Congratulations! You've started planning your wedding! And surely you've noticed by now that seemingly every decision you make for your wedding needs to happen all at once. You can't pick your location until you know how many people are coming and you don't know how many are people are coming out of the number you plan to invite. But, you can't know that until people RSVP to your invitation which can't be sent out until you have a date, time and location. You are concerned about the cost of the wedding and know that the number of people attending has a huge impact on the price, but you aren't sure how many will come or how much it will cost per person. These are all valid concerns to have and in many cases it seems like a chicken and the egg dilemma. However, part of staying organized and on track in planning your wedding is to make a game plan and know in which order you need to make your decisions. So let's jump right in!
#1 Budget - The absolute first thing you need to do when planning your wedding is to figure out your budget. You can't make any other decisions until you have at least an idea of what your budget is going to be. This is a hard conversation between you and your fiancé and your families, but you will feel much better once you have hammered this out and come to a number. Expert tip: Don't forget here that if your parents plan to contribute to your wedding, to get an understanding up front on how involved they would like to be in the planning process. When your parents contribute a large amount of their money to this event, they may have the idea in mind that they will be consulted at every step of the planning process and if you aren't aware of these wishes ahead of time, it can lead to hurt feelings and even deep fissures in family relations.
#2 Guest List - Yes, the guest list comes BEFORE the venue location and date! Once you have your budget, you need to take a moment to sit down with your fiancé and write out your guest list. Ask your parents to do the same and send you their lists when completed. Once you have the lists, combine them into a master list ranked in the order of importance (or at least into groupings of importance). You may have the immediate family listed first, then the close friends, then family friends, then distant cousins and coworkers. Take a red pen and draw a line where you can't imagine not having those guests attend. It's fine if that is only a few people - that will give you more options.
#3 Location and Date - These come last because this is more flexible than your budget and your guest list. How so? Your guest list is where your money is really going to be spent in your wedding, so when you look for your venues and dates, you can see how much each venue will cost - keeping in mind that number of people you marked above the red line. If you fall in love with a location and clearly have room to spare in the budget (and in the venue) to invite more people, that is wonderful! Invite the next groups on your list until you run into your cut off number. If you are struggling to fit your "above the red line" guests into your budget, at your dream venue, then you can start to consider some cost saving methods like maybe booking your wedding on a Friday or a Sunday, or in the off-season.
I really hope this has helped you sort out your planning game plan and has given you some actionable steps towards planning your big day. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you would like assistance in planning or designing your dream wedding! And come back next week for our last week of Organized October: just good tips on staying organized while wedding planning.