If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, trust us when we say: We understand how overwhelming it can be. Of course, every bride and groom wants to avoid wedding planning mistakes—and one of the best ways to do so is planning in advance and doing as much research as possible so that you’re armed with all the right knowledge as you dive into ironing out all those details.
Not Setting a Budget
It may seem obvious, but this is a big one: Setting a budget is a crucial planning step (and one of the very first things you need to do) in the wedding planning process. For Alicia Mae of Six Crucial Questions to Pose to Your Wedding Photographer, the most important element of creating a budget is “understanding the level of service you expect from the services you want for your wedding, and having a planner who can estimate the overall fees.” Once you have those things nailed down, you can begin sourcing vendors, planning decorations, and thinking about music, food, etc.
Remember that your wedding budget will impact every single element of the big day, from the guest count to the venue, from the food and drinks to the decorations. If you don’t set a budget, you’ll have no way to track spending or understand what you can afford.
Not Booking Early Enough
Professional wedding planners stress that booking a venue and vendors as early as possible is the key to ensuring the wedding plans run smoothly. Not booking early means that you may run into issues securing your vendors on your chosen wedding date . “If you have a particular style and location you want for your wedding, we recommend securing your venue as soon as possible as your options would be limited; 12 to 18 months prior to your desired date would be a great time period,” explains Mae.
O’Neal agrees with this: Book that venue as soon as possible. “Typically I like to try to help [couples] solidify their venue within one-to-two months of hiring me,” she says. “If you have a year to plan, that’s fantastic, but six months can also get it done if you’re goal-oriented and motivated to move forward.” Of course, this timeline will vary greatly based on when your wedding is, and if it occurs during a peak wedding season for your chosen region. (For example, in many regions, peak wedding season is late spring through early fall, but in Florida or the Caribbean, it’s wintertime.) If your wedding is off-peak, six to eight months ahead of the wedding day may suffice. But those hosting a wedding during a peak season will want to err on the side of booking a venue and vendors a year or more in advance of the wedding date, as Mae advises. Once your venue is booked, you should begin booking major vendors like a planner, florists, photographers, cake designers, and musicians.
Wondering whether to book a planner or a venue first? It’s really about what is most important to you. If you have a venue that you definitely know you want, no questions asked, book the venue ASAP, then book your planner to help organize all the other details. On the other hand, if you’re uncertain about the venue, but know you want a specific planner, book your planner first and then let them help you negotiate with a venue and vendors.