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Wedding Education

Creating Your Dream Wedding: A 4-Step Guide to Get You Started

May 12, 2023

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So you’re engaged, or you’ve at least discussed getting married with your partner — hell yeah! 

Now that you’ve decided to get married, you just need to decide how you want to get married! Easy, right? 😉 I’m here to share with you my best tips on how to start planning a wedding that will bring you and your guests joy, and which you will remember fondly for a lifetime! 

Image of a couple walking away from the camera hand in hand.
  1. Do it together — you’re in a partnership! Gone are the days where the bride owns the wedding planning process.
  2. Be methodical — planning will help your wedding be everything you need and want, including leaving room for spontaneity!
  3. Enlist help, if needed, whether professional (such as wedding planner) or from a close friend or family member. 
  4. Remember, you should be able to enjoy your wedding!

Here are the steps we’ll talk about:

  1. Set a Purpose for Your Wedding
  2. Set Your Wedding Budget
  3. Choose Your Wedding Guest List
  4. Choose a Wedding Venue and Wedding Date

Ready? Let’s do this! 

Set a Purpose for Your Wedding

This might seem silly, but the first thing you need to answer is: what is the purpose of your wedding gathering?

Loaded, right? Trust me, this exercise is well worth doing, and will not only affect your wedding, but your marriage and partnership too! Afterall, who wouldn’t rather grow closer together while wedding planning than being stressed out? 

Here are some things to get you started: 

  1. Brainstorm your values and things that are important to you, together. These could look like:
  • Family
  • Sustainability
  • Connectedness
  • Creativity
  • Spirituality / Faith
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
  • Intimacy
  • Altruism
  • Beauty
  • Adventure
  • Authenticity
  • Justice
  • Fun
Image of a couples wedding party with the bride and groom celebrating on their wedding day. This image is showing how to start planning a wedding with thinking about your wedding party.
  1. Next, think of your wedding celebration’s purpose, while keeping your values in mind. Here are some examples to get you started: 
  • Family reunion / Celebration of joining two families
  • Create a one-of-a-kind party, showing off your creative personalities
  • Honor and show gratitude for the planet and our natural resources
  • Give back to organizations that mean something to you as a pair
  • Share a new adventure or experience together
  • Spread wealth to underserved or underrepresented populations
  • Throw the most energizing party of your life
  • Connect deeply and show thanks to those who support your partnership

Note that you can have more than one purpose to your celebration, but by coming up with one to three goals for your wedding as you start planning, you’ll be able to make decisions by referencing back to those goals you set together. 

Image of a bride and groom standing together getting married in front of seated friends and family.

Set Your Budget

No one likes to talk about money, possibly with the exception of financial planners. But talking about your budget up front and deciding where you have room to wiggle is super important step in planning a wedding, and will save you stress down the road. Pro tip: do it together!

When paired with the purpose of your wedding, your budget is crucial in where you are going to allocate resources. 

For example, if you want a super stress-free wedding day, investing in a top-notch planner is probably on the list. If memories of the people that celebrate with you are the most important, putting your money toward a great wedding photographer is a great idea. Foodies? Ensuring you and your guests have an amazing meal will probably make you super happy! 

To help you allocate your wedding budget equitably between your wants as partners, separately write down your top three wedding day items. Come together and rank those 6 things and use that to help you in your wedding planning journey!

Choose Your Guest List

Once you have the purpose of your wedding and your budget set, you can start thinking of who you want to be there. Before you go crazy listing everyone you know, including your mom’s co-workers, remember that no one is entitled to be at your wedding, including family members who stress you out, kids, or someone who invited you to their wedding. 

With each person you list, ask yourselves if they will contribute to or take away from the purpose of your celebration. If you want an intimate gathering, inviting someone you haven’t talked to in 5 years is probably not quite right. Ya feel?

Also keep in mind that each person you include will add to your budget in food, decor, and the space you need to host. It’s a bit cutthroat, but consider, again, what is important to you and if you can achieve it with so many people. 

There are two ways you can do this: 

  1. List everyone you may want to celebrate with, and then cross people off, as needed, to fit your venue and budget.
  2. When considering adding someone to the list, determine if they need to be there. Yes? Add them. No? Leave them off. 

Have some wiggle room? Create two lists: one of your must-have guests and one with those you will invite if you find you have the space and budget. 

Feeling good? Awesome, next step with your wedding plans!

Choose a Location and Date

Now you have your purpose, budget, and guest list, start looking for a place that suits your needs. 

This is where you can start dreaming up your aesthetic vibe: colors, feel, flow, and guest experience. 

Here are some types of venues and locations, as well as examples in the Twin Cities area!

  • Industrial (Mosaic, Urban Daisy, Luminare, The Whim, A’Bulae, Glass House)
  • Barn (Eko Backen, Round Barn, Bloom Lake Barn, Hope Glen Farm)
  • Modern (The Blaisdell, Pinewood, Hutton House, Bavaria Downs)
  • Old Charm (Summit Manor, Saint Paul College Club, Woman’s Club of Minneapolis)
  • Parks (Lyndale Peace Gardens, Minnehaha Falls Park, Boom Island) 
  • Museums (Mill City Museum, Bakken Museum, Walker Art Museum, ASI, Minneapolis Institute of Arts)
  • Nature Centers (MN Landscape Arboretum, Westwood Hills Nature Center, Three Rivers Park District Venues)
  • Golf Clubs (Mendakota Country Club, Hidden Greens Golf Course, Minneapolis Golf Club)
  • Casual (The Lynhall, Breweries, Restaurants, Private Property)

Feel free to take some off the list that you’re not interested in, and visit at least one of each other option. 

When you visit, ensure that your guests can fit, ask about rental inclusions and event flow. See what dates are available and make sure you understand and are ok with weather contingency plans. Remember, even if the rental cost is higher, what is included may end up saving you money elsewhere, such as table, chair, linen, and decor rentals. 

Some wedding venues also have exclusive catering, so ensure that any venue you are considering fits your food budget and needs as well. Along those lines, don’t forget to ask about bakery and bar service options or restrictions!

As far as date, if there is a specific date that is important or meaningful to you, find a venue that is available then! Otherwise, think of what season best fits your goals and the way you would like to celebrate. Love dark colors? Probably fall or winter. Super into gardens and lawn games? Late spring to early fall would be optimal for you! More into saving some money? Go for the off-peak season from November through April. Set on a certain venue? Simply see what they have available and go for that! 

Let’s Recap

When planning a gathering for your wedding, whether it’s just the two of you, a multi-day, multicultural celebration, or something in between, it’s always best to start at the beginning!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Determine your values and the purpose of your wedding celebration.
  2. Decide on a budget, and what’s most important to you, related to your goals. 
  3. Choose who you want to celebrate with.
  4. Find a location and date that fit your goals, budget, and guest size! 

This is a great way to start wedding planning, and will help other items like color palette and decor fall into place. 

Wondering what type of wedding is best for you? Stay tuned for more on how to choose the right wedding for you, coming in June 2023!

Need a more in-depth resource? I highly recommend Priya Parker’s book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, which inspired this whole article!

Got everything in this list figured out and ready to chat with a photographer? I’m ready for you! Reach out here! 

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It's Jess!

Passionate about celebrating relationships between partners and between us and our home, Earth.

Life is so much better when we are all together, amiright? :D


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What's your wedding vibe?

Do you envision a big wedding with everyone you know and a sick dance party? Or does an intimate affair where you can celebrate and splurge on those closest to you sound more like your vibe? Or, maybe you have no idea yet! 

Let’s find out what your dream wedding day looks like together!