My cousin and her fiancé reached out to me recently. They’re getting married next year and wanted to know if we had any advice as they start to plan their wedding, considering ours was only two years ago. I shared my thoughts over the phone, then my wife authored a follow-up email that was way better than what I told them. Here are 11 pieces of wedding plan from my wife:

  1. You generally starting planning a wedding 1 year before you want to get married. Places get reserved quick, but one year is generally a good estimate. You could always do it less than one year, but then you might have fewer options. Start with your guest list. Determine how many people you want to invite – the most expensive thing about the wedding is the food.
  2. Decide with your partner what kind of wedding you’re looking for: small and intimate? Big and wild? Black tie fancy? More casual? That will dictate your next moves.
  3. Getting married outside is generally more expensive than inside. When you get married outside, you have to get all of your vendors and bring them together. That means tables, chairs, linens, caterer, bartender, DJ, plates, cups, silverware – the whole nine. Sometimes you will have to rent bathrooms (like porta potties) I had no idea this was a thing when we did it! We got a steal – the place included bathrooms and it was only $2,000 to rent the grounds. We worked deals with all of the vendors by paying in cash and leaning on friends (my bridesmaid’s brother was the DJ, happy to give him your name if you’re interested 🙂 The average weddings cost about $25,000 – $40,000. We payed way less than this, but don’t get scared. If you’re willing to be flexible you can get things on the cheap.
  4. Plated dinners are more expensive than buffet.
  5. To have a full open bar (with mixed drinks plus beer and wine) is way more than just beer and wine.
  6. After planning our own wedding, my recommendation is to go find a place that does it all. It can get exhausting choosing between a million vendors and trying to pull it all together. When you go to a place they will give you 10 options and then just make it all run seamlessly on the day of.
  7. Restaurants are generally cheaper than wedding halls. Barns and places like that are HELLA expensive.
  8. Don’t get a wedding planner unless you want to put up a lot of money. You can basically do everything they do if you put in a little time making phone calls.
  9. Maybe get a day of wedding planner who makes sure that everything happens on a schedule. If something goes wrong, that person is in charge so you don’t have to worry.
  10. Officiants can be anyone (e.g., family member/friend  who gets certified online, priest, or justice of the peace). Once you get a venue or a few vendors they can connect you with great people.
  11. Photographers cost between $2,000 – $4,000, it is what it is and is totally worth it.

Here are the vendors:

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