Wedding Planning 101: First Steps

If you’re newly engaged, first off, CONGRATULATIONS!!! I couldn’t be more excited for you — your wedding day is sure to be one of the most memorable and wonderful days of your life, and that is definitely reason to celebrate! I remember being in your shoes about seven years ago, and of course everyone was so happy for us. But then came the questions. When’s the big day? Where are you getting married? Who’s in your wedding party? Have you found a dress? Umm…no, we literally got engaged 5 minutes ago, but I quickly realized that I was staring down the monumental task of planning the biggest, most elegant party I ever had…and probably ever would. Wow…talk about overwhelming! But somehow I figured it out, our wedding was everything I’d ever dreamed it would be, and I’d do that day all over again a million times over (if only I had access to unlimited funds)! If you’re feeling anything like I did in those first few weeks after getting engaged, never fear! Gwen Wilson, owner and founder of Nuptiae: The Wedding and Event Planners, has graciously agreed to join us and share some great advice for how to get started! Read on….



Engagement RingJust engaged?  Where to begin?

The proposal was perfect, the ring more beautiful than you imagined and you are already dreaming of walking down the aisle and the great party afterward.  The only problem is figuring out what to do between now and then.  How do you get from the excitement of your groom slipping the ring on your finger to waving goodbye to your guests on the way to the honeymoon of your dreams without losing your sanity, or making the people around you crazy? Here’s my advice for taking the stress from the process.

If you can afford to hire a planner and your wedding is likely to involve many guests and wedding service vendors or will be outdoors in a challenging location it can be money very well spent.  From making plans, to coordination and implementation of those plans, a planner can do much of the work for you and guide you through the many decisions you’ll be making.  We can also help you locate vendors known for excellent work and for those who fit into your budget.

If you cannot afford a wedding planner to help guide you through the myriad details of planning, the best place to begin is by figuring out what the total budget for your wedding will be.  If one or both sets of parents will be helping with the costs take the time for you and your fiancé to sit down with your parents alone so they feel free to speak about finances.  It is very important to understand what they are willing to provide up front so you don’t have any surprises later (when we said we’d pay for the alcohol we meant a champagne toast, not an open bar…).

Once you have a dollar amount in mind you can start to decide how to divide the budget among the categories you’ll be spending on.  Deciding how many guests to invite will likely have a big impact on the cost unless it is a very small wedding.   Knowing the per person cost for providing food and beverages for your guests will help you to see if you have to trim the guest list to fit your budget.  From there shop around to find the items you want that are in your price range.  Be sure to set priorities about what is important to you and your groom.  If some items turn out not to be important to either of you and won’t make a difference to the comfort of your guests then think about doing without and spending more on the things that are important.

Once you know what you have to spend on your wedding start interviewing vendors and visiting venues.  Try to get an idea up front what range vendors offer services in to avoid falling in love with a  great reception location or a photographer only to find out they don’t fit into your budget.

Take time to think about each step before moving forward.  Trust your first impressions, and don’t forget to talk to your groom. He may surprise you and want to be involved the planning too!



Gwen Wilson founded Nuptiae: The Wedding and Event Planners, a full-service wedding and event management company, in 2003. Prior to forming Nuptiae, Ms. Wilson worked as a wedding coordinator in Champaign, Illinois. Over the years, she has established strong connections to many area vendors, who offer a wide range of wedding and event-related services. Past Nuptiae clients say Ms. Wilson’s organizational and planning skills, as well as her attention to detail created beautiful and memorable events. Her experience includes everything from small, family-only ceremonies to large, destination weddings.

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