Your other half just popped the question. Of course you said, “yes!” And now you’re faced with planning the biggest event of your life. Your family and friends are all excited for you, and questions are swirling regarding when and where and who and what and how and colors and flowers and registries and… It’s overwhelming, right?
Take a step back. Break it down. Start at the beginning.
There are three crucial decisions couples should make before tackling any other piece of their planning.
By choosing your location, venue, and date, booking three key vendors, and nailing down your invite list, you’ll have the hardest and most event-defining to-dos checked off so that the fun part of planning can begin.
Step 1: Choose your Location
Before any other step is taken for your wedding, you need to decide on a location that will satisfy your wedding vision, host your most loved family and friends, and serve as the backdrop for the biggest day of your life. This is more than the venue you and I will book – this boils all the way down to deciding if a destination wedding is truly best suited for you. It’s not just about palm trees and ocean breezes. The decision to get married in Mexico adds a whole new level of preparation for both you and your guests. There are logistical considerations, travel costs and limitations, and, in some unfortunate cases, fear concerning international travel. There is nothing more heartbreaking than when a couple reaches out to me to start their planning and then have to cancel a few months later because of circumstances they didn’t consider.
Photo: Amanda K. Photography
Your family and friends will be a huge part of your day. Talk to them about your destination intentions before you start signing contracts, and take their concerns into consideration. Are they willing to travel to be a part of your day? Are they facing any personal matters that may make them unable to make the trip? And have they been educated about the area you are considering, ensuring they feel safe to travel and attend? While it’s ultimately your decision, you want to make sure that the people most important to you can make the trip. If everyone is on board, then it’s time to reach out to me!
Together, you and I will explore the venue options for ceremony and reception locations, as well as options for room rentals and spaces for rehearsal dinners, welcome receptions, and post-wedding day brunch. Once we evaluate availability and choose a venue that you’re in love with, we’ll set the date! Only after you have a date booked can you move forward with booking the other crucial details needed to complete your planning. That’s why it is so important to make your location decisions before any other detail of your day is arranged.
If you have the resources, I always recommend my couples to visit and tour the venue they selected so that they have a clear picture of the space. In taking the time for this trip, you will see exactly where things will be happening, have the opportunity to meet vendors, run hair and makeup trials, take beach engagement photos, have a cake or catering tasting, and start to get a clear picture of how perfect your wedding day will be.
Step 2: Book Key Vendors
Once you have your venue and date secured, the next step is to choose the key vendors whose services book the fastest – you photographer, DJ, and hair and makeup services.
Photo: Amanda K. Photography
These crucial vendors are in high demand and need to be selected as soon as you know your date. In most cases, these vendors are only able to serve one event per day. Unlike florists, caterers, and bakeries who can handle multiple weddings, your photographer, DJ, and stylists aren’t able to bounce from one venue to another. If you wait too long, you may find the vendor whose work you really admire has already booked your date and is no longer available.
I have an extensive list of vendors that I recommend – all of whom provide the absolute best in service and quality. Together, we can work to explore their portfolios and connect to discuss how they can be a part of your day.
Step 3: Consider your Invite List
When it comes to a guest list, many couples fall into the method of setting a number and then listing names until they reach that number. I firmly believe that you should begin planning your guest list by naming the individuals in your life who you can’t imagine your day without – not a number of guests that somehow seems ideal.
When you take away the pressure and expectation of hitting a number of attendees, you can focus on the people who will make your day special. If you end up with only a handful of people, you’ll know to plan for an intimate soirée. If your list rambles on (and everyone is able to attend), you’ll be able to plan for a bigger affair. Shifting your focus from numbers to names creates a more personal experience for you as you plan and ultimately results in a guest list that is meaningful.
Another, obvious benefit to defining your guest list as early as possible is that it will give you adequate time to communicate the details of your event to your guests. They’ll have plenty of time to make travel arrangements, and you will be able to collect RSVPs in a more timely fashion, making your planning easier and more streamlined.
You should aim to have all RSVPs finalized absolutely no later than three months prior to your wedding. (This includes meal choices and their participation in other events you may plan in the days surrounding your wedding, like receptions, brunches, and group activities.) Allow for plenty of time to tighten up details. With international travel a factor of your day, many of your guests will be planning well ahead of time and should be able to communicate their intentions with plenty of time to spare, giving you ample time to fine-tune every detail.
The Next Steps – Designing the Day
Once you have secured your venue, booked key vendors, and identified your guest list, you can start working on the fun part – designing the details and vibe of your wedding. From florists to rentals to archways, tabletop design, color palettes, bridal party selection, and everything in between, you have the world at your fingertips to create an authentic and uniquely-you event. Together, we’ll focus on highlighting the stunning elements of the tropical paradise that will serve as your backdrop, and we’ll focus on creating an experience that highlights your love story, your personalities, and your vision.
Photo: Amanda K. Photography
It’s so easy for couples to become overwhelmed as they approach their wedding planning, especially in the first few steps. By taking care of big picture, high-demand, and defining decisions, the process begins to take shape in a way that is guided by the couple’s goals. I provide all my couples with an extensive planning checklist that will spell out every detail of your to-do list, step-by-step, and our constant communication and partnership will help keep you on track. You’ll be confident that no detail goes unchecked, and your planning will feel more relaxed and more fun than you could have ever imagined.