Getting engaged is the exciting beginning to the adventure ahead! If you are at ground zero with wedding planning, you are probably wondering where to begin. Many couples begin this journey wondering whether they need a wedding planner to bring all of the pieces together or if they can meet the challenge on their own. This is a big decision, and can be an expensive one. However, not having a wedding planner can leave you in the woods. This small guide to wedding planning is here to help you create the dream wedding, while making the best decisions along the way.
Hiring a Wedding Planner
Before we go any further, let’s talk about a wedding planner and make the first big decision. Do you need one? No one needs a wedding planner. Getting married is really just about $90 and a trip to the courthouse, depending on court fees. If we are asking what is needed, the answer is really simple to formulate. A wedding is about having the experience you deserve, and the planner is about creating it on your budget. You are buying a personal assistant with industry experience and connections to plan your vision within the parameters of your budget. Typically, a wedding planner will interview you, asking a series of questions about the way you envision your wedding day and about the budget that will control it all. Then, they will layout a budget, allocating spending in each category of your wedding. Wedding planners are creative with finances and have connections to always find you the best deals.
It is a toss up. While you are spending about 15% to 20% of your total wedding budget on creating the dream, they are probably helping you save more than you are paying them. Free wedding planners that work within a network are not impossible to find. This is something most wedding planners do not want you to know. Since a little help making the decision was promised, it is time to deliver. There is an industry secret that can save you thousands on your wedding day, while delivering the dream experience. And it is all possible with or without a wedding planner.
The First Steps to Wedding Planning
Before we get to the big secret, let’s begin with the first steps to wedding planning. The process of wedding planning involves finding the dream location, a picturesque venue, choosing your colors, wedding attire, entertainment, the food and a seemingly endless list of other details to make your wedding day just like the dream. You will also be planning other events simultaneously, such as the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. Booking the wedding venue is one of the very first steps you will take in your journey to wedding planning, since it will start the clock and get the events on your timeline in motion.
Choosing the location
Everything begins with location. The location is the foundation to the event you are planning. Location is the setting. Think about how you envision your wedding day. Walk through the daydream and take important notes along the way. How do you imagine the space? Is it indoors, outdoors or in a luxurious ballroom? Choosing a wedding venue is more than finding a beautiful space. Not only should this picturesque venue encompass the fairy tail, but it should be in a meaningful location, accommodate your guest count and entertainment needs, and should meet specific requirements on your unique checklist. It must also fit within the budget.
Wedding Planning with a Wedding Venue
Once you have a pretty solid dream for your wedding day and the magical location set in your heart, it is time to find the fairy tale wedding venue. Some venues are bare and offer nothing more than the walls. This would require renting furnishings, décor and extensive design services. There are also other services beyond the design, such as bartender staff, banquet staff, day of event coordination services and food managers. Some venues are all-inclusive, offering the venue, furnishings, décor, chinaware and staff services. A venue with the entire package is the big secret to planning your wedding and saving thousands.
Wedding venues with in-house designers and planners can create your entire event, while saving you on the cost of a wedding planner. If you have a wedding planner, they will work with your planner to bring your vision to life. Even when you find the all-inclusive venue, a planner can help you build a vendor team. However, if the venue has a preferred vendor list, they can plan your wedding and help you build your wedding team in one place. This provides convenience and additional savings.
After booking your venue, you should begin booking your wedding vendors. During the first few months of wedding planning, you should hire your caterer, florist, photographer, cake designer, live band or DJ, and shop for the wedding dress you will wear on your magical day. This is also the time to reserve a hotel block for guests and the wedding party. Have fun creating your gift registry, and a wedding website that will keep your guests and wedding party in the loop. Six months before the big day, make sure you purchase invitations, begin planning the honeymoon, shop for wedding party gifts, hire your transportation, create a day of event timeline, and if you have not already, hire your wedding officiant. The last few months of planning will move quickly.
The Last Few Months of Wedding Planning
The last few months of wedding planning will get crazy. This list includes the basics:
Provide your bridal shower host with your guest list
Create a playlist for your deejay or band
Finalize the catering, cake and floral arrangements
Purchase or make your wedding favors and place cards
Request that your special people make speeches at your rehearsal dinner and on your wedding day
Shop for the honeymoon
Schedule a fitting for your wedding dress
Purchase wedding rings
Follow up with all of your vendors to review details and the timeline
Make sure your band or deejay has your playlist
Communicate important details with your videographer and photographer
Mail out wedding invitations six weeks before the big day
Obtain a marriage license a month in advance
Purchase beverages to stock the bar
Schedule one last dress fitting a few weeks before your wedding
Attend a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, a rehearsal ceremony, a bachelor party and a bachelorette party
During the last couple weeks, plan the seating arrangements, provide the final headcount to the caterer and pack for the honeymoon
Always follow up with your vendor team and venue the final week before the big day
Crystal Ballroom Saint Augustine
Crystal Ballroom Saint Augustine is an all-inclusive wedding venue with an in-house design team that is dedicated to creating every element of your wedding day. Beyond making the picturesque venue and elegant designs affordable, Crystal Ballroom offers additional day of event coordinator services to make every wedding a happily ever after memory. Every wedding package includes all of the furnishings, décor, bartender services, banquet staff and an in-house design team to decorate the entire ceremony space and reception ballroom. Relationships with vendors provide access to professional services at reduced rates to save couples even more. Crystal Ballroom creates an affordable fairy tale. Contact Crystal Ballroom Saint Augustine to schedule your private VIP tour and begin planning.