Planning your first wedding can feel overwhelming, but this guide covers the key steps like choosing a venue, hiring vendors, and finalizing details. Even if you feel out of your element, focus on what matters most – your love and commitment. It’s your first time getting married, but you’ve got this!

Getting engaged is an incredibly exciting time. After the tearful proposal and ring selfies, the whirlwind of wedding planning often follows. As a first-time bride or groom with zero experience planning a wedding, it’s normal to feel completely overwhelmed.

Your Pinterest board is filling up with dress inspiration and venue eye candy, but you have no clue how to actually make this thing happen!

Planning a wedding from scratch is a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. With proper planning, realistic expectations, and focusing on what’s most important, you can craft a special day that reflects your unique love story.

Remember, it’s totally okay to feel out of your element as you navigate venues and vendors for the first time! The most meaningful weddings come from the heart, not Pinterest-perfect additions.

Stay grounded by focusing on the marriage, not just the wedding day. This is a joyful time to celebrate your commitment and the exciting next chapter with your soon-to-be spouse.

Don’t become so bogged down in centerpiece dilemmas that you forget why you’re doing this in the first place. No matter what details you stress over during the planning process, your wedding day will still be magical.

See Also: Why You Should Choose Albania for a Beach Wedding Destination

How to Mentally and Emotionally Prepare for Your First Marriage

Pensive young woman reading among books and a bridal bouquet in a rustic, sunlit room.

Getting married for the first time is not only a logistical undertaking, but an emotional one. During the planning process, take time to prepare mentally and check in with yourself. Here are some tips:

  • Remember why you’re getting married – Focus on the love, commitment, and happiness you share with your partner. Keep your relationship at the heart of each decision, not just what looks best in pictures.
  • Embrace the excitement – This is a joyful, special time in your lives! Allow yourself to be excited about planning a celebration and the next chapter with your love.
  • Let go of expectations – Don’t get caught up in unrealistic visions of what a wedding “should” be. Focus on meaning over perfection.
  • Communicate openly and honestly – You and your partner are in this together every step of the way. Talk through decisions, budget changes, and any stress openly.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – Stay off social media if needed! Every couple and wedding is beautifully unique. What’s right for you may look different.
  • Take care of yourself – Make self-care a priority during the planning process. Carve out time for exercise, sleep, and fun to avoid burnout.

Preparing mentally and emotionally will help you cherish each moment leading up to the big day. What matters most is your sacred union, not centerpiece colors. Keep perspective by focusing within first before making Pinterest inspiration your compass.

Setting a Wedding Budget

Creating a wedding budget may seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve never planned a large event before. But it’s an essential step to map out costs and determine what you can realistically afford. Here are some tips for setting your first wedding budget:

  • Determine what you can afford – Have an honest discussion about your current finances and income to see how much you can devote to the wedding. Account for non-negotiable living expenses.
  • Discuss financial contributions – Will your parents help pay for the wedding? How much are they able to contribute? Get clarity upfront.
  • Prioritize your must-haves – Make a list of your highest priority elements like photography, venue, food. Allocate budget to those areas first.
  • Get vendor quotes – Contact potential vendors to get estimates for services in your area. This will help you set realistic budget numbers.
  • Look for ways to save – Ways to cut costs include trimming the guest list, choosing an off-season date, or serving a buffet meal instead of plated.
  • Build in a buffer – Leave some wiggle room for unexpected overages, up to 10% of your total budget.

Setting a clear wedding budget takes time upfront but avoids stressful shortfalls later. Have open financial conversations and get creative to keep costs reasonable for your first wedding. The small details matter far less than exchanging vows with your beloved partner.

Allocate your budget based on your priorities. According to the Brides website, the following is a general guideline for allocating your budget:

  1. Venue and Catering: 40 percent of your budget.
  2. Photography and Videography: 15 percent of your budget.
  3. Wedding Attire: 5 percent of your budget.
  4. Flowers and Decor: 10 percent of your budget.
  5. Music and Entertainment: 10 percent of your budget.
  6. Invitations and Stationery: 5 percent of your budget.
  7. Wedding Planner: 10 percent of your budget
  8. Miscellaneous: 5 percent of your budget.

The Average Cost Of A Wedding

According to various sources, the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2022 was around $30,000. However, the cost can vary depending on the state and location of the venue, the number of guests, and other factors.

For example, according to this website, having a wedding in a major city like San Francisco, New York, or Chicago can range from $47,000 to $60,000 on average. The most expensive state to get married in is Massachusetts, where the average cost of a wedding is $30,489.

The cost of a typical wedding can vary by $18,063 depending on the state in which the ceremony and reception are held.

Choosing a Wedding Location

Joyful bride and groom walking hand in hand in a sun-drenched forest pathway.

Selecting a ceremony and reception venue is one of the biggest decisions when planning your first wedding. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to decide what works best. Here are some tips on choosing your wedding location:

  • Consider indoor vs. outdoor – An outdoor ceremony provides beautiful backdrops but risks weather issues. Indoor spaces offer climate control and design versatility.
  • Research venues in your budget – Make a list of potential venues like banquet halls, restaurants, parks, places of worship. Get pricing info online first.
  • Think about number of guests – Consider if the venue can comfortably accommodate your estimated guest count. Check square footage.
  • Factor in the season and formality – A historic mansion may suit a formal winter wedding better than a backyard DIY summer affair.
  • Schedule and attend site visits – It’s crucial to tour potential spots in person before signing a contract. Get a feel for the vibe and flow.
  • Envision how you’ll use the space – Picture where the ceremony, cocktails, reception, and dancing will happen when touring.
  • Ask about required vendors – Some venues mandate you use their caterer or other vendors. Factor these requirements into planning and budgeting.

Visiting potential wedding venues helps you determine what best fits your style and needs. Take notes after touring each place while the experience is fresh. The venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, so take time to choose the right one.

Hiring Wedding Vendors

Beyond just the venue, you’ll need to hire various vendors to bring your wedding vision to life. For first-timers this process can be confusing. Here are some tips:

  • Research all your options – Ask newlywed friends for recommendations. Search sites like The Knot and WeddingWire. Make a list.
  • Consider must-have vendors – Photographer, videographer, DJ/band, florist, caterer, bakery, stationer, hair/makeup artists.
  • Interview several contenders per category – Don’t just go with the first one you find. Vet a few options.
  • Compare packages and pricing – Get quotes from your top choices. Look for what’s included and price differences. Ask about customization.
  • Read reviews carefully – Online reviews can reveal red flags to avoid. Make sure past couples were satisfied.
  • Ensure they have great communication – You’ll be working closely for months. Make sure they respond promptly early on.
  • Book early! – Popular vendors book out 12+ months in advance. Don’t risk missing out on your top choices.

Taking time to find the right wedding pros for you is key. Trust your gut when deciding if they’re a good personality fit. Thoroughly vetting vendors gives you a wedding A-team.

Most Popular Wedding Vendors Cost

The cost of hiring wedding vendors can vary widely depending on the specific services and the location. According to WeddingWire, the average cost of a wedding in the US is nearly $30,000, but this can vary based on the vendors hired and the location.

  • Reception venue: $11,200
  • Wedding photographer: $2,600
  • Wedding/event planner: $1,900
  • Live band: $3,900
  • Reception DJ: $1,500
  • Florist: $2,400
  • Videographer: $2,100
  • Wedding dress: $1,900
  • Wedding cake: $510
  • Catering (price per person): $75
  • Transportation: $980
  • Favors: $440
  • Rehearsal dinner: $2,400
  • Engagement ring: $5,90035

It’s important to note that these are average costs, and actual prices can vary based on factors such as the specific services, the location, and the quality of the vendors.

Additionally, Business Insider mentions that most wedding venues will cost around $9,000 to $10,000, but some high-profile or luxurious venues could cost up to $60,000.

Therefore, couples should carefully research and budget for their specific needs when hiring wedding vendors.

Creating Your Wedding Vision

Happy couple holding hands, walking through an autumnal forest at sunset.

Every wedding needs a vision to guide the details and decor. As a first-timer, this cohesive vision may seem elusive at first. Here are some tips for finding your wedding design vision:

  • Gather inspiration – Look at wedding magazines, blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram. Don’t limit yourself to just “wedding” content.
  • Pick 1-2 colors for your color palette – Keep it simple with colors that you love. This will guide decor choices.
  • Select floral styles and arrangements – Consider flower types, bouquets, centerpieces. Coordinate with your colors.
  • Curate decorative details – Candles, draping, table linens, signage. Collect ideas of accents you love.
  • Determine your overall style – Classic, rustic, romantic, modern, boho? Defining this helps unify elements.
  • Don’t go overboard – It’s easy to get carried away on Pinterest. Stick to a few complementary styles.
  • Check that décor fits your venue – A sleek modern space may not suit shabby chic details.

Having a defined vision for your wedding keeps the moving parts feeling cohesive. Brainstorm creative ways to personalize that vision. Stay true to your own taste—this is your day.

Wedding Attire and Beauty Planning

Your wedding day look is such a fun part of the planning! Here are some tips for first-timers on pulling together attire and beauty:

  • Shop for a dress 8-10 months in advance – Popular styles need ordered early. Plus time for alterations.
  • Schedule hair/makeup trial – Book your pro and do a test run a few months before the big day to perfect your look.
  • Choose bridesmaid dresses – Select a color and length, then allow them input on the style to pick what flatters them.
  • Decide on tuxes or suits for the groom – Consider buying vs. renting based on budget. Make sure groomsmen match.
  • Don’t forget the rings! – Research styles and metals. Order rings to allow time for resizing and engraving.
  • Make a haircut appointment for groom/groomsmen – Fresh haircuts the week of the wedding complete the look.
  • Break in your wedding shoes – Wear them around the house to prevent blisters on the big day.
  • Have a backup plan – Have bobby pins, stain remover, and other basics ready for any wedding day wardrobe mishaps.

Looking amazing on your wedding day is a must! Give yourself plenty of time for all the primping and pampering.

Wedding Guest Planning

A big part of wedding planning is accommodating your guests. Especially for your first wedding, you may not be sure where to begin. Here are some tips:

  • Make your guest list – Determine your max headcount based on your budget and venue size.
  • Send save-the-date cards – Mail these 8-12 months in advance so guests can plan around your wedding date.
  • Formally invite guests – Order invitations 4-6 months out. Include wedding website for RSVPs and details.
  • Help with local hotel room blocks – Negotiate discounted group rates for out-of-town guests. Provide hotel info.
  • Coordinate transportation – Consider hiring shuttle buses or offering Uber discount codes to aid travel.
  • Plan activities for guests – Offer recommendations for things to do in your wedding locale for those coming in from out of town.
  • Make kids feel welcome – Have a kids table, games, and sitter recommendations if allowing children.
  • Accommodate dietary needs – Ensure catering services can provide options for guests’ food allergies, restrictions, etc.

Helping guests easily attend your celebration should be a priority. Provide ample information to create a smooth, enjoyable experience.

Handling Wedding Gift Registry

Man gifting a present to a woman in a cozy, sunlit kitchen full of plants and fruit.

Creating your wedding registry can be fun for first-timers! It allows you to pick out items you’ll need to start your new life together. Here are some tips on managing your wedding registry:

  • Register at 2-3 retailers – Consider a department store, Amazon, or Crate & Barrel. Offer options.
  • Include items at various price points – Allow guests to choose gifts in their budget, from $10 up to higher-ticket items.
  • Register for basics you’ll need – Kitchen tools, small appliances, sheets, towels. Don’t just focus on exciting gadgets!
  • Add some fun gifts too – Incorporate some “wish list” type goodies along with necessities.
  • Share registry information – Include details on your wedding website and on shower invites so guests can easily access.
  • Remind guests shipping is an option – If attending your wedding, they can ship gifts instead of bringing them.
  • Send thank you notes promptly – Let guests know you appreciate their gift, whatever it is!
  • Return any unwanted gifts – Feel free to exchange duplicate items for things you still need.

Creating your first wedding registry helps take some of the guesswork out of gifting for your guests. Keep thank you notes handy!

Final Month Before Your Wedding

The last month leading up to your wedding will be a flurry of finalizing details. Make this hectic time more manageable with these tips:

  • Send out invites 6-8 weeks before your wedding date. Follow up to confirm RSVPs.
  • Confirm details and final payments with all vendors. Reconnect with each one to verify event orders and payment schedules.
  • Break in your wedding shoes by wearing them around the house. This prevents blisters on the big day!
  • Finalize honeymoon plans like flights, hotels, passports, and packing. Delegate tasks to your fiancé.
  • Enjoy bachelor/bachelorette parties with your closest friends. Blow off steam before the busyness peaks.
  • Make a wedding week schedule to keep track of appointments like final dress fitting, hair trial, etc.
  • Give vendor tips on wedding day like how much to tip photographers, videographers, drivers, etc.
  • Try to relax and get plenty of sleep in the final weeks leading up to your wedding. Easier said than done!

The last month will fly by in the frenzy of final touches. Trust your planning and roll with last minute punches. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “I do!”


Planning a wedding from start to finish is no small feat, especially when entering the world of venues, vendors, and receptions for the very first time. But staying grounded, getting organized early, and focusing on your priorities first makes the process less daunting.

The most meaningful weddings come from the heart, not mastering every last detail. If you become overwhelmed during planning, remember to focus on the sacred union and exciting journey ahead.

Hopefully these tips give first-time brides and grooms a helpful starting framework. Enjoy each moment leading up to the big day and don’t forget to stop and soak it all in! No matter what small hiccups happen along the way, your love and commitment to each other will shine through for a joyful start to your marriage.

We hope this comprehensive wedding planning guide gave first-timers the tools needed to feel confident and organized for their big day!

If you found these tips helpful, let us know your main takeaways in the comments. And feel free to share this article with any engaged couples who need a handy first wedding checklist.

We’d love to hear your experiences planning your first wedding. Congrats to all you soon-to-be newlyweds out there!

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