Newly engaged couple holding hands, poised to begin wedding planning.

Five things to do before you start wedding planning

Stepping into the world of wedding planning can often be likened to diving headfirst into a whirlwind of decisions, from flowers to venues to catering choices. It’s no wonder that many couples feel overwhelmed before they even begin. 

At Zion Springs, our years of experience in the wedding planning industry have taught us that meticulous pre-planning can turn those daunting tasks into a delightful journey. This guide aims to simplify the process, offering expert advice to ensure you embark on this journey with clarity and confidence.

1. Evaluate your financial situation for your wedding

Every magical wedding begins with a realistic understanding of finances. Before the allure of enchanting decor or gourmet menus captures your heart, it's pivotal to establish your wedding budget. Keep an eye on your current financial situation and choose a budget that won't put strain on your future.

Determining who's footing the bill, whether it's split between families or largely covered by you and your partner, is vital to prevent miscommunication or strain. Given that initial budget estimates often evolve, starting with a spreadsheet to update costs ensures you stay within your financial boundaries.

It's also prudent to research average wedding costs based on your location and individual preferences. Distinguishing between essentials and luxuries can be a nuanced task in wedding planning, especially when emotions come into play, but doing so early makes for sound financial decisions and a smoother journey ahead.

Wedding must-haves: the non-negotiables

These typically refer to the non-negotiable components of a wedding, and often include:

  • Venue: Whether it's a church, hall, or beachfront, you'll need a place to host the ceremony and reception.
  • Marriage License: Legal documentation is required for the union to be recognized.
  • Rings: Symbols of the eternal bond.
  • Officiant: Someone to officiate and validate the marriage.
  • Basic Food and Beverages: Ensuring your guests are catered for, even if it's not a five-course meal.

Wedding wonders: the optional luxuries

These are elements that enhance the experience but might not be absolutely necessary. For example:

  • Elaborate Decor: Think crystal chandeliers, imported flowers, or bespoke ice sculptures.
  • Live Band or Orchestra: While music is essential, the choice between a live band and a DJ can be a matter of luxury.
  • Gourmet Menu: Truffle hors d'oeuvres, lobster tails, or a champagne tower might be dreamy but aren’t essential.
  • Designer Wedding Attire: A high-end silk designer gown or bespoke 100% wool tuxedo can be breathtaking but might be a luxury depending on your budget.
  • Lavish Invitations: Handmade paper, gold embossing, or intricate designs can quickly ramp up costs.

In wedding planning, prioritize essentials for a solid foundation. Once set, choose luxuries that fit your budget. Ultimately, it's about celebrating your love story while being budget-conscious.


Elegant table setting showcasing gourmet wedding menu dishes.

2. Crafting your perfect wedding guest list

Your wedding's atmosphere, from the warm, intimate moments to the grand, sparkling ones, heavily hinges on the guest list. So, let’s break down the process:

Guest list guideline

  • Feel Your Wedding's Pulse: Visualize the kind of day you want. Fancy a close-knit dinner or a lively party? Each has its charm and challenges, but remember, scaling down might mean tough choices on who makes the cut.
  • Draft the List: Your core circle – family and besties – naturally top the list. It’s a joy to share the day with those who've shaped your journey, but be ready to make a few hard choices to keep the balance.
  • Budget Check: Each guest is a delightful addition, but they come with a price tag. It's all about crafting unforgettable moments without the post-wedding financial blues.
  • Harmony Alert: Spot and sort any potential drama zones. Maybe it's Aunt Karen and Uncle Ken with their decade-long cold war. The aim? A smooth, drama-free celebration. It’s a bit like curating the perfect playlist - harmony is vital.
  • Organize and Prioritize: Label your list: 'Essentials', 'Love-to-Haves', and 'Bonus Guests'.
  • Revise and Perfect: Refine that list, keeping the venue size and budget in mind. The aim is to be nimble but avoid getting caught in a loop of constant changes.


3. Choose a season or potential dates for your wedding

When it comes to marking a date on the calendar for your wedding, personal significance might be your first thought. Yet, it's worth aligning this with the nuances of wedding seasons. Each one offers a distinct backdrop to make your day truly special.


Spring Nuptials

Spring, synonymous with fresh starts, brings blooming flowers and lush greens. It's perfect for both indoor and outdoor weddings, letting you sport light, floral-themed attire.

Fall Affair

Fall boasts a rich color palette, ideal for cool outdoor events. With harvest decor and flavors like pumpkin and apple, it brings a rustic touch to celebrations.

Summer Celebrations

Sunlit ceremonies and golden hours? Summer's your season. Ideal for beaches, gardens, or vineyards with bold colors. Plus, holidays mean more guests can attend.

Winter Weddings

Winter offers snow-kissed backdrops and cozy ceremonies. With attractive venue rates and the allure of velvet and fur ensembles, it's a season of elegance.

4. Define your wedding vision

Every couple has a unique story, and your wedding should be a reflection of that. Begin by honing in on themes or styles you're inclined towards. Are you both adventurers at heart, pointing towards a whimsical forest wedding? Or perhaps city lovers dreaming of rooftop soirée under the stars?

Personal touches

Think of moments that have defined your relationship. Did you both meet in a coffee shop? How about coffee bean centerpieces or latte art stations featuring skilled baristas crafting intricate designs atop freshly brewed lattes? Personal touches make your day stand out and leave lasting memories.

Vision board magic

A vision board is like your wedding's mood board. Browse bridal magazines, peruse wedding blogs, or explore Pinterest for those 'that's it!' inspirations. As you pin and paste, patterns will emerge, solidifying your preferred palette, décor, and even gown silhouettes.

Trending vs. timeless

While it's tempting to go full throttle on latest trends, consider elements that are timeless. From boho-chic aesthetics to drone photography, the allure of what's "in" can be powerful.  But while trends infuse modernity and freshness into your celebration, it's the timeless elements that ensure your wedding photos and memories won't feel dated in years to come. 

Let's sprinkle in some timeless magic!

Picture the ever-stylish A-line dresses and dapper tuxedos. Go for classic neutral shades that never have a bad day, and let age-old vows do the talking. With evergreen blooms like roses and lilies, those unforgettable love tunes, and candid snaps, you've got the recipe for matrimonial perfection. Blend in today's trends, and voila! A wedding that feels fresh yet forever timeless.

Vendor synergy

Your vision board becomes the visual voice when communicating with vendors. A florist might suggest blooms you hadn't considered, or a decorator might introduce you to lighting techniques that align perfectly with your envisioned ambiance.

5. Discuss and delegate wedding responsibilities

Planning a wedding is a monumental task, and teamwork is key. Begin with open conversations with your partner. Understand each other’s priorities, it's all about crafting a day both will adore. If finances allow, a wedding planner's expertise can be invaluable.

Consider delegating tasks to family or close friends, as their talents and resources can add a personal touch to your day.


Embarking on your wedding planning adventure? Start with a strong foundation!

With a little roadmap magic, even bumps can become fun twists and turns! Get savvy with your budget, be wise with your guest list, pick that perfect date, dream up your big day, and let teamwork take the lead. After all, it's not just about the 'I do' moment, but all the fun, giggles, and bonding leading up to it.

At Zion Springs, we've curated a treasure trove of wedding wisdom just for you. For a smooth sail on your planning voyage, dive into our essential Wedding Planning Guide. Ready to set your course?

Download the Wedding Planner Checklist today!