The time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day is the top engagement period. The most popular days for engagement are: #1: Valentine’s Day; #2: Thanksgiving; #3: Christmas; #4: New Year’s Eve. And January is the top month for wedding planning.
Your wedding date is the most important day of your life with a gazillion details. But where do start?
With so many couples now getting engaged, here’s five suggestions on what to do.
1. Start Your Wedding Binder
Staying organized when planning your wedding can be tough, and unless you’ve hired a wedding planner (something I definitely recommend that you consider) to plan your big day from start to finish, one item you’re going to need is a wedding binder. This will help you manage your lists, thoughts, vendors and the many other details. The nice thing is that you can buy beautiful, pre-made wedding binders. Of course, you can make your own.
2. Set a Date
One of the first things you’ll want to do is set your wedding date. There are certainly challenges in getting a date that will work for everyone but the further out you set your date, the more advance notice you can give to those friends and family members who must attend. I recommend setting your wedding date a year in advance.
Money saving tip: Here is a date-related recommendation for saving money. Keep in mind that January through March is generally off-season wedding months in many parts of the country. Having your wedding during this time can save you serious money.
3. Build Your Budget
Like any major expenditure, developing a budget is essential to controlling costs. The average cost of a U.S. wedding is $22,000. That’s certainly not cheap. Big-ticket items include the venue rental, receptions costs, photography and videography, and flowers. With a year’s planning window you can hunt for the best prices based on your budget. Here’s an article on nailing down your budget. Budget planning can be as simple as using an Excel spreadsheet to track costs.
Money saving tip: Talk with your parents and in-laws and ask if they can help with some of the expense. Again with a year in advance, people will be more open to saving up to help you.
4. Secure the Venue
After selecting your date, it’s important to select the venue. This takes time. Attractive wedding venues are often booked a year or more in advance. Decide if you want an outdoor or indoor wedding ceremony and which venues work better. If you are having an outdoor wedding, make certain that you have a rainy day alternative setting. Many outdoor wedding venues will provide indoor options in case the weather doesn’t cooperative. Check out my Pinterest page for some attractive wedding venues.
Money saving tip: As I’ve discussed before, since most weddings happen on Saturdays, another day (say a Friday or a Sunday) can reduce the venue cost by as much as 50%.
5. Select an Officiant
Selecting your officiant is essential to a successful wedding. Let’s face it, the wedding ceremony itself is the centerpiece of your wedding and the tone of the ceremony can set the feel of your entire wedding day. I’ve share thoughts about selecting an officiant. Select your officiant immediately after securing your venue – ideally also a year in advance. I already have wedding commitments for December of this year with discussions for dates in 2014.
The officiant fee seems to average 3% of the wedding costs, less than your wedding cake. Make certain that your officiant will work with you, personalize your ceremony, make all needed revisions, and attend the rehearsal. Make sure you have the chemistry-connection with your officiant.
Your wedding is a big event and like any event, it needs to be managed. Following these five simple steps will take you a long way to assuring that you have the ceremony of your dreams.