Wedding Planning Checklist: First Steps

There’s lots to sort out, all at once, when you first decide to set a wedding date. It can get overwhelming, and fast. If you keep a cool head and work on one thing on the wedding planning to do list at a time… you’ll get through your wedding planning without getting (too) stressed out. So today I want to share the first steps you need to take with your wedding planning.

wedding planning pdf checklist - new zealand


Are you the sort of person who sits down with a clean piece of paper and pen, ready to take notes? If so, you’ll want to grab yourself a copy of our wedding planning checklist above, which covers all the tasks below (plus all the wedding planning to do’s you’ll need to get done in the lead up).  Download a copy of Southern Bride’s comprehensive wedding planning to do list here.

Each of the initial wedding planning tasks has an accompanying article to go with it, to give you a bit more detail about each aspect. Just click on the task to find out more.

What to do when you first get engaged

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Place an engagement announcement in the local newspaper

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] List your engagement ring on your contents insurance

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Plan an engagement party (it’s great practice for wedding planning)

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Get yourself a wedding planning diary, my personal favourite is hands-down the little white book

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Start compiling inspirational images for a wedding planning vision board

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Sign up for Southern Bride’s free email newsletter + wedding planning course

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When you’re getting serious about setting a wedding date: The Big Three

Lots of people feel overwhelmed about all the work that needs to be done right at the beginning – but you don’t have to be!  All you need to do is take each task one at a time.  Of course when you set out to set a wedding date, you can’t really do one thing at a time… because you need to juggle the big 3:

  1. compiling a wedding guest list,
  2. coming up with a wedding budget
  3. and finding somewhere to hold your wedding

Each of the big three affect each other, so you can’t get away from them… you need a wedding venue big enough to hold all your guests, and the number of guests and wedding venue affect the budget, which affects how many guests you can have and where it can be held… you get the picture.

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With the big three in mind, here’s the steps you need to take, to set your wedding date:

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Determine a budget and consider who is contributing

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Start to pin down a wedding theme or feel (this helps determine the types of venues to visit)

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Start researching wedding venues

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Decide on a general wedding date – come up with 3 or 4 dates for flexibility

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Compile a guest list.

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Planning to BYO alcohol? It’s not too early to sign up for a wine plan to soften the blow to your budget (more info in this article on buying alcohol for your wedding)

Starting wedding planning with a good foundation

Once those initial tasks are underway, it’s time to begin making some big ticket decisions. It makes the wedding planning process very real when you start making a commitment (both financially and mentally) to things like your wedding venue! There’s some hefty decisions (and deposits!) to make:

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Booking your wedding ceremony and wedding reception venue

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Booking in a wedding photographer

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa]  Secure a wedding celebrant

[wc_fa icon=”check” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” class=””][/wc_fa] Book a caterer

It’s unlikely you’ve ever had to book these things before – that’s the hard bit about wedding planning. You only do it once!

We all know that your wedding day is a one-time thing. If someone stuffs up, they can’t offer to redo it, get it there the next day or offer a credit. You need to be absolutely sure that the wedding vendors you select are trustworthy, credible and dependable.

That’s where the Wedding Vendor Worksheets come in handy.

My favourite tools for wedding planning

If you’re right at the start of your wedding planning, or have got a couple of things sorted, then it’s perfect timing for you to get the most use out the wedding planning tools that Southern Bride has available.  Grab one, a combo, or all of them now so you can get your money’s worth, as you record all your thoughts, appointments and information as you plan.

Wedding Planning Kickstart (planning course + resources)

If you’d like to keep yourself organised, avoid wedding planning overwhelm and to build your wedding planning on a solid foundation, then I recommend investing in the Wedding Planning Kickstart. The WPKS is a digital program covering off the first steps listed above:

  • Research wedding venues for the guest list and budget you’ve got
  • Get yourself a wedding budget – get a realistic idea of what you might have to spend (and make some choices based on this)
  • Compile a wedding vision board (and why you need one)
  • Decide who is on your guestlist, and start compiling their names, addresses and other important info into one central place
  • Start considering who might be in your bridal party (and why some friends would be a better fit helping with other tasks)
  • Equip yourselves with the tools to make decisions you’re comfortable with, by figuring out the qualities to look for in your wedding vendors
  • Choose your Top 5 to prioritise your spending and easily chose what steps to take next

By following the ebook and using the questions, checklists and templates in the workbook, you will set the stage for an amazing wedding that’s no stress to organise.

wedding planning templates and checklists

Please check out the shop here if you are looking for any wedding planning templates, checklists or support as we’ve got a great range of practical products that we’ve curated over the last 5 years.

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    1. YAY! Love to hear that Siobhan – let me know if you have any wedding planning questions, I am more than happy to help x

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