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Where to Start When Planning a Wedding

Where to Start When Planning a Wedding

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely newly engaged, yay!!! First off, congratulations! This is such an exciting time in your life. Take some time, whether it’s a few days or a week, to fully soak it in and get used to hearing yourself say “fiancé” and wearing that new engagement ring.

As soon as you get engaged, you will start having a ton of questions thrown at you:
“When is the date?”
“Where will it be?”
“Have you booked any vendors?”

Honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming. You may be a total Type A bride who already has a meticulously curated Pinterest board for your wedding day or you could have NO idea where to start. Whichever category you fall into, once wedding planning is real, it can be confusing and nerve wracking to know what you should actually be doing first. 

Lucky for you, I am a wedding photographer who is honored to be a resource for my couples. In this blog, I am going to walk you through the highlights of planning your wedding. Think of it as a bulleted list of the “big items” to keep in mind while planning. Each wedding will have unique needs, but these are universal things that I would suggest each couple start with! 

Create a budget.

Before you do anything, and I mean anything, you need to figure out your budget. I know, I know – it’s not as glamorous as selecting your wedding dress or choosing your dream wedding venue, but you really can’t make any of those decisions until your budget is set! Whether you and your fiancé are fully funding your wedding or you have outside help, you’ll want to do research on what each vendor will potentially cost you. From there, make a realistic budget for your big day. Make a list of your non-negotiables for your wedding day. For example, if you know that you have a dream wedding photographer and photos are the MOST important item to you, then you may be okay with holding off on the venue catered late night snack.

Figure out the vibe of your wedding.

Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to figure out the overall vibe of your wedding! I suggest heading to Pinterest and starting a wedding board if you haven’t already. Think about what season you want to get married in and search for inspo. Get a feel for colors you like and the theme you want.  Is it black tie at a crystal ballroom or is it boho on a beach? Dream big and play around with your options. This is the other fun part!! Just get a feel for what you like! 

Note the differences between this sleek, downtown wedding and this romantic, rural wedding.

Tour venues.

Next, I suggest touring venues. The venue really sets the vibe for your big day. A downtown hotel venue will be a very different wedding than a countryside barn wedding! I suggest picking two or three venues that you really like and inquire with them about pricing and booking a tour. See what their bridal and groom’s quarters look like, what their reception area looks like, and see their ceremony space. You’ll also be able to see what dates these venues have available, which can help narrow down your wedding date. I suggest booking your venue as your first wedding vendor! That will then help decide the rest of your wedding vendors, because you’ll now have a wedding date and location nailed down when you talk to potential vendors. The venue will also likely be the largest part of your budget, so you’ll know what you have left to work with! 

Book photographer and caterer.

The next vendors that I would look into will be your wedding photographer and caterer. These will likely be your next largest budget items  as well as the vendors who will be booking out the furthest! I suggest reaching out to 2-3 photographers and caterers. Make sure you love the photographer’s style and then look at their services, packages, and reviews. Remember it’s more than just pricing! What you pay for is what you get! Same with the caterer;  research thoroughly and then schedule your food tastings. 

Find the perfect dress!

Now it’s time to shop for your wedding dress!  WOOO!! This is such an amazing moment so take it in!! If you have a bridal boutique near you, I suggest calling and setting up an appointment because local places will likely require appointments versus chain stores. I suggest making a few different appointments and making sure to coordinate the date with your loved ones. Before you officially purchase a gown, make sure to ask how long the gown will take to arrive and how long the shop needs for alterations, so you can factor that into your decision.

Schedule your engagement session.

Next, it’s time to put your photographer to work! You want to make sure you schedule this date with your photographer right after you book them so you have a timeline for when you’ll get the photos back! Most couples like to use their engagement photos for their Save the Dates, so make sure to ask your photographer what the turnaround time for photos is. 

Then go ahead and book that engagement session!! Soak up all the fun of being in love with your best friend. **Bonus tip, you could even do your wedding make up trial on this day to have professional makeup done for your engagement photos! 

Order Save the Dates.

Once you get your photos back, pick a few favorites and order your Save the Dates! Hint: a great budget friendly option is to create a design in Canva or purchase a template from Etsy. Then you can print the Save the Dates through a local printer or an online company like Vistaprint. This can definitely save you money! 

Whew, now it’s time to take a breather! Wedding planning is fun but it can also be time consuming and overwhelming. But girl don’t sweat it! You got this! Now you have your wedding venue, your dream dress, your first few vendors, and your Save the Dates!! 

Book remaining vendors.

About 4 months before your wedding I suggest booking your DJ, florist, baker, and look into hiring a “month of” wedding planner. By this point you have a good idea of what you want your wedding vibe to be, which helps your florist, baker, and wedding planner! Having a planner to help the month of your wedding can be such a relief, as they will help with all of the last minute things that will pop up with vendors, the venue, and the wedding day. 

Send invitations to the big day!

I suggest ordering your official wedding invitations 3 months before your wedding date and getting them in the mail 2 months before. This gives your guests enough time to RSVP so you’ll have final numbers for your caterer and venue before your wedding date. Around this time, you can also plan your bridal shower and bachelorette party too! 

Okay so what are you waiting for?? Time to put together the wedding of your dreams and marry your person!!!

Oh! And don’t forget to swing by for more wedding wisdom along the way. Check out “The Top 3 Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer.”

Much Love Always,
Syl Santos


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Send me an email or fill out the form below!

Get In Touch

Thank you for reaching out!

I'll be in touch soon!

while you wait, check out my blog:

to the blog >>

Sylvia Santos Photography

Sylvia Santos Photography | Florida Photographer

ALl images copyright sylvia santos 2022 | design by Kellianne Jordan
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