The First 3 Steps to Planning Your Wedding

So, you’re engaged. Congratulations!

This is an exciting time for you, but I know it might also be a little stressful and overwhelming.

So, before you start creating 10 different wedding-related boards on Pinterest and emailing a bunch of different venues only to get sticker shock when they give you a quote, let’s take a beat.

Wedding planning does involve a lot of pieces, and there are a lot of things to consider.

But it doesn’t have to take over your life. And it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.

Let’s keep things simple, shall we? Here are your first 3 steps to planning your wedding—no fuss required:

 Step #1: Tune out people who stress you out.

After you get engaged, people immediately shift from “How did he propose? Let me see the ring!” to “Have you picked a date? Where are you going to do it? What are you colors?”

(Ugh, colors. One of those unnecessary things that people for some reason are stuck on believing is important. It’s not, let just get that out of the way right now.

When people ask you these questions, don’t let them stress you out. They aren’t actually looking for answers. They’re honestly just excited for you and they’re letting that excitement carry them away.

They might just think it’s polite to ask these questions. They might not even care about your wedding—at all. Most people are stuck in their own la la land 90% of the time, and care maybe .05% about your wedding.

So, when people ask you about the date, venue, colors or what your first dance song will be, just smile and say, “We haven’t decided yet. We’re just enjoying being engaged!”

If they insist and say, “Oh, but you have to decide now! My cousin waited too long and couldn’t find a venue or a dress and had to get married in a bowling alley in the dead of winter,” Say, “Oh, that’s interesting. So, what’s new with you?”

If it’s your own parents pressuring you, or insisting that they take you dress shopping right now say, “Thanks, but I’m not ready yet. I’ll let you know when I am!”

Shut out all the wedding-related noise. This doesn’t have to be insane. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise. 

Step #2: Think about what you want your wedding to look and feel like.

When you imagine yourself walking down the aisle, what do you see? Are you inside or outside? What’s the scenery like? Are you on the beach, in a vineyard or in a church?

What do you picture for your reception? A big ballroom with lots of dancing? Or an intimate backyard gathering with just a few of your closest friends?

When you look back at your wedding album, what do you want to see? Do you want lots of pictures with greenery and flowers? Or do you want to be standing in the snow with a long-sleeved dress and a bouquet of red roses?

Talk about it with your partner. What does he or she envision?

If you have no idea, think back to the weddings that you’ve been to. Do any of them stand out in your mind? What did you like—or not like—about any of them?

If this step is stressing you out, pause. Walk away from wedding planning for a while—whether it’s for an hour, a day or a month. If you’re not ready yet, that is okay! Come back when you are.

Step #3: Establish your non-negotiables.

A big reason why wedding planning is so overwhelming for some people and why the word “bridezilla” exists is because there are a lot of decisions to make.

And you know what? Not all of these decisions are important—or even necessary—AT ALL.

So, the key to keeping your wedding simple is establishing your non-negotiables. What are your wedding “must haves”? What are THE MOST important things to you when it comes to your wedding?

Write them down. When you start to feel overwhelmed in a month or two, pull out this list. You may want to type it up and file it away on a “wedding planning” folder on your computer or Google Drive.

Need an example?

For me, I wanted my wedding to be outside in warm weather. I’m an outdoorsy person and I love nature, so for me, all I wanted was to get married in a naturally beautiful place where we’d have tons of pictures outside with flowers and green grass and trees.

Next, I wanted dancing. Not just that, but I wanted every single person to dance for 90% of the reception.

After that, I wanted the reception to be in the same place as the ceremony. I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the guests had to drive to the reception from the ceremony site or take a bus. And I really wanted my wedding to be simple and low-key—in terms of the planning process and for my guests.

Next, I wanted really good food. I didn’t know what that food should be. But I wanted it to be awesome.

Lastly, I wanted to make sure we had a really good photographer. The wedding is just one day. But really, the memories are one of the most—if not the most—important things. So I wanted to make sure that our photos were gorgeous.

And that was really it.

My husband isn’t a planner. He pushed for a winter wedding in the beginning. More specifically, a ski wedding. But he didn’t really think it through. I think he just wanted to go on a ski vacation, to be honest with you.

So I said, “Honey, we’ve never skied together—ever. What about the pictures? You really want to be in a coat in the pictures? Freezing? You hate the cold.”

Seriously. My husband is a southerner. He really didn’t think it through.

So once I made the case for warm weather, he came around to it. And he was on board with the dancing and the food and the great photographer from the beginning.

So those were our non-negotiables: 1) warm weather, 2) outside ceremony, 3) ceremony in same place as reception, 4) lots of dancing, 5) really good food, 6) really good photographer.

Make a list of your own 3-6 things that are non-negotiable for you and your partner. This will lay the groundwork for your wedding planning and will help keep things simple and easy.

You might change your mind, and that’s okay! You might think now that having an open bar or a live band is really important to you, and you could very well change your mind in three months. That’s all part of the planning process.

Just use your non-negotiable list as a guide, so when you start having a meltdown over your cake or your centerpieces, you can remind yourself that it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Hopefully after this exercise you feel a little better about the wedding planning thing. My goal is really to make this a low-stress (and maybe even enjoyable) process for you.

Please post your comments or questions below, or email

And when you’re ready, take the next step in your wedding planning process: Set Your Budget.