You’re engaged – congratulations! Now what? Time to book the venue, flowers, music, caterer, wedding planner, decorator, and find the dress of your dreams! This is a big task to undertake and typically brides  overlook the budget and time required in effective planning. Below is a list of some important factors to keep in mind when you begin researching and planning your wedding:

Create lists and timelines. Lists help you visualize your tasks and they work to keep your priorities straight. Attaching your To-Do items with clear timelines helps smooth the process. If you know each month what needs to be done, it lessens stress and helps you to plan ahead.

Research your vendors. Many wedding vendors come recommended in your community. Check their websites and social media accounts and talk to other wedding professionals and married couples in your community. Hiring preferred vendors ensures you’ll get what you pay for, but you might also consider up and coming vendors who might have competitive prices. Either way, word of mouth and testimonials will give you a clear idea of what to expect. You’ll also want to ensure you and your vendor are on the same page. Are you picturing rustic, organic florals or more showy, traditional bouquets and arrangements? Do you like country music, rock, contemporary, etc. ? Make sure your DJ is aware of your preferences. Knowing that your vendor can deliver what you want is the most important aspect – it’s your big day and your tastes should be reflected.

Traditions can be changed. Weddings are heavily rehearsed and planned and sometimes people expect the day to unfold in a certain way. Don’t shy away from incorporating new approaches or ideas to your ceremony or reception to illustrate your lifestyle or values. Before, weddings were always held inside churches. Nowadays the ceremony can be anywhere – a backyard, a park, golf course, beach, barn, etc. Some brides are foregoing a fancy cake for doughnuts or popsicles or even bags of fresh fruit. From the wedding program to the table seating, to the ceremony location and even attire, weddings should reflect you and your partner. Be open-minded in your approach and your wedding planner can also help guide you and make suggestions that you may not have thought of.

Delegate. A wedding planner remains your best option, but even if you’re employing a wedding professional to manage your wedding and rehearsal, make sure to select a close friend or family member to act as a go-between. There will be plenty of emails and phone calls to deal with, not to mention last-minute decisions and things that need to be managed the day of your wedding. Make sure whoever you choose, they’re up to the task and willing.

Pick useful items for your gift registry (if you’re including one). Some couples opt for no gifts and ask for donations to charities, but many couples still need things as they start out. Do you really need that gold-trimmed serving platter? Maybe you need a  new BBQ grill or a lawnmower, or perhaps a new set of luggage suits your needs better. Don’t be afraid to include things you will use, rather than traditional gifts such as tableware and kitchen appliances. Your gift registry should always include a range of prices, from expensive to inexpensive.

Plan for the unexpected. If it rains, is your ceremony space covered if it’s outside? Will your guests have access to umbrellas? Provide a bucket of chilled ice water if the weather is scorching. Your wedding planner will ensure a wedding emergency kit is on hand, but if you’re not employing one, make sure you have essentials like Benadryl and Band-Aids available. Do any of your guests have allergies? Make sure this is noted before your wedding day and that your caterer is made aware. Realize that unexpected things always occur but they can usually be easily fixed.

Accept that your wedding will seem ridiculously expensive no matter what your budget is. When you consider that the average wedding in Canada costs around $30,000.00, it pays to begin researching, planning and saving well ahead. There will be ways you can reduce costs and you’ll figure out as you go along, however, most couples underestimate the total cost of a wedding. Working with a wedding planner will help you keep within your budget and they can often refer you to vendors they know and trust and they can often procure rentals at a cheaper cost.

You’re throwing a PARTY! Along with good food and music, consider incorporating a photo booth or lawn games for guests. A nice lounge area adjacent to a cocktail bar is always a great idea, providing guests with a relaxing place to sip their drinks away from the business of the reception tables. Include a slide show of you and the groom as children all the way up through your relationship. You want your guests to have fun while they celebrate your nuptials and these are great ways to show you’re thinking of their enjoyment and comfort. Having a candy bar will amuse all of your guests, especially children.

Create a wedding website. A great resource is or you can use a free theme on WordPress. Wedding websites serve as a great resource for guests and a website allows you to share your story with guests through photos and anecdotes.

Don’t worry too much what everyone will think. The centerpieces are your vision, and whether Aunt Martha hates the color pink or your sister hates country music, choosing elements is a personal preference. Most brides obsess over every detail and while you want your wedding to be beautiful, it rarely goes off without a hitch, or some unforeseen events (like weather). Remember that you’ve spent the money and time planning and it will be wonderful, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Details matter, yes, but you’re not going to please everyone.

Planning a wedding is stressful but if you plan well ahead and your guests are fed, happy and comfortable,  you’ll succeed at throwing a lively, memorable wedding. It’s your wedding day, don’t forget to enjoy it!