The Top 5 To-Do's Before Planning Your I Do's

1. Set realistic expectations

First and foremost the bride and groom should sit down and discuss their individual visions for the wedding. Secondly, all parties who are contributing to the cost of the event should have some say in the plans. But that doesn't mean they get to run the show. It's best to discuss each person's role before beginning the planning process. Compromise may be necessary to resolve differences but the bride and groom should never have to bow to every demand. Most importantly, remember: 1) Perfection is rarely realized & 2) Your wedding is the beginning, not everything.

2. Do your homework

Almost every bride & groom underestimates the cost of the wedding they want. Yes, weddings are expensive! So, as soon as you discuss getting married, start saving immediately -- if you haven't already. Consider your savings goal and budget when choosing your wedding date. Research, as boring as it is, is essential to setting a realistic budget and finding the right vendors for you. Doing your homework will prevent regrets later.

3. Get organized

Wedding planning is project management - plain & simple. And, the key to keeping your sanity when managing your wedding is organization. As any professional planner will tell you, organization is all about the lists. First, buy a binder. Even if you're tech savvy and prefer to keep yourself organized with your smartphone, you'll need something to put all of the samples, swatches, tear-outs, etc. in.
There are four essential lists that should be created before beginning planning: a time line, a budget, a planning checklist & a guest list. It may seem like a lot of work putting together these lists. But, you'll be glad that you did as you move ahead in the planning process. Make sure to keep your lists updated and you'll see that your are staying on schedule and less stressed. It feels great to mark items off those lists knowing that you are that much closer to your wedding day.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help

Planning a wedding is time-consuming and can be quite stressful. The process can require 200+ hours, so whether you hire a professional wedding planner or ask family and friends for assistance, delegate. It may be hard to let go and let others help. But if you choose wisely, a planning ‏committee can be a great way to share the experience with your loved ones.

5. Pace Yourself

As soon as most brides become engaged, if not before, they hop on the planning express at full-speed. But, you must manage your efforts & pace yourself or you'll burn out halfway through the planning. So pause and plan the process before you begin the actual planning. And, make sure to give yourself time off from wedding planning. You'll keep yourself and those around you from getting crazy.

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