Planning your wedding may seem overwhelming. But with a very basic checklist you can accomplish some of the biggest goals and set your planning in motion.
First, decide on a budget.
This step is crucial. You need to realistically think about what you can afford to spend and then go from there. You cannot reasonably begin looking for locations or vendors without knowing the price you're able to spend on them.
Make a guest list
You need to make a very rough sketch of a guest list. This will also help in all your further planning. You aren't going to hold an intimate garden wedding with over 500 guests! And many venues have a "max" they allow in their rooms. Knowing a rough number will help you weed through various locations to find the perfect one.
Date and Location
Some brides have a specific date already planned and will be looking for a venue that has availability. Others know where they want to hold their wedding, and are willing to pick a date within a certain range that the location has available. No matter which you are, these two pretty much go hand in hand. Either have a specific date, or a date-range in mind and begin scouting venues. Pay attention to price and packages, as well as location and setting. Make sure the venue is going to reflect your taste. Also, remember that having an "off-season" wedding or a Sunday may save you a lot of money when booking your venue.
Color and Theme
Deciding on the color and feel of your wedding will set the tone for the rest of the planning and details. Make sure to pay attention to what flowers will be available during your season. You don't want your heart set on a certain color only to find out it's impossible to find flowers of that color during your season. (Unless of course, you go with candles instead of floral. Which can be a fantastic way to save!) After setting the overall theme of your wedding, the little details will fall easily into place.
You will need a variety of hired professionals for your big day. A DJ or band (or maybe both!), florist, hair+make-up, caterer, officiant, your venue, a wedding planner, cake designer, limo/transportation, etc. Make sure when booking with vendors you get a written contract with any specifics that you've agreed on. Don't take anyone's word on anything. All of these professionals are going to come together to make your big day what it is!