I love wedding planning – Ken and I have been setting appointments every night after work to try and accomplish one goal on our very long list of to dos for the wedding (one night, we came up with our guest list, another night we went through our favorite venues in New York and Chicago and delegated who should make appointments). I think it’s important to make decisions together for the wedding, especially since it’s as much his dream wedding as it is mine! Ken has been researching just as much as me and I’m really glad that we’re tackling this project together – it’s so daunting to plan a large event by yourself!
Here’s what Real Simple is telling me to do nine months before the wedding – I found the Ultimate Wedding Checklist at here.
Sixteen to Nine Months Before
- Start a wedding folder or binder. Begin leafing through bridal, lifestyle, fashion, gardening, design, and food magazines for inspiration.
When Ken and I got engaged, I wanted to keep track of everything. It’s easier to do with sites like Pinterest, but I still prefer ripping pages out of magazines and putting them in a binder. I created a binder with important information that vendors give us and we’ve also created a large google spreadsheet that breaks down costs for the wedding, has cool ideas that we want to pursue and also lists a LOT of bridal stores in both New York and Chicago.
- Work out your budget. Determine how much you have to spend, based on your families’ contributions and your own.
We sat down one night and worked out our budget, which is really important for wedding planning. Weddings really don’t have any limit to what you can spend (and from some of the photos and videos we’ve seen, it looks like people have spent well over hundreds of thousands for their dream day). We’ve set a realistic budget but know that there are some things we might splurge on when it comes to the big day.
- Pick your wedding party. As soon as you’re engaged, people will start wondering who’s in.
This is one of the first things we did – Ken has great friends from high school (Drew, Jordy, Ken and John at Drew’s wedding last year) as well as family (Paul and David):
And I have Angie, Ken’s sisters, and Laura! We are also going to ask our other friends to be in the wedding but wanted to nail down a date before asking anyone to stand up in our wedding.
- Start the guest list. Make a head count database to use throughout your planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information.
We started a google spreadsheet of our guests. That way, we could both easily see the list and make sure all of our friends and family are on the list. Another important column to have on the guest list is whether or not they’ll be traveling (so when you figure out hotels for your guests, you’ll know how many rooms to reserve!)
- Hire a planner, if desired. A planner will have relationships with—and insights about—vendors.
We’ve decided against hiring a planner; they can be very expensive and I don’t feel the need to hire a planner since Ken and I have talked about our wedding vision. While it is important to have insights about vendors, from our walk-throughs with wedding venues, we’ve learned a lot about who’s popular in the wedding business and who we should avoid working with. We might hire a day-of planner, which I’ve heard is very popular, to make sure everything goes smoothly and to make sure there’s a point of contact in case anything goes wrong on your wedding day (I mean, I do not want to deal with anything but being happy on my wedding day!)
- Reserve your date and venues. Decide whether to have separate locations for the ceremony and the reception, factoring in travel time between the two places.
I think this is actually the most important thing to do – we made our guest list first to get an idea of what kind of space we should look at and made the decision early on that we weren’t going to have our wedding at a church. We wanted a space that was large and spacious (but not to the point that it would make our wedding seem empty) and in a central location that would be convenient for all of our guests. We have found our venue, but haven’t signed any contracts so I won’t reveal it until we’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s!
- Book your officiant.
We haven’t done this and don’t know who to ask! Neither of us are very religious so we were thinking about asking a friend (or family member) to help officiate our wedding. It will bring a personal touch to the ceremony, but we have to find the right person to do it!
- Research photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. Keep their contact information in your binder.
We’ve researched a lot of caterers, but haven’t even started looking at photographers, bands or florists. A lot of venues use specific caterers, so be sure to ask the venue when you’re booking an appointment!
- Throw an engagement party, if you wish. But remember that your invitees should be on your wedding guest list as well.
We had an engagement party the night we got engaged! We celebrated with our families and our friends in Chicago, remember?
Next week, hopefully more about venues and a list of the venues we visited, in case there are other brides looking to get married in Chicago or New York!