Wedding Planning – How to Avoid the Panic – Start Small

As i embark on my on my 5th journey into a bridal party, it becomes increasingly clear to me that wedding planning isn’t for everyone and can frankly cause some to go into a wee bit of a panic.  Now, with the onslaught of Pinterest, amazing blogs like Style Me Pretty, Polka Dot Bride, and just about every other new awesome blog coming into existence every month…it is getting really difficult to figure out what you and your fiancé (key word) want.

I love a styled shoot as much as the next wedding geek, but are they practical?  Sure, you have amazing centrepieces dripping with orchids set against a full flower wall, but seriously…how much does that all cost?  Do you have to have something a la Kimye to get married these days?  And what about those amazing lighting installations?  And a fully choreographed first dance?  And the cavalry of classic cars?  And the photoshoot?  And the video?  And…and…

Are your palms getting sweaty yet?  I don’t blame you.  There are so many photos swarming around so you decide to be organised and sign up for some great website help from sites like and only to get bombarded by emails which remind you “243 days until your wedding!”  Cue – PANIC!

Obviously, as a wedding planner, I completely toot the horn for our industry.  We create calm amongst the chaos and send you on your path to planning bliss – no arguments on what “kind” of tiffany blue you say?  I know when you are in the middle of panic mode you think no one can dig you out, but quite honestly, give a wedding planner an hour or two to sort your brain and you will feel better – 6 hours and you will be thinking of you and your honey on a beach somewhere sipping Mai Tai’s.  Yes, here I can dive into our packages and how awesome our services are (they really are!  Planning and Coordination would be a great package for you or simply by the hour for a great planning sesh!) but I won’t.

I know that a wedding planner isn’t for every one so I will give those of you my starting pointers that I give to my new clients…Start Small


Firstly – MAKE A LIST!  

What kind of list you ask?  You and future other half get out your trusty pen and paper and write your top 5 priorities in order from 1 (super important) to 5 (want it, but it can go if you don’t).  Then show them to each other ONLY after you both have finished.  You need to be respectful of what the other person wants and work your wedding and your budget to suit.  Below is an example of what (I think) was my mine and my husbands:

Claudette: 1)  Beachside Location in Hawaii  2) Amazing Food  3)  Open Bar  4)  Private feel to venue  5) Dancing

David:       1) Hawaii  2) Pig on a spit  3)  Open Bar  4)  Guests to have drinks in hand at ceremony  5)  Great music

As you can see from the above, we were both keen on Hawaii, fab food, and a full open bar for our guests.  Now you focus on the similarities but don’t forget the other important items (i.e. the pig).  I didn’t mind much on the music so Dave took over that aspect and he also willingly dragged his feet to a dance instructor so we could do a first dance that made it look like we actually knew what we were doing.



Numbers are a scary, scary thing, but if you don’t get this sorted at the beginning, then you will lose some of your important aspects you wanted so much (bye bye super amazing venue).  Sort out EXACTLY who is providing what from the beginning and do not let it be a guessing game because you feel uncomfortable.  Here is what you should do…in order:

  1. Budget chat with the two of you:
    • What will you two be contributing to the wedding?  Be realistic.
  2. Have a chat with the Brides parents:
    • If there are two sets or parents, chat with both
    • How much will they contribute to the wedding?
    • How do they prefer to pay?  Invoices sent to them?  Credit Card?
  3. Have a chat with the Grooms parents:
    • If there are two sets or parents, chat with both
    • How much will they contribute to the wedding?
    • How do they prefer to pay?  Invoices sent to them?  Credit Card?

Do not expect an answer straight away from your family members and do not expect them to say a dollar figure.  You may also hear – “we have the bar tab”, or “we will buy your wedding dress.”  In that case, ask what the maximum spend is on that statement.  They may expect the bar tab to be $5k, you may think $10k.

And back to the other hand some people may just not have anything to give and that is OK.  Do not make them feel like they need to contribute.  This is their choice and their gift.

Consider this combined dollar figure your maximum total.  Go over and expect to be emptying your honeymoon/new house/fab shoe fund.



Now that you have your maximum total – go back to that trusty list you made in step one and RESEARCH how much things cost (or call us, we can do a budget for you based on industry norm – just saying!).  This does not need to be done in a day but should be done over about three weeks.  One major point is do not assume you know the costs.

WARNING! You will need to venture into internet land for some ideas on vendors.

Have a peek around the sites and find 2-3 vendors who you like the look of and email or call them to find out their packages and pricing.  Any more than that we will be right back to panic mode.  Remember, this is research stage.  Just keep in mind to let the vendors know that you like their work and are researching to make your budget and should you be able to afford them, then you will contact them for a quote and meeting.  This saves the vendors time and yours when they all start calling and emailing to find out if you would like to book.

Now that you have some prices, start putting them in the budget.  You can go back to the handy wedding sites (or if you are our client, we provide you with a joint site called Planning Pod which gives you budgets and checklists and no spammy emails) and start typing in your estimates.

KEEP IN MIND THE SMALL THINGS – you know that you want a photographer, a videographer, a 3 course alternate drop sit down meal at long white linened double width trestle tables, and a fab venue and woo hoo!  They all fit into the budget!  Hold on to that garter ladies…not quite.  Have you considered the small things:

  • Stationary (Save the Dates, Invitations, Thank You’s)
  • Postage
  • Alterations
  • Wedding Party Attire – are you buying?  Are you providing alterations costs?  Well then it needs to be in there
  • Wedding Party Gifts – if you are providing…you guessed it
  • Shoes
  • Accessories
  • Undergarments/Lingerie
  • Gifts for parents
  • Gifts for each other
  • Buttonholes and corsages for parents/grandparents
  • Transportation
  • Wedding Night Accommodation
  • Night before wedding accommodation

The above can easily add up to an additional $5,000 so make sure to add those in!


Now What?

Now that you have your budget in hand you should be feeling a bit more on top of it all.  You have also now worked out what kind of vendors you want and who works into your budget so start calling the ones that do work into your budget and check their availability.  If they are available, book them in to avoid disappointment later on.

From here you can quickly start ticking off the boxes and getting the wedding that you both want in the budget that you have set for yourselves.

Planning a wedding is not in everyone’s daily lives so it can get overwhelming, remember to breathe, laugh, and have a glass of bubbles or two.  You are in this boat together so make the most of it!


Happy Planning!


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About Claudette Good

I am a creative-type wedding junkie and organizational freak who brought those love affairs together to create Cairns Wedding Planner. I am a lover of gold glitter, polka dots, online shopping, and DIY projects. When I am not dreaming up new projects (much to my husbands distaste) after scouring Pinterest or working at my happy yellow desk, I am running around the house chasing a happy and very active toddler with his baby brother on my hip.

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