Wedding planning notebook with a cup of coffee and flowers

It’s happening – you’re getting married! We know you are probably both overjoyed and overwhelmed right now, and it won’t take long before your friends and family will start to flood you with questions about the wedding.

Don’t worry – you have plenty of time to figure it all out. To help you out, our wedding experts have put together the first five steps you need to take when planning your wedding.

Step One: Put together your budget

“Budget influences everything,” says Cornman Farms Managing Partner, Tabitha Mason. “By starting with your budget, it will keep you from getting your heart set on something you may not be able to afford.” Begin by looking at online resources and putting together your overall budget. Try not to get too detailed yet – at this stage you just need a loose idea of what you’ll be working with in total. (Side note: your wedding venue and catering will typically take up half of your overall budget.)

Also consider where you’ll be sourcing your funds. Some couples opt to pay with their credit cards, as they’re a convenient option. Plus, you could use the reward points that you earn on your honeymoon. Another popular option is a wedding loan, which will provide you with a lump sum that you’ll pay back over the course of a couple of months. They also tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards, so it might be worth checking out. But no need to get too detailed yet – at this stage you just need a loose idea of what you’ll be working with in total. Knowing your budget and your modes of payment will make it easier for you (and your wallet).

Step Two: Figure out your priorities

What do you want your wedding to be? Do you want a small gathering or a grand ball? A fancy multi-course dinner or a dance party with free-flowing drinks? Be sure to discuss these things early on with your partner.

Once you both have a good grasp of the big picture, start thinking about whether you want to sit back and let someone else do the hard stuff, or be more hands-on in your planning process. If you’re the former, you may decide to go with a venue that offers an all-inclusive wedding package. The alternative is one that lets you customize everything to your taste, and if you fall into this camp, this may be a good time to consider whether or not you will be hiring a wedding planner.

Step Three: Start thinking about guest count

Now that you have an idea for what type of wedding you’re going to have, it’s important to start with a rough estimate for your guest count. This will help you figure out your budget and find the right venue. There is a good chance that you’ll have to narrow down this list at a later date, so we recommend starting big and then breaking your list into tiers. This will help you down the road so that you don’t end up with a lengthy editing process.

Step Four: Decide on the timeframe

It’s the first question you’ll get once your engagement is announced…”So what’s the date?” A word of advice: Don’t let anyone pressure you into setting it immediately. Planning takes time, and there are a number of things to decide before you land on a date. We recommend starting with your ideal season and year and then moving on to step five. Venues will have varying availability, so it’s best not to get your heart set on a specific day before you’ve found your ideal venue.

Step Five: Scout possible venues

By now, you should have a vision of your big day, a rough guest count, an estimated budget, and a timeframe in mind. Note that pricing may vary. It’s important to look at venue prices as a whole, as not all venue packages can be compared apples-to-apples. For instance, some venues may simply provide the cost of the venue rental and nothing else, whereas at Cornman Farms, our packages have built-in inclusions, such as service teams, rentals, catering and even a concierge. (This varies depending on which package you choose.) Please keep in mind, with regulations changing constantly around COVID-19 gathering restrictions, you should ask your potential venues about what safety precautions they’re taking.

At this stage, we encourage you to return to step one, the budget. Before booking your venue, it’s important to determine who will be paying what amount when. This means you won’t face any surprises or hard conversations down the road.

And there you have it — those are the first five steps to planning your wedding. We know it’s exciting to be at this stage in your life, but don’t forget to enjoy your engagement! It’s more than just a phase between dating and marriage. It’s a time to set expectations with your partner and to celebrate how far you’ve come, and how much further you’ll go.

Article exclusively written for
By Ashley Avery