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How to Plan a Wedding

        Money | Financial Planning

Budget and Timetable

The engagement period will probably be the most gloriously tranquil time of a couple's wedding process. You both soon will be faced with decisions, compromises, and debates -- some simple, some funny, some tough, but all important.

While it's important to bask in all the happiness, there are also a few tasks that should be handled pretty quickly. The couple need to set the budget and a timetable for planning the wedding, buy the rings, and announce the engagement. Below are helpful tips on making the many choices surrounding these aspects of the wedding. Remember, you can click on the links for worksheets to help with each step.

Building a Budget

Setting a budget for the ceremony and wedding reception is somewhat easy -- you have what you have and that's that. Sticking to the budget is where things get tough. For now, the engaged couple needs to sit down with both sets of parents to discuss how much money they have, how much money they need, and who will be footing the bill for what part of the wedding.

It's going to be difficult at times, but try to plan a wedding within your means. Before you begin, determine a priority list for  the ceremony and the reception. Ask yourselves a silent question: Is what we are spending on this item really worth it to both of us? After all, needing five years to pay off the reception is not the way to go, especially since most newlyweds have a long list of wanna-haves, such as a first home and/or new furniture.

Setting the Date

Sit down together to determine a wedding date priority list. You both may want to include your families in this conversation, especially if they live out of town. Here are several important things to consider when choosing a date:

  • The honeymoon: Consider the type of honeymoon you both want. For instance, if you are both sun-worshipers, don't plan a wedding date when your favorite island is experiencing monsoon season.
  • Work schedules: You both may have work periods when you can't take time off. Select a date when your lives are least demanding.
  • Holidays and family occasions: Some couples go out of their way to schedule a wedding over a three-day weekend, so everyone has more time together. This idea works best if you send invitations at least eight weeks in advance; otherwise, people might already have plans.
  • The bride's menstrual cycle: The bride wants to look and feel her best on her wedding day. If she suffers unpredictable cycles, a quick chat with her gynecologist may bring up solutions.
  • Day of the week: Saturdays are generally the preferred wedding day. That way, out-of-town guests can easily stay overnight. Weekday dates result in many regrets.
  • Alternate dates: If possible, have a first-choice date and at least one backup date.

Once the couple decides on a date, the real fun can begin! Work backward from the chosen date to determine a timetable of what needs to be done when. Some tasks, such as mailing invitations and picking up the rings, obviously can't be checked off until two months before the Big Day. On the other hand, you both want to take care of other items -- booking a florist and reception site, for example -- at least a year in advance.