Getting your wedding planning off to a great start

December 28, 2010 – Some studies on engagement have shown that up to 40% of all engagements happen between the December holidays and Valentine’s Day, and that’s no surprise to us here, as we have many newly engaged couples checking out our site in these months. I just planned a wedding last year myself (I got married in November), so here are a few tips for getting started and starting you down the road of becoming an organized event planner for your own big day.

Tip #1 – First determine how long you want your engagement to be – This doesn’t mean that you have to pick a event date right out of the gate. But this decision will actually influence pretty much all other decisions, so try and ballpark how many months you want to be engaged. Some couples have had a lengthy courtship and want to get married sooner, while other couples would prefer a longer leadup to their big day. Every couple is different, so you need to determine what is the right length for you. A couple things that can influence this decision is what time of year you want to get married; how much time you require to plan (some couples like to have a year or so to save up, and sometimes you need to reserve venues at least a year in advance); and how long in advance you need to let people know about your upcoming nuptials (this is especially important for destination weddings or events that involve lots of travel for guests).

Tip #2 – Set a event budget – Many couples are so excited to start planning that they jump right into deciding on themes and trying on dresses and attire. But the place where you should start has to do with event budgets. Believe it or not, most events exceed their budget in at least a few areas, with many going out of scope in all areas. And the best way to keep your event budget from getting out of control is to first lay out how much you are willing to pay for each area. In your initial budget, include your venues, attire, music, food and drink, travel and transportation, lodging, decorations, flowers and cake. Don’t worry too much about being exact at this point; you simply want to set guidelines around what you can afford so that you don’t break the bank and start your marriage off in debt.

Tip #3 – Determine how large you want your wedding to be – Some couples are dead set on having a big, blow-out event with tons of guests and a large wedding party (the average number of guests at weddings is around 150-175, which sure seems like a lot of people). Others want a smaller, more intimate setting with just family and close friends. This decision is a very personal one and will also affect how you plan, so you both need to agree upfront as to how elaborate and how many people you want at your event.

Tip #4 – Divvy up event planning duties – In bride/groom couples, in the past the bride was often the one who assumed the role of the event event planner. But now, grooms are getting in on the act and helping out, so before you dive in you should both determine who is responsible for planning and organizing what duties. This helps lay the groundwork so that one person doesn’t end up getting stuck planning everything.

Tip #5 – Start sketching out your guest list – The one factor that will influence cost (and that often sends budgets into the stratosphere) is the size of the guest list. So after you have settled on a length of engagement and a budget, start putting together a draft guest list. Just sit down with your fiance/fiancee and spend an hour or two writing down who you would like to invite (this may also include people that your parents might want to have attend, also, so make sure you include a count of these guests for your initial estimate). Once you have a ballpark number, you can match this against the desired size of your wedding to determine if you need to start shaving it down already or if you can work with this. And remember that rule of thumb says that up to 20% of your invited guests won’t attend, so hopefully this lets you plan accordingly.

Tip #6 – Start using our free event software .