You’re engaged — congrats!! 😂 You’ve called your folks, you’ve announced it on Instagram, so that means it’s officially happening IRL.
It’s an exciting time, and things are going to ramp up quickly. Soon you’ll start getting all sorts of questions from friends and loved ones about how the wedding planning process is going. But if you’re not a pro event planner yourself, it can be hard to figure out where to even start. Before getting into the nitty gritty wedding details, you and your partner are going to want to make some big picture decisions first.
1. WHAT’S YOUR MAGIC NUMBER?
So… how big of a guest list are we talking? Who are the people who you want to celebrate with on the day you say “I Do”? Immediate family only? Extended relatives? Friends, old and new? Coworkers?
While this number can change, it’s going to be helpful for the two of you to just start making a list, right off the bat. Don’t over think it: Who are the people who you would ideally want to witness your ceremony, and celebrate with at the festivities. It can also help to make a definitely invite and a maybe invite list, if you’re afraid of committing to a definite list at this point. Count up the list(s), and see where you’re at.
Having a ballpark number of guests, even a range, is going to help you make some big decisions about how large or intimate your wedding will be, and what kind of venue you should look for.
I recommend starting with just jotting it down on pen and paper to start with, and then transferring to an excel spreadsheet or the WeddingWire app’s awesome guest list organizer.
2. WHAT ABOUT THE… OTHER MAGIC NUMBER…?
Before you can confirm the magic number above 100% and start to look at venues, you should have a good sense of what your budget is. Are you paying for everything yourselves, or are you lucky to have help from family? A quick Google search will tell you that the average wedding cost in Canada is about $40,000 – some are much smaller, some are much, MUCH larger 💰
It makes sense – the smaller number of guests you have, the smaller your budget can be. But there are definitely other ways to cut costs other than your guest list, and I also recommend doing some research into other real wedding budgets.
3. WHAT’S YOUR WEDDING VENUE VIBE?
Based on your guest count, your budget, and your personalities, there’s 4 main directions you can go with picking a wedding venue:
THE DIY WEDDING
Pros: If you’re hoping for a laidback outdoor wedding, this can be a great option to find some truly gorgeous, rustic venues. You also have full control over all of your vendors, getting to handpick all of your wedding details from the officiant, to the food, to rentals and decor.
Cons: It is definitely a lot more work and stress to cost out and plan the logistics of every single detail of your wedding. The costs of having to rent everything you need (tables, chairs, linens, dishware, etc) can add up, and the many DIY can become overwhelming as you get closer to the wedding unless you hire a decorator, calligrapher or stationery designer.
THE ALL-INCLUSIVE WEDDING
Pros: The all-inclusive venue has an on-staff caterer, bar service, rentals, decor and more already included in the price of the venue. A lot of the stressful decisions are taken care of for you and usually work with the event coordinator of the venue.
Cons: You don’t get as much say over the fine details of your day. You will usually work with a coordinator at the venue who will provide you with the available options for decor, menu, etc, but you won’t be able to fully customize everything.
THE DESTINATION WEDDING
Pros: If the idea of an all-inclusive wedding on the beach appeals to you, leave the stress of planning a large-scale wedding behind and book a sunny destination wedding! It’ll also make guest list stresses easier, since only a small number of people will be able to make the trip with you, and of course, it’ll make for some truly gorgeous photos.
Cons: The destination wedding calls for a very laidback couple, who is okay with going with the flow on the wedding day. You’ll still have to make plans on how you’re going to handle logistics away from home, such as who will be helping you get ready on the day of your wedding, and if you’re going to pay for a photographer you love to come along with you. This also means that many of your friends and family may not be able to join you due to financial constraints.
THE CITY HALL OR MICRO WEDDING
Pros: The simplicity of this wedding means it’s all about the two of you and your love for each other – none of the other details matter. You can also invite the few people that are most important to you, and even plan a casual party with friends and family after the fact to celebrate the nuptials if you want.
Cons: The obvious con here is that you don’t get the big shin-dig, dance party, and all of your friends and family won’t be able to witness the ceremony.
So you have an idea of what kind of wedding you want to have. Time to get on Pinterest, Instagram, wherever your social media heart takes you. If you’ve been to weddings that you’ve really enjoyed before, talk to the couple and ask them about their process, their venues, their budget!
BOOK A VENUE (SET THE DATE!)
You won’t be able to set a date without confirming the venue, so I always recommend starting there after you’ve answered the above 3 questions.
TELL YOUR GUESTS!
After setting a wedding date, you can send out Save the Dates, or start thinking about how you’re going to invite the people you love. Emailed Invitations or Mailed? What kind of stationery will you need? If you’re emailing, how can you make the options on Paperless Post or Greenvelope more customized? These are questions that I love to help couples with during my wedding stationery consultation phone calls.
READY TO START PLANNING THOSE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS?
Check out the different services that I offer, and let’s book a time to connect!