bride and groom portraits on the coast in big sur

The First 5 Steps in Planning Your Wedding

Planning Tips

Did you just get engaged and now you’re overwhelmed by the wedding planning process?
Not sure where to start, or what to do first? Then this is for you! As someone who planned their own wedding and now helps others plan theirs, I’m sharing the top things I tell every couple. Keep reading for the first 5 steps in planning your wedding!

bride and groom on rocky cliff in big sur

1. Figure out YOUR priorities for your wedding day!

I can’t stress enough how important this first step is! Don’t skip it! Seriously! Take some time to think about your wedding day and what aspects of it are the most important to YOU! There is no right or wrong answer to this question!

Is the most important aspect to you that you get to spend the day doing what you love most with your spouse? If so, then considering eloping or having a smaller wedding!

Is the most important aspect to you is that you have a big group of all your friends and family all in the same place having a good time? If so, then have a more traditional wedding!

Following that, what else is most important to you? Is it important to you to have the whole day captured in photographs that you can look back on forever? Do you want all the candid moments, emotions, and happy tears documented?

Maybe it’s important to you to get married in a special church, or on a certain date, or something else. Figure out which couple of things are the most important to you and write them down!

2. Pick a Location

If you’re wanting to do an elopement or small wedding the world is pretty much the limit for this one! And while that’s a benefit of eloping, it can also seem a little overwhelming at first because the options are endless.

The best way to start looking for a location is to decide what type of vibe you want!

Do you love the mountains? The beach? The desert? The city? Somewhere international? A combination of different things? Once you’ve decide on a vibe you can start looking into locations that fit what you’re looking for. (If you book with me I don’t charge any travel fees, so you can start with a general idea or a location and I’ll help you find the perfect spot)

If you’re wanting to have a more traditional wedding then think about how big you want your guest list to be. Do you want to have 50, 100, 200, etc.? Once you have an estimate of the size you can look around at different venues. My advice for finding venues is to extend your search, don’t limit yourself to just traditional wedding venues, or just venues in your town. Look into other non wedding venues (like a museum, a backyard, etc.) and think about how you could turn it into a wedding venue, or look at venues in other cities around you!

3. Reach out to your most important vendors

Remember how in step 1 you listed out your priorities of the day, well this is where that comes into play! Reach out to your most important vendor first to make sure they’re available for your day before securing a wedding date.

If you can’t imagine your wedding without that hair and makeup artist, reach out to them. Can’t imagine your day without the venue you’ve been dreaming about, see what days they have available. Can’t imagine your day being captured by someone other than that photographer or videographer who’s work you always admire, reach out to them!

Whatever it is about your wedding day that you can’t imagine having your day without is what you should book first! (Especially with weddings having to reschedule because of COVID, vendor’s dates are going fast)

PRO TIP: Another reason to book your most important vendor first is so that you can adjust your budget to make them work! If you’re dream vendor is over your budget, splurge for them and then shift around other aspects that aren’t as important to you! Pick the ONE vendor that’s the most important to you, and DON’T sacrifice on it!

For example, if your dream photographer or your dream dress is over your budget but you don’t care as much about flowers or a band or catering, than figure out a way to maybe do some DIY flowers, or maybe have a few less centerpieces, or have one less dinner option, etc. Figure out ways to shift your budget so you can get your dream dress or photographer!

4. Get your wedding dress!

Maybe I’m the only one, but I had no clue how long it can take to get in a wedding dress once you order it until I got married! Most bridal shops recommend leaving at least 6 months for your wedding dress to arrive (& don’t forget once you get your wedding dress you still need to leave time for alterations)

So make sure you get your dress plenty of time before your big day!

PS. If you’re eloping, flowy dresses that you can move around are never a bad idea! (And if you want a veil go for it!)

5. Book your other vendors

Once you have your location, your favorite vendor, and your wedding dress it’s time to lock in all the other key vendors. If you’re eloping this would be your Airbnb or photographer if you haven’t already booked them, and then an optional videographer, florist, hair & makeup artist, chef, or fun adventure (ex. Helicopter ride)

If you’re having a more traditional wedding make sure to lock in your photographer, venue, caterer, florist, day of coordinator, videographer, officiant, DJ/band, and hair & makeup artist!

For more free planning tips and wedding inspiration, check out my other blogs! If you want more personalized wedding planning help, and are still looking for a wedding photographer fill out this contact form!


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