10 Important Wedding Planning Questions to Answer

1. Will you?…” Obviously, there’s not much point in planning a wedding if you don’t have someone to plan it with. Daydream all you like, but remember that it’s not just the day of YOUR dreams, but your fiancee’s too.

2. “Registry office, or location wedding?” The next most important question that you have to answer together is: Do you want a huge family wedding with all the trimmings, a small, intimate ceremony, or even to elope? Take your time over answering this question, and make sure you listen to your fiance as well as making your own feelings clear.  All the little compromises you’ll need to make along the way [and there will be many of them!] will be so much harder if you feel that you’re not getting the wedding you really want in the first place.

3. “Who’s Paying, and How Much?” Before you spend a single cent, make sure you know how much you have to play with. It makes absolutely no sense to go into debt over your wedding, and this is the time and place to set your budget limits.  Once you know your total budget, allow around a 60/40 split for reception costs and everything else. From there, work out the costs that you cannot change – your marriage licence, for example – you’ve gotta have it, and there’s no negotiating the cost on that – and the few items and ideas you’d like the freedom to splurge on, whether it’s a particular style of catering, wedding shoes, your dream venue, or the musician you just have to have. Then work to that costing level for every single item, and be ready to compromise. Get in the habit of beginning your vendor interviews with the sentence “We have $x to spend on this part of the wedding. What can you offer us for that amount?”
If you don’t need much by way of wedding gifts, it may be that your mother-in-law or maiden aunts would be delighted to “buy” your wedding cake, garter, veil, jewellery, or whatever. But whether it’s you, or some beloved benefactor who’ll be footing the bill, make sure you make every single dollar count.

4. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” It’s a good idea to separately make a preliminary guest list, and perhaps ask your parents to suggest a shortlist of family members you COULD invite. Remember to include your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and your immediate family in this list. Then combine the lists, creating a master list sorted roughly into people who made more than one of the lists, plus other people you really want to, or feel you really ought to invite and others you would quite like to attend. Decide whether you want to invite children, and if you’re willing to make exceptions for close family. Will you be inviting single guests to bring a partner, or just themselves?  Bearing in mind that every extra guest will impact on the cost of the reception, and ultimately on the size of the venue, and with an attitude of compromise, work through to a final shortlist.

5. “When?” The time of year and even the day of the week will have some impact on your wedding, not only in the cost, but the ability of out-of-town guests to attend, and how much time you’ll get to spend with them while they’re in town. A summer Saturday is peak time. Consider a Friday evening summer wedding, to take advantage of daylight savings and have the rest of the weekend to spend with family and friends, or a Saturday morning ceremony with a brunch or lunch celebration. If you plan your wedding for Autumn or Winter, you’ll have the advantage of wedding vendors who aren’t stretched with a billion other weddings going on, off-peak rates, and reliably terribly weather – no unpleasant surprises there!

6. “Church or Civil Ceremony?” Discuss your own preferences first, but be aware of the possible expectations of your families. Even if you’re “not religious”, some people enjoy the romance and tradition associated with a church wedding. [And some people hate it. The question is, which do you prefer?] Visit as many venues as you can, and interview a number of Ministers and/or Civil Celebrants, to make sure you get the best possible match for your ceremony.

7. “What’s going to happen at the Reception?” This is really questions 7 – 97.  Although your guests are coming for your wedding ceremony, they’re staying for the reception. Research your options thoroughly, and make sure you consider your options from your guests’ point of view! It’s the little things that can make or break the event for your guests – so ask LOTS of questions: How easily can guests get from the ceremony to the reception venue [and back home again?] Will there be enough parking and plenty of toilets? What’s the seating like? How does the venue handle heating/cooling, wet weather options, etc? How will children be accommodated? What about the very elderly? Where’s the dance floor in relation to where the guests will be sitting? Can the caterer meet any dietary requirements?
Think about any recent events you’ve attended, and identify what made them great or terrible in your estimation. Then ruthlessly apply that same standard to your own celebrations.

8. “Dine in or Take-Away?” Your single biggest wedding cost will most likely be the food and beverages. When you’re comparing catering options, make sure you know what’s included in the price, and what will be extra, [such as table cloths or bar staff]. If money is tight, ask your caterers to suggest ways to cut costs – you may not need a dessert course if you have a good cake, and nibbles might just be an expensive luxury. Get clear answers about how much deposit you’ll need to pay, and what the policy is for guest cancellations. Once you start narrowing down your options, make sure you get written, itemized quotes, and don’t leave your final decision too late, especially if your wedding is during peak wedding season. Alcohol can be a huge cost, and you’ll need to plan carefully so that you don’t completely blow your budget there!

9. “Who are the VIPs and other key players?” Your wedding is not just about the two of you – there are a number of other key players who should feature in your planning: VIP guests: identify the 10 most important guests, and make sure that the event you’re planning will be something they will really enjoy.  The Wedding Party: Your bridal party will be one of your best assets, or your biggest hassle, so choose carefully. Consider how reliable, responsible and organised the people you’re considering as your bridal attendants are. Your Staff: Your Celebrant, photographer, event co-ordinator, etc, will be up close and personal throughout your wedding. It’s essential that you get on with them, have confidence in  their abilities, and be willing to listen to their direction so that you can get the benefit of their experience.

10. “Just who is in charge here?” By all means, have as much input as possible into the planning of your wedding day. But once you’ve signed off on the various decisions, step back, and let it happen. There’s nothing worse than a bride or groom [or their oh-so-well-meaning maiden aunt] micro-managing  [or completely changing the game plan] on the day. You are paying your various professionals a large chunk of money, and you’ve engaged them because you believe they will do the job. So now let them. Spend your day celebrating, making memories, and spending precious moments with your family and friends.

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