Planning a wedding can be among the most exciting projects of your life. It also presents big challenges. No matter what kind of wedding you decide to have, the planning process will take plenty of organization and lots of decision-making. As you plan each detail of your big day, it helps to try to stay focused on your values and on what's important to you. 

Wedding planners or consultants

Planning a wedding can take huge amounts of your time. Some people hire wedding planners or bridal consultants to save time and to help coordinate the details. You can hire a wedding consultant to help with the entire planning process or to coordinate only certain things, such as the flower delivery and placement or the seating at the ceremony. And you can hire a consultant who works only on weddings or an event planner who handles other types of events, too. 

If you want to hire a wedding consultant, ask for recommendations from friends. You can also search online for wedding planners or consultants. Look for a consultant certified by an organization such as the Association of Bridal Consultants (, the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (, or Weddings Beautiful Worldwide ( If a consultant claims to be certified, confirm the certification by contacting the organization that certified the consultant. (You can usually check this on the organization's website.) If you're considering hiring a general event planner, visits the site for the Event Planners Association ( to learn how they work. Keep in mind that some facilities may have their own event planners, so ask about that up front. 

Consider, too, whether the consultant takes commissions from vendors. A consultant who takes commissions could make decisions based on commissions instead of which vendor is right for you. Also, keep in mind that consultants who charge on a percentage basis may be motivated to push your budget. 

The cost of hiring a wedding consultant or event planner varies greatly. For full wedding planning, many consultants charge 10 to 20 per cent of the wedding cost. Some charge an hourly fee or a flat fee based on the services you need. 
Whatever your needs, be sure to compare the costs and services of several consultants. 

Choosing a reception site

Traditional reception venues include country clubs, hotels, and halls. But there are many other options, such as colleges, parks, restaurants, historic mansions, gardens, inns, or museums. Reception sites book up quickly, so choosing one should be one of the first decisions you make. Your date, your budget, and the size of your guest list will all play a role in your choice. Shop around before making a decision. You'll want to visit each site and ask lots of questions. Check out websites first. Here are things to consider as you choose a wedding and reception site: 

  • Can the facility accommodate your guest list? What is the cost of the site for the number of people you are planning to invite?
  • Are the date and time you are considering available?
  • What on-site services (such as food, tables, and linens) are available? What is the cost for each?
  • What about music and dancing? Is there a dance floor? Are there microphones? Is there a piano if you need it?
  • Is there a playroom or side area for children?
  • Are there any restrictions on decorations, taking pictures, playing music, serving alcoholic beverages? (Some religious facilities limit activities.)
  • Is the site accessible to people with disabilities?
  • What deposit is required? What are the payment terms?
  • What time could your reception start and when would it have to end?

Other big steps

Once you've made major reservations, there are other important things to do: 

  • choosing what you both and the bridal party will wear
  • arranging tuxedo rentals/purchases
  • buying wedding bands
  • collecting guests' addresses
  • ordering flowers
  • ordering invitations
  • ordering the wedding cake
  • making hair, nail, and makeup appointments
  • completing a bridal registry
  • applying for a marriage license
  • arranging for out-of-town guest accommodations
  • making rehearsal arrangements
  • planning the rehearsal dinner and any other wedding-related events, such as a welcome party or after-party

Your specific "to-do" list will depend on your wedding. Your planning timeline will be unique. If your wedding date is a year away, you can review your checklist each month. If your wedding is a few months away, you might go over it weekly. 


© LifeWorks Canada Ltd 2016