Wedding Plan

Make a Wedding Plan

Immediately Upon Engagement Decide on a Wedding Date

There are people you really want at your wedding. Give them as much notice as possible that they should set aside the date for you. If the wedding will involve travel and an over-night stay for guests, it’s important to let them know that as soon as possible. It will be helpful for you to get early feedback on who may not be able to attend the wedding.

Set your budget

Your budget is the single biggest wedding decision to make after the decision to get married itself. Consider the range of projects you need or want to take on during your first year of marriage: honeymoon, buy a house, start a family, start or continue post-secondary education, buy a car, travel. Calculate the cost of these projects. The wedding costs will compete with these other projects. Calculate the money you will have from all sources for the wedding and your other projects. This will help establish the maximum amount of money you can spend on the wedding. From this calculation, all other spending decisions about the wedding will follow. It’s a terrible idea to borrow any money from any source for your wedding.

Select your bridal party.

There are hundreds of details involved in planning the wedding and in getting through the wedding day.Your bridal party can be a huge help in handling these. Everything from RSVP tracking to picking up the flowers can and should be delegated. Can every member of the bridal party afford a bridesmaid’s dress or a tuxedo? Is every member of the bridal party physically fit and mature enough to shoulder the responsibilities involved? Be objective.

Choose your theme. [modern, vintage, classic, rural, contemporary, etc.]

It’s your wedding. Within reason and the bounds of good taste you should have what you want regardless of who will pay some of the expenses. Have faith in your own judgment and taste.

First Review & Planning  Session

All the above should happen almost immediately. Once you square away these 4 foundations of your wedding, what follows are estimated time frames for everything to follow. Buy a binder, a hole punch and index tabs to collect & organize these details. Start a spread sheet to track all expenses. This is your wedding plan. Check it & update it often.

12-18 Months Out – Ceremony Location

Your caterer may have suggestions about where to hold your ceremony. You may have seen a pretty location yourself. Since many couples no longer get married in a church many reception locations have a “chapel” or an additional area for a wedding ceremony, . A wedding arch decorated with flowers can make a ceremony setting take shape almost anywhere you want. Will a botanical garden or public park permit wedding photographs? At what charge? What is Plan B in the event of rain?

Reception Location/Caterer

This choice will be a function of a number of things: how many guests you are having, how far they have to travel, what kind of wedding (cocktail, plated service, etc.), your budget and what you both like.

The number of weddings in almost any part of the country is greater than the number of available beautiful reception venues. That means competition for venues and rising prices in a seller’s market. (It’s called supply and demand). Will a venue permit an outside caterer? Is the outside caterer charged for permission to serve food there? Is there a kitchen that the caterer may use or will food be brought to the venue already prepared hours before dinner? Will a kitchen have to be set up on site? Is the venue air conditioned? Does it have sufficient washrooms, coat check & racks with hangers, parking?

For outdoor weddings, caterers should have a list of beautiful and functional venues. Consider having your wedding on the property of a friend or relative. As farm weddings & country weddings become ever more popular consider rural venues that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture or a local 4H club can suggest.

Cottage weddings on a distant lake are more remote. Consider the expertise of your caterer in providing service well off the beaten path. How well equipped are they for off-site catering? How will the location impact the need for overnight accommodation? Will you need late night transport between the cottage and hotels? Are there Bed & Breakfast Inns in the area where guests can stay close to the wedding? Could the wedding be held at such an Inn instead of at the cottage? Parking and washrooms are critical for a cottage wedding, as is the potential for tense neighbour relations due to traffic congestion, trespass and late night noise.

DJ &/or Band

Your music choice will be a big part of how your celebration turns out. If the music is  too loud older guests will leave early. If you choose the wrong genre of music for your demographic it’s no fun. Before you pick a DJ ask if you can drop in on an event he is spinning the tunes for. You’ll get a pretty good idea if that D.J. is  for you. The same selection process applies to a band. Attend an event where they will play.. Ask for references and establish firm ground rules about arrival/set-up time, alcohol or drug use before and during the event, dress code, flirting, electrical & space needs, frequency & length of breaks. Plan your play list. You will need to feed the D.J. or band members, (& any other support staff you hire for the wedding). Make sure the caterer provides for this at an agreed upon price.


Most photographers have a portfolio you can see to get an idea of their style. Packages with a set price are a good idea even if you are not budget conscious. Give your photographer a copy of the wedding day schedule and make sure he/she can stick with it. Most delays at weddings are the result of a photographer who falls behind & can’t stop taking one more shot. You will delay the rest of the wedding if you let the photographer take charge of the schedule. Your guests will be waiting.