Wedding Planning 101: How to get started planning and keep going

So what do you do after you say yes? You’ve probably dreamt of your big day since you were a little girl but  how the hell do you start planning such a big event…

What kind of wedding do I want? What’s trending right now? How much will it cost me?

Do you feel lost and want to scream?

It is going to be hard to make some decisions but at the end you will see everything is going to fall into place.

Start a wedding folder or binder and begin flipping through bridal fashion, design and food magazines for inspiration. Pinterest is the best option here. Start separate boards for each section of your wedding: dress, decor, flowers, ideas, etc.

And here is the most important tip: figure out your budget. This number will impact every decision you make. You need to know how much you can spend. Also, see how much your family can contribute. Talk to your families and figure out the contributions. Just be aware if they give you money, sometimes they expect to be involved in decision making.

Start the guest list so you’ll have some kind of idea of how big the wedding party will be and then you know how big the venue has to be. The more people you invite, the higher the prices are on everything. At the same time 20% to 30% of your guests will drop out.

Hire a planner! It will make your life so much easier, plus they have inside scoop on vendors, venues and can even get you discounts. They will work within your budget and make sure you will get everything you need for your dream day. They will be there the day of so you don’t have to stress about anything. A Wedding planner will develop an attack plan, timeline and solutions to the impossible. She or he will know more than you and can solve any crisis without anyone noticing.

The next most important thing is to book a venue. Engagement season starts right around Thanksgiving and that’s when all venues start booking. The dates for them fill up quickly so you need to make your decisions fast. When choosing a venue you have to consider a lot of factors; one of them is location and a type of the venue, price, noise restrictions, outside catering or on premise, modern, classic, romantic, vintage, rustic or all-out glam? Fancy, casual or somewhere in between?

Cedar Lakes Estate, NY

                Cedar Lakes Estate, NY

Send out ‘save the date’ to guests.

Good caterers are hard to find so you need to act quickly when choosing one. If they are good, their dates fill up quickly as well. Make sure you do some tasting with them. Many top wedding caterers and other in-demand vendors are hired more than a year in advance, and once they’re booked, they’re gone.

Now you can sit back, relax and do the rest of the research. Talk to your planner about the recommendations for photographers, bands/DJ, and florists. Wedding planner can start a rental order for tent, tables, chairs, tableware, linen, etc. See if you need portable toilets and garbage removal. Think about what type of alcohol you want at the bar: beer and wine only or a full bar. How bout signature cocktail… or two… yours and his.

Depending on the venue you might need lighting design. Great lighting can change everything, even the most obscure space.

Purchase a dress and schedule fittings. Do any alterations you need so there is no stress at the last minute

If it is a destination wedding, make sure you book some hotels (pick at least three with different price ranges). See if you need to arrange transportation. It’s always a good idea to have buses picking up and dropping off your guests from and to the hotel, especially at the end.

Lately I’ve noticed some couples are doing a wedding website; It’s a great idea for the guest to quickly RSVP as well as to find other options for hotels, transportation, local attractions and any other helpful information.

Nowadays people have a lot of dietary restrictions and its good to know all the allergies ahead of time.

Send invitations at least six months before the day. You might want to hire a calligrapher. Your wedding planner might offer calligraphy services. Also, think about personalized place/name cards and menus.


Book the officiant or contact the priest in the church you want to get married. Collect all the documents you will need for the wedding.

Book the rehearsal dinner. If you want small and intimate dinner but have so many cousins and friends you would like to include, do after dinner party and invite as many as you want. Bonfire and s’mores are a great option. See if you need brunch space as well. Some catering companies will do your reception and brunch. Maybe they can give you a good package deal.

I have noticed two things are dying  out from weddings. One of them is champagne toasts – guests will toasts with whatever they are drinking. Very few people will actually drink champagne so have it at the bar only. The other one is wedding cakes. Only one couple out of ten will have it. See if you really want to do ceremonial cake cutting. If yes, find good baker and taste it before. Some couples do just a very small cake not necessarily for guests to be served.

Schedule hair and makeup appointments for yourself and your bridesmaids; start wearing your wedding shoes so you can be dancing in them all night long.

In the meantime choose the music you want. You might want to have a list of songs for your event. Talk to your DJ or the band. Pick the songs for your first dance and your parents dances.

Finalize the menu and flowers at least three months before. Have something seasonal both food and decorations.


Your planner should be in touch and already working with timelines and vendors making sure everyone is on the same page; Scheduled deliveries and pickups. Be in touch with your photographer and let them know what shots you want.

At least a month before, have confirmed guest list and have your marriage license. Make sure you do all your final payments. It is a probably good idea to have all the gratuities figured out and ready as well and give it to your planner so she can hand it to your vendors at the end of the event.

Don’t stress the day of, just relax and enjoy the experience.

Last piece of advice: good food, enough alcohol and great music are the keys to a successful party, any party.

For more planning tips and inspiration check out The Knot, Wedding WireStyle Me Pretty and Martha Stewart Weddings.

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