You're engaged! How exciting! Now comes the time to plan the most memorable and iconic day of your life. Wedding planning can take anywhere between a few months to a year, and you're probably already stressing about how your dream wedding will come to fruition. Don't you worry, I've worked with several couples through the years, and I can tell you this - with proper planning in place, your journey from engagement to your dream day will be a cake-walk experience mixed in with lots of fun and thrill.
Here is the ultimate wedding planning checklist to steer you in the right direction and inject some much-needed cheerfulness into the planning process.
Look At The Big Picture:
Before figuring out any details, I want you to envision your wedding day. Don't just rush into the planning; take a break. Enjoy some intimate time out after engagement before starting ticking items off the wedding checklist. Write down some things that are important to both of you and prioritize to sort them out. This is a great way to relish your newly engaged status, deepen your emotional bond and start the planning process on an empathetic and understanding note.
You'll be surprised at how much this helps. Not only will you be able to devise a day that aligns with both your style and preferences, but it will also sort out the decision-making that's about to come. That vendor you loved before prioritizing the list might not be the same one you'd want to book now.
Evaluate Your Budget
Once your dream vision is ready, it's time to look at how much money you have to spend on the wedding. Talk to your partner and your parents right after getting engaged and get to a ballpark figure before proceeding with anything else. From there, you'll want to further break down the budget. For instance, you can only spend a limited amount on the venue, or you will miss out on having your preferred photographer for the wedding. Allocate a certain amount to each detail and stick to it along the way.
Get The Big Particulars Out Of The Way!
You've set your budget; now get the following things out of the way:
Final guest list - this may impact your choices of wedding venue
A venue that can accommodate your final headcount and the decor arrangements
Wedding caterer: In-house or a third-party
A photographer who matches your portrait style and needs
A decorator to create your desired wedding aesthetic
And a makeup artist to give you a surreal look on the D-day
Take A Premarital Preparation Course
Do not be like those couples who overlook their relationship in the process of wedding planning. There's a misconception that premarital preparation is for couples having doubts about their relationship. On the contrary, it's just a way to go beyond learning valuable marriage skills. A great premarital course prepares you for the marriage experience and shows you how to extend, maintain and enhance your love.
Do not underestimate the power of premarital education as it acts as a secret sauce for a long, fulfilling life together. Several US states give incentives to couples taking a premarital course because it cuts the divorce rate by 50%.
Purchase Your Wedding Attire
You might already know what you want, or you might not - which is okay too. Start with visiting your favorite stores in the city. Show them some dresses you love, and they'll do the rest. Take your sweet time before deciding on THE ONE. Once all that's done - think of bridesmaid dresses and accessories, and of course, the groom and the groomsmen as well.
Pick Up Your Marriage License
To make your union legal, you need to have a marriage license. Every state has its own application process, but one this is for sure, you can’t get married without securing a marriage license.
All of this requires a fee, and if you want a waiver and some incentives, a premarital course, like mine, can help. These nine states - Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota, Utah, and West Virginia - offer incentives to couples who prepare for marriage, saving them both time and money.
Prepare For The Final Countdown
Hurray! The most important parts of the wedding checklist are all covered. Here are a few granular ones to look at within a few weeks leading to the big day:
Final dress fitting
Refreshing your hair color
Break-in your wedding shoes
Reconfirm final details with all the vendors
Pack your getting-ready bag
Go through all honeymoon details once
Rehearse the ceremony
Write your partner a note
You see, wedding planning really doesn't have to take over your life. It's all about proper management and leaving some things to the flow. Simply follow this wedding checklist; it will keep you calm throughout the planning process. Remember, at the end of the day, you're preparing for marriage first.
Pro-tip: While sailing through your wedding planning, prepare for marriage as well. Doing so benefits you, your family, and your community.
Dr. Liliana Wolf, psychotherapist, former professor of psychology and international relationship expert, has been preparing couples for marriage at her Coral Gables office for over 20 years. She is an approved and certified provider of online premarital courses in all states extending incentives. Favored by couples about to be married, her courses have achieved a consistent 5-star rating, positioning her in the top 1% in sales of online courses by the Teachable platform worldwide. Ranked at the top 1% in the specialty of marriage and family nationwide by HealthGrades, Dr. Wolf is at the top of her game both as a clinician and professor.