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Planning a Crazy Cool Wedding without going Crazy: Step 3

Wedding Plan Step 3: One Big Picture and Some DIY

Define what you really want to focus on. Do you want to remember the day forever with exceptional photography? Do you want a particular background to your wedding? Do you want your guests to experience your particular preference for a delicatessen of food or drink? Do you want to dance the night away to a big band? We chose photography and location as our biggest priorities (other than the ceremony, of course, but this is from a straight party planning perspective). And our budget correctly corresponds, as these are the most expensive items on our list. We still lucked out with exceptional finds, which I'll post about later.

But that means if you're planning on a budget as we are, everything else shouldn't be expended over. Having real flowers wasn't super important to me, so everyone had fake flowers and I arranged them myself with rubber bands, hot glue, and ribbon. Alcohol is awesome but can add up FAST, so we stuck with beer and wine. (Our favorite brands, so the guests feel a bit more connected to us through it.) Food is nice, but who remembers what they ate at a wedding if it wasn't a legitimate delicacy or unique dish? So we went for a buffet (of still delectable food from an excellent caterer, Corky's Catering).

Categories of vendors or goods you'll need to start looking for (in order of how likely they are to be booked early, in my opinion) are:

  • Location

  • Photography

  • Ceremony Officiant (may be included with location)

  • Day-of Planner (if you feel you'll need one)

  • Caterer and Food Menu

  • Bartender and Drink Menu

  • Music (for both ceremony and reception)

  • Hair and Makeup (if you want a particular professional especially)

  • Dress (It's a tough call on when exactly to get this. You want to have it taken care of but you want it to fit.)

  • Florist

  • Decor

  • Hotel booking for travelers

  • Rings

Note: Research honeymoon and your state's marriage license requirements at some point in this. They're important too, and you don't want to forget about them amongst the details of the party.

Recapping Step 3:

  • Decide what you want to DIY and what you want vendors to take care of

  • Make a list of all the things you need done (a helpful thing in taking on this big job is to picture your wedding day, from beginning to end, and writing down everything you'll see/eat/hear/say/experience/etc)

  • Schedule out your list based on priorities and what you need time to DIY

Here's the general timeline we had (below) , and the reason we had such a long engagement was because of your priority in this planning: TO NOT STRESS.


Wedding Planning Timeline

1 year out:

  • Create a wedding website (optional; we didn't and just put the important stuff like maps and hotels in the invite)

  • Set budget, divide costs

  • Start guest list

  • Book venue

  • Hire officiant

  • Hire photographer

  • Select wedding party (oh yeah, those guys! Remember that you have them to help you plan all this stuff; I delegated something on the day of to every one of them)

  • Research license requirements

  • Research nearby hotels

11 months out:

  • Choose menu and caterer

  • Choose drink menu and bartender (check with reception venue on its requirements)

  • Plan décor (I DIYed all this so I wanted to give myself LOTS of time)

10 months out

  • Finalize guest list

  • Set up gift registries

  • Choose ceremony/reception music

9 months out:

  • Make Save-The-Dates (DIY)

  • Arrange hair and makeup

  • Finish bouquets and boutonnieres (DIY)

  • Finalize attire

  • Arrange transportation (if necessary)

  • Finalize food and drink menus

  • Start planning honeymoon

8 months out:

  • Order hair accessories

  • Order jewelry

  • Make signs (DIY)

  • Make gifts for wedding party and parents (DIY)

6 months out:

  • Send out Save-The-Dates

  • Reserve any rental items

  • Make invitations (DIY)

  • Plan rehearsal and dinner

  • Choose readings and readers (if applicable)

  • Order garter (if applicable; I made myself an anklet instead)

  • Test hair/makeup

5 months out:

  • Order rings

  • Arrange any additional lighting or sound equipment

  • Enlist non-party friends to help out with setup and teardown of specific responsibilities not taken care of by other vendors (chairs, tables, backdrop, aisle, guest greeter, logistics for décor/gifts/cards, dishes, toasting glasses)

  • Block hotel rooms (if applicable)

  • Make a day-of schedule for all vendors, parents, bridal party, and helpers

4 months out:

  • Groom attire and any alterations

  • Book honeymoon

  • Finalize cake/desserts

  • Assure bridal party and parents are on schedule with their attire and travel plans

  • Mail invitations

  • Order cake accessories (if necessary)

2 months out:

  • Verify hotel for traveling vendors and family

  • Stock alcohol

  • Create logistics lists for venue and where you're getting ready

6 weeks out:

  • Confirm vendors (décor, music, food, drinks, ceremony, venue, staff, hair, rehearsal dinner)

  • Pass out wedding day timelines, rehearsal info, and pertinent communication info to vendors/parents/party

  • Write vows and give them to officiant (make sure they have your written vows at the ceremony, especially if you want to have them memorized)

1 month out:

  • Hunt down missing RSVPs

  • Make seating plan (if applicable)

  • Finish any DIY projects

  • Obtain marriage license (state of IL says to marry within a month of getting license)

2 weeks out:

  • Final headcount to catering and bartender

  • Schedule mani-pedi (polish never sticks, so I'm doing mine the day before)

  • Set aside checks and any tips to vendors and staff that haven't yet received them)

1 week out:

  • Confirm party arrival times

  • Last minute items

Day Before:

  • Mani-Pedi

  • Give vendor checks (in envelopes) to trusted family member to give to vendors

  • Confirm that all DIY décor and accessories are at venue/prepping place that need to be

  • Rehearsal and Dinner

  • Get to bed early enough

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