Getting Married & Not Sure Where to Start: A Perfect Guide to Wedding Planning

Your wedding should be the beginning of a wonderful life together, not the cause of long-term headaches.

Staying within budget, avoiding family squabbles, and being on the right side of the law are all more important in the long term than whether the bridesmaids like their dresses.

Budget both time and money to make your special day memorable in the right ways. Consider using a checklist or online planner to make sure you cover all of the necessary bases.

You don’t want to budget your last penny then find out that the reception venue you planned to use has closed down, or that the hall requires an insurance rider.

Marriage records

Within the United States, a marriage license should be obtained in the state where you plan to get married, regardless of where you live.

That means researching to make sure that any documents are filed in a timely manner, that any blood test that is required is done and accepted, and any required waiting period has elapsed prior to the day you plan to wed.

The same planning – or more – should go into a destination wedding.

Get your marriage license in advance, as requirements for marriage records on tropical island territories or in other countries may vary significantly, sometimes including a waiting period and additional blood tests that take time to be completed and approved. It’s also a good idea to research your spouse’s marriage records to be certain there’s no surprises lurking that would invalidate your plans.

Set a budget

Beach weddings are the stuff dreams are made of, but reality may dictate a more modest approach.

Americans typically spend over $30,000 on a wedding, with the reception venue eating up almost half of the total amount. In addition, nearly one-third of all weddings go over budget.

Americans get married much older (women at age 27, men at age 29) than they used to, so it can be a little tricky to ask Mom and Dad to pay for part of your wedding.

Many parents still want to contribute to their children’s weddings but probably feel less obligated to cleave to traditional roles for a couple with professional careers, perhaps a toddler in tow, and who’ve lived together for a few years. Broach the topic of their contribution with specific questions right at the beginning so you can plan on their input – and perhaps ask for the financial commitment in installments, such as the down payment for the photographer and reception venue or caterer.