How did the famous words of Benjamin Franklin go again? “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” and we’re pretty sure that every event coordinator lives by that saying but since not every person is or has access to an event coordinator we have compiled a list for different event categories and the checklist you’ll need to plan your event successfully!
Event Planning Made Easy
We have compiled a list of useful guides and resources to make it so much easier to plan your wedding.
Planning a wedding can feel pretty overwhelming at times. While couples often hire professionals to help manage their wedding plans, there are plenty of reasons why they might also opt to take on the majority of the responsibilities on their own, too. Maybe they’re working with a tight wedding planning budget or maybe they simply love all of the DIY possibilities—in any case, it’s a lot of extra details, but it is possible to plan the wedding of your dreams on your own.
Organization is key to keeping everything on track when you’re faced with decisions, lists, deadlines, and everyday life. The first step is making sure to give yourselves plenty of time for wedding planning. A longer timeline is your friend here—aim for around a year, if possible. And don’t forget to involve your significant other in this step, as well. Your wedding should represent both of you, together as a couple.
So, where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Try to have some fun! This is your wedding, after all. Don’t get too hung up on the tiny details and focus on what’s truly important: celebrating the love the two of you share and getting married, all while surrounded by your friends and family.
Don’t think of this as something you have to do but rather something you get to do. 🙂
Set Your Wedding Budget and Stick to It
Your wedding budget will be the driving factor for many of your wedding-related decisions, so this should be one of the first things you tackle. If any family members will be contributing, chat with them about what they’re comfortable spending. If you’re footing the bill yourself, it’s time to take a hard look at your finances. Be prepared for a reality check when it comes to actually budgeting for your wedding day as many couples don’t realize the full scope of costs involved. Once you’ve got that magic number, stick to it!
While setting and sticking to your budget is key, it’s important to give yourself some wiggle room for unexpected additional costs, must-have upgrades, or last-minute changes. As a rule of thumb, plan to have a 10 to 15 percent cushion for those fees you couldn’t account for.
Construct a List of Wedding Priorities
Sit down with your partner and determine what the three most important aspects of your wedding will be. Is it the venue or a specific wedding date? Locking in a certain wedding photographer or live band? Prioritize those details and be willing to compromise on the rest. This will help you stay within your budget and help you focus your efforts on what really counts.
Determine Your Wedding Style
Find a few resources of bridal inspiration you like best—Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, trusty bridal sites —and start researching. Having a good sense of the type of wedding style you want helps immensely once you start meeting with potential vendors. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the wedding inspiration that’s out there. Creating one or more Pinterest boards—or even a visual collage on a cork or poster board—will help you to figure out what sort of look and feel you really want and keep you aligned with your larger vision.
It’s important to remember that there is such a thing as too much inspiration, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time you spend looking at photos and ideas in one sitting.
You can use checklists, spreadsheets, Word, Excel, Google Docs—anything, really—as long as you can gather all your thoughts, budgets, numbers, etc., in one place. There are also some great online tools and apps out there that can keep you organized.
Think About Dates (and Seasons)
Choose a few ideal dates for your wedding and try to be flexible, if possible, so you’re not constrained when attempting to book the wedding venue and vendors. Take into consideration external factors, like how popular those dates might be for other to-be-weds (making availability scarce and prices higher), if the dates would be difficult for your guests to attend, and the price differences of venues and vendors between seasons.
Select a Theme
Whether it’s specific wedding colors, seasonal or style inspiration, or an actual theme , sometimes it’s helpful to choose a concept to design your wedding around. Once you have an aesthetic in mind, it’s easier to make design decisions, and generally, everything looks more cohesive.
Consider Having an “On-Site” Wedding
In wedding lingo, an “off-site” wedding is one where the venue doesn’t have a commercial kitchen and where you need to bring everything in—think places like a park, a public beach, even an open field. In contrast, having an “on-site” wedding—somewhere like a hotel or restaurant—will greatly simplify the planning process as they’ll likely have a range of catering offerings available as well as access to the basics, including designated space, chairs and tables, and possibly even an on-site coordinator to assist you.
Start Working on Your Guest List
Making decisions about the guest list can be a complicated process and one that will depend largely on your venue and budget. Sit down with your partner and key family members to put together a wish list of wedding guests. Chances are, you’ll need to make some cuts. You will also need to decide whether you’re inviting children and who will be allotted a plus one.
Talk to Other Married Couples
Have you recently attended a wedding that you really enjoyed? By all means, ask that couple for advice and insights. They probably have some expert tips and tricks that they learned along the way that they’d be more than happy to share with you. Sometimes, friends and family are the best resources.
Research Your Venue Options
Be sure to investigate prices, packages, and any restrictions (including minimum budget spend or guest count) from several different potential wedding and reception venues before you sign on the dotted line. Even if there’s a venue and a package price that you really like, keep looking at additional opinions. Ask around and see what other venues are charging before agreeing on a price.
Choose Your Wedding Party Wisely
The friends and family you ask to join your wedding party are there for emotional and tactical support throughout the wedding planning process and on the big day. Consult with your partner to decide what size wedding party works best for the two of you—keeping in mind the expenses that come along with this special responsibility. Consider who you really want standing next to you during this monumental occasion and if they are capable of performing the duties required of their position throughout the planning process.
Shop for Wedding Attire
Finding the perfect wedding dress is a process all its own. We recommend starting your search right after you pick your venue and complete the purchase nine months before the big day, as this will give you enough time for fittings and alterations. Shopping for wedding party ensembles should begin about seven to eight months before the wedding date, whereas groom and groomsmen attire can be scheduled around the five-month mark. Don’t forget that you will also need outfits for any pre-wedding events like brunches, showers, and rehearsals.
Pick Invitations and Save the Date
Start planning your wedding stationery as soon as you know your wedding style and have confirmed the venue. Save-the-date cards typically go out nine months before the wedding date for a destination wedding and four to six months prior for local nuptials. Invitation suites follow six to eight weeks before the big day. You should request that RSVP’s be returned no later than one month before the celebration so there are no last-minute hiccups.
Hire an Officiant
Finding the right officiant to preside over your nuptials can be a deeply personal journey for couples. Whomever you choose will not only dictate the event but also usher you into your union, setting the tone for the rest of your lives together. If booking a clergy member or justice of the peace (rather than having a friend or family member officiate), it’s important to thoroughly do your research, obtain reviews or recommendations, and ask the right questions like if personalizations are allowed, how disruptions would be handled, and if they are involved in obtaining a marriage license.
Don’t Forget the Rehearsal Dinner Detail
Much like other pre-wedding festivities, the rehearsal dinner may or may not be hosted by someone other than you. Regardless of the fact, you will need to partake in the planning process. Much like for the wedding, the rehearsal dinner will need a venue, guest list, catering selection, and invitations. If you are having a destination wedding or wedding weekend, this can either be tied into the welcome party or remain completely separate.
Consider a Day-Of Coordinator
Even when a full-service wedding planner isn’t in the cards, hiring a professional to oversee the day-of details can be a game-changer. They’ll keep track of vendors for you, keep an eye on the schedule, and help with any last-minute details and on-site tasks you simply won’t have time for. Just don’t leave the booking until the last minute, even though this is a day-of coordinator they are typically hired six to eight months in advance.
Make It Legal
In the midst of all the crazy planning and endless small details, don’t forget to actually plan the time to get your marriage license. Start researching and gathering the necessary documents early on, but keep in mind that marriage licenses are typically only valid for a couple of months—and destination weddings often have their own stipulations—so plan accordingly.
Allocate Toasts and Readings
Wedding toasts are typically reserved for select VIPs and are traditionally distributed between the rehearsal dinner and reception, though some couples choose to have everything take place at one event. You are responsible for notifying toast-makers of their responsibilities, accepting requests to speak, and organizing the speaking order. Including readings in the ceremony, whether traditional, cultural, or literary, is a great way to honor important people in your lives that aren’t part of the wedding party.
Finalize Setup Details
As your wedding date approaches, check in with your venue to find out when your vendors can arrive for setup. The earlier the better, but in some cases, venues may have other events going on the same day. Be sure to pass along the information to your vendors so everyone is on the same page.
Build a Playlist
Regardless of if you are having a live band, DJ, or manning the turntables yourself, you will need to outline all of the key songs that absolutely must be played during the nuptial festivities.
Take off your wedding planner hat for just a moment and don your to-be-wed headdress. Indulge yourself in a few moments of solitude to gather your thoughts and put pen to paper as you conceive the declarations of love and nuptial pledges you will make to your spouse-to-be as you are married. Make sure to include some actual promises in your notes rather than just creating a love letter to your beloved. They are called vows for a reason, after all.