Top 5 for The Wedding Planning Newbie

The champagne has been popped. The FB status update has been made. The engagement story has been told and retold. And now? It’s time to get down to business.

Your outlook can go from super pumped to obnoxiously overwhelmed pretty quickly after diving into the world of wedding planning. So many options, so many lists, so many conflicting opinions, so many rules, so many rules for breaking the rules…you get the idea.

Here are your Top 5 for the wedding planning newbie:

1) Know thyself:  Engagement rings aren’t magical. (Well, maybe figuratively, but I’m talking literal here.) If you were a hot disorganized mess before, being engaged isn’t going to change that. If you were an impulse-buying budget buster before, being engaged isn’t going to change that. Hopefully, you see where I’m going here.

Planning a wedding doesn’t magically give you skills you never had to begin with – it isn’t going to change your base personality, general habits, or natural talents. To thine own self be true! Know your weakness and make considerations from the get go. Wedding planning is stressful enough, don’t make it harder by trying to reinvent yourself in the processes. If you can’t stick to a budget to save your life, elect someone to impose some tough love checks and balances in your life. If being super organized is something you gave up on a long time ago, consider hiring a wedding planner or tap your most organized friend to be in charge of the paperwork and deadlines.

2) Your Top 3s:  This is the #1 piece of advice I give to my clients (and strangers). Before you even go down the wedding planning road, sit down with your significant other, and a bottle of wine, and talk about what’s really (and I mean REALLY) important to the both of you when it comes to your wedding.

Get specific. This isn’t a trick question – there are NO wrong answers. It could be getting to invite everyone you’ve known since childhood. It could be to have a jaw-dropping venue. It could be to have Christian Siriano gown. It could be to spend as little money as possible on this wedding so you can have an amazing honeymoon. Whatever your hears desire.

Then, narrow your desires down to the top three specific aspects that are THE most important to you two. Yes, only three (any more and you’ll have too many opposing priorities), so you may have to compromise (get used to it – that’s marriage). Take your Top 3 List and post it on the fridge, plaster it on the front of your planning binder, make it the wallpaper on your phone – put it everywhere so you can easily refer to it when you’re in the thick of planning and having trouble making decisions. For any issue, ask yourself, “Does this serve one of our Top 3s?” It will make your decision making process very, very, easy.

3) Ask the RIGHT budget question:  So many people ask me, “How much does a wedding cost?” That is soooo the wrong question. Sure, I could tell you what the “average” cost of an “average” wedding is nationwide, or even in your local area. But, that number is downright arbitrary – and not just due to the vast amount of varying factors that determine how much the “average” couple’s wedding costs. (Please note my excessive use of quotation marks around the word “average”.)

The question you REALLY need to ask, and the number that actually matters, is, “How much money do we have to spend on our wedding?” Don’t add an extra layer of stress on yourselves by trying to figure out how which hole you’re going to try and pull money out of. Your time and energy are much more positively spent figuring out how to make the best use of the money you DO have at your disposal. I’m not gonna lie, you may have to revamp your ideas and expectations for what your wedding day is going to look like (not always a bad thing!). Trying to celebrate above your means leads to nothing but stress, bitterness, and resentment – all very not-so-pretty-looks for a couple who’s supposed to be celebrating one of the most joyous and important moments in their lives.

(I also want to note here that the bulk of what you’re paying for is the celebration, not the actual wedding. A very important distinction to keep in mind.)

4) Think outside the wedding aisle:  You’ll hear me come back to this concept again and again and again. If you’re looking for creative inspiration or ways to make your wedding more personalized and unique, stop gravitating toward the “wedding aisle”. I mean this both figuratively and literally.

Try to refrain from always starting with online searches involving the word “wedding” – search for inspiration with a more open-minded, lifestyle approach. What sort of themes do you gravitate toward in everyday life? What colors make up your dream living room? How do you like to spend your free time as a couple? These are the place to find real inspiration.

If you find yourself in a store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby on a mission for wedding décor and special touches, LITERALLY get your butt outside of the wedding aisle! Browse the whole store (and stores that don’t have wedding aisles) for things that make your heart sing. Signage, décor, favors, stationary, accessories, all of it – look for the expected in unexpected places and you’ll end up with a wedding that couldn’t possibly be anyone else’s but yours!

5) Take all wedding planning advice (including mine) with a grain of salt:  Yep, you read that right. As much as I’d love to sit here and tell you all about how my perspective is the most insightful and on point, the truth is that every couple and situation is different. What is a perfect path for one, may be disastrous for another.

There is no one “holy bible” of wedding planning or one infallible planner with all the answers. If you’re at a crossroads and looking for direction, seek out different perspectives and then go with your gut. It’s ok to follow someone’s advice to the letter on one topic and then totally choose a different direction on another.

Take this Top 5 and keep it in your back pocket as start to navigate the crazy world of weddings. Don’t let yourself get too far down the rabbit hole too fast – one step at a time is the perfect pace for now!

Happy Planning!