Just about to get starting with planning your own wedding or feeling a little overwhelmed by it all? We've put together a massive list of some of the best wedding planning tips that can make the entire experience from start-to-finish much, much easier. 


You see, we planned our own wedding and got a taste of what it's like first hand. Since then, we've gone on to photograph a ton of weddings for couples who chose to use us as their wedding photographers - and we've seen over and again how wedding planning can be a lot of fun if done right (and a little stressful if not thought out well!). 


While this post will be a little more involved than the typical "top 10 wedding planning tips" articles you'll find around bridal magazines and such, we hope you'll be able to find it a little more helpful as we give personal and practical advice that's more than just "make a budget"

1. HAVE A WEDDING ON YOUR TERMS


We are firm believers that your wedding day should be a reflection of who you are as a couple, not just parents dictating every little detail. If there are things that are really important to you to incorporate into your wedding - whether that's traditions, a certain aesthetic, etc. - you should let that be a part of your day. 


When planning a larger wedding, it's normal to expect a level of compromise with your family - but don't accept compromising on things that will make you unhappy. Otherwise, what's the point of all this wedding planning if you won't be able to enjoy yourself when the big day comes?


2. GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH YOUR PARTNER



One of the worst "wedding planning trends" is when one partner is super invested in the planning, and the other just sits it out. At the start of your wedding planning, we suggest sitting down and talking together about how to approach making these plans. 


3. KNOW THE COSTS


In the United States, the average wedding costs about $33,000. The price can be much higher in major metro areas like New York City and Philadelphia. Of course, price can also vary depending on the specific venue and vendors you select - with newcomers in the industry generally being less expensive, and more experienced service providers being more expensive. 


For experienced and reputable vendors, here's a breakdown of what you can expect to pay:


- Photographers$3,000 - $5,000. This price range will typically include wedding day coverage, an engagement shoot, 1-2 shooters, assistance with creating a timeline, and often albums or other print options. 

- Videographers. $3,000 - $5,000. This price range will typically include wedding day coverage, an edited video montage, RAW footage of your ceremony and toasts. Some videographers also include things like drone footage or quick turnaround social media edits.

- DJ. $1,000 - $2,000. This price range (or higher) includes a skilled DJ who is able to read a room and keep a party going all night long. 

- Live Band. $3,000 - $4,000. Live music is super awesome and a little more expensive because it requires a lot more effort and manpower. Price can vary depending on the size of the band and how long they are needed to perform.

- Wedding Planner. $3,000 - $5,000. This price range will take all of the hardest parts of wedding planning off of your plate, and give it to someone who is experienced in helping with the flow of your event. 

- Day Of Wedding Coordinator. $1,000 - $3,000. For weddings that need a lot of support in the logistics department, a day of coordinator can help make sure everyone is where they need to be at the right times. 

- Wedding Venue. $10,000 - $25,000. This price range tends to include a lot of amenities and a more nuanced experience - sometimes may include food, cake, etc. as well.

- Officiant. $300 - $500. While virtually anyone can become a wedding officiant for free & online, an experienced wedding officiant is good at helping to make your ceremony personal and engaging for the audience. 

- Catering. 50$ - 70$ pp. The cost of food depends largely on how many guests you will have at your event. 

- Cake. $300 - $500. This price range is for a custom wedding cake.

- Florals. $1,000 - $2,000. This price range tends to cover a lot of floral arrangements such as bouquets, boutonnieres, table centerpieces, etc.


4. CREATE A MOOD BOARD

So - what do you want your wedding day to look like? 


One of the easiest ways to make a wedding mood board is to start a new board on Pinterest. Start pinning wedding inspiration. Over time, you can shape the mood board to focus on the color, aesthetics, and vibe you're going for in your wedding day. This board can help guide your decisions on choosing vendors, as well as be something that can be shared with some vendors (like a florist) to help guide them in floral selection.

5. GET ORGANIZED

Okay, we know every wedding planning tips article tells you to "get organized", but how do you do it?


Many of our couples are already skilled at organization since we often are shooting weddings for people with very organization centric careers like teachers, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and similar. But, not everyone has a natural gift of being good at organization - and that can really come out during wedding planning since there are a lot of things to keep track of! 


More than likely, if you're good at organization already, you won't need our help. But, if you struggle with it, here's some suggestions to make it easier for you:


- Keep a journal of everything that needs to get done. Sometimes the easiest suggestions are the best. Some couples who plan their weddings try to keep everything up in their heads, but this makes it very challenging to actually stay on track. Just writing everything out will make wedding planning much, much smoother for you.

- Use Microsoft Excel if you want to level up your organization game. We can be a little nerdy, and have a weird love for Excel. Do we dare say it's kind of fun to use? A good spreadsheet can help you get better organized. We'd suggest working off of some pre-built templates like those found here. These make it much easier to use, even if you're not a skilled Excel user!

- Delegate tasks to friends & family who are willing to help. Part of staying organized with wedding planning is accepting you can't do everything yourself. If you're able to have help from your friends & family, see what things they are able to help you with. It'll allow you to move through your list of things to do quicker and more easily.

- Make a couple of checklists. You should have big goals that need to be done before the wedding. We'd also suggest setting daily/weekly goals as well to keep things moving ahead consistently. 


6. MAKE A LIST OF THE "MUST HAVE" GUESTS


Weddings are notorious for bringing together long lost family members you may have never even heard of. For some couples, this is pretty exciting and kind of a cool way to turn your wedding into a bit of a family reunion. For other couples, this can be super annoying because "why should I pay for my 3rd cousin Jerry" when they don't even know who you are. 


Take it from us (a married couple), the people you have at your wedding should contribute to the joy of your wedding. You don't need to have people just to have them.


7. ASK VENUES ABOUT ANY RESTRICTIONS THEY HAVE


One of the most disappointing thing for couples is booking a really nice venue, only to find out later that they can't do certain things. Some things to ask about include:


- Can you have a sparkler exit?

- Are fireworks allowed?

- Is there any limitations on photography?

- Is the venue pet friendly?

- Is the end of the evening a hard cut off time?

- Can I bring in my own decorations?



8. PREPARE A SMALL "EMERGENCY KIT" FOR THE WEDDING DAY

It's good to be prepared for little mishaps that may come up on the day. A couple little things can relieve a lot of in the moment stress!


- Bobby pins.

- Needle & thread.

- Bandaids.

- Light snacks. 

- Nail clipper.

- Double sided tape.

9. SCHEDULE TIME IN YOUR WEDDING DAY TO ENJOY YOURSELF


When you begin working on your wedding timeline, it's important to add in some room for you to really enjoy being present in your day. We've seen couples add in that they are going to take 15-20 minutes together after their ceremony where they'll refresh themselves, grab something to eat, and just relax for a hot minute. Small things like this make a big difference in how you enjoy and remember your day.



10. FEELING A LITTLE STRESS IS NORMAL AND OKAY


Most wedding planning advice will tell you "don't stress" - we're gonna go a different direction. Feeling stressed out comes with wedding planning. Think about it - it's a big step for you & your partner. You'll be bringing together family & friends, some of which who have never met each other before. You totally want everyone there to be happy and to have a good time, and you definitely want to make sure you're able to enjoy it, too! That's a lot to plan for, so the stress will come naturally. Of course, if you're feeling excessively stressed, that's no good either - so give yourself time and space to plan so you can account for that, but know it's totally normal to feel some stress along the way. 


11. CONSIDER HOW YOUR WEDDING TIMELINE WILL CHANGE TO ACCOMODATE PHOTOS


Want all the amazing photos during your wedding day? You have to be comfortable blocking off some time to make them happen!


While every photographer may be a little different, here's what we suggest for different parts of the day:


- 1-2 hours of photography while you get ready (this allows for candids, detail shots, and some portraits)

- 30 minutes for family formals

- 30 - 60 minutes for bridal party & bride and groom portraits




12. DO AN ENGAGEMENT SHOOT WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER


Okay, we could give you a lot of advice when it comes to photography (since, you know, we are experienced wedding photographers) - but the one piece of wedding planning advice we'll give around it is "do the engagement shoot". But why?


Engagement sessions serve 2 main purposes. The first is to get you acquainted with your photographer and see how they work with you. This makes your life much easier when the wedding day comes around, since you've already met and know what it's like being in front of the camera. The second is to take a break from all the wedding planning, and just have a fun time together. While some engagement photographers go the cheesy route with a ton of props and signs, our approach is a lot more casual and about allowing our couple's to do things that feel natural to them.