Happy New Year everyone – hope it was a great kickoff to 2017!!!
Many of you got engaged this holiday season…YIPPIE!! Congratulations ! Wouldn’t it be great if you could just sip some champagne and show up with no stress along the way? Well, its not quite that simple - even if you hire a wedding planner, there will be meetings to attend and decisions to make – but, it can be stress free if you follow these 4 crucial steps.
STEP 1 – Find and Book Venue
I’m sure you have heard this before, but it is 1000% true…..in most cities, venues will book ahead on average 12 months in advance. In the Okanagan however, some venues are booking 18-24 months in advance so it is critical that you narrow down your choices and select a venue right away. When you make that selection, be prepared to pay a deposit (typically around $1,000) and sign a contract to secure the space. Don’t consider it booked unless you have received a copy of the fully signed contract and receipt for payment of your deposit from the venue. ~Stay tuned for an upcoming blogpost on the nitty gritty of selecting a venue!
STEP 2 – Hire Key Vendors
Once you have your date locked in, you will want to secure the other very important vendors who can also book VERY far in advance. Most commonly booked next are:
STEP 3 – Set a Budget
This can be the hardest step to nail down as most people don’t realize the cost associated to many elements until they start planning and calling around. Even if you don’t have hard numbers, you can use the attached budget planner as a guideline to list all the elements and vendors you are going to be hiring, and eliminate the ones you know you wont be needing, to narrow the list down. Then plot some ballpark numbers into the itemized list so you get an idea of what your wedding vision looks like, and note how easy it is for the budget to get out of control if you keep adding little $100 costs. ~Tip: Allocate at least 50% of your budget to the venue, food/catering and bar/alcohol.
If your parents or family members are helping to pay for the wedding, make sure you include them in this step, unless they are strictly giving $x amount and don’t care how you spend it. Having said that, some parents may be upset if they gave you $10,000 and you decided to use the money to travel to Bora Bora and have a celebratory reception afterwards at the Cactus Club. – remember, no money is free, so do the courteous thing and check in with any monetary supporters along the way so they feel included and part of the planning process, not just a bank.
STEP 4 – Create Your Guest List
To some extent, this step will be partially completed as you wouldn’t have been able to book a venue if you didn’t know your approximate guest count. Remember, its impossible to fit 250 people into a venue that only holds 100! But now that steps 1-3 are complete, you will need to focus on the guest list and get it nailed down. This is an important step as you may want to send out Save the Dates – this is very common when weddings are being booked 18+ months in advance – that way family and friends can start planning to be with you on your special day. Oh and it will stop the nagging question…. “when is the big day?”
Another factor here is the dreaded A and B list….yes this is a thing and it does happen. When venues are tight on space, a lot of couples can’t actually invite everyone they want to so they have to make hard choices. Often the immediate family and friends are part of the initial A list, then other friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family you haven’t seen in 15 years, will be on the B list. Sending out Save the Dates can actually help consolidate these lists as some guests may call/write to you after they receive it to say that it conflicts with some other big deal and therefore they can’t make it. ~Tip: You can estimate that 15-20% of the people you invite, won’t be able to make it.
If you follow these 4 steps and complete them within the first 2-3 months of your engagement, I can guarantee your stress level will be at an all time low during the entire planning process. Planning a wedding can be very intense and a true test of patience so do everything you can to get the big details done and out of the way early, so you can relax and have fun with all the other little details along the way. This will also keep the “crazy wedding planning bride/groom-zilla fights” to a minimum. And remember, nobody else knows what your day is supposed to look like, so if all the elements don’t fall into place perfectly, take a deep breath, a glass of champagne and then the bottle, and just enjoy your day – it goes too fast to worry about the small things. <3