You’ve waited patiently long enough. Now that things are finally getting back to normal, it’s time to host the wedding of your dreams, complete with out of town guests, family and, of course, your dream dress.
Good timing, too. As of June, wedding season officially kicks off, and with the world fully opening back up, you no longer have to compromise on account of safety concerns. All you need to do is start making arrangements. Easier said than done, though.
Planning a dream wedding usually takes a little over a year—and an abundance of patience. Use this wedding planning guide to help you get started and keep track of all the dreamy details.
Budgeting & Initial Planning
13 months is the standard recommended time if you want to plan a full-scale wedding ceremony and reception. And it all starts by nailing down the budget and picking a date for your dream wedding.
Start by sitting down with your partner and talking about what’s most important to each of you. Food and drink? Location? Music? Flying in family from out of town? Be sure to look at your must-haves and your budget side-by-side, staying realistic about what it’ll permit. To get a rough estimate, keep in mind that the average wedding in 2021 is projected to cost about $20,000.
Next, decide on a season to get married. That will help you narrow the date range. Factor in any weather extremes for your area, and know that the final deciding factor will ultimately be whether your ideal venue is available around the time you’re looking. Remember that most wedding venues need to be booked about a year in advance, so always best to start early. They will also likely account for 50% of your budget.
At this stage in the game you’ll want to start talking wedding colors. That is, unless you aim to hire a wedding planner. If so, you want to get them involved before any major decisions are made. You can also check to see if the venue offers a wedding coordinator to handle things day-of if you don’t want to spend.
Once you’ve picked your wedding color palette and a date, you can start hammering out the rest of the details for the big day.
Find Your Dream Dress
You don’t need a guide to planning a wedding to know that the dress is a crucial element. Of all the decor, it’s the single most concentrated representation of your personality and style. You’ll want to give yourself at least nine months to find ‘the one’, get it ordered, and have it fitted.
Before you ever step foot in a bridal boutique, have some idea of what you like. Are you a contemporary bride? Do you absolutely love vintage-inspired wedding dresses? Have strong opinions about wedding dresses with sleeves? No detail is too small. It will help the bridal consultants immensely as they walk you through the shop’s inventory.
It also helps to have an entourage when you’re trying to choose. Try to keep your dress-select crew to 3-5 people. This will help diminish the likelihood of there being too many differing opinions. At Terry Costa, we always allow walk-ins, but you’re also welcome to make an appointment in advance so we can reserve your group ample space.
While you have a trusted group there to help you decide, be sure to have the bridal consultants bring you out a selection of accessories. The wedding veil you choose can make or break your look. And even though the bridal shoes may be hidden underneath the dress, they’re equally important.
The venue is likely to be the most costly line in your wedding budget, but you can’t plan a dream wedding without one.
Start by deciding whether you want an indoor or outdoor wedding, and estimate the number of guests you’ll be inviting. That will tell you a lot.
Make sure to ask the venue director about the costs for outside food and drink, what’s provided in the package (table, chairs, linens), noise ordinances, and whether they have a wedding coordinator to oversee that things go smoothly on your big day.
The wedding of my dreams is completely musicless”, said no one ever. Though you don’t necessarily have to get a DJ to spin at your wedding, you will need to consider music. (Preferably tunes that are family-friendly, but that still encourage your guests to dance!)
A live band or cover band is another popular choice. Just be sure you get something in writing, so they don’t take off on tour while you’re saying ‘I do’.
If you want to go off the beaten path, consider hiring an aerialist. They’re an elegant form of entertainment that’s unique to boot. Double check that your venue can accommodate a performance of this nature before booking though.
Wedding Cake and Caterer
Did you know that most wedding cakes are priced by the slice? This is where having your RSVPs in will be really important. It tells you how much food you’ll need to order to keep your guests fed and happy.
It’s probably a given that the cake will match (and in some cases, even be a key part of) your wedding decor. But what about the food? It should also mirror the general vibe of your wedding, whether that be laid back, semi-formal, or culturally traditional.
Again, check with the venue to see if they have catering on-site, if they allow outside catering, and what the charge is for both.
The biggest piece of advice when figuring out how to plan a dream wedding? Figure out how you’re going to stay present. All the little moments leading up to the big moment are each part of the experience. Your big day is going to move fast. The more mindful you can be, the more meaningful it will be.
Fact: you can’t have a dream wedding without a dream dress, and we’re here to do everything we can to ensure you find the one.