It's the beginning of the year and we're almost out of what us wedding professionals so fondly refer to as "booking season." Men are notorious for planning on popping on the question around the holidays, starting as early as Thanksgiving and extending all of the way until Valentine's Day. Girls eagerly await for their boyfriends to turn to fiancés at midnight and bring them some bling to make it Instagram-worthy!

So now that you finally have that rock on your finger and are coming to the realization of "HOLY CRAP I'M GETTING MARRIED!" I'd love to give you some resources and tips for starting your wedding planning!

1. Create a separate email address. This will help you keep everything wedding in one place, and then once the wedding is over, you don't have to receive spammy emails three times a day from all of those honeymoon giveaways, venue quotes, ring sizing questions, and more than you somehow managed to subscribe to.

2. Discuss wedding day expectations with your fiancé. Most arguments that come during wedding planning are solely misunderstandings of expectations. It's better to discuss this right from the start, than to get into wedding planning too much and already have spent half of your budget before you realize adjustments need to be made. Discuss how many guests they're expecting. Talk about if you'll have a religious ceremony, and if so are you both on the same page? Go over your guests list and decide who is most important to you both.

3. Discuss vendor priorities with your fiancé. This is mostly relating to budget; your fiancé may want a killer party so he wants to spend more money on the DJ or live band, whereas you want an intimate celebration with a really great dinner featuring filet and seafood. These are two huge budget contributors and can drastically affect how you allocate your budget to vendors. Is a videographer necessary to either one of you? How about leaving in a limo? Do you want to spend a fortune on really unique invitations, or can cousin Sarah make them for you as a wedding gift? First you need to understand your priorities before you can start allocating your budget, time, and energy appropriately to make BOTH of you happy.

4. Create your budget. This is probably the biggest step in your wedding planning. Since everything comes down to price, you'll need to know your budget first so you can breakdown each vendor and what you want to spend. I have researched the national average for each vendor below to help you in your budgeting.

Average Wedding Cost: $35,000

  • Reception Venue: 14%
  • Decor: 2%
  • Catering: 25%
  • DJ: 4%
  • Photographer: 9%
  • Videographer: 6%
  • Florist/decor: 5%
  • Ceremony site: 2%
  • Wedding planner: 6%
  • Wedding dress: 5%
  • Transportation: 3%
  • Tips + Gratuities: 9%
  • Wedding cake: 2%
  • Invitations: 2%
  • Groom’s attire: 1%
  • Officiant: 1%
  • Favors: 1%
  • Emergency Funds: 3%

Doesn't Include:

  • Honeymoon: $5,000
  • Rehearsal Dinner: $1,400
  • Engagement Ring: $6,000

5. Book your venue and photographer. These are the vendors that book the furthest out and are often times the most and first sought after by couples. You can't really set your date until you have your venue, and you can't really sign contracts until you have your date. The only exception to booking these first is if there's another vendor that you MUST HAVE for your wedding. For example, if you've wanted a specific band to perform at your wedding for your entire life, definitely contact them first for availability. This will guarantee you secure them as a vendor, but that will also mean that they will probably dictate your date, which can dictate all of your other vendors based on their availability. If you're okay with this, then definitely book by vendor priority. If you're just trying to get things booked, start with your venue and then your photographer.