As you probably know, I am not a wedding planner. In fact, I do hate planning and usually am the one that just go with the flow. BUT as a wedding photographer, I am, most of the time, the closest provider to my clients. I’m often the one they’ll ask all their questions to, the one who’s gonna help them make the schedule of their day, I even often put boutonnieres on groomsmen, NO KIDDING!! I become their friends. I’m there for everything, and I WANT to be. So I do know a thing or two that could totally help you guys plan your big day. And so you guys do not end up all lost, crying and wanting it to be over already, I feel like I need to tell those things to you. That way you can enjoy the most of it instead of worrying. How thoughtful of me, right?
Of course, you do now have to follow these steps. You should plan your wedding the way it works best for you. I just hope this guide will help you to find your way of doing!
So here it goes:
1. The first thing to do is to establish your priorities and desires to have the wedding YOU want. Before jumping into anything, you should take some time to think about what you want and do not want. Maybe you already know all of this because you’ve been thinking about it since you were 5yo, but if it’s not the case, here’s a few pointers:
-Do you want it to be big and filled with people, do you want it to be small, with only family & close friends?
-Do you want your ceremony outside, inside, in a church?
-Do you want it close to your home or do you want a destination wedding, even an elopement ? (That last one would be my choice if I ever get married btw ahah 😉)
-Do you want to charge your guests for their meal or prefer to pay for everything?
-Do you want your decoration to be DIY?
List what is importano YOU guys.
2. When your priorities are established, set a realistic budget. (If you want to have 150 guests and pay for everything, it might not be realist to set a 5k$ budget. It could totally be for a small wedding though, depending on your priorities of course.)
3. Find which providers are the most important for you
-Is it the photographer to have the greatest memories of it?
-Is it the DJ to drive the party all night?
-Is it the food, the venue, the cake, the florist, your dress, etc?
Number them in order. And divide your budget between all your providers. Set approximative numbers, even if you do not know the price of everything yet. You’ll adjust while doing your researches ! 😊
Also, always KEEP IN MIND this part while finding your providers. I’ve got to tell you that if the photographer is number 1 on your list, and the one your really want is outside the budget you established for it. Well HIRE HIM ANYWAY AND CUT SOMEPLACE ELSE. I could tell you many stories about brides that regretted not taking their first choice, I do not want that happening to you!
*Before starting your shopping, I’d like to remember you a certain rule that could be helpful. The rule of Three. This rule says that when you’re looking to buy something or hire someone, you should always look up AT LEAST three different places or persons. (Even if you have, let’s say a photographer, in mind that you really like his/her style, it doesn’t mean you guys will get along! So you should not JUMP on them already. Get to know them before!!)
So, the first person you’re gonna meet, you might be a bit lost, you might not know which questions to ask and what the hell you’re doing there. If that first person is the provider for you, they will reassure you, make you feel good and confident and you’ll get out of that meeting with the biggest smile. If that happen, it doesn’t mean you should not meet the others. Meeting the others will only confirm your choice.
If that first person is not your guy, well that meeting will have taught you all the questions to ask and the way to act for your next meetings.
I assure you, after meeting three persons, you’ll know which one to hire. There’s always one that steps out from the others, at least a little bit. And sometimes it is not the one we thought it would be! 😉
Now’s the time to start shopping ! YAAAAAS!!!!
4. Find your venue + your wedding date. You should do these two together. UNLESS you have one provider that YOU KNOW YOU ABSOLUTELY WANT and want to book your date according to their availabilities.
But if that’s not the case, you should not choose your date ONLY because it has a signification. Do it if your dream venue if available that day. But any date you choose will become important and significative after your wedding day. With that said, you should not block yourself from a venue just because of a date.
-Base yourself on your needs and priorities (point #1) to find your venue, start by looking on the internet.
-Go visit 3 of them, talk to the owners and ask them a lot of questions. (Is the food provided in the price? Can you taste the food beforehand? Can you come to decorate the day before or does it have to be on the same day? Do they have a planner that can help with everything? If it’s outside, is there a plan B in case of rain? How many weddings is there on the same day? Etc)
-Choose your favorite one. For sure between these three places there is one that made you smile more than the others.
5. When you’ve got your date + venue, now’s the time to find your photographer, videographer, DJ/band and wedding planner (if you want one). The providers that work as a team during your wedding.
One of the best tip I can give you here is: MAKE THEM EXCITED ABOUT YOUR BIG DAY. Tell them why it’s gonna be memorable, what’s gonna be different from other weddings or how great of a couple you and your significant other are. Tell them what you like about their style, why their job catched your eyes.
I often get inquiries where the couple only tell me their wedding date, asking me if I am available. I can tell you that between that inquiry and the one for the same date where the couple is gonna tell me about themselves and how excited they’d be to have me for their big day, the choice isn’t hard to make.
All the providers listed above work really closely during your big day. When booking them you’re building a team around your wedding and it is SO IMPORTANT for that team to work well together. For that to happen, getting everyone excited to work with you guys is the first step!
6. Find your other providers. As you get to this step, your wedding is gonna come as a whole really fast you’ll see!
- Go shopping for your dress and suit!
- Find your celebrant if you’re not getting married in a church.
- Determine the colors/theme of your wedding if is hasn’t been done while finding your venue.
- Find your florist, your baker, your hairstylist + makeup artist.
- Buy/make your decorations.
- Buy your details (shoes, tie, jewelry, etc)
- Make and send your invitations.
7. After that, you can take a deep deep breath. It’s almost over! All there’s left to do is:
- Make sure everything stays in order
- Pay for everything (yup lol, it hurts the bank most close to the date, be ready!
YOU GOT THIS. YOU GOT THIS. YOU GOT THIS !!!!
And share this article to all the brides-to-be you know!
Violaine is an adventurous elopement and wedding photographer based in Quebec, Canada but she travels worldwide. She loves the intimate, authentic and raw moments that happen each second between two people in love. She believes in the craziness of every couples and that laugh is the best medicine. She’s not afraid of freezing in the cold or getting completely wet under rain, as long as her images reflects her clients personality.
“It’s all about YOUR story. Whoever you are, wherever you go.”