1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
My first step involves doing your research because it is crucial to wedding planning. A lot of family friends may give their input and recommendations and tell you what to do but if that's not what you want, ignore them. Do your own research on venues, dj's or live bands, catering, and themes of course. For colour themes, I got a lot of ideas on pinterest and etsy. I also checked out tons of venues in the city I live in and made appointment to check for package prices, catering and available dates. Most hotel venues were quite expensive so I checked out halls that I could bring my own catering to. Just open a phone book or google search but look into everything yourself or with your partner. Just make sure you do it because you never know whats going to capture your attention!
2. TALK WITH YOUR PARTNER
Believe it or not, your wedding day is theirs too and they've been dreaming about this day for a long time as well. Try not to leave them out of the planning process. Even if they say "do what you want" or "I'm fine with whatever you choose" talk about it and ask what they've always wanted or liked about weddings. You'd be surprised to see that they certainly have thought about it before and their ideas can be awesome. Work with them and combine your ideas to try to make your wedding the best for the both of you!
It is extremely important to set a total budget for your wedding and individual budgets for specific aspects of the wedding. Things can get out of hand when you start wedding shopping and once you begin to let a few hundred dollars slide here and there, things can get crazy expensive without you noticing. It all hits at the end when you have to pop out your wallet and you realize you were way over budget. Set prices that work with what you can afford and I promise you, it's always possible to find things within your budget and still make your wedding special.
4. THE WEDDING DRESS
This step can be one of the best experiences of wedding planning or the worst, depending on how you choose to go about it! Choosing a wedding dress is exciting and it is something you need to think about yourself first. When you go wedding dress shopping be sure to take someone who has a feel for your style and can see what you see. When you go, don't take a lot people. Keep the number of people to a minimum of one or two. If you want to get a variety of opinions and want to take a lot of people, make a few different trips. If you have a lot of people, everyone's opinions start to get in the way of your judgment and the last thing you need is for drama to break out at the dress shop.
When you go, make sure you have done your research! Go with a few styles in mind to try on because if you don't they will end up pulling varieties of dresses and things can get confusing. If you are getting your wedding dress online (which I did) make sure you try the style you want on in a store first. It sucks when you get a dress you're not in love with (my first dress I ordered I didn't care too much for, second one was great).
Lastly, make sure they pull dresses WITHIN YOUR BUDGET!! The girls working at wedding dress shops are trying to make a sale in the end, so it's happened a few time where they've pulled dresses out of my budget and I was not happy with that. Be firm with the price because you have to keep in mind that alterations and accessories are going to cost extra!
5. SHOP ONLINE
I would have easily made this step number one but it isn't technically the first step on the wedding timeline. Either way shop online people!! I always come across people who are afraid of shopping online but honestly shopping online has changed my life! I buy EVERYTHING online! Makeup, makeup brushes, clothes, my wedding dress, my wedding favours, my wedding shoes, my veil, my bolero, my everything!
I love shopping online. Everything is so much cheaper and cooler. You can find things more specific to what you want and more original than what everyone else is doing! I love etsy and ebay in particular but be careful and search properly because etsy can be pretty pricey when you search wedding things. I got a lot of custom labels for my candy table on etsy and I got my wedding shoes from a site called lightinthebox which had amazing sales at the time!
If you are planning your own wedding on a budget shopping online will be your best friend! Especially for those essential things that are expensive at craft stores. I got my wedding favours, guest book and invitations (with RSVP's) all online! My whole wedding was practically purchased online and I was more than happy with everything! I got to choose things I could never find where I live and it all matched my theme!
6. GUEST LIST
So this may not seem like a big deal for most weddings, but I'm Arab and so my guest list was quite long and complicated. In the arab world the parents have a big say in who comes to the wedding so the list can get quite long and endless. My dad was still inviting people until the day of, it was crazy! So I suggest sitting down with your parents or spouse-to-be and make an official set in stone list of people that coordinate with the amount of seats you have in the venue. I strongly recommend having a seating plan if its a larger wedding. Also keep track of your rsvps and to make your life easier, leave an email or phone number on the return cards for those who will be lazy to send it back in the mail.
The photographer is a crucial part of your wedding. It's important to research prices, looks and themes for your pictures. Have an idea for the style of pics you want and make sure your photographer can work with that because some photographers don't take posed photos. Meet ahead of time or communicate as much as possible and make a schedule for them and yourself. You want the best quality pictures for what you're paying for so make sure you look into their portfolios and talk with them to get their ideas for pictures.
8. THE TEAM
Having a solid group of people that you can depend on is a blessing when you're getting married. Wedding planning can be really stressful and by the end of mine I just wanted it over with. That's why its helpful to have a team of people that you trust and can depend on to take care of things for you or even just be there for you when you need someone to vent to. This team can be bridesmaids (even though I'm strongly against having bridesmaids because they can actually bring more stress to the bride), family or just really close friends who are there for you.
My friends were amazing around the time of the wedding and they were supportive and full of helpful ideas. My best friend was everything I could've needed during the wedding planning and on the night before the wedding when I was having a total meltdown, she calmed me down as I sobbed like a child. I don't know what I could've done without her! So let people in, I know how hard it is to delegate but I promise it's worth it!
9. DON'T FORGET THE DETAILS
The closer the date gets the more everything starts to get real. So it's important not to forget those little details that come up last minute. For example, who will be MCing the wedding, who will set up and take down, will you be renting a bride and groom car, and also who will carry your phone on the day of the wedding. Even things like finding the perfect lingerie for the wedding night, or whether you will have wedding favours or not. Also you should have a slow dance song picked out. Those little details that seem minor in the grand scheme of things, can really bring the night together.
10. THE HONEYMOON
The honeymoon is really the best part and the scariest part of every wedding, especially if they haven't lived together before. It's so crazy to me how a couple can just get married and hop on a plane to go to a new place to spend some time with a person they've never travelled or lived with before.
Anyway have something planned! Plan a trip and book flights or hotels in advance. Try to find deals or online coupons. If you can't afford to go on a big trip, save your money to go on one later and then just take a mini vacay in your home town. It can be fun to discover new restaurants or hotels in your own town first!
Well everyone, these are my ten tips! Sorry it was a long post but these are just based on my own experience with wedding planning so I hope you find them useful!