If you’ve made it to this page, it is likely because you are recently engaged and looking for a wedding planning checklist. Congratulations! Love is being celebrated, even during these challenging times, and that is something we at HauteFêtes are definitely excited about! We cannot wait to plan, design, and execute each unique wedding in 2021 and beyond.

So, now that you’ve popped the champagne and called your friends and family with the good news, what’s next? Where do you start when it comes to wedding planning? While you may have dreamt of your wedding day since you were a child, now you are engaged and it’s time to bring those dreams to life.

As you read through this eight-step wedding planning checklist, you will find the answers to these questions and more. So, let’s get started.  

1. Get on the Same Page as Your Partner

How do you envision your big day? Does your partner envision it the same way? This is one of the first conversations to have after you get engaged. While you definitely do not need to hash out all the little details such as wedding design, color palette, or what your bridal party is going to wear, it is important to ask the big questions to ensure the overall vision for your wedding is everything both you and your partner desire.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you want a big wedding celebration or a small, intimate wedding?
  • Do you want your wedding to be a formal event or casual gathering?
  • Will you have your wedding in the summer, winter, or somewhere in between?
  • Are you planning a long engagement with a wedding happening the following year? Or are you ready to start planning your wedding now to get married sooner rather than later?

These questions will help guide the rest of your planning process, which is why they are first on the wedding planning checklist.

Wedding planning checklist

2. Decide Where You’re Going to Get Married

While you don’t need to go touring wedding venues quite yet, deciding where you’d like to tie the knot is the next step on the wedding planning checklist. Having a general idea of the country, state, or city where you want to get married will make the rest of the planning process more streamlined. 

Have you always dreamed of getting married in your hometown, possibly having a backyard wedding at your parents’ home? Or perhaps you’ve been dreaming of a destination wedding somewhere exotic. Is sand between your toes and a beach wedding a must-have, or would you and your partner rather be in a ballroom partying until the wee hours of the night?

By answering these location-specific questions you will be able to better determine your guest count, budget, and even the time of year for your wedding, which brings us to checklist item number three.

Wedding planning checklist

3. Pick a Wedding Date

Or pick a few dates. In fact, with wedding venues and vendor availability limited in 2021 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to pick a range of dates. By being flexible, you will be more likely to book the venue and vendors you desire while planning your 2021 wedding during COVID. 

With an entire year of dates staring at you on a calendar, it can be overwhelming to try to narrow down a few specific potential wedding dates. As a starting point, pick a preferred month or a season and go from there. (Remember to consider dates of holidays, family birthdays, and other unique events that may be happening in the same season.)

4. Set a Budget

This step on the wedding planning checklist can be a tough one. Your budget will be the basis for all of your wedding planning decisions. However, unless you are in the event industry or regularly hold events, you are likely unfamiliar with–and may even be shocked by–the cost of a wedding. It is important to have realistic expectations going into the process. 

At HauteFêtes, we recommend having open and honest conversations with those who are going to be paying for your wedding. While this may be awkward or uncomfortable, discussing the budget upfront sets clear expectations before more in-depth planning takes place. 

These days, the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding isn’t always expected. Moreover, the groom’s family can often contribute to several key areas beyond the traditional rehearsal dinner such as paying for the band or ceremony musicians. It is not uncommon for the bride and groom to also contribute. You simply need to determine who is contributing, how much they are contributing, and to what aspect of the wedding. 

Once you sit down with one or both sets of parents (if applicable) and come up with a number you’re all comfortable with, give yourself a 10-20% margin for wiggle room. Having some flexibility in your budget will alleviate stress down the line for unexpected expenses.

wedding musicians
Wedding planning checklist

5. Draw Up Your Guest List

Once the first half of the wedding planning checklist is complete, it is time to talk about who you want to attend your wedding. When it comes to your guest list, we recommend creating two: a “must-have” guest list and an “ideal” guest list. 

Your “must-have” list includes those guests you want to attend your wedding regardless. This will be used as a minimum headcount. Your “ideal” list will include your “must-have” guests but will also incorporate everyone you would like to attend if possible. 

Having these two different lists is important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. If, for whatever reason, you have to have a smaller gathering than you originally intended, you already have your “must-have” list created. 

Other reasons for having two lists? Your dream venue may only accommodate a certain count, and depending on your budget you may only be able to host a certain number of guests. If your family members are footing the bill, you may consider asking them for input during this process.

6. Hire a Wedding Planner

When it comes time to hire a wedding planner to help your wedding vision come to life, you may find yourself deciding between hiring a full-service planner or partial coordinator. 

There are a variety of benefits of hiring a full-service wedding planner like HauteFêtes. And these benefits only increase when you hire your full-service wedding planner early on in the planning process. 

From helping you negotiate your wedding venue contract to referring you to their network of trusted vendors, hiring a full-service wedding planner will save you time and money. They can help examine your budget and navigate the ins-and-outs of wedding planning, ensuring the result is a wedding of your dreams within your budget.

7. Book Your Venue

If you’ve completed the wedding planning checklist up to this point, it is time to start solidifying the details of your wedding day. First, with the help of your wedding planner, you’ll want to book your wedding venue. 

The wedding venue you choose will have a substantial impact on your overall wedding style. From an indoor ballroom to a garden party to a mountaintop or seaside venue, there are a variety of options available, all with their own unique set of characteristics. 

Unless you already have your ideal wedding venue chosen, we suggest that you and your partner go on venue tours to ensure you choose the best option within your budget and for your intended design. While COVID may limit some venues’ ability to conduct in-person tours, the majority of venues offer virtual tours as well. 

At HauteFêtes we know the substantial role a venue plays in the overall wedding experience. That is why we recommend that you confirm your venue and put down a deposit before shopping for wedding décor or sending out your Save the Date invitations.

Recently engaged

8. Book High-Priority Vendors

The last step on the wedding planning checklist is to book your high-priority vendors. As was mentioned, booking vendors in 2021 may prove to be a bit more difficult due to the amount of rescheduled 2020 weddings. So once again, flexibility is essential. 

Is your heart set on having a particular band entertaining your guests throughout the night? Or perhaps there’s a top photographer whose work you’ve been following on Instagram, and you’ve been dreaming of having them capture your wedding day. Many top vendors get booked up well in advance, so if you know who you want to work with, collaborate with your wedding planner to contact and book them as soon as possible.

Recently engaged

Don’t Miss a Step on the Wedding Planning Checklist

Are you ready to start planning your dream wedding day with the help of a full-service wedding planner? At HauteFêtes, we are ready to help design, plan, and execute your wedding vision, creating a one-of-a-kind wedding experience just for you. Don’t miss a step on the wedding planning checklist, inquire today!