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The Ultimate Wedding Starter Guide

Congratulations on your Engagement!

You are about to embark on a journey to planning your dream wedding! This could feel like an overwhelming time and you may not know where to start. Following these guidelines can get you started and begin to set the stage for creating the wedding of your dreams.

Set Your Date

The first step to creating your special day is to select a date.  You may want to select a season first and then consider the conditions in each season.  Do you want Warm weather? Cool weather?  Fall colors?  Spring colors?  Maybe you want to choose a date that is special to the two of you, or the date your parents were married.  When selecting a date, remember that planning a wedding takes time.  The less time you leave for planning may lead to challenges securing a venue, photographer, or caterer because these are often booked many months in advance.  Remember that selecting holidays or holiday weekends could result in less guest attendance due to existing plans or yearly traditions.  If you plan to take a honeymoon immediately following your wedding, you may want to consider a basic area for the honeymoon and what conditions might be like during that particular time of year.

Set Your Budget

Once you have selected a date, you will want to set the budget.  This can be one of the most challenging tasks of the entire planning process.  There are several key questions to address before anything else and the first is who is paying for the bulk of the wedding?  Most often the answer will either be the couple or their families.  North American tradition often places the financial responsibility of the wedding day on the bride's family and the rehearsal dinner on the groom's family.  But there are many variations to this and no set rules.  It may be a combination of persons providing partial payment to reach the final budget.  But it is critical to identify all of the contributing parties.

The next question to answer is how much can each person provide?  Some couples enjoy an unlimited budget.  Other times parents will provide a set dollar amount.  Couples paying for their own wedding will need to inventory their available funds and decide how much can go towards their wedding.  Once a vague number is set, add approximately 10% for unforeseen costs ant this is your budget.  The last key question is how will the money be provided?  Will you receive a lump sum or pay for items individually as each payment is due.  One of the many benefits of having an event planner will be keeping track of the budget and all of the due dates.  There will be many.

Choose a Location

The next very important step will be choosing a geographic location.  Will you have a destination wedding?  Will you marry in the city in which you live?  The city you grew up in?  Some things to consider when choosing a destination wedding are the challenges of finding and selecting vendors, venues, and hotel accommodations.  Can you get time off work to visit the area and make some choices?  Can you afford to visit one or more times before the actual wedding date?  If not, do you trust someone else to make the arrangements site unseen?  This is also where an event planner becomes a crucial asset for any destination wedding.  He/she will have recommendations for all your needs because they are a specialist in that city.  

The other important factor to consider are your guests.  Will they be willing to travel?  Are they in good health to travel?  Can they afford to travel?  Can they get time off work?  Are you willing to potentially have less guests to get married in your dream destination?   Maybe you want to get married privately with just the two of you.  Or an intimate gathering with a small group of friends and family.  Have you thought about paying for your guests' travel?  Destination weddings can be executed effortlessly if that is your wish, but these key questions should be answered as early as possible.  You will also need to make sure that your budget has room for travel funds for any necessary parties including vendors.  

Select Your Wedding Party

This step may be simple or may take a little thought.  Perhaps you've known for years who your bridesmaids will be.  Or you may select persons with more recent but meaningful connections to take part in your special day.  You may have a large family and want many of them to participate.  If this is the case, how many actually need to walk down the aisle and how many can be assigned another task, but still feel as if they are included and important.  Do you want more people on your side than your fiance?  How will the two of you resolve this if the numbers significantly differ?  Make a list of potential wedding party members with a few alternative members just in case.  

Once you and your fiance have your list, contact each person and inform them of your desire to include them in your wedding.  Many times people are so excited that they immediately accept without receiving all of the details.  Make sure to relay the date, the location, the cost, any events or showers they will be expected to attend, and whether or not they will be involved in planning those showers.  Don't pressure them for an immediate answer.  Allow them a day or two to consider whether they have adequate time and money for what is required.  When everyone has either accepted or declined, hopefully you will have a final list of your wedding party members.  

Choose Your Wedding Planner

Once you have addressed all of the previous items its time to start planning!  The average wedding can take a couple 400-500 hours to plan on their own!  Many couples do not have that kind of time and will seek the assistance of an event coordinator.  Event planners are experts in the field and can plan the same event in a fraction of the time. The benefits of having this person will be many.  You will have someone to guide you every step of the way who has done this before.  Someone who knows the vendors and how to find them.  Someone to enforce a reasonable timeline and uphold the budget.  Someone who can foresee hidden fees and avoid potential problems.  And most importantly, one point of contact.  This may be the best benefit of all because of the convenience it provides to speak with only one person versus possibly 10 or more vendors.  

Once you make the decision to hire a wedding coordinator, you will probably start browsing the internet or asking friends for recommendations.  Most good coordinators will have a website with a photo gallery and summary of their services.  Many will not include prices because our work is so customized.  Word of mouth is great, but you may want to interview one or more persons to see who really seems to get the feeling of your vision.  At Custom Event Solutions we are committed to helping you through this wedding process to bring each individual vision to life and take away as much stress as we possibly can.  All you should have to worry about is enjoying your day. 

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