The First Steps for a Successful Wedding

The knee was bent, the ring was proffered, and there was a resounding, “Yes!” The proposal was a huge success, but what’s the next step? Too many couples enter boggy territory at this stage in the wedding planning process. Since most young couples are taking the plunge for the first time in their lives, it’s hard to know exactly what to do and when.

It’s tempting to make too many plans too soon, which leads to complications and cancelations later on as more information becomes available. On the other hand, if you wait too long, you’ll miss the opportunity for time-sensitive deals on venues and wedding services. The best way to start the wedding planning process is by taking your first steps as soon as possible–and saving the rest for a later date.

Start Collecting Inspiration

Whether you prefer a hand-held folder of photographs and magazine clippings, or your style runs virtual with a collection of digital images, it’s time to start putting all of your wedding inspiration in one place. Pull from a variety of sources–it doesn’t have to be wedding-specific.

If you see a model with a hairdo you like, or a recipe for an unusual cocktail or dessert, clip it and stick it in your inspiration folder. Later, when you’re in the more specific stages of the wedding planning process, you’ll be able to go back through your ideas quickly and easily once they’re organized in one place.

Using a formal wedding inspiration folder is more useful than you may think. Sure, it helps you keep track of all the little details so you don’t wake up the night before your wedding exclaiming, “We forgot the sparkly swizzle sticks!” However, an inspiration folder is also useful to make sure you, your fiancé, and all of your wedding vendors are on the same page.

When you’re commissioning your cake, for example, showing the baker photos of your ideal bridesmaids’ dresses and flower arrangements helps the baker know exactly what style of icing will best match the rest of your wedding. Creating an overall atmosphere and theme for your wedding is important, and your folder will help everyone integrate their ideas into one cohesive image.

Assemble a Wedding Party

The friends and family you choose for your wedding party will be instrumental in supporting you while you plan your wedding, so choose the lucky people as soon as possible. Be sure each person understands the responsibilities of their role.

Even though you may be tempted to pick your best friends without further consideration, it is important that the members of your wedding party have the time and energy to give their roles their full attention.

If a best man or maid of honor is too busy with work or lives too far away to help you plan your celebration, he or she is better suited to another role in your wedding. Remember, you can still honor your friends and loved ones even if they are not members of your wedding party.

Agree on the Essentials

A successful wedding is one where everyone, from the lucky couple to their families, agrees on the essentials of the wedding being planned. It may sound overly basic, but sit down with the important players (this includes your future spouse and anyone contributing financially to the wedding) and go over the important questions.

One of the most essential questions is, “What size wedding are we planning?” The process of putting together an intimate affair for 25 guests is much different than orchestrating a large gala for 500. It’s important to discuss with your fellow planners whether they’re envisioning a celebration involving coworkers and casual acquaintances or just sharing the day with the nearest and dearest.

How much are you providing at the wedding? Do you want to treat your guests to a full, sit-down banquet or are you just serving champagne and cake? As you discuss questions, keep a written list handy. Make sure you agree on details like whether or not you want to hire a professional wedding planner, what your maximum budget is, and what (if any) aspects you absolutely can’t compromise.

Once you make sure everyone is on the same page about the grand wedding vision, it’s time to take a break from planning and enjoy some of the more enjoyable aspects of being engaged. Call a few photographers and embark on the fun adventure of deciding who’s going to take your engagement photos. After all, you’ll want to remember the smiles on your faces for a long time to come.