If you choose to plan and run your wedding yourself, think like a professional wedding planner. In this article, we list the questions you will answer and the steps you will take when you do hire a pro. If you tackle the happy day yourself, you will have to do the work yourself, but it can be very satisfying. And maybe the start of a career.

What’s your budget?

The number will guide all your decisions about venue, dress, food, honeymoon, how much of the work you are going to do, and what your friends will do for you. If you get married in a local hall, you have more to spend on the band. If you hire a DJ instead, the banquet can feature surf and turf. You will know what to splurge on. When you’re setting the budget, be sure to include in the discussion anyone who is contributing – say, your parents.

Who will you invite?

Are all the nieces and nephews coming to this party? Your parents’ friends who watched you grow up? Everyone in college who you respond to sometimes on Instagram? Or will this be more intimate, with close family and friends? Save-the-date cards usually go out six months before and invitations six to eight weeks ahead of the ceremony. Give yourself a couple of months to design, order and then address and stamp everything.

Choose a theme or overall look

You can go with easy (show up at the mayor’s office with your marriage license) or maximal (destination wedding with 300 guests). You get to choose. And there is plenty to choose from. You’ve probably been thinking about this for awhile, and now you have the opportunity to explore the ideas that can fulfill your dreams. Put together a vision board that helps guide your decisions and the creative guidance your vendors, including wedding dress retailer, will provide.

The date!

The time of year you are married will help you decide whether a garden party is an option or whether you need to put snowmobiles on standby. Some couples choose a holiday weekend that will give guests an extra day to stay over or fly back home. Your day of choice also must be available at your venue. Tell your best friend, favorite musician and must-have photographer as early as possible.

Create your website

You will still send out invitations, but the website will have directions to the ceremony and reception, a link to the gift registry and hotel where you reserved a block of rooms. It might include a few favorite restaurants for guests who get in a day early, or other activities. Don’t forget to include the time that the wedding starts.

Marriage license

In most places, you can’t just walk in and order a marriage license. You need to be in the county where the ceremony will take place and there is usually some paperwork to process. Also, the license won’t last forever, so make sure you are within the timeframe.

Keep the fiancé involved

You love him because he cares about you, and because he cares about you, he will understand that he needs to not just be involved in this important planning but also and help you make decisions, schedule time to try out caterers and listen to bands and DJs and get off his butt and pick up deliveries. Even if it’s football season. You may decide, jointly, that he is in charge of one or more aspects of the big day. Maybe he’s artistic and should choose the photographer. He is definitely going to be in charge of renting the tux, or buying a suit, for himself and the groomsmen.

Final tips

As you see, all your actions will weave together to result in a beautiful day. Here are a few more things to remember as you plan.

  • It’s important to keep track of who you contact, your ideas and your decisions all in one spreadsheet or document. It can be on a lawyer’s notepad – although it’s a nice idea to be able to share the list electronically.
  • Even when you are planning everything yourself and saving cash, bring your checkbook with you. You will be spending some money.
  • If the pressure mounts and things seem to be getting out of hand, you can always call a planner for some help.
  • Don’t forget this wedding is for you and your fiancé. There are plenty of options out there. You will have the best memories if you remember to be yourself.

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