A wedding that runs smoothly from beginning to end doesn't just happen without a great deal of work and planning. Most brides find planning their wedding a bit daunting as there are so many details and elements to consider, but if you are organized and delegate you are guaranteed to enjoy your engagement and big day!
Don't panic - get started! Needless to say... the earlier you make arrangements, the better the chance you have of being able to book the best reception venues, photographers, florists and so on.
Do you want a Spring Wedding, Winter or Fall? You may have to be flexible and have other dates and ideas ready in case venues and services are already booked. If some arrangements don't go as planned don't let them overshadow what will still be a wonderful day.
Deciding how much you can afford to spend on your wedding is key. Be realistic...the average cost of a traditional wedding today (not including Honeymoon and Rings) can cost anywhere between $19,000 to $35,000+. So once you have set your budget, put it on paper and stick to it. Don't forget to add a safety net for unforeseen costs. To cut costs focus on the things that matter the most...location of ceremony reception and what is important to assure your guests will have a wonderful time and feel well looked after! Ask people to contribute in some way towards the wedding rather than giving a present...a friend who loves to cook to make a cake, an aunt who is great with flowers, a cousin who is great with a camera or camcorder! Make sure you get a written quotes and read them carefully, including small print! Watch for hidden cost or extra charges for example; additional staff or delivery charges. Use your common sense; if a quote looks unusually low, ask yourself why!
Think of your wedding as a whole and make sure that all the elements complement each other. Sometimes keeping it simple can be a stylish choice! Finding the right venue is key. Do you want a day or weekend event where friends and family celebrate? Formal or Casual? Sit Down, Buffet or Substantial Canapes? Church Ceremony or an "All in One" location?
The size of your guest list is usually dictated by your budget. Once you've set the maximum head count, don't be tempted to exceed it. It is vital not to overstretch yourselves financially - a wedding that leaves you financially compromised isn't a good start to a marriage! Remember that going to a wedding can be expensive for guests and that entertaining them well is the main function of the reception. Also the guests have come to see you, so if possible don't invite so many guests that you won't be able to speak, at least briefly, to all of them during the day.
While it is very easy to let the plans overwhelm, it is important to remember that getting married is about two people who love each other and want to commit to each other. Organizing your wedding should be enjoyable, not a burden. Truly happy weddings are rarely the ones which have the most money thrown at them. The spirit of the day and the people that share it are more important than dollars and cents!
For more advice and for some wonderful books full of ideas we love Ryland Peters and Small.