If you are newly engaged and have opted to plan your own wedding, but not sure where to start, do not worry. Most couples have never planned an event as intricate, exquisite – nor as important – as a wedding. Although it may seem daunting, your aspirations to plan the wedding of your dreams is attainable. It should also be an enjoyable experience – and I assure you, it can be, as long as you start with a plan.
With all the moving pieces, planning a wedding can be a test of patience and endurance, particularly if you are planning during the heightened reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having an effective plan as your foundation will help you take control of the process, stay organized, and prevent feelings of angst and overwhelm. The goal is to keep your stress at a minimum, so that you never lose the flutter of that wonderful, soon-to-be-wed feeling.
As you start to plan your wedding day, take note of the following step-by-step guide. It is filled with ideas, inspiration and tools – as well as a few specific COVID-19 related tips – to successfully guide you along your joyous journey from engagement to the aisle!
Step 1 – Set the Date:
When you share the news of your engagement with family and friends, it will most likely elicit this popular response, “You’re engaged? Congratulations! When’s the wedding?”
So, how do you choose the ideal date? Here are a few suggestions:
- Symbolic Dates: Make a note of the significant days in your life or special moments you have shared as a couple. How romantic would it be to be married on the date you first met or on your grandparents’ anniversary?
- Honor Cultural Traditions: In some Chinese weddings, the newly engaged couple will consult a Chinese calendar to choose a favorable, “lucky” date. This incorporates a cultural tradition in a way that makes their day feel special.
- Celebrate the season: Consider your wedding’s personality, then choose your season accordingly. Will it be cherry blossoms in the spring, vibrant leaves in fall or a snow-filled winter landscape?
- How about the Holidays? Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are popular options for adding more spirit to your special day. A festive, holiday ambiance may be the perfect atmosphere for friends and family to gather.
- In light of the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic there are many more factors to consider in setting a wedding date than ever before; therefore, flexibility is key. Many couples have opted to keep several dates in mind instead of just deciding on one. Others have opted to “think outside of the weekend” and switch to a weekday date. Working with an expert wedding planner will open you up to their world of inside advice on setting a date and devising a solid backup plan to move forward.
Step 2 – Choose the Venue:
Whether you desire a rustic barn, luxurious ballroom, intimate park, or serene stretch of beach, the key is to choose a venue that perfectly aligns with your vision.
Popular wedding venues sometimes book up to a year or more in advance. Therefore, if you have your heart set on a particular venue, it is important to secure your booking as soon as possible.
Keep in mind, with COVID-19 many couples are rescheduling from the previous year. Highly sought-after venues are in the tough position of sorting out and prioritizing couples seeking the same wedding dates. What this ultimately means is inventory of weekend weddings may be slim, and you may need to exercise flexibility in working with your chosen venue’s availability.
Step 3 – Make your Money Count:
Where to splurge? What to save on? Every couple has their own unique set of priorities for their special day. It is essential for you to think about the elements of a wedding that matter the most to you – then, invest in those areas. Take a look at the suggested list of priorities for where to invest your money – and be sure to make it count:
- Wedding Planner
- Entertainment – Deejay/Band
Step 4 – Communication is Key:
As with anything, the more informed people are, the more smoothly everything will fall into place. Communicating with everyone involved does not have to be a convoluted or stressful process- all you need is a communication strategy. This begins with ensuring the following “key players” receive vital information for pre- and post-planning stages:
- Fiancé: Your partner should be involved every step of the way regarding the planning process. Always make sure you are on the same page: know the tasks at hand, understand the expectations, and have agreed on the details: contracts, finances, logistics, etc.
- The Parents: Naturally, at times, overly enthusiastic parents may become a bit overbearing with their opinions and occasionally tiptoe across boundaries. From the onset, share pertinent information regarding the role they will play. This will let them know how they can be involved, and not overstep any lines that you may not want them to cross.
- Wedding Party: Provide them with details related to special wedding related events, key appointments, and their attire. Most importantly communicate the integral role they play in the wedding.
Step 5 – Know what’s important:
Being crystal clear on your vision is powerful. During your planning process, when you know what is important to you, it is easy to filter out the things that are not. List (5)-five elements that hold the highest importance to the both of you.
Again, when it comes to manifesting your vision, remember that you may need to accommodate for how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the wedding planning landscape, as mentioned in Tip #1: Set the date and Tip#2: Choose a Venue.
With that in mind, the goal is to frame the highest vision for your wedding day. Knowing what is important to you, will serve as the “north star” of your entire planning process.
Step 6 – Be fierce… and flexible:
Stay committed to your vision but be flexible in your approach. Flexibility is a must, especially as it pertains to things like: deciding on your guest list, budget, or venue. As an experienced Planner and expert negotiator, I can help you identify areas where you can be pliable without sacrificing your style or compromising on class.
Step 7 – Stay Organized:
What goes hand in hand with organization? Peace of mind! When it comes to planning your wedding, organization will help you save time and money – and makes for a more pleasant experience overall!
A great place to start is with your schedule. Take a romantic stroll down the office supply aisle of your local Target for a planner/calendar that allows you to make notes and has dividers. If you are a paperless type of couple, Google has effective organization tools at no cost that will aid in your planning strategy such as Google Calendar, Google Keep, Google Task. This will empower you to map your plan through tasks and deadlines, with notations for whom will be completing each action. In organizing your calendar, create “time off” every 4-6 weeks; this allows for woo-sah moments from what can be an overwhelming planning process.
Step 8 – Delegate. Delegate. Delegate:
To help lighten your load, surround yourself with a capable, reliable dream team (family members, the best man, and matron of honor) to entrust with critical tasks. First, take ownership of certain responsibilities amongst yourselves as a couple, then divide and conquer by turning to your trusted inner circle for further support.
To stay on track, assign everyone specific tasks with deadlines. For accountability, regularly check on your team’s progress. Scheduling routine video calls (every 30 days or so) will guarantee everyone stays on task. Perfect video tools are Zoom, Google Meet, Google Duo.
Step 9 – Utilize Resources:
Are you a investigative-savvy couple? If so, consider utilizing any of following digital resources to make your planning easier and more efficient:
- WeddingWire: has a downloadable planning app with helpful tools like countdowns, local vendor options, and to-do lists. There is even an app for your guest to collect wedding photos.
- The Knot: offers a wealth of advice and tips, and a major resource for searching a wide variety of venues and vendors.
- Online wedding publications such as Washingtonian Weddings, Munaluchi Bridal , PartySlate, Carats and Cake, are great resources to turn to for tips and inspiration
- The National Society of Black Wedding and Event Professionals: is the first of its kind; serving as an invaluable worldwide resource for couples who specifically seek to hire Black event professionals to curate unparalleled wedding experience. NSBWEP’s membership directory lists an array of reputable African American event professionals by state, then by professional category.
- Wedding website builders: will help you design a site to share exciting news with all your guests. From RSVP’s and dress codes to links for accommodation and travel, a personalized wedding website will be the digital destination for your big day information.
- Wedding Blogs: such as the one you are currently reading, offer page after page of resourceful info, tools and tips direct from industry pros.
- Google Drive: for creating spreadsheets and keeping important wedding documents together in one place.
- All Seated: is a great tool for devising seating charts and creating venue lay-outs.
- GroupMe: a Messaging App that will help streamline communications with your Wedding Party on the go!
Step 10 – Work with a Pro:
One of the best investments you can make is to hire a Wedding Planner with the tactical skills and creative brilliance to masterfully manifest the dream for your strikingly successful, special day.
An experienced wedding planner who carefully considers and curates every detail will alleviate the stress associated with planning. All you have to do is express the vision, while they execute the plan.
Now, as we plot a course through this unprecedented pandemic, a wedding planner is the answer to all your dilemmas. Having access to a professional during this time will offer much needed guidance and support through this stressful process.
And speaking of professionals, be sure that all the vendors you contract for your wedding have the required credentials (must have) of business operation such as, 1- business insurance (the standard is $1 million), 2- business license or state certificate of where their business is registered. You can ask to see these documents! A business owner that is invested in their business will be invested in you!
Your wedding is a once in a life-time moment that you want to treasure forever; and those memories start with being engaged to the day of “I Do”. I am here to create a joyful experience during the planning process – even throughout a pandemic- so that you can focus on your love for one another and revel in the joy of being engaged.