If you are newly engaged and wonder how to start planning a wedding, this guide is for you. It is not a guide that will go into detail regarding every little thing you have to plan. No, this is a beginners guide to starting your wedding planning. Read on to learn more about how to set a budget for your wedding and start planning your wedding.
How to Start Planning a Wedding Step-by-Step
- Set a budget
- Decide on the guest list
- Book a venue
- Get inspiration
- Finalise everything
First things first: Do you want a big or small wedding?
Size matters; at least when it comes to planning a wedding.
Either you can start with your budget and then decide on the guest list, or finalise the guest list first and then set the budget. Either way, these two points go very hand-in-hand. A lot of the prices you will be calculating will depend on the number of people who will be attending your wedding.
It is not as straight-forward as saying that a small wedding is cheap and a big wedding is expensive, but it is a starting point. If you are looking for a budget wedding, you should definitely consider having a small guest list.
Before you start contacting any vendors or ask for quotes, ask yourself this: “Do we want a small or big wedding?“. Naturally, it is up to you to decide what you consider a small wedding and not. This might depend on the size of your family, your cultural background, your religion etc.
Once you have an idea of what the general size of your wedding will be like, jump into the specifics of setting a wedding budget and choosing a wedding guest list.
1. Set a budget
In case you didn’t already know: Weddings are expensive. As in, very expensive. The average UK wedding costs £25.000. The average Malta wedding costs €19.000 or more. And, of course, you will find wedding costing from £/€50.000 up to £/€100.000 or more. Weddings are expensive.
I don’t mean to scare you, but to simply make you think realistically when setting a budget. Sure, it is possible to have a €500 wedding, but then you have to be really smart about every choice you make. Once you have set your budget – whether you want a €1000 wedding or a €500.000 wedding – you can start to plan and prioritise.
Setting a budget has two main parts:
- Decide on the amount of money you want to spend
- Decide on how you want to spend that money
Let’s say you want to spend €5000 on your wedding. Then, naturally, you won’t be able to splurge €2500 on a wedding dress as there would simply not be enough for the rest. Think about what is important to you, and divide the money into the different sections.
If you want to spend a lot of money on a great photographer because you want beautiful photos to remember for the rest of your life, go for it. But if you don’t really care much about the photos but instead want to wear a designer gown, get someone you know or a student to be the wedding photographer and splurge on that dress. Where you want to spend and where you want to save is up to you.
2. Decide on the guest list
As I mentioned above, the budget and the guest list go hand-in-hand. Deciding on a guest list early is important for a lot of reasons, including the fact that you can:
- Get quotes from vendors early on – venue, catering, bar etc will ask how many guests you will be having
- Send out your RSVP and/or invitations early on, giving the guests time to plan
- Start budgeting for an exact number of people early on
So now that you know some benefits, let’s look at the difficult part: actually narrowing down the guest list. This can be a tricky part, especially if you are planning a budget wedding, as you need to make some choices. There are several ways to make the call, so I will go through some different ways on how to decide who to invite to your wedding (and not).
Tips on how to Decide on your Wedding Guest List
Start with the “must-have guests” and move downwards
This is how my fiancé and I narrowed down our guest-list. We started from the top and wrote down our “must-have guests” (close family and maid/man of honour). Then we wrote a new list of our friends/family we really wanted to have there. And finally, we wrote down some people in our lives whom it would be nice to have there, but that we aren’t that close with anymore. Basically, we ended up removing all of those “third-level” names from the list.
Invite people who are part of your present and future
When starting to think about your close ones, it is normal that has been part of your past comes to mind. It might be a friend you used to hang out with all the time in high school or a family member who was a big part of your life when you were young. Even though it can sound nice (and maybe compulsory) to invite them, you shouldn’t do it blindly. Even though these people have been part of your past, the important question is if they are a part of your current life (are you still in contact with them?) and if they will be part of your future.
Only invite people you both know
This is a tip that I heard from a podcast that, even though we didn’t end up implementing, I think is really clever. Especially if you are living abroad or have friends/family living abroad, there is a big chance your significant other haven’t met them. This can then be a good idea when planning a destination wedding. Since the day is about you two as a couple, an idea can be only to invite people who have met the both of you – together.
Only invite +1s you know
Similar to above, this is an idea you can use to decide if people should be allowed to bring +1s or not. If a lot of your friends and family have someone to bring, that can quickly increase the guest list count. Therefore, you can limit the invite to only including people you have met in person (for example). That way, you won’t invite anyone to your wedding whom you haven’t met before.
3. Book a venue
One of the most important things I have learned so far is that the first thing you should book for your wedding, is the wedding venue. Having the venue as a starting point will make the rest of the planning a lot easier.
Once you have the venue you will be able to answer questions like:
- When is my wedding going to be? (date and time)
- Do I need catering or do I get food from the venue?
- Do I need to bring things like chairs, cutlery, glasses etc?
A big mistake a lot of couples make is that they set on a date first, and then start looking for a venue. Instead, you should start looking for venues (with some dates/months in mind) and see what you like and when they are available.
When talking to other vendors, one of the first things they will ask you is the date and venue. So once you have that sorted, you will be able to start booking other services you might need.
In addition, your wedding venue will probably be a large part of your budget. This is especially if catering and alcohol is handled by the venue. So it is good to have those prices set early on.
4. Get inspiration
Even though you might think that inspiration should be step 1 and that you should go straight to Pinterest after getting engaged (I know I am guilty of this), it can also be a trap.
Of course, you can have a browse online and check out some magazines right away, but it is a lot better once you actually have a budget set. Then you can start to look around for inspiration for your exact budget range and also get an idea of what you will afford to include (and not).
So once you have the main parts of your planning sorted, you can start to get lost in the many inspirational outlets out there:
Not only will you learn a lot from other people’s weddings and ideas, but you can also start to get an idea of all the “little things” that needs planning.
5. Finalise everything
I have decided to call the final step “finalise everything”, basically meaning there is still a lot left. I know we are more than 1000 words into this guide, but I could have written 10 000 more. Sorry to disappoint you, but planning a wedding has a lot more than five steps.
Once you’ve made some of the “biggest” choices (budget, guests and venue) there will still be a lot of things left to decide. An important first is, of course, the food. Then you have your outfits, your theme, photographer/videographer, flowers, stationary etc. But as we haven’t fully started any of our planning yet, I will get back to these points (and more) later.
The good thing is that once you have set your wedding budget and guest list, it will be so much easier to calculate everything.
Planning a Wedding FAQ
How much does a wedding cost?
The cost of a wedding will depend on what kind of wedding you want. A budget wedding can be done for under €1000, but the average wedding will cost more than €15.000.
How long does it take to plan a wedding?
It is normal to spend a year on wedding planning. You can plan a wedding in 6 months or less, but vendors might already be booked by then. Try off-season months or a weekday if you are short on time (and/or money).
How can I plan a budget wedding?
The most important thing is to set a budget as soon as possible and to plan well from the very start. If you want a budget wedding, you should consider not inviting too many guests.
What is the first step in planning a wedding?
Start by setting a wedding budget before planning any of the details of your wedding.