Did you know that the global wedding industry is over a $300 billion market? That’s right: $300 billion. And it only takes a few weeks of planning for any couple to be overwhelmed by the options, complexities, and cost of planning a wedding. It can feel near impossible to stay on task and on budget with so many products and services promising to make your day special. But how do you plan a wedding with intention? And create a meaningful day that focuses on the right things?
As some of you know, I’m getting married next May and we’ve been planning our wedding since we got engaged at the end of June 2017. While I wasn’t the type of girl who planned her wedding when she was little, I had some rough ideas in mind and was really excited to start planning. I love entertaining and it seemed like the wedding would just be one big party for friends and family.
Once we got into planning, though, I couldn’t believe how many distractions there were. It seemed like everywhere I looked there was another thing to buy or change. And when I looked at them closely, I realized that many would detract from our vision for the day. It got me thinking that maybe other couples are going through the same thing: trying to stay focused amidst the distractions. And ultimately trying to plan a meaningful day that’s all about the right things.
With that in mind, today’s post shares some of my advice about planning your wedding with intention.
Reflect on What Has Meaning to You
First, both you and your partner should spend some time reflecting on what a meaningful wedding looks like. What would make it a special day for each of you? Some questions to consider:
- Relationship: What are the pillars of your relationship? Which values do you share? What are some of your most meaningful memories as a couple? What types of things do you enjoy doing together?
- Culture and Tradition: What is your cultural and religious upbringing? Which family traditions have stuck with you? Are there any belief systems or rituals you hold dear?
- Personality: What is your personality like as an individual and as a couple? What types of events do you enjoy attending? For example, are you more into low key nights in or glam parties?
- Wedding: Based on the above, what type of wedding do you envision? What sticks out in your vision?
Your answers will tell you a lot about the type of people you are as individuals and as a couple. And they will shed some light on the type of wedding that will be most meaningful to you.
As a Couple, Align on Your Vision
Next, spend some time together discussing what you came up with. In which areas are you on the same page? Those are quick things to align on. Write those down and look to incorporate them into your plans.
Are there areas you disagree about? Don’t worry! Dig deeper to uncover why they have meaning to you and discuss opportunities to achieve that in a different way. For example, let’s say you each have a different idea of how to involve your families in the ceremony. While you may have different beliefs about how to involve them, you both agree that you would like them to be involved. Now, you’re on the same page with your objective and it’s a matter of coming up with how to execute on it.
Plan the Big Stuff First
My advice to any couple planning a wedding is to prioritize the “big” stuff. By this I mean choosing a wedding date, alining on a high level guest list, and booking a venue, along with any other expensive or critical vendors.
Choosing a Date
First, you’ll want to decide what time of year you’d like to get married. This may be impacted by school or work schedules, any planned trips, and the schedules of your VIP guests. You’ll also want to consider whether your vision is of an outdoor wedding. Keep in mind that May-October is peak season for weddings which means costs are higher. And if you’re planning a destination wedding, the weather and seasonality of your destination will need to be taken into account.
In our case, we settled on a Spring time frame. We wanted to be able to have the wedding outdoors (weather permitting!) but wanted to avoid summer since it could be too hot and it would mean our honeymoon in Greece would fall in the busier, more expensive tourist season. May and June were also the best for my fiancé in terms of his work schedule.
Second, give thought to the day of the week you’d like to get married. Many Jewish weddings are typically held on Sundays, for example, while it seems to be more traditional for Christian weddings to take place on Saturdays. You may also find that you can get discounted rates at certain venues (and with certain vendors!) if you get married on a day other than a Saturday or long weekend Sunday.
We chose a Saturday wedding since we knew anywhere we chose would involve travel and a hotel stay for some guests, and didn’t want them to have to take time off work to attend.
Third, consider holidays and long weekends. We wanted to avoid Mother’s Day and Father’s Day weekends as to not detract from them when we become parents. This also gave our guests the ability to celebrate those holidays with their moms, dads, and kids. We also chose to avoid the Victoria Day long weekend (in Canada) as we thought people may want to go away that weekend or have other plans that would take full advantage of having the extra day off.
Aligning on a Guest List
After discussing your vision for the big day, you’ll probably have a sense of how big a wedding you’d like and who the most important guests would be. Draft up a rough guest list to get a sense of numbers. This doesn’t have to be final, but will give you a sense of what type of venue would work best. For example, your 500-person guest list simply won’t work in a 100-person capacity barn.
We netted out at around 100 people, and this knowledge helped guide us as we browsed potential venues online.
Booking a Venue and Other Critical Vendors
Your venue will drive much of the vibe (and cost!) of your wedding, so choose it wisely. Consider the type of wedding you’d like and what type of venue will help you achieve that vision. Contact potential venues to go for tours so that you can get a good sense of the space. Ask about availability during your ideal dates. Since your venue will likely be your biggest expense and drives many other decisions, I’d recommend booking it as soon as you’ve chosen it with your partner.
If there are other vendors that are costly, book up quickly, or are really important to you, book those early too. For example, our photographer was our next most expensive vendor and once we found one we liked, we booked her right away.
Fill in the Gaps and Check in Regularly
Once your key vendors are booked, it’s time to book remaining vendors and get into full planning mode. As you work through your to do list, check in regularly with your vision and objectives to make sure you’re staying focused and aligned. With every potential purchase, ask yourself whether the product or service contributes to your vision. If it does, do a quick cost-benefit analysis to see what it will cost and what benefit it will bring.
When it comes to planning, I’d highly recommend following a something like The Knot’s Wedding Checklist and Truly Engaging’s Wedding Planning Checklist to make sure you’re getting everything done in the right time frames. Those are the two resources I’m using personally to stay op top of things.
Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, but having a clear vision and staying true to it will ensure your day is meaningful. Keep these steps in mind and take an intentional approach, and you’ll find it much easier!
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