Friday, February 28, 2014


Once you are confident you aren't going to let your wedding steal your identity, you are ready to start planning! I personally think the challenge of being a hands-on, self-planning, DIY bride is really fun. I know my wedding intimately and as will all things in life, the more hard work you put into something the more rewarding it is.

But where do you begin?

I wish I could just tell you to follow the yellow brick road and you'll land at the wedding of your dreams. It may not be that simple, but the starting place is easy: the big three.

How to start planning your own wedding: Start with the The Big Three
  • Budget
  • Guest List
  • Venue

The elements of budget, guest list, and venue all go hand in hand at the beginning of the planning process. If one of them changes, the other two change as well. For example, if your budget gets cut in half, you may need to cut your guest list or change venues. Alternatively, if you find a venue you fall in love with but it only holds 50 people, you may need to cut your guest list. 

If you already know that one of these elements is set in stone, start there and allow the other two elements to flex around it. You will find that once these three items are determined, the rest of the planning will fall into place. I do not recommend choosing other vendors before locking these three items in - the guest list and venue will make up the largest portion of your budget (typically) and therefor must be prioritized if you plan to stay on track. 

If all three elements are up in the air, I recommend starting with the guest list. Why? If you determine how many people you want at your wedding it will inform the other decisions and prevent you from having to go back and forth multiple times. 

[Note: I set a budget that I was hoping for before laying out my guest list. When I realized that my family and closest friends alone is 200+ people, I had to reevaluate and expand my budget to accommodate feeding everyone. In the end, having my family there on my big day is more important to me then where I actually get married so I adjusted the venue list and created a more aggressive savings plan for myself.]
How to make an estimate Guest List:
  • Under each person's name, list the people (individually) that you think they will want to invite.
  • Categorize and color-code guests appropriately (e.g., green for immediate family, orange for second cousins, purple for friends, grey for spouses or engaged plus ones, etc.)
  • Review each column and add or remove as necessary.
  • Calculate the total guests in each column, and the total to be invited. 

Once you have the total number of guests you want at your wedding you can begin to research venues that hold that many people. For each venue you review, ask for the catering/bar options so that you can calculate not only venue costs for the space but also how much each guest will be to feed. That is what will give you the total price for your venue. 

Next week we'll talk more about the budget process and I'll provide some helpful hints for how to talk about money with your loved ones (fiance included!).


  1. i wish i had this when i planned my wedding- such a great way to get organized!

  2. Thanks Jen! This is several iterations after I first started drafting but I figure if I can try to help people skip the difficult parts I did, I will!


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