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Wedding 101: The Checklist

Wedding 101 is a series that we have created to help with all your wedding planning needs. This series starts off by helping you create your wedding checklist. Following this list, we will break today the topics into more detail in future blog posts.

So you're engaged? Congratulations! Enjoy this time of your life! Tell all your friends and family, and be sure to celebrate. Engagement is a huge milestone in life, and it definitely needs to be savored. Afterward, it’s time to get down to business and start planning that wedding you have dreamt about and maybe even created on Pinterest. There is so much to do, but where do you start? Between choosing your venue, the dress, setting a date, food for the reception, the colors you want to use, the flowers, the cake, and so much more. It can all be a bit overwhelming, but we are here to help! Use this checklist to help make your dream wedding possible.

Remember: To prevent too much stress during the planning process, it is best to begin planning anywhere from 12 to 16 months before the time you want to have the wedding. Any later than that can cause a lot of stress, or even cause you to miss a lot of opportunities that would make your wedding day extra special.
Set a Budget
Create a budget that is kind to your wallet, but also allows you to create the wedding of your dreams. You can have an amazing wedding without spending your life savings.
Separate the budget into different categories, like the dress, cake/catering, venue, flowers, decorations, entertainment, and other. You can either have the budget very detailed or very basic. It’s all up to you!
Make sure you have a little extra room in your budget just to give you a safety net.
Create a Guest List
Create a potential guests lists and give yourself an idea of how many people you would like to invite.
Sit down with your partner, and maybe even the parents, and go through all the people who you believe should be there.
Once you have an idea of who the guests will be, hold on to it and come back to finalize it when you’re ready to send out the invitations.
And remember it is yours and your partner’s wedding. If there is someone you two really do not want there, then you can say no.
Pick Potential Wedding Dates
Before you find that dream wedding location, you need an idea as to when you want to get married.
Some venues operate year round, while others only operate during peak seasons.
Choose at least 3 dates to give to potential venues when you begin looking.
Choosing 1 date can really limit your search, or cause you to lose many potential venues.

Choosing Your Colors
You would think this step would come later on, but it is actually important to know your colors sooner rather than later.
Some brides go with the color of the year (for 2018 this is Ultra Violet).
Some will use colors to match the season. Knowing your colors can actually help you determine which venue and vendors to use. It also helps your florists and baker get an idea as to what you are looking for in terms of what they provide.

Searching for Venues
The time has come to start touring! This is can be the most time consuming, yet most fun, part of the process. You want to find a budget-friendly venue, but also don’t want to settle.
Before you tour, you need to find potential venues that you would like to schedule a tour with. A good way to find venues is to search our website here or download the World Class Wedding Venues App  (for IOS or Android).  
Choose at least 5 venues that you believe will be the perfect fit for your day, and send them a message to schedule a tour.
Searching for Caterers, Photographers, Entertainment, Flowers, and Cakes
Once you find your venue, you need to find all the other traditional wedding needs. These needs can include caterers/bartenders, bakers, photographers, entertainment, and flowers.
Most venues will provide you with a preferred vendors list. These lists will tell you of local businesses that they approve of for the use of weddings. Some allow vendors outside of that list but definitely talk to the venues about using outside vendors.
Be sure to check out the WCWV Partners to see which vendors are near you. Make sure to leave your options open and pick your top 3 of each vendor. 
We suggest talking to each about your wedding and see what options are available on your day. Your vendors will walk you through their processes and will let you know when they would like for you to finalize your orders with them and when to have all your payments to them.
Choosing Your Bridal Party
Your bridal party will be your support team the day of your wedding, so you want them to be people you can trust, and that you know will be there no matter what.
Do not feel obligated to have anyone in your party. It’s YOUR day. You get to choose who is and isn’t a part of it.
Your Maid/Matron of Honor and your Best Man will be your right hand until the end of the day. Whether it is your sibling, best friend, or even your parent, you need to make sure you can depend on them for everything.
Choosing Your Dress
This is the part most brides cannot wait for. The dress is seen as the highlight of the day by making the bride the centerpiece of the entire wedding.
Most brides will purchase their dress 8 months before their wedding. This gives time for fittings and changes to be made.
Make sure to have 2-3 fittings after you purchase the dress. The first one 4-5 months prior, and the last being [hopefully] 1 month before the wedding.
Sending Save the Dates
This part of the checklist is optional, but some brides like to do it to inform people of their engagement and to know that there is a big event to come.
If you do decide to include this step, save the dates are usually sent out 6 months before the wedding day.
Hire a Planner/Director
This part of the checklist is also optional. Many brides forgo a planner to save money; however, hiring a planner/director could actually save you a lot of stress so you can be more focused on other aspects of the wedding, like enjoying your day.
Many venues have onsite coordinators for you to work with, so the moment you pick your venue you will be partnered with a planner.
If the venue doesn’t have a planner, you need to find one with a strong portfolio that has your best interests at heart.
Picking Out Your Decorations
On your wedding day, you are going to want a central theme for everything to be based on. There are so many different themes to choose from.
Just remember whatever you choose should be a reflection of who you are and what you like.
You may choose to buy decorations or to make your own. Whatever fits your budget best.
If you decide to hire a planner they will help you choose your decorations based on the colors you choose to have for your wedding.
Booking Your Rehearsal & Rehearsal Dinner Venues
Traditionally, the groom’s family is the one that takes care of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, but not all brides/grooms go the traditional route. It's totally up to you! 
Most venues allow you to have the rehearsal on site the day before the wedding, so you do not have to worry about finding another place. If that is not an option, we suggest finding somewhere close to the venue so everyone has a general idea of where to go the next day.
Dinner can be catered at the rehearsal site, or everyone could travel to a nearby restaurant. It is whatever is easier, more convenient, and most importantly, whatever is budget friendly.
Planning Your Honeymoon
After the chaotic time that is planning your wedding, you’re going to need a break! Your honeymoon allows you and your love to get away from it all for just a little while.
Think of somewhere you both really want to go and start saving up!
Remember: it is okay if you can’t go on your honeymoon immediately after you get married. Sometimes you just have to wait until the time is right. Just make so you and your significant other are able to spend time together without worrying about life.
Find an Officiant
Your officiant is a very important piece of the wedding puzzle. Whether you use your church’s pastor, a friend that is a certified officiant, or you local magistrate you need to make sure they are available that day.
Remember that some pastors and officiants want you to do premarital counseling before they agree to officiate your wedding, so make sure to talk to them and leave enough time to complete the counseling before your big day.
Once you have your officiant make sure to sit down with them and go through what you want them to say, how long you want the ceremony to be, and if there will be anything special occurring during the ceremony (this could be a unity activity, someone singing, communion, etc.).
Sending Invitations
Invitations should be sent out around 2 months before the wedding. They can relate to the theme of the wedding, or stand out on their own.
Make sure they list the names of the bride and groom, the address of the venue, the date, and if a reception is to follow.
You can also list any extra information like your bridal registries, if alcohol will be served/allowed but not provided, and if the wedding will be kids free or not.
Buy the Rings
The wedding ring is the symbol of your unity. Wearing it on the finger that leads straight to your heart.
You and your partner can go ring shopping, order online, or even use one that has been passed down for generations.
Some couples are choosing more alternative methods, like tattoos or other pieces of jewelry. If you choose to use an alternative symbol make sure to talk to your officiant about it and to make the proper plans to accommodate for it.
Get Your Marriage License
Depending on where you live will depend on the process you go through to get your license. Marriage license policies vary by state.
Many states in the US process the license the same day you request it, and you pay a fee for it. Make sure to remember this fee while creating your budget.
Make A Timeline for Your Wedding Day
Most planners will do this step for you, but if you do not have a planner you will want to do this yourself.
A timeline will give everyone an idea of how the day is supposed to go. From the time everyone gets up until the time the wedding is being broken down should be listed.
We hope this checklist is helpful to you during your planning journey. When it comes to a wedding there is a lot to do, but remember it isn’t meant to stress you out. Take your time and don’t rush. Make sure you are enjoying the perks that come with being engaged while you are planning. There are wedding showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, engagement photos, engagement parties, bridal portraits, and so many more things that will be planned by others around you to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter for you. Have fun making registries, shopping for wedding needs, touring venues, researching honeymoon spots, going to tastings for all the food, and celebrating with your friends and family.
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