Wedding Photos by Allen Kent Photography (I’ll share all of my vendors in the next post)
I am so excited to share our wedding planning story with y’all. I can’t believe we just had our six month (wedding) anniversary, and that last summer we were in full on wedding planning mode. No matter what size wedding you are planning, it can be a little stressful and hard to find a balance. I started off our engagement with a new job, and we were moving into our downtown pad. It was a bit to juggle, especially since we were persistent about not having a long engagement, but balancing life and planning is the best advice I can give anyone.
With that in mind, I am writing a series of posts that will assist you with wedding planning, and give you an inside scoop on how we created a (nearly) zero waste wedding, on a budget, and in a ten month engagement. This guide is for the earth conscious, badass brides and grooms that need help with where to begin. So let’s get started!
So, you’re engaged. Now what? Celebrate!
You may want to dive into wedding planning, but it’s a special time, you can pause, celebrate, and just appreciate this time in your life.
When you are ready to start planning, the most critical thing is the timeline. We didn’t want a long engagement, but we also live in a tourist town, and things book up really quickly, so we needed to find our date right away.
- Be flexible: I know you’ve always wanted a wedding in June, but when you are on a budget, having a flexible date is much easier. Weekday weddings or off season weddings will completely open your budget!
- Be yourself: I’m a creative, so designing everything was my dream.
- Put your foot down: You will have a lot of opinions, and a lot of input from people, but try to stay calm, and remember it’s your wedding.
- Make a decision and move on: Nothing kills a budget like changing your mind on several things.
- Prioritize: What’s most important to you? The honeymoon? The dress? That’s where you can splurge, and give yourself more room in the budget.
- DIY everything: This was how we were able to get everything we wanted. It’s a lot of work, but it will save you a lot of money.
9-12+ Months Before:
- Budget: This will change, and we didn’t officially set a budget until after our venue was booked, and as unexpected costs came up, we adjusted as needed.
- Think about what kind of wedding you want: Gather inspiration on Pinterest, think about what the central “theme” will be.
- Pick your bride tribe: This included picking our officiant too.
- Draft your guest list: I mean a very rough draft. Venues will ask head count, so you need to say “just under 100” or “probably 150”, or whatever your rough estimate may be.
- Start looking at venues: You might think you need to pick a date first, but if you are in love with a venue, you will be flexible about the date. We originally thought September or October, but we couldn’t find a venue available in September, and October is still considered peak season. So our wedding quickly moved to November.
- Research big vendors: Such as caterer or photographer.
8-6 Months Before:
- Book your big vendors: Remember all that shopping around you just did? Now is the time to grab your favs.
- Start planning the honeymoon: We wanted to go immediately after our wedding, since we had never really been on a vacation together. I started tracking flights early on, and just three months after our engagement, the honeymoon was booked.
- Send save the dates: If you are planning to, or start telling out of towners. The more notice for destination weddings, the better.
- Buy your dress: I’m sure you’ve already started looking at ideas, and now it’s time to buy!
- Start looking at wedding party attire: After you know what your wearing, start pricing out what your bride tribe will be wearing.
- Register! This is the fun part…
5-4 Months Before:
- Book rehearsal dinner: If you are planning on having one.
- Focus on the food: Pick a cake and discuss catering menu.
- Book hair and makeup: If you already have a specific stylist you want, you can book sooner, but if you don’t have anyone, start making calls!
3-4 Months Before:
- Decor: Start completing all of your DIY projects.
- Music and readings for ceremony: Start picking music for ceremony, and even work on your vows! If you are us, you will do them the day of…
- Send invites: Yay! It’s getting close.
- Touch base with all vendors: Talk to them about what you are thinking, and confirm all details.
1 Month Before:
- Keep track of RSVPS: People may not respond, be be prepared to touch base with people who don’t respond.
- Purchase gifts for helpers: Grab some gifts for your bride tribe, and anyone who is helping with set up.
- Make final payments: Touch base with your vendors, and arrange your final payments.
- Coordinate set up and delivery times: When you arrange your final payments, also coordinate delivery times, as well as who will be available to meet the vendors.
- Confirm delivery times/set up jobs: Confirm everything!
- Pick up dress: Pick up your gown, so it’s ready for you big day.
- Get marriage license (you only need 3 days notice in MI): Things are picking up!
- Spa Day: Relax before the big day, and get you nails done.
I wish we had taken more time together on our big day, but the week of the wedding went by way too fast! We slept in, finished setting up and did some errands, then I went to the salon.
Check out these timeline and budget sheets to help you get started:
Stay tuned for another post, detailing what we did for every (major) checklist item, and how we made it sustainable!