Congratulations on your big news! You have a very exciting time ahead of you – planning for your wedding. Whether it will be a simple romantic wedding for the two of you, a blow-out extravaganza to celebrate with your friends and family or a destination wedding, there will be planning.
As wedding planners we at Maui Aloha Weddings, know that a well-organized wedding and early planning will allow you to enjoy every minute of your wedding day. Beginning to plan at least a year in advanced for a destination wedding or a large formal wedding is recommended. For a smaller affair, you should begin at least 6 months in advance.
What should you be doing 6 months in advance? First you fiancé and you should decide on what type of wedding you would like to have. Many times this will lead to your first compromise – large or intimate or in between? Don’t believe it if your partner says it doesn’t matter! This is their wedding too and both of you should be happy with the decision you make.
When you have decided on how large or small your wedding will be, the next step would be discussing the date you would like to set. If it’s to be a destination wedding with family and friends invited, try and give them as much time as possible to see if they can make the trip and join you. A year is a better time frame so that your loved ones can plan on your destination wedding as being their vacation too. If it’s a large wedding and you want everyone to be able to attend, a year is also a good time frame with sending out Save the Date cards to all. If it’s an intimate ceremony for the two of you, you will want to give yourselves enough time to book your transportation, hotel and wedding site/venue. Many destinations will require you to be there for a certain amount of time to secure a wedding license. Be sure to check on these requirements as well.
What will our budget be like? Both of you will need to sit down and have a very serious discussion on this step. You do not want to start off your married life owing money to all types of vendors. We all know that when you are in debt it’s stressful and you don’t want to start off your married life that way. If you have given yourself some time, what would be a reasonable amount that you can each contribute to this adventure? If you have someone contributing as well, make sure to include that amount in your calculations. Feel comfortable with what you have budgeted and know that this is a target that you can easily strive for. When calculating your budget, you will want money for the ceremony, reception or celebration dinner, how many guests to invite and for your honeymoon.
The next important step is to book your ceremony and officiant. Especially with destination weddings, the dates can book up fairly fast when you have a particular someone in mind that you would like to officiate. By all means ask your wedding planner to make suggestions to help you. They can help you decided when to have your ceremony as far as month (are some more reasonable then others), time of day (best time for photos and heat) as well as the availability of officiants. Most will give you a list to choose from. Look them up on the internet to see which one most relates to you.
Now that you know where you are getting married, the date and your budget, you can decide on what your reception will look like. You should have an amount set aside in your budget for this piece of your wedding. Is it to be a dinner at a restaurant or a full blown wedding reception? This will narrow it down to what type venue you are looking at. One way to help you plan this, is to decide how much per guest do I want to spend. For a full dinner, you are looking at $37 and up per plate. You can have a wonderful cocktail reception or a buffet instead of a sit down dinner for less. If you are getting married in the evening, you can have a dessert menu showing off that beautiful wedding cake. There are many ways to have a celebration. Ask you wedding planner for some ideas.
Speaking of wedding planners – decide if you need to have one for the ceremony, reception or both? Find out if they are included in the package that they offer. Most wedding planners will be included in the actual coordination of your wedding. However, it will be an additional charge to have them on site at either the ceremony of reception. You can ask your planner if they think you will need one. We have found at Maui Aloha Weddings that if you are going to be at a venue – definitely get a coordinator to help with everything that is involved. If you are just having a beach wedding, it really isn’t necessary to do so as your minister and/or photographer can guide you through it unless you are think about having 70 people on a beach!
Another important aspect of your wedding is to decide if you are having attendants. If so, you want them to have ample time to figure out their budgets and be able to make their plans. Don’t feel bad if they cannot be in your wedding. It is an expense to be in someone’s wedding and not everyone has the luxury of being able to do so especially if it’s a destination wedding. Many people who have destination weddings invite their friends to be there to celebrate and not necessarily adding on the expense of being an attendant. If your dream is to have the big wedding with attendants, be mindful of what they will have to pay as well.
Photography/Videography is an important piece of many weddings. This can be an enormous expense if not chosen carefully. Many of the best photographers/videographers are booked up fast so this should be an early decision on your part. Your wedding planner should be able to give you a choice as to whom they suggest to use. Be honest with your planner and find out the cost ahead of time. If the photographers/videographers are included in the wedding packages, you will usually save money rather than booking them by yourself. Questions to ask when booking is the price of the ceremony and reception if you choose to have a photographer/videographer there, how many shots (film) do they take, how many edited shots (length of movie) will you receive and can you buy additional ones at what cost. Can you have getting ready shots or will this cost extra? When looking at their work, look at an entire wedding so that you are seeing what they have shot and not just their best photos. With a video, ask if they will take an unedited video which is less money if you are on a stricter budget.
Music, flowers and a cake are things your wedding planner can help you with. They work with many of these vendors and know which the best are and where you will receive the most value. Plan on paying a musician around $200 just for your ceremony (unless it is a church or temple wedding where the music may be less). Reception music (DJ or Band) will be a different amount as well and can be reasonable to very expensive. Flowers can be very expensive even on an island full of them! Average bridal bouquets are about $150 to start. You can get smaller nosegays for approximately $100. Cakes depending on their size and what type of cake, frosting, fillings and tiers that you want, can start at $85 for 6 servings and can go way up from here.
The last two items are the most fun – your wedding attire and the rings. Give yourself plenty of time to shop and enjoy. You can do this way in advance and have the alterations if needed a month before your wedding. Many brides are using on line ordering where you can get beautiful gowns made abroad for a fraction of the price you would spend in a bridal shop. However, the one on one attention at the bridal shops is also worth it. Depending on your budget and tastes, there are many avenues to go for your attire. Same with your rings – take your time and find the ones you would like to wear for the rest of your lives!
Congratulations and enjoy the experience!