Wedding To-Do List: 10 Things to Do First

bride and groom kiss
Photo: Wild Whim & Design Photography via HoneyFitz Events

1. Set a realistic wedding budget. “Absolutely everything that goes into the planning of your wedding will hinge on how much you can spend. Do you have family helping with some of the costs, or are you funding the celebration on your own? This is a crucial element to determine first and foremost as you begin your planning journey. Knowing your budget helps to determine what venues and vendors you can afford, how many guests you can invite, and what sort of décor you can incorporate. At the very least, it provides you with a foundation to work from as you set priorities and consider the wealth of options available to couples.”  —Alexandra Denniston, Owner & Lead Planner, Eventlightenment Planning

2. Find a seasoned wedding planner. “A seasoned wedding planner should be your first booking. He/she/they will guide you through the entire planning process from beginning to end. You can reap the most benefits of your working relationship by hiring them as early as possible in the planning process. Many have unadvertised venues in their arsenal and pre-negotiated rates with vendors, so the sooner you book, the sooner you save not only money but also stress.” —Nora Sheils, Bridal Bliss + Rock Paper Coin

wedding decor
Photo: Wild Whim & Design Photography via HoneyFitz Events

3. Secure your venue early. “It’s almost magical how things seem to fall into place once your venue has been booked. Your date is instantly set. You know how many guests will fit into the event space. You snag that preferred vendor list and can scope out nearby hotels for room blocks. The venue may even dictate the style or theme of your entire event! And since it also takes a healthy bite out of your overall wedding budget, it helps to have the venue nailed down ASAP so you know how much left you have to spend.” —Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

bride and groom walking
Photo: Move Mountains Photography via Infinite Events

4. Communicate the date to your bridal party. “Do not wait to send out Save the Dates! Make sure that people who are essential to your big day are pre-warned so that they can book in your date ASAP!” —Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, La Fête

5. Decide your wedding aesthetic. “Pick your vibe. Looking for small and intimate in your backyard? Or large and in a grand venue to accommodate everyone you know? Boho chic, effortless with all white, sleek and formal… so many options! Factor seasons into this decision-making process, too. Think through colors and what represents you both and how you want those reflected in your special day. Looking for compromise? Think about incorporating some colors during the rehearsal and other colors during the wedding. Win, win!” —Melissa Wilmot, Founder & CEO, WedBrilliant

wedding style
Photo: Wild Whim & Design Photography via HoneyFitz Events

6. Announce your wedding with your first stationery piece. “Once you’ve decided on and officially booked a date with your venue, it’s time to announce your wedding with your very first wedding stationery piece. Save the dates are the first tangible detail your family and friends will receive that will set the tone for your wedding right from the beginning. They’ll hang on fridges for 9-12 months leading up to your special day to not only excite guests for your wedding, but they also play a role in ensuring loved ones will have plenty of time to clear their calendars, request time off from work, and make any necessary travel arrangements. With so many weddings and events taking place over the next couple of years thanks to the wedding boom, sending save the dates are more important than ever. That way, once guests receive your formal invitation later down the line, it’s a no brainer they’ll be able to check off, “Heck yes!” on that RSVP card!” —Meghan Shaughnessy, Lace and Belle

wedding save the date
Photo: Lace and Belle

7. Get started booking the high-demand vendors. “Once you’ve locked in your venue, we like to start working on what we call the ‘one’ers.’ These are vendors that can only book one event/wedding in a day i.e., photographer, band, hair & makeup artist. Then, start thinking about your design and get it down on paper.” —Erica Trombetti, Infinite Events

8. Prioritize booking your photographer, entertainment, and rentals. “Photographers have limited availability. Put them high on the list of your pros to book! If you are booking an individual photographer rather than going through a studio, you will need to put down a deposit for your desired shooter ASAP. Photographers can only shoot one wedding a day, and some limit it to one a weekend so these vendors go quickly as well. Also, many limit the number of bookings they take in a calendar year so time is of the essence. Next up, remember that good entertainment goes fast. Once you have a date and a photographer, book a band or DJ that you love! Nationwide rentals have also been a struggle with the labor shortage. Rentals have had to be delivered several days prior to an event, and potentially picked up days after. Some venues may not allow it at all, while others will charge an arm and a leg. But if you book early and reserve the delivery/pick-up spots, you’re golden.” —Sheils

9. Book accommodations for your guests. “Think hotel room blocks, gathering a list of Airbnbs, etc. Once you have an idea of accommodations, you can start to think about transportation and if you want to provide it, and where you are going to provide it from.” —Trombetti

Photo: Move Mountains Photography via Infinite Events

10. Go on a date! “Yep, we said it. Don’t forget to take that one-on-one time for yourselves. There’s a lot going on, and sometimes the reasons why you’re getting married get swept up in the hectic planning process. Carve out time for yourselves as often as you can!” —Wilmot

bride drinking champagne
Photo: Victoria Carlson Photography via Bridal Bliss