How to Start Planning a Wedding

Updated: Mar 30

Recently engaged and ready to dive into the wedding planning fun, but not sure where to start? Since there is so much that goes into planning a wedding, you’ll quickly realize how difficult it is to find a place to start. Luckily, you’re in the right place! The wedding planners at New Jersey lakeside wedding venue, Rock Island Lake Club know what it takes to seamlessly plan a wedding from start to finish. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to plan a wedding!

1. Timeline

First things first, before you start looking into venues, vendors, and accommodations, sit down and figure out a realistic timeline that will give you enough time to plan your wedding, and from there, you’ll have an idea of when you can ideally have your wedding. Depending on how much planning it will take, your wedding may be anywhere from six months out, or maybe two years from now!

2. Set a Realistic Budget Having a realistic budget will help you realize what your priorities are for your wedding, what kind of venue you could potentially have, and how many guests. Take into consideration the vendors you HAVE to have at your wedding and the ones you can do without-- photographer, videographer, photo booth, food truck, DJ or band, hairstylist, makeup artist, wedding dress, tux or suit, stationary, favors, etc. Set a budget and find vendors and a venue that will fit in your budget!

3. Determine your Wedding Style

Once you have a style in mind, you’ll be able to narrow down the type of venue you want, as well as the flowers and décor. Here are some things to consider when trying to figure out what kind of style you're into:

Intimate (<100 guests) or large ( >100 guests) wedding? Rustic, modern, casual, alternative, traditional, romantic style, etc? Do you want your wedding ceremony + reception to be held in the same location?

Are you a beachy couple or more of a woodsy couple?

Destination or local? It may seem overwhelming, but these are all questions you have to consider in order to get a solid idea on what you are looking for in a wedding venue and décor.

4. Make your Wedding Guest List

You probably already have an idea of who you want to invite, but there may be some people you aren't sure you want to invite yet or not, but it’s important to narrow down how many people will be on your guest list, as that is dependent on the venue you choose. Your guest list number and the venue’s guest minimums and maximums should line up. For example, if you want a large wedding, but the venue you’ve been eyeing up can only accommodate 80 people, you will have to re-evaluate what your priority is—the guest count or the venue.

5. Tour Wedding Venues

Now that you know your budget, style, and location, it’s time to tour wedding venues!

6. Book your Wedding Venue

You have your wedding style, the guest count, and the location, now it’s time to pick a venue—yay!!

7. Hire Priority Vendors

Book your DJ or band and photographer as soon as you have your wedding date selected! Wedding photographers and DJs book up quickly—usually a year or so out from the wedding.

Other Things to Remember!

  • Send Save the Dates—do this about a year out from the wedding.

  • Book the Rest of your Vendors— select your florist, the hotel + transportation accommodations, and your officiant a year to 6 months from your wedding.

  • Choose your wedding party— take some time to decide who you’d like to stand by your side throughout the wedding planning process and the day of your wedding. Select your bridal party + groomsmen a year to 8 months before your wedding.

  • Rehearsal Dinner—start planning and book your rehearsal dinner about 6 to 3 months prior to your wedding, and send the rehearsal dinner invites out a month before the dinner.

  • Marriage License-- there is a 72-hour waiting period before your marriage license is issued after the application is filed; however, there is also an expiration date, so give yourself some time, but don’t file for your marriage license too far in advance.

Wedding planning should be fun and exciting, so take a deep breath, ask for some help, and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the process! The team at rustic wedding venue in NJ, Rock Island Lake Club makes planning easy, so reach out whenever you feel stuck. In the meantime, head over to our Pinterest page for more wedding planning tips, timelines, checklists, and all things wedding!