The First Steps Of Our Wedding Planning Process
When I first got engaged, I gave myself a month before I started planning anything.
I had always heard that planning a wedding was tough, stressful, and really just a lot of work.
So when I got engaged back in June 2019, I was a little terrified for what was to come.
Especially because I was determined to grow my business and all my time and energy were being thrown into that!
But of course, the planning process had to start.
And I knew that if I wasn’t organized, I would lose my mind!
So Alex and I sat down and created a spreadsheet that broke down all the tasks we needed to complete before the big day.
And we were off running.
Now we’re only 110 days away from our wedding and I feel pretty on top of things.
I keep having people tell me on Instagram that I’m crazy, that things will pop up and no matter what it will be stressful.
But in my mind, stress is a choice and is avoidable.
At least it is for me.
When you know what causes stress, you know how to prepare.
And I’m sure, there will be surprises and unexpected problems closer to the date.
But right now, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole process and I have some tips/thoughts to share for any newly engaged gals or brides-to-be.
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OUR INITIAL PLANNING PROCESS
It was only a week after we got engaged and the questions started flying in.
Where’s it going to be?
What’s the date?
And then, of course, the obligations from parents.
Well, this person HAS to be invited.
You CAN’T do it that way, it NEEDS to be this way.
It only took a week for Alex and I to get into a disagreement about our wedding that we hadn’t even started to plan.
So we went on a hike with Fancy and buffed out all of the current frustrations.
We decided to approach this whole process as a team.
Alex and I are opposites in a lot of ways.
But one thing that really works in our favor is that he’s a logistics guy and I’m more the creative visionary.
I hate making phone calls and doing research, where Alex doesn’t mind it!
So we split up the tasks pretty naturally.
But that was after the wedding spreadsheet was created.
Our Wedding Spreadsheet
So I know there are spreadsheets that you can purchase to help you plan for your wedding.
But we wanted to save money wherever we could so we created one ourselves.
The first page is our timeline.
It’s broken down by months leading to our wedding with tasks that we need to complete within each month.
Now you may be thinking, how did you know what to do when?!
Well, when we got engaged, someone gave me a wedding planning book.
This is the exact book that I was given!
And in that book, there was a general break down of what to do 10 months before the wedding, 9 months before, etc.
So we just took that and customized it a little bit.
We knew that December was going to be crazy with the holidays so we put some really easy tasks to finish in that month.
And then tried to break up the rest of the work evenly.
This helped us to ensure that not only every month we were making progress, but really making good progress that would save us stress the months leading up to the wedding.
With that created, we felt comfortable getting to work!
The first month of our timeline was July. Remember we took all of June to just enjoy the engagement?
And the first 4 things on our to-do list were:
- Set the budget
- Find the venue (and pick a date based on availability)
- Find a photographer
- Draft the invite list
This photo and the other ones to follow in this post were taken by Alyssa Flood Photography.
I feel like when it comes to wedding planning, money is the worst part.
No one wants to talk about money.
As soon as you mention the word “wedding” venues and service providers will hike up the price.
And let’s be real… it costs a lot to throw a wedding.
So I’m not surprised when I asked you guys on Instagram what you wanted to know about the planning process, several people wanted to know about our budget.
How did you come up with a budget?
How much have you spent so far?
What do you plan to spend?
And how did we justify spending money on certain things?
I totally get it!
When I first got engaged, I wanted to know how much people spent and how much I could expect to spend.
But here’s the thing…
There are weddings that cost a couple of thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars.
There are more expensive venues that include everything you need. Or you could find a rustic barn that really only covers the basics.
It’s up to you!
But before you really start planning, you need to figure out how much you want to spend so it doesn’t sneak up on you.
How We Set The Budget
Like I said, I was given a wedding book when we got engaged.
That book broke it down by percentage, how much you should spend on certain things.
The one thing I really liked about this is that it didn’t tell us we should spend a certain dollar amount on the venue or decorations.
Instead, it gave percentages of how to spend your money.
So you could really figure out what worked best for your budget and what you should expect to pay for each thing.
And I’m sure if you just perform a basic Google search you can find a similar breakdown.
At this time though, we still didn’t know how much we wanted to spend!
Or what was realistic to spend.
So what we did, we ended up doing a little research to figure out what a photographer would cost in our area.
That was our starting point.
We took how much the average photographer would cost and found out what the total cost of a wedding would be based on the percentages given.
Now, of course, there were some areas that we didn’t agree with.
For me, I was willing to spend more on a good photographer and then save money on real flowers and opt for some fake flower decorations instead.
So we changed some of the numbers until we got to the price point we wanted to be at.
And boom, the budget was created!
Hahaha. Just kidding… I wish it was that easy.
With everything we researched, we learned where we needed to give and take with the original budget.
And we’re still figuring it out the more we plan.
FINDING THE VENUE
The budget, that came first.
But once that was done, I really wanted to find the venue so we could book the date!
I didn’t want a long engagement.
And I knew that if we wanted to get married in less than 12 months, I had to book a venue FAST!
Now, of course, visionary me already had some ideas in mind.
I wanted to get married outside, preferably near some body of water (like a lake or something), and I wanted it to be really casual!
Neither of us wanted anything too formal or fancy.
And both of us decided that we wanted it to be more like a big party than a formal event.
So we started to look at outdoor venues.
I had contacted a few, realized several were outside of our budget and kept doing research.
At the end of the day, we only visited 2 venues.
The first one was a winery. And although the property was beautiful, I didn’t like the ceremony spot, and there was only a big tent for the reception.
Honestly, as we went on the tour, I knew it wasn’t right for us.
So we left and went back to the drawing board.
Alex and I were in his office on night, I was worried that we hadn’t found anything, so we turned to Google.
After clicking on a couple of links, we found OUR venue.
I knew right away from looking at the pictures that it was the one.
So we sent them an email and I started to do more research.
I snooped on their Facebook page and Instagram account because I wanted to see more photos.
And then I ran into a post that said they only had a few dates left in 2020.
So naturally… I freaked out.
I wanted to make sure I could secure one of those dates!
So I messaged them on Instagram and said we had sent them an email, just to make sure I was on their radar.
A couple of minutes later they responded with what dates they still had available and we set up a time to visit the location.
The rest was history!
As soon as I walked on the property it just felt right.
PICKING THE DATE… AND PHOTOGRAPHER
Honestly, Alex and I didn’t really care what date we got married.
I just wanted it to be at the beginning of summer because not only did I not want a long engagement, but I also knew that my sister was getting married at the end of that same summer.
And I couldn’t do that to my mom to have her 2 daughters get married a month apart.
So early summer it was!
Anytime in May, June, or July was perfect. But honestly, I was always hoping for May or June.
Here’s what ended up happening.
Like I said, the venue only had a few weekends left in 2020.
And since I knew that was the venue, I was going based on what they had available!
Well on the same day that we found our venue online, I also found my dream photographer.
Funny enough, she had done a staged photoshoot for the venue!
So when I was looking at their photos on Instagram, I HAD to know who took the photos because it was the exact style of photography that I was going for.
From the venue’s Instagram page, I was taken to her Instagram page, and then to her website.
After seeing more photos of her work, I was sold!
I reached out about prices and availability and there were only 2 dates that worked with her availability and the venue’s availability.
May 23rd and September 26th.
Like I said, I wanted early summer.
So May 23, 2020, it was!
In one swift motion, the date, venue, and photographer were all set.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Now there is honestly so so much that goes into planning a wedding.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg.
But I figured for my first post on my blog about the wedding, we should talk about the big stuff.
And the beginning stages that we went through the make this event happen!
But before I go, I do want to answer some of the questions that you asked on Instagram.
1. Was getting the right dress, hair, and make-up people easy?
I think I want to write another blog post about my dress finding experience.
Because it’s something I want to remember!
But for me, yes. Finding the dress was easy!
I had a set vision in mind and thankfully the first shop I went to had exactly what I was looking for.
And it was within my budget!
You know how people say you’ll cry when you try on your wedding dress? That’s true.
I had that moment and knew right then, that this was the dress!
When it came to picking my hair and make-up team…
First I should say, yes, I am getting my hair and make-up done for the big day.
But I absolutely love my hairstylist.
I’ve been going to her for 2+ years. So I knew she was going to do my hair!
And at the salon she works at, they have their own make-up artist.
So instead of trying to find someone else, I just decided to do a package deal and use their make-up artist.
I have an appointment scheduled for April to do a test run for both 🙂
2. How did you make your invitations? And how much did it cost?
This isn’t something I mentioned in this post, but I designed our save the dates and wedding invites!
And I’m not talking about using a template from Vistaprint or even Zola.
I actually designed them using Canva!
Like I said, I’m the visionary.
So I had a set vision of what I wanted out invites to look like and I didn’t want to pay to have someone else create them.
We’re trying to save money wherever we can!
So I designed them on Canva and got them printed using Vistaprint!
Honestly, such a great experience.
Total we ended up spending around $300 total on our save the dates, invites, RSVP card, and information cards.
But that isn’t including stamps and envelopes!
3. Will you post the wedding video to YouTube?
Right now we aren’t planning on having a videographer at our wedding.
Honestly, it’s something that I would love love love to have.
But they are expensive!
And our photographer was already a couple thousand dollars.
So we decided to hold off on getting a wedding video made to save money.
4. Will Fancy be in the wedding?
Our venue is so amazing and actually allows dogs!
But with that being said, Fancy will not be there 🙁
She’s a very anxious little girl.
And when she’s stressed or put in a situation that she doesn’t like, she will jump on me and claw as she tries to get in my arms.
Would it be adorable for her to be our “flower girl”? 100000% yes!
But I know that she would claw me and the last thing I want on my wedding day is my dress ripped or muddy because of her paws.
She will, however, be there with the girls as we get ready!
So don’t worry, she’ll still be a part of the day 🙂
5. What questions did you ask the venue?
Soooo many honestly.
Before you go, Google a list of questions to ask.
But some important ones that we asked was about the bathroom situation, EXACTLY what was included in the cost (meaning tables, tablecloths, etc), what hours we would have the venue, how the parking situation was, if they had staff to help with the event, and what we would be responsible for in terms of clean up and trash.
We spent an hour probably looking at the venue and asking questions.
We also went with Alex’s parents so they helped to ask questions and they thought of things we didn’t!
THAT’S IT FOR TODAY
As I was writing this, I kept coming up with more and more things I wanted to talk about.
I mean there is A LOT that goes into planning a wedding.
So if there is anything else you want to know, another specific blog post you want to see, just let me know!
And I’ll see you back here soon.
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after starting her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly YouTube videos, sporadic blog posts, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.