1.Set a budget.
It's important to stick to a budget and to keep your wishes realistic. While this is a very special day your life, it's not an excuse to be wildly extravagant with money you don't have. Remind yourself when you feel like fretting that you still have many wonderful days ahead and you don't want these marred by paying back an unplanned overspend.
2. Set the timeline for planning.
Of all things about your planning, this is the most important aspect. Develop a sensible, reasonable timeline depending on how much time you've given yourselves. Begin with a calendar before you and try following a suggested timeline from a wedding guide. You will find such timelines in wedding guide books, magazines, online and even at the base of this article. In general, you're likely to find that most guides assume you have around 12 months to plan your wedding; if you've less time, simply adjust the timeline accordingly (the last three months matter the most anyway).
3.Decide on the size of your wedding.
Remember to talk this over with the person you are engaged to. A dream wedding for one may not be right for the other. You'll need to know how many people are going to attend for the purposes of venues, catering and invitations.
4.Choose the venue.
The sooner this is done, the better, so that you know you have the place you really want. Check out the spaces offered, the catering deals, the marriage fees, the ability to decorate a church or synagogue, wedding space, etc. Find out whether the prices quoted cover everything or whether you'll be expected to pay for extras.
5.Set the date.
The factors in choosing a date include the availability of your venue, friends and family. Think about who you must have at your wedding, and try to set the date with their availability in mind. Most people will do their best to accommodate a wedding, so unless you know this person has major surgery or a competing wedding in their calendar, you should be fairly right with directing their calendar.
6.Choose a theme.
It doesn't have to be anything really specific, but a successful event tends to have a consistent feeling throughout. Choose a theme that is easy to plan and decorate. Everything should be consistent with the theme.
7.Send out the wedding invitations.
Research into the design of your wedding invitations when you still have around 10 months to go, and work on purchasing or ordering their printing when there are about six months to go. Leave plenty of time if you're making your own and always have lots of spares, as making a mistake now and then in writing or making them is inevitable.
8.Choose your officiant.
For a faith-based wedding, you'll be looking for a pastor, priest, minister or rabbi. If they don't charge a fee outright to perform the ceremony, be courteous enough to pay a generous gratuity for their time. For a secular based wedding, choose a wedding officiant, judge or person with authority to marry people who is both available on the date and amenable to any particular special requests you have by way of vows and ceremony.
9.Research, design and order your wedding dress.
Around the mark of nine months to go, start researching your wedding dress ideas. Are you having one custom made, altering an heirloom dress or purchasing off-the-rack? Whichever way, you'll possibly need several fittings and adjustments to perfect it. Alternatively, make your own or steer clear of traditional wedding dresses and buy a dress that you simply love and know you can wear again after the wedding. You don't have to stick with tradition or spend a fortune on something you'll never use again.
10.Select the wedding rings.
This is a fun task to do together, and symbolizes your devotion to each other. Most couples get matching rings to show that they complete one another's soul. If you're having rings specially made up, leave plenty of time and be prepared to get to learn more than you ever cared to know about gold and the origins of it (as in, whether or not it has been sourced equitably and so forth). Make the right decisions by doing your research.
11.Find a photographer and/or a videographer.
Consider using a professional for this special occasion, and make sure that this person is reliable so that you don't have to worry about him or her forgetting your wedding or stuffing up the photos or filming. There are just too many stories of relying on friends or family to photograph or film a wedding followed by years of regret about the fuzzy, out-of-focus shots or no footage at all because the photographer got carried away doing something else...
12.Hire your entertainment.
Decide on whether you're going to have a quartet, orchestra, band or a DJ. Professional musicians will keep the flow of the event, make announcements, and plan all your special events with you. Each has its advantages and limitations depending on what you're seeking.
13.Decide what type of food and refreshments you will offer at the reception dinner.
Try to find a happy medium between what would please your guests and what you can afford. Weigh the pros and cons of hiring a professional caterer, as it's not cheap, but it's one less thing you'll have to handle personally. Some couples choose to base the menu on the culture of the family, or go for something that most people like, such as Italian or Asian fusion.
14.Pick a cake.
Before settling on a cake it's best to have a tasting first. Also look into a cake that will match your theme, and please both the bride and groom. Sample cakes around eight months before the wedding and select the design at this time.
15.Register for gifts when there are about 9 months to go until your wedding.
This gives guests plenty of time to check your list and get the gifts.
16.Choose suitable transportation.
If you have multiple venues, plan how you will travel from the ceremony location to the reception location. Some couples may choose to rent a limousine or ride in a classic car. Others like horse-drawn carriages. If it's popular with other people, book early. If it's your own cars, book them in for cleaning and detail a week before the wedding.
17.Decide on whether to have a special wedding night room or to leave on honeymoon quickly.
Many couples book a honeymoon suite the night of their wedding to begin the feeling of a honeymoon before leaving the town or city of the wedding, while others simply get going straight after the wedding. The choice is entirely your own.