All too often, couples who have planned out their weddings for years, become overwhelmed with details, flower choices, and finicky family members. Instead of resenting the hours of planning, check out our step by step guide for a stress free experience.

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Step 1: Do Your Research

One of the first things a bride-to-be should do is start getting a feel for what the wedding scene really looks like. Sure we’ve all planned our perfect wedding via Pinterest, but now we need to start talking reality. Start by inquiring about dates, seasons, colors, and most of all – the budget! Instead of deciding on an arbitrary figure that is well suited for your bank account, you really need to know what things cost. Begin your search by looking for your wedding must haves, then decide which things you can compromise on. Having a clear idea of what things cost, and what you can sacrifice will help you create a budget that you will actually stick to, saving you from worries down the road.

Step 2: Keep Track of Your Vendors

Naturally in the process you will talk to all sorts of vendors.  To keep things organized, start a list when you start making calls. Even if you haven’t finalized your vendors, it might be a good idea to keep a list of people that you are sure you want to work with, and others that you have already inquired about and ruled out. When you do have your vendors decided,  keep a list of all their information – phone numbers, addresses, deadlines for payment, and how much has been paid/ owed. You should even consider having a wedding only calendar to keep track. This will keep you from stressing out and recalculating your bank accounts every time a vendor phones to ask where the payment is or missing any important cake tasting appointments. 

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Step 3: Pick Your Team

One of the best pieces of advice when planning a wedding – choose a great bridal party. Bridesmaids can literally make or break the wedding planning process. Have a clear idea of what you are expecting from your girls (or boys!) before you ask them, so that they don’t fail to meet this standard. Do you just want them to buy the dress and show up, or are you looking for a support team that will hold your hand at every vendor meeting? Also have an idea of the costs that the bridal party will be dishing out.  Dresses, shoes, matching accessories can add up, and what about a bridal shower or a bachelorette party – who will be covering expenses and planning those occasions? Keeping both time and finances in mind will help you pick a bridal party that is more suitable to help plan a wedding. 

Step 4: Make a Timeline

Not all wedding details need to be hashed out the second you get engaged. Sure big ticket items like a wedding date and the venue should be decided far in advanced, but beyond that, you get to decide the timeline. Try to spread out your planning so that it never becomes overwhelming. Make a list of all of the things that you will need – dress, caterer, dj, lighting, décor, flowers, etc. then set up a rough schedule. Your dress for example, should be one of your early decisions so that you have plenty of time for extra fittings, whereas your jewelery can be a little last month fun. Having a list from the start will not only help you from getting too overwhelmed, it will also ensure that your bank account isn’t hit too hard at any one time.

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Step 5: Delegate

Simply put, you don’t have to take care of every detail. Put your maid of honor in charge of the bridal party for example, allowing you to be a guest and actually enjoy the festivities. You don’t have to rely on just your bridesmaids either. Family members, other friends, and even your groom can help take stress off your planning. Your groom can surely pick out his own tux and shoes. Removing even one errand from your mile long to-do list is sure to help put your mind at ease.

Step 6: Pick your Battles

In event planning, something almost always goes wrong, even for the most meticulously prepared planner. Have this in mind from the very start, and don’t ever let something small drag you down. If the cake you ordered has chocolate icing instead of ganache, it won’t ruin your marriage, so know when to fight for something, and when to just let it go. Your caterer having the guest count wrong is worthy of a fight, but the place cards being on the wrong side of the wine glasses, you won’t remember in the long run. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Step 7: Take Time for Your Relationship

When things are getting really stressful (the venue double booked for your big day, your dress isn’t fitting quite right) take a step back to think about the real reason you are getting married – the groom. Put your temporary event planning career on hold. No phone calls, no looking at stationary, and no overanalyzing your decision to go with roses over peonies. You could even plan a little weekend getaway. A nice massage and a relaxing weekend with your man is sure to reinvigorate your wedding planning spirit.

Step 8: Have a Week Of List

When all the planning is said and done, make yourself a list of all the things that you will need to get done in the days leading up to the wedding. Maybe you need to pick up your dress or send the caterer a finalized guest count. Have these last minute details scheduled and planned ahead of time, so that you aren’t freaking out at the last minute. Getting everything ready a few days in advanced also gives you time to work out any problems that might pop up.  The day of you can be relaxed and ready, knowing that everything is already taken care of. 

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Step 9: Hire a Wedding Planner

If you know you are prone to stress, don’t even bother – hire a wedding planner to take care of your big day for you. You can sweep in to pick out colors or cake, without being bogged down with phone calls and negotiations. You can hire wedding planners for the entire process, or even just a month of or day of coordinator to help in those last crucial moments.