20 Twenties Tweaks: #19 - How to Plan a Wedding / Get Married
Once you’ve proposed (here’s how I suggest going about that) then you’ve actually got to get married. It won’t be very long before you’ll be asked “Have you set a date?” more often than “How did he propose?” so once you’ve relaxed and started celebrating the engagement (pro tip: every party’s an engagement party when you’re engaged), then you’re ready to take the next step.
Decide how big of a wedding you want. Start with your ideal wedding invitation list (or the budget). Open an excel sheet and start putting names into tiers. Tier 1 are the absolute musts (immediate family, wedding party, best friends), Tier 2 are the bulk or the invite list you’d want to have (extended family, good friends), and Tier 3 are the people you’d love to have if possible. That’ll help you figure out how big a wedding you want (small <100; medium <150; large >150).
Then the next thing to determine is which is more important to you: the date or the location. Some locations will only be available certain dates. You need to decide which you’re willing to be flexible about and if it an accommodate your ideal wedding size. Of course the budget needs to be taken into account from the beginning, as that can dictate location/numbers more than anything else.
Once you have a date/location, you need to book your vendors: catering/food, bartenders/bar, transportation, DJ/band/music, flowers, photography, hair/makeup. If you fall in love with a certain vendor but they aren’t available for your date, does that change your date?
Having a wedding is like throwing a party - you really only need to have the right people, food, booze, and music. When that all comes together in harmony with the location, you’re having a good wedding.
Think about the weddings you’ve been to together. What did you like or not like about it? The flow, the set up, the ceremony, the speeches, the dancing, the band, the bar, the invites, etc - everything is up for discussion. Start planning first with what’s the most important for you and go from there. You’ll have to pick your battles, because you won’t win all of them.
If you care the most about the bar, you may have to be more flexible on the food. If you care more about the table setting, you may have to be more flexible about the flowers. Prioritize in your planning and hand over some details to your planner/family/helpers.
Once you have enough vendors committed, the venue booked, and the date locked in, work on your wedding website (a must! use what’s free online to build out the basics) and save the dates. Anytime within a year of the wedding is fine to send it out.
If you’re not feeling as creative as you feel your invite should be, turn to Etsy - there’s lot of reasonably priced help out there willing to take the lead for you. Do an engagement photo shoot, you’re only engaged this once and you’ll be glad for the photos (and practice for being comfortable in front of a wedding photographer).
Get the Save the Dates out, then move forward on the other details - like the wedding dress, tux (easy to organize for a larger wedding party) or suits (more complicated, sometimes more expensive), and other details about the event (like holding room blocks at nearby hotels for guests, planning the bus route if you’re doing transportation).
Start working on the formal invitations. They’ll be more expensive, have more details to finalize on them, and likely feel more important. Make them feel representative of the vibe and feel of you and your wedding. Get them ordered and send them out 3 months in advance of the date and require RSVPs 1-2 months in advance of the date, as you’ll need final numbers for the vendors, venue seating, and transportation plans.
[At the same time as all of this, plan your honeymoon too - don’t forget that!)
As you get closer you’ll need to finalize a wedding ceremony script with your officiant and the wedding weekend itinerary with your planner/guests. For the script, if one is provided that you’re comfortable with then great! If not, look online for sample scripts and cut and paste them together to make something work for the two of you. Take an entire weekend 2 months before the wedding to work on this - it should be meaningful coming from you.
Once you’re there and everything is in motion, there’s nothing for you to worry about but to be present in the moment and try to remember everything. It feels like you’re stepping on to a moving conveyor belt that’s going to take you through the entire weekend. You’ll need to stop and look around and take it in and enjoy it.
Done right, your wedding day can be the best day of your life and certainly one of the best parties for you and all of your family and friends. No pressure, just something to look forward to. I wish you all the best.
*I’m posting daily one hack/tweak I’ve discovered and integrated into my life during the last decade as I lead up to my 30th birthday on the 28th. Here’s all of the #20sTweaks so far.