What next- How to Start Planning Your Big Day!

With the opening of our 1800s Replica Historic Church available for Weddings and Vow Renewals, we have spent several months taking a look at common wedding traditions.  We thought it was time to switch gears and look into planning the wedding itself.

Join us for a multi-part mini-series as we look into the tricks and traps of planning a wedding!

 The holidays are over, and for some readers, your gifts included an engagement ring. We offer you our best wishes as you start preparing for your dream day. We are sure you are still in a cloud of excitement and happiness.

 You’ve most likely told your families and your friends. But by now, the love that surrounded the announcement is probably giving way to the panic of “What next”.  We’d like to offer some hints on where to start.

Get a check list

 The first thing to do is find a wedding check list. Websites like the ones listed in the Resources section offer electronic lists and timetables. Wedding planners and bridal shops as well as bridal magazines offer printed check lists and time tables. You can also make your own spreadsheet to keep track of the gazillion little things that go into planning a wedding.

 Check lists and timetables will give you ball park times needed for various tasks related to your wedding. But don’t be put off by the timetables either. Some tasks can be modified, changed, or even ignored if they don’t fit the timing you have.

Set the date

 Everything that you do will depend on what date you want for your wedding.

 From a ceremony standpoint, there are times of the year when weddings are less likely to be performed, such as Ramadan or Lent; or on Shabbat or other holy days. So you first need to plan around any religious celebrations.

 From a venue standpoint, some venues book up fast, and you may have to wait up to a year or two for your dream venue or date. Set the date as soon as you can.

Start a tentative guest list

 How many people do you plan to invite to the wedding and/or reception? How many people haveto be invited – your cousins? your Mom’s aunt? How many guests does each family have to invite?

 Having a number in mind, even if it’s not the final number helps to focus your planning. You have different needs if you plan to invite 75 people as opposed to 175 people or 275 people. The space needed and type of food needed (full dinner with open bar vs heavy hors d’oevres and wine vs Champaign and cake only) will change with the number of guests.

How involved do you want to be personally?

 Do you want to make the decorations and food or leave it to the caterer or venue? Do you want to plan the event or use a professional who specializes in planning weddings? How involved do you want your parents or children to be?

 And, do you have the time needed to do so?

Venue decisions to be considered

 What do you see as your dream venue? Is it inside or outside? Rustic or fancy? In a city or in a more rural setting? On a beach or in a hotel?

 Do you want to use the venue’s preferred vendors and internal catering or do you want to use vendors of your choice or even your mom and grandma?

 Are you planning on out-of-town guests? Will you need to consider a venue either with rooms available for overnight stays or near a place where you can rent a block of rooms?

 Once again, the websites in the Resources can help point you toward potential venues once you have focused your decisions.


 Remember there are a lot of hidden costs that will crop up like dress alterations or the wedding license or gratuities for the minister and servers and limo driver. Add in another 10 or 15 percent to your budget for unanticipated expenses.

Now …

 Having set a date, figured out your budget, determined how involved you want to be in the day of, how many people you are going to be hosting, now it’s time to book your venue! Don’t delay – venues book up quickly.

 Once you have booked your venue, now it’s time to start the really fun stuff like looking for a gown and trying on veils.

 All best wishes as you make your story – history!!

Making Your Story – History!


Kellogg, Kristi, Anna Price Olson and Jessie Mooney. “The Ultimate Wedding-Planning Checklist.” March 19, 2018. https://www.brides.com/story/brides-wedding-checklist-custom-wedding-to-do-list

The Knot website. https://www.theknot.com/

Wedding Wire website. https://www.weddingwire.com/


The start of a guest list. Photograph by Miranda Herbert Ferrara. Used by permission.