In the last issue we talked about the first five steps to planning your wedding. Here’s a quick recap:

Step 1 – Think about the wedding you want.

Step 2 – What’s your budget?

Step 3 – How many guests do you plan to invite?

Step 4 – Where in the world do you want to get married?

Step 5 – When do you want to get married?

Now we’re going to put those first five steps to work and start shopping! Here’s where you’ll make use of those budget and guest count numbers, the decisions you made in step four and five, and all of that great thinking and feeling you did in step one.

Step 6 – Choose a venue (or two, if your ceremony will be in one place and your reception at another.) It’s easy to start your shopping online. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, make an appointment, grab your sweetie, and go out and see how each venue looks and feels.

Step 7 – Choose a caterer. Finally, food and drink! Yum! And so many choices! It can seem mind-boggling at first, but a good caterer will walk you through the vast array of possibilities. They will help you make choices that work for your needs and desires while staying within of your budget.

Step 8 – I’m cheating a little bit here and breaking this step into four parts. In no particular order, it’s time to make your choices around photography, decorating, entertainment, and an officiant.

Entertainment: If dancing is important, you’ll want a DJ or a band. If not, a room-filling sound system with recorded background music played from your iDevice or computer will be just fine. Pro tip: Don’t depend on an internet connection for your wedding music!

Photography: Here are my basic criteria for choosing a wedding photographer, in descending order of consideration: the quality of the images shown in the photographer’s (hopefully extensive) portfolio, their personality, and the price. If the first or second criteria don’t make the grade, the last one isn’t important. Move on. Pro tip: Anyone can get a good photograph of a happy couple outside in the daytime. If your reception is going to be indoors or at night or both, you want to see a portfolio full of images made in those settings. Look for photographs that show well-exposed people while allowing the venue that the couple chose to also look good.

Decorating: You might be engaging a florist or an event design company or doing it yourself – or some combination thereof. If you wedding is complex, start step eight with decor, followed by entertainment.

Officiant: You need someone to make it official! Choices range between denominationally-accredited, seminary-trained clergy; professional, internet-ordained clergy; and friends or relatives who obtain an internet ordination. I’ve watched hundreds of weddings and seen all three used. How well the ceremony goes depends more upon the officiant’s personalty, preparation, and skills than it does anything else.

Step 9 – Buy something to wear. Now that you know how your wedding will look and feel, you can make an informed choice about clothing.

Wedding dresses can take six weeks to six months or more to arrive from the time you place your order. With that in mind (and even if there isn’t a dress being ordered), plan to have steps one through eight completed before you get here.

Step 10 – Send out some invitations. You’re just two months away now! It’s time to invite the people you love and who love you to your fantastic, well-planned wedding!

Even in ten steps, wedding planning is complex. There is a lot to do. You’re likely to be spending money in amounts rarely seen in your life. The key to success is planning – thoughtful, thorough, and loving planning. Do that, and I promise you’ll have a fantastic wedding!

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit Chasecourt.com, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.
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