How to plan a wedding when you're feeling engaged and confused
Planning a nontraditional wedding involves endless details and deadlines, with the potential for drama if you aren't prepared. Offbeat Wed is here to help you get through this exciting but overwhelming process.
From the early steps of setting a budget and deciding on a date and venue, to creating a guest list and determining the number of attendees, all the way to choosing a wedding theme to guide the rest of the planning process — we've got you! Yes, you want to research and select vendors for catering, photography, music, and decorations — we've got you there, too!
We have all of the answers you need for invitation wording, how to set a wedding budget, how to find the best wedding vendor who really GETS you, and more.
How to plan a wedding: START HERE
Here are some wedding planning basics to get you started in figuring out how to plan a wedding, including spreadsheets, checklists, wedding planning timelines, and more.
- Start here on your journey of figuring out how to plan a wedding:
Get organized with our Wedding Planning Spreadsheets & Checklist
- What to do first when you get engaged
- 4 things that nobody tells you about getting engaged
- Understand the basics of how to get a marriage license
(This is literally the only thing you need to get married!)
- Explore our wedding planning tools and resources
Wedding budget basics
Budgeting a wedding is one of the first and most important steps in figuring out how to plan a wedding. The cost of a wedding can vary greatly, depending on your region and size of the gathering.
If you're wondering how to plan a wedding on a budget, start by sitting down with your partner and determine how much you can afford to spend on the wedding. This will help you set a realistic budget and avoid overspending.
Next, consider the different categories of expenses that will be part of your wedding, such as venue rental, catering, photography, music, decorations, and attire. Remember that it's all optional! There are no requirements for your wedding. Whichever categories you choose, research the average cost for each of these categories to help you determine how much you need to allocate for each.
Another important factor to consider when budgeting for a wedding is the guest list. The number of guests you invite will affect the cost of the wedding, as you will need to pay for food, drinks, and possibly accommodation for each person. To keep costs under control, consider having a smaller, more intimate wedding or hosting the reception at a less expensive venue. We love a microwedding!
At Offbeat Wed, we've got a deep archive of wedding budgeting tips, but these posts are the most popular and contain our best advice:
- Sample wedding budgets and wedding budget breakdown for all kinds of offbeat weddings
- You don't need that much cake: catering advice from a wedding caterer
- Package deals, tax write-offs, and pants: How to save money on your wedding
- Liquor guess-timation: how to creatively calculate your wedding alcohol
- How to save money on wedding flowers
- Save some cash with these honeymoon planning tips
- How to plan a wedding for under $5000
- Find vendors in your area who offer discounts for our readers!
Wedding timelines and scheduling can greatly impact the success of a wedding day. This includes everything from how to pick your wedding date to how to schedule your wedding day.
It's important to plan ahead and allocate enough time for each aspect of the day, from getting ready to the reception. Wedding timelines, greeting all your guests, planning for out-of-towners… how do you make it all come together?
Overall, figuring out how to plan a wedding with a well-planned wedding timeline will ensure that the day runs smoothly and that you and your guests have an enjoyable and memorable experience. We've got so many posts about your wedding timeline, and even more about how to pick your wedding day.
Here are our wedding timeline tips, and advice for your wedding day schedule:
- How to pick your wedding date: 7 questions to ask before picking the wedding date
- Have you ever thought of having a weekday wedding? You can save a fortune!
- How to make a “less worry/more party” wedding day timeline
- How long should your reception last?
- How to kill the hours between the ceremony and reception
- How to plan for out-of-town guests
- Your last-minute wedding checklist
- Tips for a wedding weekend or multi-day wedding
- Our archive of wedding schedule advice
Wedding invitations are a key aspect of the wedding planning process and set the tone for the big day. Wedding invite wording, save-the-dates, programs, wedding card wording, and maybe even hashtags… Offbeat Wed is here to help with wedding invitation wording exmpales and templates.
Pick a design that fits your wedding style: Choose a wedding invitation design that reflects your personality and the overall style of your wedding. There are many different styles and themes to choose from, including elegant, rustic, and modern.
Consider the wording: The wording of your wedding invitation should be clear and concise. Include the names of the bride and groom, the date and time of the ceremony, and the location of the wedding and reception.
Choose the right paper: Select a high-quality paper that fits your style and budget. You may also want to consider printing method, such as digital, letterpress, or foil stamping.
RSVP information: Make sure to include RSVP information, such as a response deadline and how to respond, either by email, phone, or snail mail.
Proofread: Carefully proofread the text of the invitation to avoid any spelling or grammar mistakes.
Offbeat Wed's most popular posts on wedding invite wording, wedding invitation examples, and more:
- Casual wedding invitation wording that won’t make you barf – 27 examples!
- Wedding invitation printing techniques primer
- When to send out your invitations and save-the-dates
- More advice on wedding cards and invitation timing
- Common mistakes when addressing your wedding invitations
- Do you need wedding programs?
- 9 best wedding website tips
- What should you put on your wedsite's FAQ?
- Do you need a seating chart?
- How to avoid drama when not including people on your guest list
- How to tell your family that your wedding will be adults-only
- Wedding invitation wording basics for the newly engaged
- Is it okay to email wedding invitations? Totally yes, here are 7 reasons why
Creating a wedding ceremony from scratch can be a deeply meaningful and personal process that reflects the love and commitment of the folks getting married. This is where Offbeat Wed really shines! Since 2007, we have been helping our readers figure out how to plan a wedding ceremony that reflects them, sharing ceremony scripts and wedding vow examples to help you create your OWN unique wedding ceremony… whether you want simple wedding ceremony, or something more elaborate.
Here's a quick overview:
- Determine the purpose and tone: Decide what you want the marriage ceremony to achieve, such as celebrating your love, honoring your heritage or values, or including your friends and family.
- Choose your elements: Determine what elements you want to include in your ceremony, such as readings, music, rituals, or vows.
- Write your own vows: This is the heart of the ceremony and should reflect your love and commitment to each other. Consider writing your own vows or using traditional vows as a starting point.
- Involve your loved ones: Consider involving your friends and family in the ceremony, such as asking them to participate in a ritual, read a poem, or share a story.
- Pick the right location: Choose a location that is meaningful to you and your partner and that fits the style and tone of your ceremony.
- Finalize the ceremony: Review and revise the ceremony script, making sure it flows smoothly and is the right length.
- Rehearse: Rehearse the ceremony with the wedding party to ensure everyone is familiar with the flow and cues.
…But there's so much more to it than that!
- Wedding Ceremony 101: Crafting your own wedding ceremonies from scratch
- So you want to have a friend officiate
- Ceremony Advice archives
- Do you have a friend officiating a ceremony? Tell them about our Offbeat Wed Officiant Pack for 200+ pages of guidance on how plan a wedding ceremony, 100+ pages of wedding ceremony templates, workbooks, and more!
How to find a wedding venue
Finding the perfect wedding venue is one of the most important aspects of planning a wedding. It's important to consider the size, location, and style of the venue, as well as the budget. Start by creating a list of must-have features, such as outdoor spaces, ample parking, or a specific type of architecture. Then, take into account the wedding date, as some venues may only be available on certain days of the week. Research online and reach out to friends and family for recommendations. Visit a few venues in person to get a feel for the space and ask about pricing, packages, and any restrictions. Be sure to book the venue well in advance to secure the date and avoid disappointment.
We specialize in helping readers find cheap wedding venues that are as unique as they are affordable. We’ve got secrets for how to use search engines to find the hidden wedding venues, tips for using alternatives like movie theaters and concert spaces, and more! You should also be sure to check out a few of our favorite unique wedding venues.
- How to find your wedding reception venue
- How to search for unique wedding venues
- Important questions to ask wedding venues
- When is too soon to book a venue?
- Venue coordinator vs. a day-of coordinator: What's the dif!?
- How to deal with a venue-mandated coordinator
- Seeking a nontraditional wedding venue? Try these unusual places!
Wedding vendor tips
Ok, so why is it important to find offbeat wedding vendors who really GET you and are committed to inclusivity and tolerance? By working with vendors who are accepting and respectful of different cultures, sexual orientations, religions, and backgrounds, you are ensuring that all members of your wedding party feel valued and included. Hiring offbeat vendors also helps to avoid any potential discrimination or discomfort during your wedding planning process and on your wedding day. An offbeat vendor can help create a safe and welcoming environment for all members of your wedding party, allowing everyone to feel comfortable and enjoy the day to the fullest.
Where do you find folks like this? Well, we help you find wedding vendors near you.
Ultimately, it is important to work with vendors who align with your values and beliefs, and who will help make your wedding day a positive and memorable experience for all involved. Wedding vendors can easily become allies and friends, but you have to choose them carefully. Here's advice about dealing with vendors and some insider advice from vendors themselves.
- 6 vital things you need to know when working with a wedding florist
- Important questions to ask your potential wedding photographer or videographer
- How to book a block of hotel rooms for your wedding guests
- 6 non-rules for tipping your wedding vendors
- Should you hire a wedding planner?
- A musician's guide to having live music at your wedding
- Bar talk: Licensing, insurance, and when to hire professional bartenders
- 5 tips to get better wedding photos
- 8 wedding photographer secrets for less sucky family portraits
- Insider advice that jewelry stores may not want you to know
- Meet our favorite vendors in YOUR area!
Wedding dress ideas and alternative wedding fashion
Whether you'll be rocking a unique wedding dress, wedding suit, or something in between, finding your wedding day outfit can be stressful. Finding unique and alternative wedding dresses can be challenging because they may not be widely available in local bridal shops, making it harder to find and try on different styles. The wedding industry is still heavily influenced by conventional norms and traditional styles, making it difficult to find unconventional or alternative options… especially if you're looking for nonbinary wedding attire!
Alternative wedding styles like colored wedding dresses, suits for gay grooms, suits for lesbians, or nonbinary wedding outfits are sadly underrepresented in wedding magazines, websites, and advertisements, so we make it our goal to make Offbeat Wed the place where YOU FEEL SEEN.
Thankfully, the popularity of alternative and unique wedding dress styles is increasing, and there are now more resources and vendors available for brides and grooms who want to break away from traditional norms.
- How to buy an Etsy wedding dress
- Everything you need to know about having your wedding dress custom-made
- Looking for a custom dressmaker? We love these folks
- The ultimate guide to plus-size wedding dress shopping
- 5 things you should know about tuxedo rental and fittings
- What to wear as a gender-bender (more here!)
- What if you don't want to wear a wedding dress?
- 14 wedding makeup tips
- 11 wedding hair tips
- Browse unique wedding dress styles that are real-time trending with our readers!
Dealing with family and friends
Dealing with toxic family members and friend drama during wedding planning can be a stressful and challenging experience. To minimize the impact of negativity, it is important to establish healthy boundaries and communicate effectively. Try to have open and honest conversations with toxic family members, express your expectations and limits, and let them know how their actions affect you. If necessary, consider limiting or avoiding contact with those who are causing undue stress and strain on your relationship… this can be especially difficult if the challenges are with bridesmaids, groomsmen, or someone like your maid of honor or best man.
It's important to remember that this is your wedding day, and you have the right to surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. Seek support from your partner, close friends, or a therapist to help you navigate these difficult dynamics. Remember to prioritize your mental health and well-being, and don't be afraid to seek help if needed.
You're probably not the only person invested in your wedding both emotionally and financially. Unless you're eloping, you'll probably have to deal with a little family drama. Oh wait, that happens with elopments, too. Doh! How can we deal with relationships during wedding planning?
- 7 ways to keep “Momthulhu” from hijacking your wedding plans
- The “Shit People Suggest” spreadsheet
- Should you have a wedding party?
- Herding cats: wedding rehearsal tips and advice
- Our favorite wedding welcome bag ideas
- 13 ways to make a reception more fun
- 10 delicious ways to make your wedding food fun
- 15 unconventional bachelorette party ideas
- How to plan an engagement party
- Essential wedding transportation tips for hauling everyone around
- Guest list primer: questions you must ask when making your guest list
We care deeply about REPRESENTATION, which means we've got wedding resources for folks who often don't see themselves in wedding media
Since 2007, Offbeat Wed (formerly known as Offbeat Bride) has been the place on the web where offbeat couples can get wedding inspiration with folks who look like THEM. We have large archives dedicated to readers who identify as…
We've also featured posts about the intersection between wedding planning and topics like…
- Chronic illness
- Mental health
- Parental estrangement
- And so much more…
This page just gives you the tip of the iceberg when it comes to helping you figure out how to plan a wedding. With over 7000 posts, chances are we've written about it: