12-18 months out: Budget
After you have enjoyed some time celebrating your engagement, it is time to set the budget. This should be done within a month (2 at most) of the engagement. Depending on the time of year, the sooner you get this done, the better off you will be finding a venue.
As an example, think of all the social media posts about engagements around the holidays in addition to yours. All those couples are at the same stage as you in the planning process which means venues will be booking quickly between January-April for the current year into the following. If you want that September-October wedding, those dates book first!
Think about what you can afford as whole. Will you have family helping pay for the wedding? If so, how much will be contributed by the different parties? These are questions to ask as it will become very important come payment time.
Pro tip: Consider booking a wedding planner to help keep you on track and refer vendors to you.
10-12 months out: Venue Shopping
Before you can book your DJ, photographer, photo booth, florist, or other day of vendors, you need to have a date set in place. There are A LOT of fantastic venues in the beautiful Chicagoland area to choose from!
Start with a google search in the area you want to host, then set a few dates aside to tour various venues. A lot of venues will even recommend coming in on a Saturday to see how your potential room will be setup.
You should note that by the 4th or 5th venue, they all start to blur together. Take your own pictures when attending these showings in addition to taking notes. The more organized, the better!
Here are some of our favorites!
Concorde Banquets (Kildeer, IL)
Makray Memorial Golf Club (Barrington, IL)
Wandering Tree Estate (North Barrington, IL)
Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL)
9 months out: Pick VIPs & Say Yes to the Dress!
Who will be standing up to represent you on your wedding day? Who will give the best toast as a best man or maid/matron of honor (matron represents a “married” maid of honor)? You can share our Toasting Tips video with these VIPs come wedding time!
You should also start dress shopping with the girls! Have fun, and if you happen to say yes, don’t forget your cocktail! You earned it girl!
This is also a good time to book a time for all your girls to go bridesmaids dress shopping. Make sure all your VIP’s are there!
9-12 months out: Research and Book Vendors
Sit down, talk to your fiance’ and decide what is most important on your wedding date. Is floral important? How about that dance floor? What about a photographer to capture those memories? These are all things to consider when booking your vendors. Some will cost more than others but that is why you put together a budget in step one right? Be prepared to modify your budget based on what you find for pricing on your most important vendors. #YouGetWhatYouPayFor
Reviews go a LONG way, which is why we can’t stress enough to research and read reviews.You will learn a lot about a vendor by how many reviews are written, how they treat you as the client, responsiveness, and of course the outcome. Don’t just read one site, read many! You can checkout TheKnot, WeddingWire, Yelp, Google Reviews, and even Facebook.
Remember, the BEST VENDORS get booked first and spending a few extra bucks can go a LONG way on your special day!
6 months out: Details & Honeymoon
If you are considering chair covers, DIY centerpieces, or other fine details, this is a great time to start planning this. Pinterest is a great way to see what is out there for wedding designs. So what are you waiting for? Get to pinning!
After this marathon of planning your are going to want to take a much needed vacation to celebrate your new life together! Start thinking about where you want to go and what the weather will be like at the time of travel. It is a good idea to book a travel agent for some insight.
5 months out: Invites and VIP Gifts
It’s time to send that beautiful stationary! It also maybe a good idea to add “a song you would like to dance to at our wedding” to the RSVP card to see what your guests may want to hear on your day of celebration. This doesn’t mean that you have to include it on the DJ or band’s playlist, but it doesn’t hurt to ask right?
VIP gifts are a great way of showing those who represent you on your day the gratitude they deserve. This can be a variety of things. Remember the Pinterest boards we talked about earlier? Well, here is another great way to utilize this. Also consider site like Etsy as most are handmade gifts but also supporting a small business.
6 weeks out: More Details
Organize your seating. Make sure close family is near your head table. It is also a good idea to keep the older guests away from where the DJ is going to be setup. It can get quite loud over there…
Share our toasting tips with your best man, maid/matron of honor, father of the bride and/or groom. There is a lot that can go wrong with a toast/speech and we want to offer you the best guidance to set the speaker up for success!
Write your vows. You should be adding little sentences here and there to a notes section in your phone to go through when writing the final draft to be read on your wedding day. Speak from the heart!
The Week of Your WEDDING!!!
Pick up dresses, tuxes/suits, connect with DJ or band to go over your songs, and get ready to enjoy one of the best days of your life! All the hard work and planning comes down to this. Remember your day is going to FLY BY, so enjoy every moment! Take a step back at some point in the evening and see what you created.
Cheers to a happily ever after!
Still need a DJ or Photo Booth?
If you are looking for your wedding entertainment, please reach out to us by clicking the button below. We would love to make your day special! Together, let’s create an experience catered to you!