Planning a wedding is a cinch, trust me. There is very little money can’t buy, including someone to plan your wedding. Just hire a wedding planner and you are done—easy peasy! (Ha!)
Okay, so for those of you who can’t afford a wedding planner, coordinator, or basically anyone to help you other than your mom, listen-up. You are planning what those experts call a “DIY” wedding—in normal people terms, you are a planning a do it yourself wedding. When you tell your colleagues or friends this, don’t be surprised if they make a face at you. Some of them know how much work goes into this ONE day so there natural response is that you are crazy, which you are. But, for those of you crazy enough (or simply on a budget like a usual bride) to venture this journey on your own (well technically with a significant other by your side, but we will get into how to rely on your man/significant other later) welcome to crazy land.
Buy a book…or two… and register for one of those websites (I chose www.theknot.com as it matched one of my books that I had), and start planning. Even that sounds easy enough.
Okay to break this down, walk into a chapters/Indigo and you will see a zillion binders on how to plan your wedding. Pick a few, and don’t go crazy trying to get the perfect one. The wedding has to be perfect, not the binder.
Some of the binders will have an option to join their website. This is a great idea. There is a place on the website where you can put in your budget, and it will break down what you can spend on every detail. Plus there’s lots of pretty pictures to get lost in when you’re bored at work!
Secret Information that the books don’t tell you:
Seeing as how this is my first time getting married, I had no idea what an “average wedding budget is”. Upon googling this you are likely to find that the average wedding cost is between $20,000- $30,000. So basically way more than your bank account will support. So that’s it. You are changing your mind and will simply go down to city hall and get hitched. Which is a great idea—if that’s what you want.
When we saw this number we decided to set the wedding date in two years…so we could save (which, in reality, wont happen). By doing this we were just avoiding the huge elephant in the room) How do you pay for a wedding?!
Okay so there is no way you can pay for your wedding yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning it! First of all, you have to figure out what you kind of want. Is it a small intimate simple gathering, or a big huge feast, or a vintage wedding, or rustic, or boat, or sea-side, or destination….so many decisions (and we are only on the first question!). Okay, so we personally chose to go for the rustic-vintage feel and try to find a barn venue.
Now that you have decided on what you want you can start researching venues that are in the area you want to get married in. Simply google (or use your wedding site that you are registered with), email the venues you like, inquiring about prices, packages and ceremony options (if you want to get married at the same place as the party) as well as mention the time of year you are looking for and ask what they have available.
More Secret Information:
The scariest thing you will find out is that they are booking two years in advance and they may or may not have any dates you are looking for (People plan this so far in advance it’s crazy!). The even scarier thing you will look at are the prices. To give you a heads up—the prices range from about $50/plate, which does not include the rental of anything and does not include alcohol-- $140/plate which includes rentals and open bar. I am talking about the actual “reasonable” venues… Do the math. An estimate of 150 people at your wedding (and it will probably be way bigger because you haven’t actually sat down and written out a guest list yet because we are only on step 2 of a million and one) okay so 150 at $100/plate is $15,000 for the dinner alone! Yikes. So maybe no open bar… or less people… or you get married in 5 years…
Tell your families that you are planning to get married but not for another two years because of the costs and venue wait lists. Explain to them the break-down of the costs and forward them a few of the emails that you have received.
While you are doing this, continue doing research on the venues. I found the more I researched the better I got at finding good prices. You’ll also find that you start actually looking at dates, and finding out what weekend/or weekday you actually want and you questions for the venues will start getting more direct.
Once you have explained all of this to the family, they will either be perfectly okay with a long engagement (yeah, right…). Or they will get back to you on how much they are willing to pitch-in. Basically they are “helping-you-out” so you don’t have to prolong the date.
Now you’re talking. Now, if you want to get married next year, you probably can. AND now, you have a more realistic idea for a budget—so you can plug it into your handy-dandy budgeter and, let’s face it, find out how much you can spend on a dress!!
Start reading your binder planners and website checklists to find out the next steps. I know, I know, a step for more steps—but it’s crazy how much you have to plan out! Look at the time-lines they give you for each “booking”, and try to get it done before that. Venue’s book up fast, dresses take a long time to come in, and you need the perfect photographer—so get on it!
Focus on the venue first. It’s a huge thing to get done, and the one you want is probably going to go fast. Plus, if you are having the ceremony somewhere else, you have to now book two venues for one day—and that can get tricky if you leave it for too long.
So I leave you with this. Four, well directed steps to planning your own wedding without a wedding planner. Start here. Figure out what you want. Do research, email and phone everyone you are interested in.
If you have any questions or need any help, I am here waiting in the comment section below.
Until step number 5,