Congratulations, you’re getting married!

Now what do you do? 11 Months Before Your Wedding is the first in a series of articles to help you stay on track and on budget when planning your dream wedding. t’s easy enough to spend hours on Pinterest choosing flowers, dresses, cakes, and favors. It’s also the best way to plan a wedding that you won’t be able to afford. I’ve got a few tips to help you prioritize your investment and focus on what’s important- having the best day of your life.

I usually advise my brides to think of their wedding as a party, with pictures to last a lifetime. Think about statement pieces that will photograph well and prioritize those things. And, if your dream wedding includes a harpist in a gauzy gown serenading you down the aisle, by all means- that is a priority!

With that in mind, 11 months before your wedding:

  1. Set your budget.

    This is your party, but you (or your parents) need to be able to pay for it. If you decide to make your own morning coffee or forego nights at the club for a few months that’s one thing, but make sure you’re not starting your partnership with unnecessary debt just to have an open bar for 500 guests on your wedding day if you can’t afford it.

    Start with the total amount you can spend, then break it up into catering, bar, flowers, entertainment, venue, etc. Your breakdown is fluid at this point since you probably haven’t met vendors. Make sure you leave a buffer in your projections so you don’t overspend when you finalize the totals over the next few months. You can also ask your vendors if they will let you pay in increments rather than all at once.

  2. Start the guest list.

    Your guest list will be at least partially based on your budget. If you’ve got a limited budget, it should be based on who you want to share your celebration with rather than who you feel obligated to include.

    You will need a final head count for your caterer a month or two before your big day, so you can add to your list over the next few months.

  3. Save the date.

    Start with a time frame for your wedding date that works for both of you. Narrow down your wedding date to a few weekends that don’t conflict with other work or family events.

  4. Choose your color scheme.

    This could be an easy one if you have a favorite color, but you may be able to extend your budget by choosing an in season color scheme. Many venues will have some of their own decorations, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    Tying your decor into what’s already there means you won’t have to spend as much to create a impact.

  5. Search for a ceremony venue.

    If you have a long-standing relationship with a house of worship this may be the easiest decision you make. However, brides are increasingly seeking locations with a stunning backdrop for the ceremony and a reception area on the same site.

    Should you choose to get married at your house of worship, it’s frequently customary to donate your altar arrangements for the congregates to enjoy at the next service.

  6. Search for a reception venue.

    A lot of variables go into choosing your reception location. The most important thing is to choose a location with enough space to accommodate your guests. Not too big and not too small, it should be just right.

    If your guests are travelling from the ceremony to the reception site, you may want to choose something nearby. At the very least, include a map with the main streets with your invitations or as a takeaway as they’re leaving the ceremony site.

Alright, that should get you started. Only ten more months to plan!

Are you ready to move on to 10 Months Before Your Wedding?