Advice from a Pro for Hosting Your Dream Wedding on Any Budget
In my perfect world, everyone would have a wedding planner.
You would have a “me” in your corner—helping you with your designs, bringing ideas to the tables, and going to bat for you when vendors or family members were being difficult.
You would have someone holding your hand when planning got stressful or have someone there to hide the fact that your cake got messed up en route to the reception (and make sure it got fixed, obviously).
You would have expert help with your budget—from someone who is a pro at expanding your budget far beyond what you thought was possible.
And you would have the luxury of being able to relax, be present, and enjoy your day fully—without worrying about all of the little details.
This is what a wedding planner brings to your planning process. And their work is super valuable.
But sometimes, reality interferes and a wedding planner just isn’t in the budget.
I get that.
So let’s talk about how to plan a wedding without a wedding planner – with my top advice for hosting your dream wedding on any budget.
Tip 1 – Don’t Do It – 😂
Haha. Slightly kidding here. Remember, I am a wedding planner. Did you really think I wouldn’t try and tell you that you need a planner at least once?
Tip 2 – Try to Budget For a Day of Coordinator If Nothing Else
I highly recommend finding room in your budget for a day of coordinator if nothing else.
A day of coordinator will be responsible for setting up and breaking down your decor.
A day of coordinator will coordinate your vendors and your wedding party to make sure everything is running on time and smoothly.
A day of coordinator will allow you, your family, and your wedding party to 100% enjoy the day without having to work.
The absolute worst thing I see at a wedding is family and close friends stressing out and working. They should be enjoying your day almost as much as you! No amount of monetary restriction is worth putting your friends and family through this stress.
Tip 3 – Ask Yor Vendors For Help
In a lot of ways, wedding planners are the jack of all trades. No, we don’t necessarily know how to take the photos or decorate the cake but we do know enough about their role to be able to answer questions and guide the process. And we definitely know which vendors to refer you to.
So if you are planning your wedding without a wedding planner, you need to make sure you ask your other vendors for advice and help.
Ask your vendors what other vendors they recommend and who they like to work with. This ensures you hire solid people that work well together. Having this dream team is key to a smooth, memorable wedding day.
And also ask your vendors a lot of questions about their role so that you can be as prepared as possible. How much time do they need to set up? How long do they expect dinner to take? When should you have the first dance?
Don’t guess on these answers (or ask a Facebook group) when you are planning your timeline. Ask the professionals.
Tip 4 – Research Before Planning Your Budget Or Booking Vendors
Plan how to allocate your budget after you do your research. See what is doable based on what you are willing to spend.
One of my first steps with a new client is working through their budget and their vision and seeing how well the two play together.
If you start booking vendors without having an idea of what everything is going to cost, you will most likely find yourself over budget before you get everything planned.
If you are planning a wedding on a budget remember this—expectations are everything.
Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse. It can give you some great ideas but it also sets some really high expectations. Almost every client that I come into contact with has grand ideas (from Pinterest) that need to be culled down to something more manageable.
It’s easy to forget that what you see on Pinterest is either a styled shoot (ie: a fake wedding used for marketing purposes) or a wedding with a 100K budget. There isn’t a whole lot of in-between.
Therefore you must be willing to change your expectations after you research what everything will cost. Be willing to change your plans to something within budget or lower your guest count to account for the higher per-person cost.
So do your research before finalizing any plans. And be willing to pivot when necessary.
Tip 5 – Make a Solid Timeline
A solid timeline can make or break your wedding quicker than an annoying DJ.
Your timeline needs to allow for flexibility and needs to have the input of all of your vendors, allowing them to say if you have allotted the time that they need to perform their job to the best of their ability.
Please do not use a cookie-cutter timeline that you find online. Every wedding is different and every vendor is different—make sure you don’t guess how long everything should take.
The key thing to remember with timelines is that they need to be flexible yet detailed. The better the plan that you have, the easy it is to move things around when something unexpected pops up.
It sounds counter-intuitive but having a solid timeline is actually what will make your wedding the laid-back, enjoyable, fun event that you have planned—having less of a plan does NOT make your wedding more relaxed. It just makes it more chaotic.
This is especially true when you plan a wedding without a wedding planner—the timeline becomes your best friend.
Take-Aways For How to Plan Your Wedding Without a Wedding Planner
Like I said, in an ideal world, have a wedding planner. It just makes things run that much more efficiently and allows you to be that much more invested in the day.
But since it isn’t always possible, remember that:
1 – Having a day-of coordinator will save you a ton of headaches.
2 – Utilize the expertise of your vendors.
3 – Research your budget thoroughly.
4 – Make a solid timeline (and have your vendors approve it).
If you’ve recently planned a wedding without a wedding planner, what other advice do you have?
Want to read more on wedding planning? Check out this blog on creating the perfect color scheme.
Photography: Orange Photographie