The First Step of Planning a Wedding

Bride popping champagne in getting ready suite King Gillette Ranch Calabasas Wedding

Welcome to the first step of wedding planning! You’re in the wedding planning club! The next 6-12 months will feel like a rollercoaster (of many things) but the end result is so rewarding. Newly engaged couples always struggle with where and what to start on when it comes to wedding planning. You’re engaged, and now you feel a weight of questions on your shoulders that you feel need to be hammered out within the first month. I’m here to tell you – RELAX. Trust me, it will be okay. When it comes to my couples, I find that they rather break up wedding planning into bite-size chunks. This makes the process enjoyable & fun! Yep, that’s right – I said FUN.

As an event and wedding planner, I have years of experience working with couples and fine-tuning the planning process to make it seamless from beginning to end. In my experience, I have learned that there are 9 phases to the planning process, and I am sharing the first phase with you below.

Phase 1 – Pre-Planning Process

Post-engagement, most couples jump straight into the planning without putting any plan in place. Why is this path the wrong approach? Not only will you immediately exceed your budget, but you don’t have clarity of the other main components. Here’s what you should do in the pre-planning process:

  • Let the proposal set in for a week or two before jumping head first into wedding planning
  • After you’ve had a chance to enjoy your proposal, now it’s time to figure out the bigger details – Guest List, Budget, Expectations, and Vision.
  • Reach out to a wedding planner to help you through the rest of the 9 phases.
  • Don’t plan on hiring a wedding planner? Definitely consider hiring a wedding coordinator, and continue reading through my 9 Phases of Wedding Planning.

 Create a Vision

This part is typically left to end when you are thinking about design but I want you to approach vision from a different perspective. When you think about vision, I want you to ask yourselves the question “How do we want our wedding day to feel?” “How do we want our guests to remember our day?”

These questions are much different from what you’re used to reading because it makes you think deeper and introspectively about the feeling you want to create from your wedding day. It’s not always about having a surfeit of florals and decor, your focus may be to create an intimate, romantic wedding that incorporates your love for pizza, and allows you to have your loving pups by your side when you say ‘I do’. You want your guests to leave your wedding feeling like – WOW!  That was definitely [insert names here] in the form of a wedding!

Don’t rush this step or feel like you have to copy what you see on Pinterest. Make it your own!

What’s Most Important?

In the first step of planning a wedding, it may feel like everything is important but you need to narrow your focus. To help you stay in line with the budget, you need to narrow down 3-5 elements that are most important to you. Is it that you are able to enjoy the day without stress or worry? You’ll want to make a planner/coordinator one of the top elements. Do you want to have amazing photos from a quality vendor? There’s another. You get the point.

Now, the other caveat is what experience you want to have with your vendors. There are 3 areas to choosing: Price, Quality of Service, Fast. Take a look at the diagram below.


When it comes to selecting your vendors, you will not get all 3-in-1. If you are approached with this offer, RUN! If it’s too good to be true, there is a reason for that. The couples that choose to work with me believe in quality over quantity and want an experience that is elevated. In this industry the saying goes – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  Think about your typical daily buying habits, and fall back on what you tend to prefer. How do you want to feel? What is most important to you?

Build the Guest List

The guest list is the big bad wolf of the wedding planning process because this can make or break your budget. If you come from a large family, this task will seem overwhelming at the beginning. You have many extended cousins, aunts/uncles to choose from but this is where you need to refer back to your vision. If your parents have offered to assist you financially, then you will need to talk to them about their expectations when it comes to the guests they would want at the wedding, and any elements they would like included. It’s not always ideal and some parents are hands-off with the process, but for those that have an opinion, it means a lot to them to feel heard.

Keep in mind – the more guests you have at your wedding, the more money it will cost. Everything is affected by the guest count regardless of what you may read.

Determine the Budget

Oh, the budget talk. When it comes to money – this is typically a touchy subject for people, and get ready to be uncomfortable. The only way you can be truly realistic in the first step of planning a wedding is by laying all of your cards on the table. Selecting an amount for your budget is not something you pull out of thin air or choose arbitrarily – this is intentional.

This is where you will combine the guest list, vision, and expectations together to determine a realistic budget. Pro tip: do not use Pinterest as your guide for determining your budget. It is unrealistic. Always. Most of the images you find as reference are styled shoots with big price tags. Feeling stuck on what to realistically price your dream wedding at? Call the professional – ME or another event/wedding planner to talk through your objections and concerns. Planners are a great resource to help you understand what you can and cannot get for the budget you have in mind.

Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner

To continue from the above, another benefit of hiring a full-service planner (if it’s in the budget) is their ability to take the weight of wedding planning off of your shoulders. For couples that work 40+ hours per week, travel for work, and can’t find enough hours in the day – a wedding planner is the best investment you could make. Make sure you establish a relationship that is genuine, and real because you will spend a lot of time and communication with this person. What does the average full-service wedding planner cost in LA? You’re looking at starting prices of $8000+. That’s if you want someone who is experienced and will follow through on expectations and their word. Want to find out more about hiring a wedding planner, read this article.

Stay tuned to ready out Step 2!

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Photo: Apartment 3 Photography




March 3, 2020