Elevate Your Planning Experience | Wedding Planning Tips

Planning a wedding can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Try to make the most of it! Here is a rough timeline and some ideas on how you can make your wedding planning less of a task and more of an experience.

Emily Bartell Photography

Emily Bartell Photography

by Matthew Davey, Bow Tied Weddings

Picking your venue and setting a date.
This is usually the first step in the entire process. Your venue will need to embody the emotion and overall experience you envision for your wedding day. It will also determine your wedding date. Venues generally book about 18 to 24 months in advance, maybe even further out due to COVID-19. So, keep that in mind if your heart is set on a specific date.

EmmiClaire Photography

EmmiClaire Photography

Picking your vendors.
The next step is finding your dream team of vendors. Find a team of professionals that you’ll enjoy working with throughout the entire process. These individuals will be with you every step of the way, so make sure they are people you’d want to have a meal with when it’s all said and done. When selecting your vendors, make a priority list and book them accordingly. Plan on hiring your highest priority professionals about 12 to 18 months in advance. Do your research and get to know them. Schedule a phone or video call to find out what kinds of services they offer and what their personalities are like. Find out if they are involved in the community and what they do in their free time. Yes, it’s ok to get personal with them! Remember, you’re going to be working with them for over a year, or more! Once you have your core vendor dream team selected, have them all join you at the venue for a walk-through. This will ensure all of you are on the same page so everything runs smoothly on your wedding day. This could also coincide with you burying the bourbon at your venue one month out!

Picking your wedding party and guests.
You have your gorgeous venue and a dream team of vendors. Now’s the time to plan the details. Decide who you want standing next to you when proclaiming your “I do’s.” Whether it is your sibling or your bestie, these are your ride or die’s. These are the people that made bad decisions with you at some point, or maybe helped you make some really good ones. That’s your wedding party. Then there’s the rest of your guest list: your favorite aunt, your not-so-favorite aunt, the fun uncle, the crazy cousins, and your beloved grandparents. These are the folks that you have known all your life, and you can’t wait to have them there when you say your vows. Don’t forget the friends you’ve partied with throughout the years, the ones that you’ve formed awesome relationships with or those you have worked with forever These are the people you plan on finding on the dance floor all night long. Big or small, make sure you invite those that are going to help you have the wedding day experience you want.


Paige Stevens Photography

Finalizing everything.
At about a month out, you should have a walk-through with your wedding vendor dream team, clink a few glasses of wine, and enjoy the final stretch. You pretty much have most of the details planned, now you just need to cross the t’s and dot the i’s, specifically your seating chart. This is perhaps the hardest thing you’ll do. If you don’t have a professional planner to help you with this, you could invite your wedding party over for dinner and make it a fun selection process, like a draft day! On the week of your wedding, finalize everything with your vendors, go over questionnaires to make sure everything is completed, and let your venue (or planner) know when the vendors and wedding party will be arriving. For those core vendors, consider meeting up with them in person before the big day. If you’ve become good friends by this point, you are going to appreciate how much just meeting up with them helps slow down the moment. Your wedding is going to blow by so fast, you have to find ways to slow it down. You have to enjoy a little bit of fun to make the most of your planning experience and your wedding day. When you get to one month out, consider the timely tradition of burying the bourbon upside down at your ceremony site. It brings good luck and is supposed to keep the rain away.

couple dining date richmond weddings

Once you’ve picked the venue and your date, plan a date night every month on the same day as your wedding. Maybe even make a whole day of it and mark some things off your checklist at the same time.

Matthew Davey is the owner of Bow Tied Weddings, a high-end Wedding DJ service that operates in six states from Virginia to Florida. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat at @bowtiedweddings.