Craft your guest list
Before you can book a venue or get catering quotes, you need to figure out how many people you will invite. Sit down with your significant other to get a head count. Will it be an intimate ceremony with only immediate family and close friends, or will it be a large gathering? Will single guests be able to bring a plus one? Do you plan to include children, or make it an adults-only affair?
Don’t make any verbal invites until you’ve had this discussion. Otherwise, you will risk hurting someone’s feelings if you have to strike them from the list.
If you and your partner have large families, or your parents want to invite all their golf buddies, you may have some tough choices to make.
However, you can entertain a larger group with some creative trade-offs. For example, if your budget can’t accommodate a formal dinner for 200 people, consider a brunch reception or an afternoon of champagne and cupcakes.
Set your priorities
Relatives, bridesmaids, wedding planners and even well-meaning strangers will all have suggestions for your big day. Before your budget spirals out of control with chocolate fountains and live doves, discuss priorities with your soon-to-be spouse in order to guide each decision.
For example, if you and your partner both care about live music and beautiful photography, you can spend more in those areas and perhaps scale back on catering or flowers. If there are items you and your partner disagree on, make an effort to compromise.
Try to always keep in mind that you and your soon-to-be spouse are the most important decision-makers when it comes to your wedding day, even if his mother or your aunt Matilda may think otherwise.
Register for gifts
As soon as you announce your engagement, people will want to know when you’re getting married and where you’re registered. Register early and send out an email link to your registry so eager relatives won’t order something you already have or don’t want.
If your home is already outfitted with dishes and linens, new online registries allow you to register for honeyfunds, where guests can pay for a portion of your flight or a sightseeing excursion. You can also create a charity registry, where guests can donate to causes you care about.