How to Plan a Wedding | Our Bride’s Real Advice

After being in the wedding industry for several years now, we know how stressful wedding planning can be at times. It’s often overwhelming! You might ask yourself, “Where do I even start?”. We spoke with our bride, Rachel, who planned everything herself and asked her advice on how to plan a wedding.

Note: Our input as videographers will be in italicized font after Rachel’s response

Groom holds bride in his arms during their firework exit. Bride shared how to plan a wedding yourself after a successful evening!

How did you plan your wedding? Where did you start?

We got engaged on August 15th, and by the end of September, we had our date and 4 of our most important vendors booked. We made sure to soak in those engagement feelings but also knew coming off the shutdown of the pandemic, wedding season would be booming in 2021 and beyond. With that in mind, we knew if we wanted certain vendors, we would need to book ASAP. Prior to booking anything, we set a budget. Weddings can be extremely expensive if you allow them. We used a ranking system a lot throughout our process to determine items that were most important to us or things we knew we could spend the most money on. 

My fiancé and I set aside 3 different dates we wanted to use and ranked them in order of interest, in case the venue we chose was already booked on the date we wanted first. We visited 4 different venues before making a final decision. I will say this is one of the most important things looking back. The venue we chose was not first on our list however, the place we thought would have been our venue pick did not sit well with us after the initial tour. I cannot stress enough to make sure the owners/staff of the venue are paying attention to your questions and providing all the information you need to help make your final choice in venue location. This will make a huge difference in the overall planning and flow of your special day, with as little worry for the bride and groom as possible.

Following our venue, we booked our photographer, DJ, bar service, and videographer. I also visited 2 bridal stores and went back to the first to purchase my dress. Production time in September 2020 was about 8 months, so I suggest giving yourself about 10 months generally speaking in case there are any delays in production. All throughout this time my fiancé and I were looking at Pinterest and blog posts to decide our colors, decor, flowers, etc. Once we determined our colors and overall theme, I met with my florist, who also served as my wedding coordinator. 

Ultimately, it’s fair to say by the end of December I had every vendor and all large planning items checked off my list. It was such a relief to go into the new year knowing so much was already taken care of! 

After setting her wedding date, Rachel worked through her budget ranking wedding vendors in order of priority. This is an excellent method to begin with to plan a wedding. Book the most important vendors first and then work down your remaining vendor list throughout your engagement. High-priority vendors like venues and photographers/videographers, book fast and often book a year to a year and a half in advance! Her tip on purchasing a wedding dress is also fantastic! In the wedding industry post-covid, production and shipping times can vary drastically (I mean, we’ve all been burned by Amazon Prime, right?!). You want to ensure your dress or suit/tux arrives in time for alterations, as well.

About how many hours did you dedicate to wedding planning each week?

In the beginning, I spent around at least an hour each night on wedding “stuff”. This included adding ideas to my Pinterest board for my florist, finalizing what decor we wanted to use, picking all the accessories, etc. I knew from the beginning what I wanted our theme to be—classic and timeless. My fiancé also loved the idea. Once almost all of our items were booked and planned, I took somewhat of a break from planning to enjoy the Summer months and just relax when we could. About 5 months out, I tried to get as much finalized that was not already done at that time. 

Setting a time limit on wedding planning each day will keep you on task, but it will also alleviate stress. Social media is great at making you feel “less than” so determining a theme for your wedding day is essential, too. Doing this allows you to plan out exactly what vendors will highlight your theme the best (luxury, boho, dark/moody, etc.), but it also helps you avoid impulse buys as your wedding date approaches. Finalizing your ideas ahead of schedule means your wedding day decor can methodically be purchased and will always match what you have previously bought. Intentionally being mindful of a rest period like Rachel had is key to keeping worries at bay. It also avoids wedding planning fatigue or burnout—everyone wants to be happy and stress-free on their wedding day so be sure to take breaks! 

How many times did you meet with your vendors? (venue, photographer, florist, etc.)

Initially, we visited our venue twice before paying the deposit to book. Honestly, the first time felt overwhelming. After discussing everything from that visit, my fiancé and I made a list of additional questions we realized we didn’t ask or didn’t know the answers to so we could meet with the wedding staff again. We booked and paid our deposit for our date on the second visit. We visited our venue 4 additional times (within a little over a year) to regroup and gather ideas in person. My fiancé and I had family/wedding party members or our florist/coordinator with us each time. 

We first met our photographer in person for our engagement pics. In the beginning, we didn’t have a lot of interaction except for a few calls with questions for her. Once we had a rough idea of how we wanted our day to flow, then our photographer became more involved. She worked to ensure our day-of timeline worked with all of the vendors including our videographers, florist, hair/makeup artists, and bridal party. 

I met with our florist 3 times since she was also our coordinator. The first time we met for about 2 hours. I basically handed her my wedding binder and had her ask me any questions she could think of. Having the majority of my planning and ideas on paper or pics on my phone prior to meeting with her was so helpful. The final meeting with her was about a month or so before our wedding day. We met at the venue this time and did a walk-through of the ceremony and reception areas. I had a drawing of each outlining the layout and where I wanted certain things. She gave her input on stuff and we left there with a more exact game plan for the big day! 

I met with our videographers multiple times via phone or FaceTime. This was a surprise vendor to my fiancé, so I had to meet either prior to coming home from work or when he was still at work. You’ll learn throughout the whole planning process to listen and pay close attention to each vendor, because one may offer a little different outlook or idea for your day. Our videographer did just this. She offered her ideas on the timeline and how she thought things could flow. One big thing to think about if you choose to have a videographer is what you want them to highlight. What are the most important areas of your wedding day you want to make sure they capture? 

We always recommend to our couples when visiting a venue to have more than one person with you. It’s easy to get caught up in the process of planning a wedding that you might forget to ask certain questions. Having extra people with you is great, they might notice something you don’t! Like Rachel mentioned, meeting with your vendors a few times before the wedding is key for your wedding vision. Your wedding photographer and videographer should talk with you a few times to be sure they understand your vision and that your ideas are carried throughout the final products. As videographers, we always meet with our couples at least twice after our initial meeting. We discuss the music you like, wedding films you’ve seen and what you enjoyed in each, and what events or details from your wedding day you want to see the most reflected in your film.

What is the best piece of advice you can give couples on how to plan their own wedding?

Plan ahead, but don’t try to do everything at once. Prioritize, don’t procrastinate! Waiting until the last minute on certain things may mean the vendor you’re looking to get is already booked, or the dress of your dreams won’t be available to be shipped in time. If you are a very type A person, you may want to be able to plan a lot of things yourself. If you get overwhelmed easily or want to be less stressed, hire a planner! (Not just a day-of coordinator) Wedding planning from start to finish can be very fun and exciting, but can also become too much for a bride on her own. 

Ask questions! There are so many little things you might not think of until later in your planning. Don’t be afraid to send emails or make phone calls to get all the answers you need. This is also a good way to help keep the stress away too! Make as many lists as you need to and jot down ideas as you go to help keep your thoughts altogether. Most importantly, have fun! 

When planning has lost its excitement and luster, know when to step back and allow a professional to take over. Wedding planners work really hard at what they do so they can easily step in to plan your wedding. They’re also great at recommending vendors you might not have known you needed. Like Rachel said, ask questions! When you hire a professional wedding team, you are getting years of experience at the tip of your fingers. Send those emails and texts, especially if it helps the stress go away! We’re always ready, and more than happy, to help all of our couples achieve the wedding of their dreams!

Watch Rachel’s Timeless, Vineyard Wedding Film by Buchholz Film & Co.

Buchholz Film & Co. Will be Your Gin Creek Wedding Videographer!

Are you looking for help on how to plan a wedding? Or are you wanting a videographer but you’re not sure where to start? We’ll be more than happy to help you along the way! While wedding videography is our main focus, we love helping our couples through their engagement. Before your wedding, we share vendor recommendations, wedding tips, and advice on how to have a creative and unique film!

Does a stress-free wedding sound great to you?!

The Georgia Vineyard Wedding Vendor Team

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