“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” —Nora Ephron, “When Harry Met Sally”
While newlyweds are anxious for married life to begin, most still have a wedding to plan before they exchange their “I Do”s. According to The Knot, the average engagement lasts 14 months.
If Valentine’s Day landed a ring on your finger, the countdown is on! So, let’s get planning. Now, where to start?
- Choose the month. June and September are the most popular months to get married because of their ideal weather. There’s low demand for the winter months of January, February and March. If you don’t mind choosing a colder month, you will have more venues and vendors to choose from and may get a discount since business is slow.
- Pick the day and time. Everyone wants to get married on a Saturday and you will pay the price. Save on venue, band, photographer and more with a Friday or Sunday wedding. A sit-down dinner will also cost you dearly. Cut back on food costs when you have a morning ceremony followed by brunch or an afternoon wedding followed by a cocktail party and cake reception.
- Book the venue. Choose a place that doesn’t typically host weddings like a historical building, college campus (ask for an alumni discount), or a brewery and chances are it will cost less than more traditional spots like a country club, hotel or winery. Having the ceremony and reception at the same location can also be a money saver.
- Select your wedding party. The average wedding party consists of 4-5 bridesmaids and groomsmen. If you’re depending on your Maid of Honor to help with the planning, choose wisely and select someone who lives close by. A larger bridal party does come with additional costs (think bouquets, boutonnières, thank-you gifts, and the stress of finding a dress that seven girls can agree on).
- Create a website. The majority of couples now create personal wedding websites to communicate details with guests, track RSVPs, and centralize registries. The Knot, eWedding.com and Wedding Jojo will let you create customized sites for free.
- Research photographers. If you’re going to take engagement photos, then a wedding photographer is the first vendor you want to nail down. Most offer discounts when you bundle engagement and wedding services. Use these photos to create your Save-the-Date mailing or to post on your wedding website.
Final tip: We’ve all heard those horror stories about the photographer who “lost” the photos, the venue that double-booked, or the bridal shop that took your deposit and went out of business. Using your credit card may give you an added layer of protection. If a dispute arises, you can file a claim, and in some cases, get your money back.