12 Days of Wedding Planning

Here are my 12 days of wedding planning — 12 steps to help keep you full of the joy you and your family experienced when you said YES!

  1. Lead with love, and the rest will fall in place, you’ll see! It’s easy to be said but more difficult to practice. If you simply keep this mantra in the forefront of planning, your relationships with family, vendors and guests will be stress-free.
  2. It’s all about compromising. After all, it’s about love. Love means compromise. I’ve planned weddings with budgets close to a million dollars and budgets of just a few thousand. No one party in wedding planning completely gets their way. If you can accept this as inevitable, it will make it that much easier when you get to those moments. If she wants the aisle covered in rose petals (very expensive for a complete covering) what about a lush line along the side of the aisles or even a cool pattern in the aisle? If she wants to rent furniture to put outside on the lawn for a lounge feel, create a lounge vibe by using standard tables and chairs but cluster them near a tree where you could hang a cool candelabra or a neat IKEA light. If he wants a 12-piece band, then maybe drop that fourth app or nix the premium bar. And if he wants chocolate and you want vanilla — well, they have four tiers!
  3. It’s important to know what type of event the couple would like to host. Garden? Ballroom? Intimate? Everyone? Grand? Simple? Be it strong or sublime; it’s important to write it down, and refer back to it during the planning process.
  4. It’s time to have a frank conversation about budgeting. No one can successfully set forth on a project without knowing an amount to spend. I believe any dream can be accomplished on any budget, it just takes some thought and compromise, as noted above.
  5. Ask yourself: how many can we feed? Fifty percent of your wedding budget pertains to food, beverages and site fees. Once you set an overall budget limit, you should do some preliminary research (internet and email) on some possible sites and caterers to get a ballpark idea of pricing.
  6. Refer back to one and two. This is where your planning experience has the most chance of going from fun to “Now I know what they were talking about when they said it was a nightmare.” Refer back to points one and two. You can do it!
  7. Let’s create a plan we can set forth and succeed. It’s important to put it in writing – a simple spreadsheet with line items for ceremony site, reception site (to include food and beverage), entertainment, décor, photography/videography, fashion (including day-of prep), cake, stationary and auxiliary events (bridal tea, etc.) And because these are very general categories, you should reserve 10 to 20 percent for “miscellaneous.” This can be the line item you debit for non-budgeted line items (transportation, etc.) or item overages.
  8. How are you feeling about your plan? Marriage is a commitment, and so is a budget. Everyone involved in the planning needs to review the plan/budget and feel about an eight out of ten on the happiness scale.
  9. Channel in number two again. I can’t stress enough that these days, albeit very difficult, are the most important. Any great accomplishment has had a well thought out plan. If you invest your first week in this diligent research and hard work, you have set yourself up for a tremendously less stressful next few months or even years. Do yourself a favor and get the hard conversations out right out of the gate.
  10. It’s appointment time. Now that you have a plan, make some appointments to see some ceremony and reception sites that interested you from the budgeting period. Because of your research, you’ll ask informed questions and have a mental Rolodex of material to compare the site coordinator’s answers with. I also suggest meeting with photographers and entertainment companies, as they often book up quickly and have limited date availability.
  11. Let’s make some reservations for vendors with glee. You’ve created your plan, done the research in meeting potential vendors, now it’s time to book, book, book! Obviously, I don’t think you will book all of your vendors within 11 days of beginning the planning process, but it is acceptable to expect a ceremony and reception facility to be secured with a deposit within one to three months after commencement of planning.
  12. Just enjoy the process. You are planning your forever!

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Raquel Shutt

Raquel Shutt is the owner of Wedding Savvy Inc., a premier full-service wedding planning company located in Annapolis. For more than 10 years, Wedding Savvy has been featured in many regional publications such as The Knot Magazine, The Washingtonian, and The Capital, as well as featured on We TV’s “platinum Weddings.”

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