first 4 steps when planning a wedding | simple & easy

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Sarah Benner

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(made simple and easy)

Hi, friends! Today, I am going to introduce you to the girl behind the tips for this special blog post!

These steps were created by Taryn Blake Events – Taryn is a badass wedding planner that has served 250+ weddings. Taryn has been recognized on Forbes, and has won countless rewards from top notch bridal companies like The Knot.  So if you plan on reading any tips on Pinterest, or blogs, it should be this one! These are the first 4 steps when planning a wedding, that will be vital to read.




That’s right, the first and second steps are a combo deal. Your guest count and budget pretty much got engaged the exact minute you did – because from here on out, they’ll make every decision together. In the simplest explanation, usually the higher the guest count, the higher the budget! You’ll need a larger venue, more rentals, more food, and more alcohol (cha-ching!). Always think of these two as a package deal, because they’re the items that create ripples of influence over other wedding decisions.

I hear you saying “but we don’t even know how to estimate this!” – I hear you. This is probably your first go-around with planning a wedding, and there are so many sneaky budget breakers you’d never think about, coupled with the fact that you’ve never looked up what a venue costs, realized chiavari chairs are $9 each, or even considered how much those agate slice place cards are… it’s understandable if you’d rather pour a glass of wine and forget this part of the to-do list.
The thing is – when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Which usually means going venue poor (ie: dropping so much on a venue that you have to skimp on the rest), or getting tunnel vision vendor-by-vendor and forgetting to see the big picture!
So – how do you create a budget? Think about the number you are most comfortable spending plus any contributions from your parents. Be specific here – even if it feels “made up” right now. What’s that ALL IN amount? Keep in mind, this may ebb and flow when you start to dig into inquiries and that’s ok! You can revisit the budget and make alterations as you need.
You can look up some “percentage breakdown” calculators online to get a feel for where that number may get divided up – but PLEASE, do not break down your budget solely based on percentage!! Percentages mean you are choosing a vendor on budget alone – instead of value and how well they’ll serve you – and it also means that every person on earth values each vendor the exact same way – which we know isn’t true. Percentages don’t care about what you value. They’re just a fancy thing wedding blogs made up years ago to try and give you some structure to intimately personal decisions that cannot be structured.
You could also save yourself all that trouble, and call a planner first! We can navigate the budget with you and put realistic numbers to match your overall vision.


Pinterest… the tangled web of lies you weave. Styled shoots, editorial images, celebrity weddings, staged photos…. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest. It’s full of inspiration and trends and can get your wheels turning on some super cool inspiration. But those inspiration pics should come with a price tag and how-to instructions. You fall in love with the vision and you’ve put a lot of work into curating the perfect boards – which is the expectation of what your wedding will look like. The reality is it needs to fit your budget and be executed flawlessly by your vendor team.

So don’t just TELL vendors what you’re going for  — a “victorian-inspired, modern take on garden chic with a hint of vintage but not rustic” doesn’t exactly paint a clear picture….and don’t give them 500 Pinterest photos to look at and guess what you like most. Narrow down your design to a color palette, and no more than 8-10 images for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception inspiration. Put this in a google doc and call it your Design Board. Take your design board to your potential vendors and use that to start discussions. It helps to ensure your vision is conveyed the way you see it, and also to make your quotes more apples-to-apples.
Not sure how to make your vision work in your venue space? Or creative ways to pull off the look without sacrificing your budget? You know the answer – hire a planner that also has a design resume!
(How are these first 4 steps when wedding planning hitting yah? Hang tight, you’re almost through and on to blissful wedding planning)

Pretty much counterintuitive to everything you’ve ever heard, wedding planning shouldn’t be leisurely drawn out over the span of two years. It’s a mix of sprints and water breaks. Here’s why: The great venues and vendors book fast and typically a year in advance. You’ve gotta move fast up front, enjoy a break in the middle, and crank it back up at the finish line!

Visualize your planning like going up a big hill – you’re going to run the whole way to the top, which is guest list, budget, design, researching vendors and getting deposits paid. Then at the top, you slow down a bit – finding your dress, doing some tastings, narrowing down your makeup look, perfecting invitation details… Then momentum carries you quickly down the other side, with showers and bachelorette parties, final fittings, RSVP’s, and those dreaded wedding-day logistics — then WHAM the wedding day, which felt so far away, is somehow freaking here already!
So many times, couples reach out to us at the final hour because they are overwhelmed as hell. They’ve fallen behind, every person they contact is booked, and they have no idea how to answer the 15 questionnaires every vendor needs back from them. Cue the wine and to-do list denial! But this doesn’t have to happen. Start with a great plan, stick to the to-do list, and please don’t listen to any advice that tells you that you can wait until “a few months out” to book vendors. 
Or (i’m sure you saw this coming) hire a plannerearly. Think of us like your coach. We have the experience to help you make the sprint without tripping over a hurdle. We throw water on you at the top of the hill and get your asses ready for the way down. We keep it real, set good expectations, and while you may curse at us under your breath at a point or two along the way, you realize at the end that you couldn’t have done it without us. You want planning to be fun and stress-free? This is how. We motivate, lift you up, are an ear when you need it, and will advocate for your best interests – no matter what. (oh, and we’ll do all those final logistics for you – win/win)

helpful tips for wedding ceremony photos



If you want to learn more about Taryn or her amazing services, check out her website – HERE.

To read more educational advice, like tips for planning your wedding ceremony, check them out HERE!


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