What to Decide in the First Few Days of Wedding Planning

Discover which wedding vendors to hire first and how to choose your guest list.

As a seasoned wedding planner, Linda Howard is often asked many questions by newly engaged couples about the wedding-planning process. Read on to discover answers to more questions like these that are popular among brides- and grooms-to-be.

Photo: Laurie Bailey Photography

As a seasoned wedding planner, Linda Howard is often asked many questions by newly engaged couples about the wedding-planning process. From the age-old question of who gets a plus one, to alternatives to trimming the guest list, and which vendors to hire first, there are many elements of planning a wedding that brides and grooms want to know just days after the question is popped. Who should receive save-the-date cards? How can I best include my busy groom in wedding planning? 

Find Out What to Decide As You Start Wedding Planning

Depending on the type of wedding you will be hosting, you'll have various wedding planning decisions to make. That being said, most couples will have the same to-do list – especially early on – so we encourage you to take wedding planner extraordinaire Linda Howard of Linda Howard Events' advice to heart. Read on to discover answers to more questions like these that are popular among brides- and grooms-to-be. 

- Inviting Additional Guests 

Everyone in your bridal party does not necessarily need a plus one. If the couple is not engaged or living together, you don’t need to feel the pressure to extend a plus one invite. Of course, over time if the relationship becomes more serious, then absolutely extend the invitation to the significant other. 

- Trimming the Guest List 

If you don't have the budget for a big wedding, but you and your fiancé have large families and a lot of friends, there are some options to consider that don't require leaving a number your loved ones out. Rather than cut your guest list, you can split up the ceremony and reception. Plan a private ceremony for the bridal party and immediate family only, followed by a fun celebration with a DJ and food stations for all guests. Another option is to get married in the afternoon, so your bar bill does not hike up the cost. I also suggest saving money by lining your ceremony aisle with florals that can later be used as reception centerpieces. 

Linda Howard Events - Wedding Ceremony Over Pool in Santa Barbara

Photo by Miki & Sonja Photography; Floral Design by The Hidden Garden; Planning & Design by Linda Howard Events; From Real Wedding: A Romantic, Intimate Wedding with Ocean Views in Santa Barbara

- Sending Save-the-Date Cards 

I think its important to note that sending save the dates is not mandatory. You can spread the word to your nearest and dearest via email and phone and not to put it in writing, which will allow you to make final decisions for a guest list at a later date and relieve some of the initial pressure. If some of the guests on your list are obligatory and you’d rather they not attend, just send save the dates to your close friends and let your parents spread the word to other attendees by phone or email. 

- Who to Hire First 

Your main wedding vendors are your florist, your music and entertainment professionals, your photographer, and your videographer. They usually book events one year out. I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed that your favorite photographer was contracted since it is wonderful when you can have your first choice, so make sure you hire these professionals first. 

- How to Include Your Groom 

If your fiancé doesn't have spare time to help with wedding planning, it's still important to make him feel involved in the wedding-planning process. Have him attend the first meeting with your wedding planner, the entertainment company or musicians, your photographer, and videographer. He will also most likely want to go to the tastings for your food and cake. You can go with him to the tuxedo rental shop to select the style of tuxedo for himself, the groomsmen, and the fathers. 

If his parents will be hosting a rehearsal dinner, he can help them decide where to host it. It will be his job to select gifts to say thank you to his groomsmen, and he should help make arrangements for the honeymoon. The honeymoon planning process is like planning a fairy-tale trip, and it will be a wonderful memory and time to look back on.

For more advice from Linda Howard, discover answers to frequently asked wedding questions, get expert wedding advice on your invitations, color palette, and more, and learn what to look for in a wedding planner.

Opening photo by Laurie Bailey Photography; Planning & Design by Linda Howard Events; From Real Wedding: Shabby Chic & Garden-Inspired Malibu, California Wedding