Wedding planning may seem like a very overwhelming task to embark upon when you first start to think about it. So what you need to do is to break it down into smaller more manageable parts. Give yourself a realistic timeline to plan your wedding. Unless you have a particular date in mind that you absolutely want to meet, then feel free to enjoy your engagement for a while and discuss with your partner what would work best as far as setting a date.
Once you've set your date you can work your way back in the calendar to see what you need to do and when you need to do it. However, if you haven't yet set a date a lot of couples give themselves a year to plan a wedding, but really you will find all kinds of time frames for different couples, it depends on what you feel comfortable with. Some couples plan and organize their wedding in a matter of weeks or a couple of months while some others can take more than 18 months. The length of the wedding planning depends on your time availability and also what kind of wedding you want. You can make it as complicated and intricate as you want to, so the same thing goes for simplicity.
Talk amongst yourself (the bride and the groom to be) about what kind of wedding you want; a traditional wedding, formal, informal, focus on fun and colors, winter wedding or a beach wedding, big vs. a small wedding - there are a lot of different factors to take into consideration and don't take for granted that you both want the same type of wedding. So discuss this for a while until you've reached an agreement as to what your 'vision' of the wedding is.
To have a vision of your wedding does not mean that you now should have an understanding of all the details and exactly how things should look and work out. All it means is that you have a framework that you both agree on and that you can go back to when you need to make decisions further down the line.
When you are ready to start attacking and looking at the details of the parts of wedding planning you'll most likely need to start by doing some research. The main reason to do this is so that you can include what you want to include and to exclude what you don't want for your wedding. But you want to find out about these things sooner rather than later so that you don't catch yourself with having forgotten a very important detail for the day of the wedding such as confirming your caterers etc.
Depending on what way of research you prefer you can either talk to people that have gotten married themselves, but remember that these people would have also designed their wedding according to what they wanted, not what you may necessarily want.
Wedding magazines may also give you bits and pieces but if you want one source of information go to a book store and find a wedding planning book that will give you the full deal (you can of course go to a bookstore online too).
Some wedding books are divided up in what you should do 12, 10, 8 and 6 months before the wedding and then 6-8 weeks, 2-4 weeks, the week before, day before and finally the day of. Take it and modify as you need. What it does though is give you an check list of things to do (ones you've crossed over the items you are not wanting to do at your wedding), change the dates as needed BUT we careful of moving too many things too close to the wedding. Even if it may seem very early to see a florist 6 months before your wedding or to get your dress 10 months before it - give yourself that time. It is better to do things sooner rather than too late. Especially when there will be factors that will play in that you do not have control over. Such as how long it will take to order your wedding dress or whether or not the caterer you planned on using actually id not already booked for the day of your wedding. So book vendors etc. early on.
Assigning realistic timelines
Make a check list and assign timelines for when you should have accomplished a task. If it makes you feel better, you can break things down as far as you want to. For example 'Getting a wedding dress' might be broken down in to several different steps such as: do research, visit wedding stores to try on dresses, select one dress and order, follow up on order 2 months prior to wedding etc. You can make wedding dress alterations a different item on your list. Spread things out when possible so that you are giving yourself realistic timelines. Keep this list handy and in a place where you see it as a reminder but not so much that it will occupy your attention every moment of every day until your wedding. This list can become long but you will find that in a good day you are ticking off several items at the same time and the overall purpose of giving yourself this overview is so that you can see the bigger picture and always have a reference as to what needs to be done and in what order. You don't necessarily have to assign dates either but say you decide a week or a month when something needs to be done such as finding a florist can be assigned to a month as oppose to a day. Prioritize booking vendors though (in particular if you are getting married during a busy wedding season) such as your food caterers, justice of the peace or priest, venue (for ceremony and reception), florist and DJ if you are having one – things that are essential but that you don't have control over when it comes to availability. So book early to make sure you can coordinate them all for the same day. And if not you may need a back up plan and research other vendors that you can use.
To continue on the point made above it is important that you know the date of your wedding when you start booking vendors etc so that they can pencil you in to their busy schedule and make sure they can provide the services you want for your wedding. When you set a date consider the time you need to plan. Then think about the time of the year you are getting married, things changes with the seasons such as prices, environments, flowers available, weather etc. Also take into consideration, when deciding on the date of your wedding is other holidays. If you have your wedding date on a public holiday it may be harder for your guest to find hotel rooms and prices may go up for a lot of things. Your wedding date is something you will have forever as your anniversary so even though that may not be your priority it is something good to keep in mind.
Involve your partner
For a lot of couples getting married the bride to be is the one most involved and concerned with all the details around the planning. If this is the case and you are happy with it then no need to read further. However, if you want to involve your partner/your partner wants to be involved welcome that. This is after all a marriage of you both and he may have certain things that are more important to him for your wedding than they are to you so make sure you outline those. When you start to discuss the date of the wedding make sure you are both comfortable with the season you are choosing, the month and then the day. Ask each other what their 'dream wedding' is and what is most important to them that is, what needs to be present, what needs to happen, who needs to be there. This can become a long list and down the line you will prioritize and maybe some things weren't as important as some others. But having input from both of you will set you on the right track for your wedding day without surprising disappointments of what could have been. Now, when you are making that list, remember that you do not control all variables, so wanting great weather is all well and good but it may not happen. Then ask each other if there are certain things you'd like to take care of. And by 'taking care of' I am referring to taking the main responsibility for having those things handled. That does not mean that the other partner should not be asked for advice, their opinion and be a part of the decisions that needs to be made, it just means that one of you are going to be more of the driver to check off that item from your list of to-dos. So 'assign' your list between you, or create one where you are co-responsible and also assign a timeline whether it is a month or a specific date for those to be completed. This way you can go over the list on a monthly, bi-weekly and closer to the wedding on a weekly basis, to make sure things have gotten done and to just get that sense of relief that you are on top and in control of the planning of your wedding.
Make sure that a few weeks before the wedding you confirm all your vendors, for example:
- Alternations of wedding dress
- Tuxedo rentals
- Confirm your venue
- Caterer of food and any beverages
- Wedding cake or alternative
- Photographer and/or video photographer
- DJ or any other arrangements you've made for music
- Equipment (music, lights, projector etc)
- Make sure you have your room for the wedding night booked
Also make sure that if you've asked friends or family to help out with anything such as picking up your flowers that you confirm that again and you may also need to consider notifying the vendor if anyone but yourself is picking up goods for you.