APW’s Top 50: A Guide for Getting Started Wedding Planning

Our best planning articles, now in one convenient place!

by Lucy Bennett

Top 50 wedding planning tips Rev 5

After I found APW, many years ago, one of the first things I did was dig through the entire archive and copy the links to useful posts into a Word doc for later reading. Because that’s the kind of insane, list-making person that I am. Plus, wedding planning has a way of making a person a little edgy.

When it comes to getting started wedding planning, it’s nearly impossible to sort through the deluge of information being hurled at you. Many planning sites assault you with questions (When? How much? What colors? Where?) before they’ll even let you finish signing up to look at their information. If you knew the answers to all those questions, you wouldn’t need help so badly in the first place. So where do you really start?

Here is that getting started guide. The one that I’d hoped to stumble upon when I was making one for myself, those many years ago. Combine this with the APW book (you need a “because it’s January” present, right?), and you might actually start figuring out answers to all those Who? Where? When? questions. This is your big picture guide for getting started wedding planning, the post you’ll want to bookmark and come back to as you need answers. Trying to read every one of these posts at once would be seriously overwhelming. This is the post to email to your friend who’s newly in the trenches of wedding planning, with a reminder to go as slowly as they need to.

You can still peruse the wealth of knowledge in the APW archives, but here are our Top 50 hits to get you started.

Getting Started Wedding Planning

Wedding Planning 101: Where Do I Start? The two main decisions you’ll need to make when you get started wedding planning: your guest list and your budget.

APW’s Planning Spreadsheets: Our one-stop shop for all the planning spreadsheets you’ll need, including guest lists, contact lists, packing lists, and day-of timelines.

How To Have A Fun Wedding: Answering the million dollar question—how do I make my wedding fun, without buying All The Things? (Pro-tip: turns out the things are not what make it fun anyway.)

How To Throw A Budget Wedding: When it comes to venue, catering, staff, music, and photography, sometimes you need to get creative to have your wedding on a budget. Here are our best tips.

How To Stage Manage Your Wedding: When it comes to executing your plans on the day of your wedding, it helps to have a stage-manager—someone to coordinate so you don’t have to. Here’s everything your stage-manager needs to know ahead of time, to help your wedding go off without a hitch.

Real Wedding Budgets

Real Sample Wedding Budgets: Four sample wedding budget breakdowns, from a $3,500 wedding to a $50,000 wedding. Peruse even more budget breakdowns from APW readers in the comments.

How We Did It: Our collection of real weddings from APW readers, which include their actual budgets, and where they focused their spending efforts.

Beauty & Attire

APW’s Ultimate Guide To Dress Shopping: Everything you need to know about dress shopping, from prices to fabrics to sizing, and more.

Ten Tips For Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping: A guide to controlling your dress shopping experience, without the body shaming.

Queer Wedding Style: Wedding style inspiration for the masculine of center, and the femmes who love them.

Wedding Beauty Tutorials: Inspiration, how-tos, tips, and tricks for hair and makeup on your wedding day.

APW’s Dress Boutiques: Shop dresses curated by APW staff! Featuring plus size dresses and dresses under $2k, $1k, and $500.


Wedding Contracts: Everything you need to know about contracts for your wedding vendors. Remember—always get everything in writing.

Tipping Your Wedding Vendors: While tipping is optional, we run down who you should be giving tips to, and how much to tip them.

Everything You Need To Know About Event Rentals: If you’re throwing a party with that’s larger than your average Thanksgiving dinner, and your reception isn’t inclusive, you’re probably going to be dealing with a rental company for some items. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Wedding Photography Tips: Five things you should know about your wedding photography, that your wedding photographer probably forgot to tell you.

How To Crowdsource Your Wedding Photos Through Instagram: Crowdsourcing your wedding photos via social media, specifically Instagram, instead of using a professional photographer.


DIY Your Wedding Invitations: All the graphic design tips and tricks you need to know for designing your own invites. Read even more on DIY wedding invitations here.

Getting People To RSVP: Five tips for getting all your RSVPs back from your guests, without pulling teeth.

Food & Drink

How To Buy Alcohol For Your Wedding: Your guide to doing your own drinks, with breakdowns for how to stock your bar, what types of alcohol to buy, and how much you need to serve a large crowd.

Calculating Alcohol For Your Wedding: What kind of beer should I buy? What kind of wine? And what about toasts? We answer all your booze-related questions.

Self-Catering Your Wedding: Love cooking and feeding people? Self-catering might be for you, so don’t let the WIC tell you it’s not possible!

How To Coordinate A Potluck Wedding: Potluck dinners aren’t just an idea for weddings past. Here are the hard questions you’ll need to ask yourself, but a potluck wedding can be done (and done well!).

How To Turn Grocery Store Cakes Into Wedding Cakes: One of the posts that launched a hundred bakers into a frenzy, but it’s true: you can have a grocery store cake as a wedding cake and it will still be delicious. (And pretty!)

Flowers & Decor

How To Make A Wedding Bouquet: Doing your own flowers for your wedding may seem scary, but we’re here to help you along the way. Here’s how to make a bridal bouquet for your wedding.

Non-Floral Centerpieces For Weddings: Say goodbye to sad goldfish floating around in bowls, and say hello to centerpieces you can make ahead without them dying.

Make A Wedding Bouquet With Grocery Store Flowers: Our bridal bouquet tutorial, done with flowers from Trader Joe’s.

How To Make A Bright, Oversized Wedding Bouquet: Proving that oversized bouquets aren’t hard to make, you just need to have the right ingredients.

How To Make A Flower Crown: Demystifying the flower crown, with step-by-step instructions on how to make your own.


How To Write Your Wedding Ceremony: A guide to crafting a ceremony from scratch, from start to finish.

Writing A Non-Traditional Ceremony: How to craft a completely secular, meaningful ceremony.

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows: An almost comprehensive guide to writing your own vows for your wedding.

Wedding Vow Examples: All of our posts featuring vow examples, including secular, religious, and non-traditional examples, and even examples from our readers from their own weddings.

Sample Wedding Ceremony—Traditional Format: A traditional, secular but spiritual ceremony, driven by the officiant. A good jumping off point for anyone trying to write their own ceremony.

Sample Wedding Ceremony—Civil Format: A short and sweet civil ceremony, for anyone looking to keep their ceremony, well, short and sweet.


Music For Your Wedding—DIY or DJ? You don’t have to have a rocking dance party at your wedding, but if you want one, here’s what you need to consider.

How To DJ Your Wedding With An iPod: Tips for how to make sure your music is loud enough, how to get all your people on the dance floor, and more.

Non-Traditional Parent Dance Songs: Good parent dance songs are hard to pin down, but we’ve rounded up a few for you (that are sure to make you cry).

Non-Cheesy Father-Daughter Dance Songs: Our top twenty picks for (mostly) cheese-free father-daughter dance songs.

Wedding Cocktail Hour Songs: An eclectic mix of jazz standards, soul, classics, and funky new stuff to play while guests mingle.


Wedding Timeline—Evening Wedding: An example timeline for how an evening wedding would be scheduled.

Wedding Timeline—Alternate Timelines For Longer Weddings: Examples for how to deal with longer ceremonies, a split ceremony and reception, receiving lines, and taking photos after the ceremony.

Wedding Timeline—Morning, Afternoon, and Cocktail Party Weddings: Timelines for a variety of non-evening weddings, and considerations for each type of event.

How To Have A Wedding Weekend: Logistic considerations for planning a wedding weekend, including what events you might need to plan, and a loose timeline for a three day event.


How To Create A Seating Chart: Working out who should sit where with minimal tears and hair pulling.

Setting Up And Breaking Down Your Wedding: Figuring out the who, what, when, where, and how of getting all your stuff to and from the wedding.

Everything You Need To Know About Rehearsals: How to figure out whether or not you need a rehearsal, and what to rehearse before the day-of.

Emotional Support

Thoughts On The Wedding Industrial Complex: Planning a wedding on your own terms, when the entire wedding industry is pushing you in another direction.

Your Wedding Is Not An Imposition: The people who love you and care about you will not feel like your wedding is a burden or an imposition. They will be thrilled that out of all of the people you could have invited, you want them.

Your Wedding Is Not A Show: You and your partner might be the reason for the wedding, but you are not the center of attention.

Ask APW: Advice on (nearly) every aspect of weddings, from planning dilemmas to honeymoon questions, and more.

Lucy Bennett

Lucy a freelance designer/writer hybrid. When not coming up with weird self-challenges, she can be found marathoning TV shows or playing board games. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, her moderately internet-famous pup, and two cats. She takes herself very seriously.

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Lauren from NH

    This is AWESOME! Where has this been?! I hope this list is getting a special place of honor in the site menus so lost souls like myself can find it. That said I am bookmarking it pronto!

    P.S. I am surprised the super cool backdrops didn’t get linked in the decor section. Those are some easy showstoppers in my book.

  • K.

    Well, there goes the rest of my work day.

  • Shannon

    Yes! Music advice! I need help picking a father-daughter dance song. My dad is deaf, and he’s left the song-picking up to me. Aside from the sentimental considerations, I want something not too fast, but that also has a strong beat or bass line that he’ll be able to pick up through the vibrations on the floor. Any ideas?

  • FancyPants

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Ah, I feel so much better knowing this is ALLLLLLLL here. In one place. Y’all are seriously the best.

    Does this list make you feel amazed/happy/bewildered at all that you have created, APW? Because I think it should! I feel all those things^3

  • Alynae

    I missed you guys so much. And now you come back with this which is amazing and helpful and thank you!

  • Hannah

    Wow! I’ve read every single one of these articles, but even so, I’m bubbling with excitement about all the advice presented in this list. What a wealth of information!

  • Mandi P

    Wow! THANK YOU! I have just been opening most of the posts, skimming, and pinning to a shared pinterest board with the bridesmaids. I can’t stop! I think I’ll just pin this whole overview post & read as I can. Great list – thanks so much!

  • M.

    Oh this is so nice! I also want to plug my favorite old APW post, “In Praise of the Slow Wedding.” A classic. http://apracticalwedding.com/2009/12/in-praise-of-slow-wedding-and-slow-life/

  • AGCourtney

    THANK YOU!!! I think I’ve read most of these, but it’s so nice to have them all in one place for revisiting. I promised myself I’d actually accomplish things at work today, but oh, I am coming back here. It’s time to buckle down on this planning stuff.

  • Pingback: Weekly Treasures, Currently - Treasure Tromp()

  • Pingback: APW’s Top 50: A Guide for Getting Started Wedding Planning | Elle's Writing, Film & Life Observation Tidibits()