Setting a number:
Not a guest list number (at least not yet) but a number you are comfortable spending on this day.
Figure out how much you'll be able to put away monthly, or per pay cheque towards the wedding to help you decide on a reasonable date for the wedding.
If friends & family have already offered financial help, include that but I wouldn't include a number that you expect to make on a social or any other estimated gifts. If the money does come in, great & you'll be in even better financial shape.
I think that couples usually end up doing the opposite of this, buying first & seeing how the costs have added up later. I find this impulsive & with this method I feel like money could run out awfully quick.
Pick a logical number based on how much time you have before the big day & how much you're able to set aside. From there, assign a budget for the the ceremony venue, reception venue, food, alcohol, officiant, flowers, dress, tuxedos, jewellery, bridal party gifts, music, decorations, photos, video, hair, make-up, shoes, stationary, favours, cake, guest book, honeymoon, transportation, rings, veil & anything else you might want or need.
Pick a theme with obvious colours:
The theme for my wedding was peacocks, however you can only find so many peacocks (and the zoo won't rent theirs). So as a last case resort, ensure that your theme has vivid & obvious colours that you could use to keep the theme going. I.E. of course the people we hired to produce our chair covers didn't have peacock patterns or brooches, but they did have royal blue sashes.
Don't eff this up. Choose REALLY close friends or family. People who make your life easier & not more stressful because personalities quirks tend to get amplified under pressure
Explain to them what you would ask of them as a member of the wedding party & what kind of a price range you'd be looking at as far as attire.
I've had friends with bridesmaids dropping out after months of planning because they couldn't finance a $300 dress (along with costs that can be acquired from throwing a bachelorette party, a wedding shower, buying gifts etc). You might sound maniacal to your friends at first but better to sound crazy from the get-go than go bat sh*t when you're out two members.
Don't scrimp on the guest list:
Getting a large group of people together is hard enough. I will ALWAYS be a strong advocate of inviting everyone you want to be there, even if it means having to save-up longer. In my family I've seen how upset people get if only aunts & uncles are invited & not cousins & then entire branches of the family 'boycot' the event. Save yourself the drama.
Think about things you can make instead of buying:
But don't go so overboard that you stretch yourself too thin.
Homemade aspects of a wedding make things so personal & add character to a wedding. Think about what you could produce as a favour, a centrepiece, a decorator, as gifts for your bridal party or even being your own florist or caterer.
Trust me, I'm no hippy. Just cheap.
Think of ways that you could re-use or re-purpose something to reduce costs or add character to your wedding.
Most people would not get married in their mother's dress, but considering that veils these days are between $150.00-$400.00, why not use your mom's veil? you can easily cut off any tacky detailing & sew-on your own or hire a seamstress to do it for you.
Another great idea to get the most of your flowers if to make sure the ceremony flowers get shipped over to the reception venue. I spent a fair bit of money an gorgeous blue orchid pew clusters. I then had my set-up & take down crew drive them over to the reception venue & use them as decorations for the mic stand, the bar, cake table etc.
Most stationary people will give you a better rate the more items you hire them to make. This will also ensure that your theme stays consistent across the board. Think about invitations, RSVPs, envelopes, favour tags, wine labels, table numbers, seating chart, menu, name cards & thank-you cards.
Personalizing your ceremony:
Your officiant should be able to present you with some good options but look online for traditions of different cultures & see if they resonate with you.
If you don't have an officiant in mind & don't like the idea of hiring a stranger, Manitoba vital statistics can grant a license either on an annual basis or just a day pass. Ensure that whomever you'd like to do this for you is prepared for public speaking & has a resume, references & can write well-thought-out answers to their mandatory questions. As with all things government related, allow a lot of time for processing.
Know your DJ:
Don't consider your music a detail. I feel that the music can make or break the atmosphere of your wedding.
I went as far as to write a list of songs that I expected to have played at my reception after feeling like a previous DJ we hired did his own thing & didn't listen to what we had asked for.
Make sure your DJ is catering to you, your friends & your family. My favourite weddings are a mix of traditional Manitoba social music, classic dance songs, top 40 with a few of the couple's favourite songs thrown in the mix.
If you're getting married, you'll need a few. At your social, rehearsal dinner & at the wedding (your vows if you're choosing to write your own as well!) Make jokes (people have to laugh, it's your wedding). Think of all the people who have contributed time or money towards this wedding & thank them for it.
Make schedules & to-do lists:
People will offer to help out with your big day. The problem is that a lot of things have to be left to the very last second & it's easy to forget that they need to be done. I.E. if you plan on setting-up/decorating your reception venue yourself, there will likely be another event the night before which restricts you from being able to do things in advance.
Make a list of all the things that need to be done (especially the day of) & let people who offer to help (bless their hearts) choose what they would be willing to take on. Don't be afraid to micro-manage. People in the industry expect it & after you've just dropped tens of thousands of dollars on one day, you're going to want it to go seamlessly.
Print out schedules of where everyone should be at what time & hand them out to your VIPs. That way there'll be no excuse if your florist or caterer is running late & you are free to punch them in the face for ruining your day.
The day-of have someone carry: hairspray, Tylenol, bobby pins, a sewing kit, deodorant, tampons, glue for eyelashes & nails & sunscreen. No hot messes at your wedding sista!
Don't forget to plan for the finishing touches:
Buying a necklace or a bra in real life is peanuts. Buying anything related to the wedding industry is insane. All of the prices are jacked up but unless you plan on making your own veil, some of these expenses are unavoidable. Make sure that you've allocated yourself funds for the details I.E, shoes, a bra, jewellery, a hair piece, manicures & pedicures.
In Winnipeg, unless otherwise specified, tipping is customary (so strange how our society works-how are people supposed to know when to tip or not!).
Tips are generally expected from bartenders, drivers, waitstaff, hairstylists, entertainers & make-up people. I don't necessarily agree with this practise but that's a blog for another day. At present time, remember to not be a jerk & tip. To make life easier, entrust a man (or someone in a tuxedo!) with marked enveloped that contain the tip money for each of the recipients along with envelopes for any last minute 'day-of' payments (limo companies will usually take a deposit & expect you to pay the rest on the day of. Hair stylists, make-up professionals & entertainers are other standard 'pay once service is rendered' professionals).
Sign-up for the magazine:
www.weddingsinwinnipeg.ca Say what? A free magazine about weddings/venues/suppliers in this city? This magazine is a dream come true. Sign-up & use the magazine to draw inspiration and/or find suppliers. At the very least, allow it to get you pumped for your own wedding!