Where to Begin Planning a Wedding

How do you plan for a wedding?  Where do you start?!

My facebook feed is full of happy tears, giant smiles, and sparkly rings. If you are one of these giddy new fiances, this one is for you!

Planning a weddingThese are the steps we took –  or should have taken  – in preparing for the Big Day.

This is my all-time favorite marriage book. It helped me focus on what marriage truly is, not what Hollywood (or myself) makes it out to be.

It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my unrealistic expectations, and ground myself in God’s purpose for my marriage, not my own.

This is a SOLID way to start. It was truly humbling… changing the perspective of “Marriage is to make me happy” into “Marriage is to make me holy.”

  • Figure out how much you will spend. e.g. Absolutely no more than $__

We need to start off with a well defined price cap. Once we begin planning a wedding, one decision leads to another, and every little expense adds up big time.

It is easy to be pressured by perfect pictures on Pinterest, pushy salesmen, and blindsided by wedding etiquette. Be sure to know your price-line early, and NEVER cross it.

Keep in mind that the research shows the less you spend on your wedding, the lower the divorce rate. Also, you don’t want to start your life off with a huge pile of debt!

  • Choose your priorities

For me it was: 1) Dress 2) Photographer 3) Dancing.

When you know your priorities, you know where most of your money should go. When the money starts getting slim, remind yourself that the priorities have already been taken care of.

Equip yourself to say no to good things, in order to say yes to the best things. Knowing your priorities will give you the courage to skimp on the decorations or the location.

  • Make a Budget

Now that you know your price cap and your priorities, it’s time to make a Zero Line Budget.

This means, every single dollar of the budget needs to be allocated to something. You can give yourself wiggle room by having a miscellaneous category.  If you need more money for a certain category, you learn that you have to decrease another category to make up for it.

Here is a suggested Budget Breakdown according to Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruz:

-Reception 55%
-Ceremony 12%
-Photographer 10%
-Dress 8%
-Wedding Planner 10%
-Misc 5%

  • Schedule Top-Quality Pre-Martial Counseling (it’s worth it)

I know a lot of Pastors offer pre-marital counseling, some for free. However, many of them do not have the time or the expertise to give you the best.

Tap and I spent 6 weeks with a wise couple who gave us tests, assessments, and discussed the nitty-gritty details with us.They listened and tailored our meetings to meet our needs and potential problem areas.

I highly recommend starting your marriage off on a strong foundation. After all, you are really preparing for a marriage, not a wedding day.

If you are unsure of local pre-marital counselors or have a long-distance engagement, check out Don Miller’s resource: Before You Get Married. Or find someone certified to give the Symbis assessment.

Focus on the Family just advertised this Ready to Wed kit, saying that couples who do pre-marital counseling are 80% more likely to stay together! Wow.

  • Choose a season/rough date

Venues can book up a year in advance, so I wouldn’t be too specific on a date. Pick a season, most likely the venue will guide you to the actual date.

  • Start a Date Night Tradition : With NO Wedding Talk

Planning a wedding is really exciting… Thoughts of cake and flowers and decoration details begin to fill your mind 24/7 and live even in your sleep.

However, these details can get really taxing. Discussing them All.The.Time can get really annoying.

Start a date night tradition now, where wedding talk is off limits. Your future spouse will appreciate it.

Also, this tradition can carry on into marriage! Only then, you’ll have to put all arguments on hold, or talk of in-laws and children.

  • Find a location for the wedding and the reception.

If you can’t find a suitable location on a Saturday, be willing to consider a Friday or Sunday wedding. Like I said, Saturdays book up fast!

Some locations are even cheaper than the premium Saturday prices.

  • Hire a photographer for your engagement and wedding photos

Good photographers take the time to know you, your vision, and how best to portray your personality through the photos. Having the extra time to spend together through an engagement shoot will prepare all of you for the Wedding date itself.

A trusted photographer and professor of mine has put together “The Smart Bride’s Photo Guide.” This would be a great place to get an extensive look at how to pick your photographer.

  • Select a Stress-free Wedding Party

Your bridal party or the groomsmen are what can make or break your day. Don’t feel pressured to have a large party, have the same number on both sides, or pressure to ask someone who expects to be up there.

A lot of friends are here just for seasons, but some are full-lifers. Find the friends that love you and support your upcoming marriage. Friends that will last through the changes ahead of you and will only enrich your day- not fill it with drama.

  • Agree on the Guest-list

Be sure to ask your parents if they have any “must-invite” guests.  You may not know them as well as the girl that lived three doors down in your dorm hall, but they watched you grow up.  They prayed over you, taught you in Sunday School, and want to witness your special day and bless you with their presence and possibly present… (and they have a bigger budget then that dorm-mate).

  • Enjoy Planning! Find your florist, cake, caterer, dress, and tux! Just don’t stress it, enjoy it!

Remember… It is one day, your marriage is a lifetime.

What are some tips you would give the blushing bride? What absolutely made your wedding? What would you have changed?

To see how our wedding turned out take a look:

How We Met

The Proposal

Engagement Photos

The Wedding Day

My Wedding Album

Our Honeymoon

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