9 Steps to Take When Planning Your Dream Wedding

Planning your dream wedding can be an exciting time. From anticipating what you will wear to attending to every detail, many brides find wedding planning a magical time in their lives. Taking the right steps to ensure your big day goes perfectly is key to having an amazing wedding.

1- Create a Budget

The budget is the foundation of the wedding celebration. Your budget will determine the location, time of year, formality and guest count. It helps to know exactly how much you will be able to spend to make your dream day a reality. Add a cushion in your budget—there are the inevitable unexpected expenses that tend to pop up in the course of planning a wedding. There are great wedding budget calculators that will help determine what you should spend on every part of your wedding planning.

2- Choose a Few Dates

This is trickier than it may seem. Many brides have a season or specific date in mind when picturing their wedding. The date of your wedding will depend on two major factors. First, your budget, and secondly, how much time you have to plan. If you are planning a wedding in a short timeframe, as in under one year, most of the more popular venues may already be booked. Vendors also book up quickly. It pays to be flexible if time is in short supply.

Your budget will also play a huge role in your wedding date. Want to get married between June and October? Expect to pay higher prices. Vendors often charge a premium during peak wedding season.

3- Create a Timeline/Calendar

There are great websites and applications that will do this for you, but you can make your own calendar of events. Your calendar will depend heavily on how much time you have to plan. There are a flurry of things that have to be done in the last weeks and days leading up to the wedding, so it pays to plan ahead so that you aren’t rushed or forgetting crucial things at the last minute.

4- Create a Guest List

The guest list is closely linked to both your budget and your venue. Many venues charge a per person fee for the use of the space and the catering, so your budget will determine the level of formality of your wedding and the number of people you can invite. Making the guest list is one of the more challenging parts of wedding planning, as your fiancé, his parents and your parents may have their own ideas of who should be invited. Stick to your budget when planning your guest list.

5- Decide on a Wedding Style and Formality

Do you want a traditional church wedding and reception? Or would you prefer to get married on a beach? Will there be a theme? Do you want a unique venue like a zoo or an aquarium? As with most of the planning, the theme and level of formality will tie in to your budget. An evening wedding at a country club will have a drastically different budget than a morning wedding in a park garden with brunch afterward.

6- Choose Your Vendors

You will need photographers, florists, musicians and a whole host of other vendors. Finding vendors that are within your budget and available on your wedding day can be tricky. You will have to coordinate all of the vendors you want for your day, so it pays to start selecting them early in the planning process. Remember that the most popular vendors book up years in advance.

7- Start Hiring

Your vendors and venue will likely charge deposits or retainers to book your date. Start hiring them early to lock in your date and prices. The most important vendors to hire first are the venue, the photographer and the videographer. These vendors typically book up quickly.

8- Shop for Your Dress

Shopping for your dress can be one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. If you have a specific dress in mind, you may want to scout out a few stores to find the exact one. If you need a little inspiration, there are great online sites that will help you with photos. Start shopping for your dress at least six months ahead of time as you usually have to order your dress in advance and have it custom made.

9- Enjoy Your Day

The last step in planning is to relax and enjoy the day. It goes by in a blur, so savor every minute.