about your engagement through a Facebook post rather than a personal phone call. Naturally, you’ll want to let your parents and siblings know first, followed by any other close family members and friends. Be prepared: these phone calls can take hours as you recount your engagement story over and over; make sure you think about which details you want to share before you pick up the phone. There's no shame in having a script! After you've made your phone calls, then you can make your engagement "Facebook official."
2. Determine Your Wedding Budget
Weddings are expensive, plain and simple. In fact, according to Business Insider, the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton was a whopping $34 million. While most of us won’t plan a wedding that’s quite that expensive, there is still no doubt that it will be a costly affair. Considering that a lot of wedding-related arguments stem from money, deciding on a reasonable wedding budget early on will save you so much frustration down the road. Yes, this will ultimately require you to have "the money talk" with your loving parents or, even worse, his! No one enjoys asking for money; it’s uncomfortable and awkward, especially if you’re asking for a lot. But chances are, you will need a little help, and your family will be more than willing to give what they can afford.
3. Make the Guest List
The all-knowing guest list can cause a lot of headaches if not finalized early on. Take some time once the planning process begins to sit down with your fiancé and families to decide who to invite. Make sure to keep your vision in mind. Do you imagine a large wedding or something more small and intimate? The guest list should imitate that. Remember, don’t just invite everyone because you don’t want to leave anyone out; this is your special day and should be celebrated by those who love and care about you.
4. Set the Date
One could argue that this is the most important part. After all, no one will be there if they don’t know when it is! Keep in mind the kind of wedding you want: Do you have your heart set on a spring wedding? Maybe fall? Perhaps a winter wonderland, or something in the heat of the summer? The date you choose will play a huge part in the theme of your wedding. Also think about how long or short you want your engagement to be — I originally wanted to get married in the fall, but I ended up deciding on a spring wedding because I didn’t want to be engaged for a year and a half. There will always be pros and cons, and they will differ depending on the location and the date. In some areas, spring might be too rainy, or it might start snowing in October, or it might be a blistering 107 degrees in June. While the weather will ultimately do what it wants, it’s important to keep these things in mind when picking a wedding date.
5. Find Your Wedding Style
It's important to identify your personal wedding style early on; it'll drive all of your décor decisions and help give your wedding a cohesive look. Consider: are you a modern bride? A vintage bride? A rustic bride? Or a classic bride? Do you want to have a full-on themed wedding? You won’t get far into the planning process if you don’t have your theme picked out, as it will ultimately affect your design preferences, choice of venue, and even the wedding dress you pick. Making a decision on the theme early on will make the remainder of the planning process a lot easier.
6. Choose Which Kind of Ceremony
Do you share the same religious beliefs and want to get married in a house of worship? Or would you prefer an outdoor wedding with a non-denominational officiant? Is it important to you (and your families) that you combine various religious and cultural traditions in your wedding? This conversation with your fiancé can also lead to a bigger conversation about what role religion will play in your marriage, if you haven't discussed it before. And you may be surprised by which direction your fiancé is pushing for your wedding ceremony.
7. Search for Prospective Vendors
This is always very tedious — and can make or break your budget in the end. Always start with the venue — you don't really have a wedding date until you've booked your venue, and a lot of popular venues will book far in advance. Don’t miss out on what you want because you waited too long; get it done at the beginning and have some peace of mind. Next, decide which other types of vendors you'll need — caterer? Videographer? DJ? Band? Florist? Wedding planner? Start your research with any personal recommendations from friends and family members — did you love your friend's wedding pictures? Ask her to share some intel on the photographer's packages and personality.
8. Select Your Wedding Party
Having to pick who will be a bridesmaid and who won’t is a difficult task, especially if you have a lot of close friends and you’re a people-pleaser. The bottom line is, this is your big day, and you will be relying on your maid of honor and bridesmaids for help, both physically and emotionally. Choose those who have always been there for you in the past and would love nothing more than to support you on your special day. Are you obligated to ask your future sister-in-law to be a bridesmaid? No, you’re not. You can ask them if they meet the qualifications mentioned above, but you aren’t required to. As for the coveted maid of honor position, most brides will ask a sister or best friend. The maid of honor has a big role, and you want to make sure she is prepared and ready to take on the additional responsibilities. The same goes for your fiancé’s best man. Both the maid of honor and best man will be entrusted with several wedding-day details, so choose carefully.
9. Delegate Wedding Tasks
This is especially tricky if you’re like me and would prefer to do everything yourself rather than risk certain details by placing them in the hands of other (perfectly capable) human beings. You might be Wonder Woman at multi-tasking, but please don’t try to plan this on your own. For the most part, your family and in-laws will want to be included in the planning process. The best way to accomplish this is to map out the different tasks that will need to be done per month, and then delegate them to someone who you feel would do the job well. My sister, for example, is an excellent baker with a sharp attention to detail and an eye for aesthetics, so I have passed “cupcake duty” off to her. She will do a fabulous job, and that will leave me with one less item on my list. Pay special mind to making sure your future in-laws are involved in some way or another. Most likely, they are almost as excited for this day as you are and want to show that excitement by lending a helping hand with all there is to do. Making sure everyone is involved is a good way to keep everyone happy — and possibly distract them from constantly berating you with ideas they think are better than yours. Plus, it will keep you sane!
10. Find Your Bridesmaid Dresses
Searching for the “perfect” bridesmaid dress for all of your lovely ladies is probably a lot more fun when you all live in the same state, but these days, most bridal parties are spread throughout the country — or even the world. I live 1,000 miles from my closest bridesmaid! When you can't meet up at a bridal boutique together to pick out a dress, it gets a lot more complicated, and you'll have to rely on group texts and photos to choose "The One." And it'll likely fall on you to narrow down the thousands of options. Keep in mind who your bridesmaids are and the style and color of the dress you’re choosing. Yes, all eyes will be on you, but you don’t want to stick them in something that they won’t like or isn’t flattering. When choosing my dresses, I wanted to find something that they could potentially wear again — that way, they didn’t feel like they were throwing $100 at a one-time dress. Plan ahead and get this crossed off the list fairly early. You don’t want to be scrambling around a couple months before the big day finding dresses and making sure everyone gets fitted.
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and you’ll want it to be as stress-free as possible. The best way to do this is by knocking out those 'little' details in the beginning. Getting most of the not-so-fun stuff out of the way first ensures a smoother ride all the way to the big day. The last thing you want is to leave it till the end; you’ll just be adding more stress to the stress you’re already feeling. And remember to take a minute and breathe in the whole experience; don’t get so caught up in the planning that you forget to enjoy the exciting little moments along the way!