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Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Dream Wedding: Tips, Ideas, and Inspiration

You’ve gotten engaged! Congratulations! The moment you get engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life. You're probably bursting with joy, and feeling like everything is finally falling into place. But as the bliss of being newly engaged starts to wear off, you may start to feel a little overwhelmed by the task of planning a wedding. Don't worry, you're not alone. Most couples feel the same way at first. But with a little bit of planning, and some helpful tips, you can make the wedding planning process a breeze! Here goes to start ticking things off your wedding to do list!

1. Create a wedding budget

First things first! Having a budget in mind will help you determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on your wedding. Decide what kind of wedding you want. Do you want a small, intimate affair, or a large, lavish do? Consider the number of guests you wish to invite. Answering these questions will help you to narrow down your choices and make budgeting easier.

2. Find Your Perfect Venue(s) It's never too early to start looking for a venue(s) for your wedding. The earlier you start, the better the chance you'll have of finding your ideal place - especially if you have a particular date in mind. There are a few things to consider when you're searching for a venue. First, you'll need to decide what type of ceremony you want. Are you looking for a traditional church wedding, followed by a hotel reception; a single venue ceremony and reception, or something more unique? Once you've decided on the type of ceremony, you can start narrowing down your search. If you're not sure what you're looking for in a venue, there are a few resources that can help. Wedding websites and magazines are a great place to start your search. You can also talk to friends and family who have been married recently, and see if they have any recommendations. The most important thing to remember when you're searching for a venue is to start early. The sooner you start looking, the better the chance you'll have of finding your perfect place.

Meet with various venues to look around and to run through details of what they can offer and their prices etc. Most wedding venues, with their vast experience, will be able to guide you in what you will need and possibly point you in the direction of their recommended vendors such as florists and photographers.

Once you find your perfect venue(s) either a single location, or church ceremony followed by reception venue, book in your date and pay your deposit, which most places will require. If necessary, book a room at the venue for the bridal party to get ready on the day.

If there is accommodation available at your venue, you may also wish to reserve some rooms for close family and your wedding party and for other guests to book directly.

3. Arrange to meet with your officiant to discuss your ceremony.

To arrange a meeting with your officiant, you can send them an email or give them a call to find a mutually convenient time and place to meet and discuss your ceremony. It's a good idea to have an agenda and any questions you may have ready beforehand.

4. Decide on the details

Those all important touches to make your day unique and special! Such as your wedding color theme, flowers you wish to carry, mode of transport you would like etc.

For wedding color themes, search for inspiration and the latest trending colors through wedding blogs, magazines or Pinterest boards. You can also consider the season and location of your wedding, or draw inspiration from your favorite flowers, artwork or fashion.

Some of the most loved wedding flowers include roses, peonies, hydrangeas, lilies, and dahlias. Other options include sunflowers, baby's breath, and carnations. Ultimately, the choice of flowers depends on personal preference and your overall wedding theme.

Typical modes of transport for weddings include limousines, vintage classic cars, horse-drawn carriages, and party buses.

5. Find Your Wedding Vendors

Ask your friends and family for any recommendations they may have - that’s a great starting point for your choices. You can also ask on social media for any recommendations in your local area. Research online and read reviews from previous clients. Attend wedding fayres so you can chat with various vendor and see examples of their work. Look at wedding websites and blogs. If budget permits, consider hiring a wedding planner to recmmend and co-ordinate vendors for you.

Vendors to find and book as soon as possible: Photographer and videographer Florist Caterer DJ or live band/entertainment for your reception Wedding cars / transportation for bridal parties and happy couple

Hair and Makeup artists for bridal party

Rental companies for hiring chairs, able and decor when necessary

6. Choose your wedding party and start delegating tasks. One of the first things to do when you start planning your wedding is to decide who will be in your wedding party. You'll want to choose people who you are close to and who you know will be supportive during the planning process. Make them feel extra special by giving them a small gift or card to let them know how much it would mean to you!

Once you have your wedding party picked out, you can start delegating tasks. This can be anything from asking a friend to help you choose your wedding dress, to asking your mom to help you make the guest list. Delegating tasks will help to make the planning process less overwhelming and will allow you to enjoy the process more.

7. Set up a wedding website

Whilst not essential, it's very handy to have a wedding website to keep your guests informed and to give them the opportunity to rsvp and see all the details. There are several platforms where you can set up a wedding website. Some popular options include The Knot, Zola, WeddingWire, and Joy. You can compare the features and pricing of each platform to determine which one will work best for your needs.

8. Sort out accommodation and transportation for your guests.

Provisionally reserve rooms at your venue or locally, or prepare a list of local accommodation to help your guests find a suitable place to stay. If necessary, book any transportation between venues, and supply directions to your guests on your website or via a details card with your invitations.

9. Plan your guest list.

This is one of the most important aspects of wedding planning - it will determine the size and scale of your big day, and can often be a source of stress for couples. This is likely to be a big task, especially if you're having a large wedding. Start with a rough estimate of how many people you would like to invite – this number will likely change as you finalize your guest list, but it will give you a good starting point. Decide who you absolutely must invite and make a list. This might include close family members, close friends, or anyone else who you feel would be offended if they were not invited. This list can be as long or as short as you like - it's up to you! Then start narrowing down your list. This is where you might need to make some tough decisions - do you really need to invite that second cousin you haven't seen in years? Make sure you give yourself enough time to get everyone's contact information and addresses.

5. Send out Save The Dates

Once you have a final list of guests, it's time to start thinking about Save the Dates. This is a great way to give your guests a heads-up about your wedding, and to start getting them excited about the big day. Your notifications don't have to be fancy - a simple postcard or e-vite will do the trick. Save-the-dates are typically sent out 6-8 months before the wedding date and should include important information such as date and location. This gives your guests plenty of time to clear their calendars and make travel arrangements, if necessary. Why not include a QR code to your wedding website if you have one so guests can easily scan for more details and updates as they happen.

6. Start looking for a wedding dress As soon as you can, start your search for your wedding dress and make sure to get it fitted so it looks perfect on your big day and to ensure you won't be tripping over your dress or having it fall down while you're walking down the aisle! There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a wedding dress. First, think about the style of dress you want. Do you want something traditional, like a ballgown, or something more modern, like a mermaid dress? Second, think about the color of the dress. You may want to stick with a classic white dress, or you may want something that's a little more unique, like a pale blue or ivory dress. Third, think about the fabric of the dress. Do you want something that's lightweight and comfortable, like silk, or something that's a little more heavy-duty, like satin? Fourth, think about the embellishments on the dress. Do you want something that's simple and elegant, or something that's a little more elaborate, with beading or lace? Finally, make sure to get the dress fitted so it looks perfect on you. The last thing you want is to be worried about your dress on your big day!

12. Choose your wedding rings

This is a fun step, and of course a very important one. You want to make sure you find rings that you love and that will last a lifetime.

13. Plan and book your honeymoon

This is something you'll want to do early, as many popular honeymoon destinations book up quickly. There are many great honeymoon destinations to choose from depending on your preferences. Some popular options include tropical locations like Hawaii or the Caribbean, cultural hotspots like Europe or Asia, or adventurous destinations like New Zealand or Costa Rica. Consider factors such as budget, season, and activities you enjoy when choosing your ideal honeymoon location.

14. Start working on your wedding playlist

A great mix of music is essential to any wedding reception. Start compiling your list of must-plays and do-not-plays well in advance. . This includes the music for your ceremony, your first dance, and any other special dances you might have planned.

15. Begin to work on your wedding vows

Writing your own vows is a very personal task, but it's also one that should be started well in advance. This way, you'll have plenty of time to perfect them.

16. Plan your wedding menu.

Work with your caterer to come up with a menu that your guests will love. Be sure to take any dietary restrictions into consideration.

17. Sweet beginnings - Plan your wedding cake.

A beautiful (and delicious) wedding cake is an important part of any reception. Start looking at cake designs, and be sure to taste-test a few flavors before making your final choice. This is often a fun decision for couples! You can pick a flavor you both love, or go for a more unique flavor combination.

18. Arrange your Rehearsal Dinner.

The requirements for a rehearsal dinner can vary depending on personal preference and cultural traditions. Generally, it is a dinner hosted the night before a wedding to allow the wedding party and close family members to practice the ceremony and celebrate before the big day. Some common elements include selecting a location, creating a guest list, choosing a menu, and preparing any speeches or toasts. It's important to communicate any expectations or requests to the guests in advance to ensure the event runs smoothly.

19. Sort out dates for bridal shower, bachelorette and bachelor parties, hen and stag dos Generally, once dates have been agreed, these pre-wedding events are left in the hands of the bridesmaids and groomsmen to organise. A bridal shower is a traditional pre-wedding party where the bride-to-be is 'showered' with gifts by her female friends and family. A bachelorette or hen party, on the other hand, is a fun night out or weekend away for the bride-to-be and her female friends to celebrate her upcoming wedding. It is usually focused on having fun rather than gift-giving. Likewise the groom's bachelor or stag party.

20. Sending your Wedding Invitations.

Send out your official wedding invitations 8-10 weeks before your wedding. This will give your guests plenty of time to return their RSVPs, and to make any necessary arrangements. Your invitations should include all the important information about your wedding, such as the date, time, and location. If you wish, create a wedding registry at your favorite store and include this information for your guests, or other gift information such as honeymoon fund details.

Make sure you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your invitations, so that guests can easily return their RSVPs. And/or add a QR code on the back leading to the reply page of your wedding website so they can easily scan to reply online and see all the details they need re accommodation etc.

Keep an eye on your RSVPs, and follow up with any guests who have not yet replied by the date you specified. Your RSVPs or online RSVP page of your wedding website, should include a space where guests can confirm number attending in their party, any special dietary requirements, such as vegan or allergies, and maybe their favorite song choice to be played at your evening party.

15. Make a Seating Chart

Once you’ve received your replies back, start planning a seating chart for your wedding meal. This can be a daunting task but it's important to ensure that your guests are seated comfortably and that they have a great time. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Decide on the seating arrangement, such as a head table, round tables or rectangular tables.

Take into consideration any special needs, such as wheelchair accessibility.

Consider the relationships between guests and seat them accordingly.

Use place cards as well as a printed seating chart to help guests find their seats.

Remember to be flexible and open to changes, as unexpected situations may arise.

16. Order or Handmake your Wedding Favors

Some ideas for wedding favors for your guests could be personalized candles, mini champagne bottles, magnets, key chains, succulents, custom cookies, mints or chocolates, or personalized matchboxes. Or handmade wedding favors are a beautiful way to add a personal touch to your wedding celebration, such as homemade candles, soap, or jam or honey in cute packaging, buscuits or truffles.

17. Order your Family and Bridal party gifts

Personalised thank you gifts for parents and siblings of the happy couple, and also for the maid of honor, bridesmaids, best man and groomsmen.

18. Order accessories and stationery for your wedding day

Here's a checklist for signs, decor and accessories which you may like for your wedding day so you can order them in good time.

Program / order of ceremony for your guests

Unity Candles

Menus for your wedding tables

Seating Chart, Table Numbers and Place cards

Signs and banners including welcome signs, direction signs, reception timeline, gifts and cards signs, etc

Favor boxes, bags, stickers and tags

Personalised Paper Plates and Napkins

19. Last minute checks

As your wedding date approaches, for your peace of mind, don’t forget to confirm:

  1. All vendor arrangements and timelines.

  2. Finalize your wedding day timeline and share it with your wedding party and vendors.

  3. Pack your overnight bag for your wedding night and suitcase for honeymoon.

  4. Make sure your wedding dress and accessories are ready to go.

  5. Prepare any last-minute payments or tips for vendors.

  6. Write personal thank-you notes for anyone who helped with the wedding planning process.

20. Afterwards

Once the excitement of your special day is over, you'll want to send thank you messages to your guests as soon as you can for their gifts and for sharing in the joy of your day with you. Maybe include some favorite images from the day as keepsakes for them and a link or QR code to your online wedding photo gallery too.

Wishing you stress-free planning and a very happy wedding day!

Affiliate Disclosure: pins to Zazzle may earn me a commission should you subsequently buy at no extra cost to yourselves

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