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Hello there. Yes, you with the giddy smile: Welcome. The time has come for you and your partner to plan a wedding. If this realization fills you with a mixture of excitement and dread… well… welcome to wedding planning.
And on that note, before you do anything, be sure toast your engagement several times before you make a single decision. Your engagement will only come around once, so take some time to fully enjoy being engaged before you dive into planning.
But, if the holidays are here and you’re ready to get your research on, let’s get started. First up, we wrote an article called 4 Things I Tell All My Newly Engaged Friends, and it is, really seriously, where you should start.
Organize Your wedding planning tools
This wedding planning (sadly) isn’t going to happen on its own. And that means that if you don’t want to lose your mind, you’re going to need some tools to help organize this thing, as well as some places to get sage advice. Let’s talk about where you should start.
the APW books that will help: You’re going to spend a lot of planning Googling. And while we can’t tell you which caterer is the best in your particular city, the APW books can save you from having to Google where to even begin. The first book will walk you through what you need to know to save time, money, and sanity, and the A Practical Wedding Planner can basically plan your wedding for you (okay, fine. It can’t plan your wedding, but it will give you the tools you need to get your wedding planned).
do your homework
Once you’ve gathered some basic tools, it’s time for you and your partner to sit down and discuss what kind of wedding you want to have. The A Practical Wedding Planner provides a handy worksheet about priorities for you and your partner, and we’ve got a copy of it for you right here. Pick a quiet night, pour yourself a drink of your choice, and get to Venn Diagraming. What are your absolute priorities for this wedding? What are your partner’s? Where do those priorities overlap? Once you’ve worked through that, consider drawing up a simple wedding mission statement. This is a statement of what you want from your wedding, that you can come back to over and over again when planning gets tough. A Practical Wedding Planner can walk you through this process (and more) in great detail, but for now…
print out or make a digital copy of this getting started packet of worksheets (and get cracking)
And if you also want a hard copy checklist you can print out an hang on your fridge, we’ve got you covered with our complete wedding planning checklist. This is not your average three-hundred-line-item wedding checklist where useful things are peppered in with nonsense like, “Shine crystal chandeliers at least one week before the wedding.” Our goal is to make your wedding planning a stress-free experience that will keep you motivated and focused on crossing off your wedding goals, one by one. Plus, you can cross off all those things you don’t care about, because yes, that’s totally allowed. Encouraged, even.
set a budget: Setting your budget can feel like you’re just making up numbers… but it doesn’t have to be that way when actual couples break down what they really spent on their recent weddings. Armed with that info, you can decide how much you can spend on your guests. Then, you need to discuss how much you want to spend on your guests. We also have sample budgets for $2,000 to $30,000 weddings, with advice on figuring out your own wedding budget. Plus, we have a guide on how to stick with your wedding budget when Pinterest is right there taunting you, and which wedding details are actually worth it.
Spreadsheets: You won’t need them quite yet, but get these spreadsheets saved somewhere. We’ve got you covered on everything from your wedding guest list template to your vendor contact list to your day-of wedding timeline. You’ll thank yourself later.
talk to your families AND FRIENDS: Okay, you know how you want the wedding to look and feel. Now it’s time to sit down and have a chat with your families. Are you asking for financial contributions? (Staff and readers discuss the pros, cons, and alternatives here.) Have you thought about what kind of input you want them to have? Are there traditions you want to include—or traditions you want to eschew? Are you going to have a bridal party? Here’s everything you need to know about picking your squad, with some extra tips here on MOH duties (that’s maid of honor, FYI, because the wedding world is nothing if not fond of acronyms).
Honestly, friends, if you’ve just gotten engaged, that list is enough to keep you busy for weeks. But if you’re looking for more information, you can start browsing here:
- Shop our wedding vendor directory, full of folx committed to diversity
- Browse our real weddings
- Make your guest list
- Find a venue
- Pick a wedding date
But most of all, come join us here in January, where we spend every day talking about and helping you plan your bad-ass feminist wedding. We’ll see you then!