If you’re getting married in 2019 or 2020, there’s a one in three chance that you’re going to get engaged in the next six weeks. How exciting!

Planning your wedding can be just as exciting as your engagement, full of joy and wonder and discovery. The key to successful wedding planning is to be thoughtful, thorough, and loving. That’s it!

I’m going to walk you through a deliberate, step-by-step process that will help you avoid lots of potential stress and heartache.

Here’s how to do it: (Spoiler alert! This is part one of two.)

Step 1 – Think about the wedding you want. Feel about what you want. What do you want your wedding ceremony and reception to look, sound, smell, and taste like? Who is there with you? What are you hearing? How do you feel, and how does the space feel?

What things do you want to have happen? How does everything look? Is it night or day (or both), bright or dim, large or small? How might it start, and how might it end? Do you very best to imagine as much of it as possible. You can do this with your sweetie, or do it separately and compare your results.

If you don’t know where to begin, think about the wedding that you don’t want.

Step 2 – What’s your budget? How much money do you have available for everything and everyone involved in the ceremony and reception? That includes the venue, caterer, photography, entertainment, decorating, officiant, planner/coordinator, and cake?

If other family members have indicated their desire to contribute, now is the time to find out how much money they are willing to offer. The rest of your planning will go much easier when you know your budget to within a thousand dollars or so.

Step 3 – How many guests do you plan to invite? Forget who you think will accept your invitation. It’s the number of guests you plan to invite that should guide your decisions around venue and catering choices.

I have a lot to say about whom to invite, some of which can be found in older posts of this column on the online version. My favorite piece of advice is one that I attribute to Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners, who says: “Invite the people you love and who love you.” Really, who else do you want at your wedding? You want to look at every face, every single person, and think, “I’m glad you’re here!”

Step 4 – Where in the world do you want to get married? What state? What city, town or county? Do you want to be in the city, the country, or in the suburbs? We’re talking geography here. We’ll deal with the specific venue soon.

Step 5 – When do you want to get married? Is there a season or two that you favor? Are there months that you especially like or are off-limits? What year? What day of the week do you like (Pro tip: Venue rates are often lower on Fridays and Sundays than they are on Saturdays.) Perhaps you have an exact date in mind. Even if you don’t – and that’s perfectly fine – it’s a good idea to look at some dates to see if they might work.

That’s the first half. Two weeks from now, in part two, we’re going to put all of that planning to work and start shopping! For now, you have plenty to do for two weeks, so grab your sweetie, find a comfortable place to snuggle and talk, and get to it!

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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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