Wedding Planning in 2019: The 13 Step Definitive Guide

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Even though getting engaged could be one of the happiest days of your life, planning your wedding could be some of the worst. If you don’t have a plan in place, the pre-wedding jitters could be maximized to a daunting quantity. But don’t fear! This is a fool-proof guide to making sure you’ve secured the details so your special day can be as magical as you’ve always dreamed.


Anything that is as big a project as this can be daunting when you first think about it. So many details, people, reservations, and you don’t know where to begin! This list is written in a specific order that will hopefully minimize your anxiety by the time you’ve gotten to the bottom. Here’s the first thing you need to remember, and work your way to the bottom with a pen and paper in hand to take notes.


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1.     Your Fiancé


This is one thing you should be sure about. (If you’re not, perhaps this list isn’t for you and you should go reevaluate things.) Maybe not absolutely sure, it’s okay to have fears and doubts, but you should be confident that your husband or wife is the person you want to marry. Simple enough, right?


If you’ve passed the first paragraph with no qualms, congratulations! You have now made it to part two of the first step: whenever you become overwhelmed with wedding preparation (it is inevitable), think about your special someone. That is one reservation that has been made for forever! This decision is taken care of, and for that, you can relax just a little bit. Don’t panic, you got the hardest part over with!


2.    Your Date(s)


I am a firm believer in picking your dates as soon as you can, because any reservation you make will want to know the date before anything else. The reason that I say “date(s)” is this: if you have a few dates that work, call around to the most important and pressing reservations and see if they have all the dates available. Inevitably, some will not. This is when you should cross-reference and check the date(s) that work for the most reservations. I suggest having two good dates that work for both of you and your families.


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3.    Your Photographer


Yes, I would even rank this one’s priority above location, and here is why: the photographer is the only thing about your wedding day that lasts. Sure, you can keep your wedding dress, but you won’t frame it and put it on your piano and see it every day when you leave your tiny apartment. (Or, maybe you’re that kind of person. If so, go ahead and get your wedding dress before your photographer.) Wedding pictures are immortal. My tip is this: if you are going to splurge on anything, splurge on a good photographer. Because, like I said, your photographer is the one who will contribute lasting evidence of your special day. Not to mention the fact that you may have your photographer do your engagement photos, in which case you need to start working on that ASAP!

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4.    Your Venue


It is imperative that you get your venue booked as soon as possible. You may think you’re planning in advance, you may think you’re organized and on top of it, maybe you’re a hard J on the Myers-Briggs personality test, but let me tell you: these suckers book up quicker than you can say “I do.” And because of that, you’ll want to call dibs as quickly as possible. When searching for the perfect venue, here are a few things to consider:

a.      The weather. Is this venue conducive for typical weather patterns for the area you’re getting married in? Does the venue have a rainy-day backup plan in place in case Mother Nature does not cooperate?

b.      The price. No doubt, this will be one of the toughest financial pills for Daddy to swallow. Remember to (and I cannot say this enough) shop around. I’d suggest looking into at least five locations before you choose one. Couples have a tendency to latch on to the first venue they see because, duh, wedding venues are magical. But even if you end up picking the first one you see, look at five. Please. For Daddy’s sake. There are also many cheaper venues like churches or parks or anywhere outside that you can consider if you’re not super picky.

c.      Meal plans. This may sound silly, but different venues have different meal plan requirements and packages.


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5.    Your Save-The-Dates (Or Wedding Invitations)


Save the dates are important to get mailed as soon as possible. Remember that your guests can be spending a lot of money to make it to your wedding (plane tickets, gas money, hotels, etcetera). Don’t feel bad about this! But do take it into consideration in situations like this: get your dates on their radar as soon as you can. People are busy!


Some people only send out wedding invitations in lieu of save the dates. This is one of the easiest ways to save yourself money because not only do you save on printing costs, you also pay half as much in mailing costs!


6.    The Guest List

After you have made decisions about save the dates and/or wedding invitations, it’s time to formulate a guest list so you know who to send your precious invites to. Here’s some crucial advice: budget a lot of time for this. More time than you’d ever think you’d need. This process takes a long time, especially if you want to have a larger wedding. This is a process that you will want and need to consult both sets of parents on. Remember: a wedding is an occasion not only for your friends, but for your parents’ friends too. Especially if Daddy is paying!


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7.     Your Food

If your venue already provides food, no need to worry about this section! Food is important because, like I mentioned, people are sacrificing money and time for you. This is a nice gesture to show them that you appreciate that they are there for you on a day that is so important. That being said, there are, of course, ways to save money. Here are a few suggestions that I have found to be big crowd pleasers and cause little damage on the wallet:

a.      Pancakes! These are everyone’s favorite breakfast food, and they are child-friendly. The only thing that could make this a spendy meal is the toppings. Berries add up real fast, folks.

b.      Pasta. Pasta is a classic that people love and is also kid-approved. I’ve seen really cute pasta bars with different noodles available and sauces and toppings that you can pick from, which seemed to work very well.

c.      Tacos. Tacos can be as cheap or expensive as you want, depending on how much guacamole you want to sponsor. Tacos are well-loved and appreciated among most human beings, so this would be a hit at any wedding, in my opinion.


8.    The Theme


The theme is important to establish for the sake of the bridesmaids. Think about the colors and how they will interface with each other. I recommend picking five colors and then picking a secondary color for each one of the five. Then, use process of elimination and figure it out. From here, you can start coordinating other aspects of your theme: do you want burlap and lace? Or silk and ribbon? Pinterest is an excellent resource for this.


9.    The Wedding Party


You should have a pretty good idea of who will be in your wedding party. Remember this, your wedding day is about you. (And your fiancé.) Don’t make choices that are based on not offending someone in your not-so-close circle of friends. Make the best choice for you and your fiancé. If your friends are truly your friends, they’ll understand. This summer, my best friend was in the bridal party of another friend of ours. In the same summer, my best friend got married and this other friend didn’t come, let alone stand next to her in the bridal party. It happens. And it’s okay. After you and your fiancé have narrowed your wedding parties down to similar numbers (or not), start solidifying a list. Keep in mind that the wedding party should be approved by both of you. If your husband’s friend Rob is on the list, who he constantly checks you out every time you’re around, tell your fiancé that Rob is not your favorite choice. After you have picked your top tier of people, it’s always nice to find cute ways to ask them to be in your wedding. (This is a nice gesture when you consider that these people in particular will be dropping some major money to support you between dresses, ties, tuxedos, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.) If you’re trying to plan on a budget, don’t fear. There are many heartfelt ways to ask, such as a handwritten letter!


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10.   The Flowers


I’m just going to warn you right now, these will be expensive. You’re thinking of a big number right now, right? You’re estimating in your head a number unfathomable, a number so big your dad might shut the check book and say, “Alright, that’s it. Let’s call it a day. You’re not getting married.” Take that number in your head and double it. That’s how much money you’re about to drop on these freakin’ flowers.


I’m just kidding. Now that I’ve thoroughly oversold how much the flowers will cost, any number is going to seem low, right? Right. You’re welcome. (But really, start making your flower orders and calling around.)


11. The Officiant


The officiant of the wedding is like Chris Harrison of The Bachelor: incredibly irrelevant yet incredibly crucial all at the same time. Like Christ Harrison, the officiant will narrate one of the more structured parts of the wedding, so make sure whomever you choose can speak in front of people. Another thing to think about is the length of the homily. I’ve been to weddings where the officiant takes it upon themselves to relate the top 73 principles of healthy marriages, and nobody wants that. The biggest thing is that you communicate with your officiant about details like these.


The only weddings I’ve been to are weddings where the officiant is an intimate friend or relative of the couple. I think that this adds a nice touch to a meaningful service. However, if you don’t know anyone, there are local pastors who are often willing to perform wedding ceremonies.


12.   The Dress


Finally, the number you’ve been waiting for! I don’t need to say much about this, but I have put it on the top 12 because it is more important than you would think that you get the dress picked out sooner rather than later. The reason is this: alterations. You’ll pick the perfect dress (I promise) but it will not fit perfectly—not yet. This is why you need several months in between the special dress day and the special day. You’ll need plenty of time to have it sized perfectly so that you or your wife is glowing on your wedding day.



Weddings require ample planning, but these are the twelve of the first things that should be your first priorities. If you are diligent about checking these off of your wedding “to-do” list, you will have nothing to worry about. Remember that your wedding day will certainly have mishaps, but that is okay. Don’t idealize it too much in your head, because if you do, you will certainly be disappointed. As long as you make sure to systematically work through these steps, you will be in good shape in the months leading up to the big day. What’s most important is that you and your special someone feel comfortable, excited, and happy on your wedding day.

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