The First 5 Steps You Should Take to Plan Your Houston Wedding
If you’ve just become engaged, chances are, you’re already being bombarded with questions like “Have you set a date? Where is the reception? What are your colors? Am I invited?”
How on earth are you supposed to know all the answers when you’ve hardly had the time to soak in being engaged?! You’ve most likely never planned an event of this size or importance before, so how do you even know where to start? To keep you feeling sane and on track, here are The First 5 Steps You Should Take to Plan Your Wedding.
1. Decide on a budget.
Easier said than done, right? Start by determining how much you and your partner can spend, and how much (and if) your family members plan to contribute. Talking about finances with your family can be uncomfortable, but knowing the dollar amount being contributed, rather than a particular service or vendor they wish to sponsor is the best route to go. This will allow you to know your overall financial comfort zone, and allocate money where your priorities are. Once you have your number, decide if this is flexible, and meet with your wedding planner to understand if this amount is realistic for the wedding you’re envisioning.
If you’re not sure what a realistic budget is for the wedding you’re envisioning, talk to a planner! We’ll be able to set your expectations early on, so you can feel confident in the decisions you make during your engagement.
2. Make a guest list, then do it again.
Start by writing down EVERYONE you may like to have at your wedding, then split your list into “A, B, and C” lists, if needed:
A) MUST-INVITE. These guests may consist of immediate family and closest friends. People you would be very saddened not to share your wedding day with.
B) WOULD LIKE TO INVITE. These guests might be extended family and friends; those you see somewhat often and can easily envision still being close within 3 years. Also, coworkers who you’re very close with.
C) IF THE BUDGET AND VENUE ALLOW. Your dad’s boss, the childhood friend you haven’t spoken to in a few years, and that great-aunt who isn’t sure if your fiance’s name is Aaron or Andrew(??). These are essentially courtesy invites and people you wouldn’t mind catching up with if the circumstances allow.
Under no circumstances should you invite someone you do not want to be at your wedding, simply on the chance that they won’t attend and might send a gift. This is called gift-grabbing, and it’s tacky.
Remember that your final guest list should be determined by your budget + vision and not the other way around. For instance, a budget of $50,000 will go a healthy distance for a guest count of 125, but 350? Not so much. Everything would need to be scaled back, from the venue, food & bar, decor, and even your sacred photography budget! Unless all 350 invitees are close and important to you, going this route will ultimately underwhelm you when it comes to achieving your vision.
3. Decide on an ideal season, and secure your venue.
Unless you’re intending to hire a Wedding Planner to source the venue for you, locking in a venue is the first step before any other vendors can be hired. Most vendors will not allow you to book without a date and location already secured. Go in with an open mind, and remember that being adamant on a specific date, especially one within 8 months or in a busy season (Houston and Galveston wedding venues are especially busy March-May and October-November) may limit your options.
Consider the cost of everything you’ll still need to book after the venue (food & beverage, flowers, rentals, photography, etc.) and make sure that is within your financial comfort zone.
Be mindful of your guest count, and don’t book a venue knowing you can’t comfortably fit your A&B guest lists (or 85% of your full guest list).
4. Hire a Wedding Planner.
You’d think that as Houston Wedding Planners this would be our first suggestion, but that all depends on what level of service you’re interested in from a Planner. If you’re looking for a full-service Wedding Planner to source your venue and help create the budget, you can bump this right up to number 2 or 3. A full-service planner will help you figure out if your budget is realistic for your wedding vision so you don’t become “venue poor”. Otherwise, it’s smart to get a start on steps 1-3 so you’ll not only have a date locked in, but you’ll be able to share your financial comfort zone with your Planner.
Even if you’re only intending to hire a Planner for Wedding Management (also known as “day-of or “month-of” coordination) book them early! Experienced Wedding Planners tend to book up over a year in advance for Planning + Design and 6-12 months in advance for Wedding Management. As an added bonus, when you hire Water to Wine Events for Wedding Management, you’ll have access to us a Houston wedding expert to bounce ideas off of, seek advice, and answer etiquette questions throughout your entire engagement – not just the final few weeks before your wedding!
5. Book your Photographer.
After venue and planner, photographers book up faster than any other vendor, and for good reason! When all is said and done, photos are going to be what you remember your day by. They’ll be shared on your social media, hung on your wall, and passed down to your family as keepsakes. So, if you find someone who suits your style, price point, and personality, book them! If you’ve booked us as your wedding planner (regardless of service level) prior to securing a photographer, we’ll help you figure out what style fits you best, what services you need (how many hours of coverage, engagement photos, second shooter, etc.) and make recommendations around your target budget.
I hope these tips help to get you started planning your dream wedding! If you have any questions or would like more information about how Water to Wine Events can help you plan your wedding, you can contact us Here.
Cover Photo by Kirsten Holliday Photography
Banner Photo by Madison Richards Photography