Planning a wedding can be one of a couple's most exciting yet stressful times. With so many decisions to make and details to coordinate, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the process. However, with some organization, research, and help, you can plan the wedding of your dreams. Here is the ultimate guide with the best advice for planning your wedding. Set the Budget One of the very first steps is determining your budget. Sit down with your partner and decide how much you're comfortable spending on the wedding. Get quotes from different vendors to help give you an idea of costs. Factor in expenses like the venue, catering, photographer, florist, attire, entertainment, and more. Don't forget miscellaneous costs, like the marriage license, invitations, décor, etc. Once you have a number in mind, establish your budget and do your best to stick to it. Pick the Wedding Date Next, decide on your ideal wedding date. Consider important factors like weather, venue availability, and schedules of your VIP guests. Avoid holiday weekends or other popular dates that venues book up quickly for. Make sure to coordinate with your officiant as well before finalizing a date. Once you pick a date, send out save-the-date notices at least 6-12 months in advance. Start Venue Hunting One of the biggest decisions is choosing your wedding venue. Research locations that fit your wedding style, guest count, and budget. Consider all-inclusive venues that provide food, décor, and more, so it's less for you to plan. Schedule and attend site tours to get a feel for the venue's layout, capacity, ambiance, and amenities. Rank your top contenders and book your venue as far in advance as possible, as popular ones go quickly. Select the Wedding Party Now it's time to decide on your wedding party. These special people will stand by your side on the big day. Consider who you want to include that will be supportive and reliable throughout the planning process and wedding day. It's becoming more common to have mixed genders on both sides. Talk with potential members to make sure they can commit before asking them officially. Plan a fun proposal idea to ask them to be a part of your bridal party. Start Compiling Your Guest List With your date set, you can begin creating your guest list. This will heavily factor into your budget and venue size needs. As a general rule of thumb, plan for 60-75% of your guests to attend. Talk with your parents and discuss your must-invite family and friends. Be aware of any tense family dynamics and determine if you must host certain guests separately. Make your list, then later re-evaluate it to see if you can trim it down more. Send save-the-dates 6-12 months out so guests can plan. Find Your Dream Team Vendors Securing the right wedding pros for photography, videography, floral design, music, cake, etc. will help bring your wedding vision to life flawlessly. Thoroughly research vendors and read reviews. Schedule meetings before booking and provide vision boards or examples of your style. Hire vendors your vibe with and understand the look you're going for. Book your team at least 6-12 months out, as top vendors book up quickly. Say Yes to the Dress One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning is finding your dream wedding dress! Research bridal salons in your area and schedule appointments to try on gowns. Bring supportive friends or family whose opinions you trust. Speak up on elements you like or don't like to help your consultant pull suitable options. Plan multiple appointments until you find "the one." Remember to budget accessories like shoes, veils, jewelry, shapewear, etc. Allow 6-8 months for alterations once you purchase your gown. Suit Up Your Partner Your future spouse deserves to feel just as good in their wedding day attire. Schedule appointments to shop for their suit or tuxedo. Select a style that fits the formality of your wedding - black tie, formal, semi-formal, or casual. Make sure they get sized properly and factor in time for tailoring leading up to the big day. Accessorize with bow ties, suspenders, cufflinks, and more. Remember nicely polished wedding day shoes as the finishing touch. Hire Your Wedding Planner Consider hiring a wedding planner to help guide you through the planning process. They can recommend trusted vendors, keep you on budget, create schedules and timelines, and coordinate details so you can relax and enjoy the wedding experience. Planners are especially helpful for busy couples planning from a distance. Meet with potential planners to see if your personalities mesh well. Be sure to understand exactly what services they provide so everything is predictable. Pick Your Wedding Style Now for the fun part - deciding on your wedding style and colors! Browse Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, and websites to identify your ideal wedding aesthetic. Classic, modern, rustic chic? Cool tones or warm? Nail down the look that encompasses your taste and personality as a couple. Keep seasonality in mind, too. Your cohesive style will help drive all the various wedding elements like your stationery, flowers, decor, etc. Create inspiration boards to share with your vendors. Menu Tasting & Catering One of the best parts of wedding planning is getting to taste-test potential catering menus! If your venue allows, schedule tastings to sample appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts to decide on your favorites. Provide caterers with your estimated guest count and any dietary restrictions or allergies to factor in. Discuss serving styles like sit-down plated meals or buffet. Remember to order a special menu for you and your new spouse in your suite, as you'll likely be too busy to eat. Say Cheers with Signature Drinks Add a special touch with custom cocktails served at your wedding! Meet with bartenders to whip up fun, meaningful signature drinks for your big day. Incorporate favorite flavors, colors, and even names into your concoctions. Offer his and her versions or serve a cocktail combining both your tastes. Display cute signs with your signature drink names and the story behind them. You can even give them out as wedding favors for guests to make at home and "cheers" to your new marriage. Add Personal Touches Brainstorm meaningful ways to personalize your wedding festivities. Showcase old family photos at the reception or re-create your parents' wedding cake. Use your artwork or logo on wedding invitations, signage, or favors. Serve hometown cuisine or your favorite foods. Incorporate your pets or interests like travel. Share your unique love story through wedding decor, vows, or performances. Add DIY elements like handmade centerpieces. Include heartfelt readings, rituals, or dances from your cultures. Personal details make your celebration distinctly you! Write Your Vows Your wedding vows present the perfect opportunity to express your unconditional love and commitment to your future spouse in your own words. Individually brainstorm heartfelt promises, appreciations, hopes, funny memories - whatever sincerely represents your relationship. Write and edit multiple drafts and ask for feedback from close family or your officiant. Aim for 1-3 minutes in length. Time and practice delivering your vows aloud to ensure they flow well when the big moment arrives. Planning a wedding involves countless details, choices, and to-do lists. While it can get stressful, remember to cherish and enjoy this precious season of life. Stay focused on the people, meaning, and moments that matter most so you stay aware of perfectly planned details. With thoughtful preparation and patience, you'll be well on your way to creating a one-of-a-kind wedding tailored to you and your love.