You Just Said Yes, Now What?

Wedding bells will be heard this season no matter how the highest court in the land has ruled, but to make it to the altar, under the chuppah, or to the chair next to your fiancé(e) without going Bridezilla, you need a plan of action. Whether luxe or budget, this timeline will help get your fête in order. But first — have you set a date?

BY Daniel W.K. Lee

July 01 2013 4:00 AM ET

16-12 MONTHS TO GO

Create a wedding binder
Centralize all of your wedding inspirations — from floral arrangements to menu options — as well as guest lists, contacts, and budget info in one place to reduce scrambling when looking for essential details later. Chances are if you’re organized, your wedding will be too.

Build a budget
Though it’s likely the most dreaded part of the planning process, unless you’re swimming in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, a budget is fundamental to keeping the wedding affordable. On prioritizing expenses, Brad Malow, a real estate agent and founder of BuyingNYC.com, who married his husband last year, notes, “You will want to sit down with your partner before getting anyone else involved and discuss why you’re having this wedding and how you both envision the day. For example, we weren’t keen on a big flowery event but wanted the most amazing food. Right off the bat, we started to gauge the areas  where we were OK spending more money.”

Hire a wedding planner, if you like
There are many good reasons to hire a planner, but above all, finding a planner who is willing to advocate or “come out” on your behalf to vendors is critical, says Bernadette Coveney Smith, whose company, 14 Stories, specializes in planning same-sex weddings. She emphasizes the importance of finding a planner who is open-minded and isn’t bound by preconceived ideas of what happens at a “real wedding.”

Name your party and people
Maid/matron/man of honor, best man/woman/person, bridesmaids, groomsmen — decide on your wedding party sooner rather than later to get all of the wonder and chatter out of the way. Make your guest list (remember your budget!) and book an officiant.

Reserve your dates and venues
Will you need different locations (and days?) for the ceremony, reception, or other rituals? Have you considered travel logistics between sites? If you and your betrothed have decided to have a destination wedding, it’s considerate to let your guests know far in advance so they can make proper arrangements.

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