Wedding Planning 101: Where to Begin?

Wedding planning is different for everyone, so it makes sense that there isn’t one set way to start planning.  It seems like every wedding website has its own checklists, tips, and timelines, which just serves to make the beginning of wedding planning even more confusing and overwhelming.

As soon as we got engaged (in March 2012), the first thing we decided was roughly when the wedding would be.  I knew I didn’t want to get married until after I graduated with my Masters, so that made Fall 2014 the earliest we could get married.  I always wanted to get married in October because I love fall (and Monsieur P didn’t care either way), so we decided October 2014 would be the time.  That left us with about 2½ years before the wedding.  Since most wedding planning timelines are set up for about a year-long engagement, they were not that helpful to us.

Now, before I get ahead of myself, I’m just going to say that we shirked tradition and didn’t listen to a lot of timelines or wedding websites, because having a 2+ year engagement is unusual and we had to make things fit our situation, as everyone does.  That said, we pulled some no-no’s and made some (minor) mistakes.

The second thing we decided was our bridal party.  I think a lot of couples jump on this one right away, because this is one of the exciting parts, right?  Deciding who gets to stand next to you on your BIG DAY is OMG.SO.MUCH.FUN.  Plus you want to tell your friends immediately that you’re engaged and give them the title of “bridesmaid” ASAP.  Sure.

Well, a lot of wedding timelines will tell you to hold off on choosing your bridal party until 6-9 months (this varies based on the timeline) prior to the wedding.  And I’m here to tell you, there’s a reason why.  I’m also here to tell you, there’s a reason why you, like us, may be better off not listening to the wedding timelines.

Our reasons for choosing our bridal party immediately:

Commitment – Monsieur P is from the west coast, but we live on the east coast.  It was important for us to know that our friends and family were notified as soon as possible that they would be expected to travel cross-country in 2 years for a wedding.  We wanted to give them as much notice as possible to save money, to plan the travel and vacation time from work, and just generally get excited!

To Help with the Planning – With such a long engagement, I wanted my girls to be named and committed so they could help with wedding stuff every month or two over the process, since it would be so spread out.

The reasons why waiting can be wise:

Friends are Fickle – I think this is the reason the wedding “experts” say to wait before naming your bridal party.  Things change, but no one wants to be THAT BRIDE[ZILLA] who kicks people out of her bridal party.  As much as you love your friends today, it’s hard to say how you’re going to feel in 2 years.  I have a friend who named her bridal party over a year in advance, and ended up replacing one groomsman and wishing perhaps they had replaced another.  We could have made that mistake, but I’ll leave that story for another time.

There’s Not a Lot to Do in the Beginning – You don’t really NEED to name your bridal party over a year in advance of the wedding.  Dresses and tuxes don’t need to be addressed that far in advance, and parties (shower, bachelor/ette) don’t need to be planned more than a few months in advance.

Opinions are a Dime a Dozen – The more people you involve in your planning process, the more you will find yourself suffering the onslaught of unsolicited opinions.  That means, the sooner you name your bridesmaids, the sooner you will get all of their opinions in your ear.  That may not be a bad thing, and it could even be a good thing, but it’s definitely something to consider.

The moral of this story is:  I have a lot of advice, and I don’t listen to it myself.

But seriously.  We didn’t listen to the experts, and you might not listen to them (or to me) either, but consider very closely your reasons for naming your bridal party over a year in advance of your wedding.  Minimize the chances of changing your mind by choosing only people with whom you already have long-standing relationships, rather than new friends.  If you are close with family, consider having only family in your bridal party over friends.  But most of all, do what’s right for you two and for your wedding.

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