No one ever said that planning a wedding was easy. No one. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be a guessing game of “what should I do next?” Luckily for you, you’re not the first couple to navigate the process! Many happy couples have already planned weddings before you—and survived—so you can take a deep breath.

Weddings are a unique type of event, and if you’re lucky, you’ll only ever have to plan one. Because of this, you’ll likely need some guidance as to which step to take and when. That’s why we’ve put together a helpful guide, just to help you through.

DETERMINE YOUR BUDGET AND DATE

Both fortunately and unfortunately, budget determines many of the decisions you’ll make for your wedding. If you’ve got a restrictive budget, you’ll have to get pretty creative! However, budget can also help you eliminate options, which will ultimately help you make decisions and make the process much easier.

Once you’ve determined your budget, you can start looking at venues. Both venue capacity and budget will affect how many guests you can invite, so this is the time where it makes the most sense to figure out a tentative list of the people you want at your wedding.

Figuring out your wedding date will also help you pick a venue. Some venues are more expensive during the “prime wedding months,” which typically last from May to July or August. In addition, some venues are more beautiful during different times of year, to date has some play in whether you’ll want to book a venue.

When choosing a wedding date, be sure to come up with a couple of options. If you have your heart set on a specific date, you’ll have to be open to several venue options, and vice versa, you’ll have to be open to different dates if you are set on a specific venue.

WEDDING PARTY, ATTIRE, AND REGISTRY

For brides, this is going to be the really fun part.

Chances are, you won’t have too difficult of a time deciding who you want to stand beside you as you say your vows. These are the people who you are closest to, and the people who have been there for you while you were falling in love with the person you will marry. Once you’ve chosen your wedding party, you can begin picking out the show-stopping attire you’ll wear the day of your wedding.

For brides and their bridesmaids, this is typically a day or two of dress shopping. Some choose to shop for bridesmaid’s gowns and bridal gown at the same time, or they split it up into several events. Either way, this shopping is a fun way for the bride to bond with her bridal party as a group.

With grooms, it’s not typically as big of an ordeal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Once the bride and groom have decided the look they want for the groom and groomsmen, they are tasked with getting fitted and renting suits.

This is also the time where the bride and groom should consider how they want to handle gifts at their wedding. Many couples decide to start a registry with a store to ensure that they don’t have to return any unwanted gifts after the wedding. To ensure that all of your guests are on the same page, be sure to include this information when you send your save-the-dates.

ASSEMBLING YOUR DREAM TEAM AND ACCOMMODATIONS

As far as wedding planning stress, this is the part that most couples enjoy the least. But that does NOT have to be the case. There are so many options for finding great vendors, and many of them are available online (such as our online vendor guide!)

We’ve attached a list of the vendors you’ll want to consider hiring for your wedding. You can choose any number of them, but be sure to consider the happiness and entertainment of your guests, as well as your budget. You’ll want to meet with your potential vendors for tastings and consultations as early as possible to maximize their chances of availability on your chosen date.

You’ll also want to decide on local accommodations for your guests and rent a room block for the few days around your wedding date. This is also a good time to schedule and plan your rehearsal dinner.

FINALIZE THE DETAILS

This is the time to handle the nitty-gritty details. By this point, your wedding date is closing in, and everything needs to be near-perfect. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

In order to make your marriage official, you’re going to need a marriage license. (For a full guide on how to navigate this process, check out our article.) These only last for sixty days after you receive them, so you’ll want to be diligent in your timing. At this point, you’ll also finalize your seating chart based on who RSVP’d to your wedding, and make sure that everything is set in place for your rehearsal dinner and final fitting with your gown seamstress.

As you get closer to your wedding date, you’ll pack your bags for your dream honeymoon and get together all of the items you’ll need the day of your wedding. Be sure to think about all that you’ll need, because you don’t want to be without anything important either the day of, or during the time you’re on your honeymoon.

As we said, planning a wedding is a lot to handle, but with the help of your wedding party and vendor dream team, you’re bound to make the best of it and have some fun!

Here’s a link to our planning guides, which condense the information written here, just to make your planning easier. Feel free to print them out and cross off items if it helps you stay organized. Happy planning!