A Checklist Approach to Planning | Guest Post by Randi Fracassi of Poppy Lane Events

Thank you Madeline for inviting me to write on your blog! My name is Randi Fracassi, and I am the lead Planner and Stylist of Poppy Lane Events. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, we help clients around the state of Louisiana create the event they have always dreamed of. As we like to say, Forever Starts Here!

Today I would like to share a general timeline which you can alter to the length of your engagement; this is a timeline I like to share with my clients, and rather than giving a strict due date, it’s a checklist. Of course, the sooner you can get a task done or book a vendor for your day, the amount of stress will be decreased exponentially, and you will have more time to enjoy your engagement and the planning process.

To Do ASAP

Your initial concerns and first accomplishments should relate to booking your ceremony and reception venues and photographer. They tend to start bookings a year in advance, and if you have a particular date in mind or a photographer who you love, it is to my recommendation to start the search and get the wedding ball rolling as soon as you can!

It must also be noted that this is a perfect time to establish your budget, and get as close to an exact number as possible. Establish firmly from the beginning where not only where you’re allocating funds, but where your income is coming from (bride’s parents, groom’s parents, a grandparent or other relative, or if you’re paying for it all yourselves). By being open and transparent on monies from the start of the planning process, you’re less likely to encounter awkward situations later down the road.

Your next concern after budget, venue and photographer should be your planner or coordinator. You get the most out of your experience with a planner when you involve them from the very beginning, as we can help you find and negotiate with vendors as you book them, keep you on track with time and budgets, and be a neutral third-party if there is any sort of drama. Having a planner also ensures that your vision and ideas are accomplished and are able to be fully executed the day of the event.

So you have your venue, your photographer, a budget, and a planner. What’s next?

It would be to our suggestion to look at caterers and bakers, items to rent (tables, chairs, arches, lighting), and floral next. They tend to have a little bit more freedom in availability than venues, photographers, and planners, and are capable of handling multiple events on the same day. Take your time with each making sure that your wants and needs are met, and that everything will look cohesive with the overall vision.

Throughout this time would also be good to look at apparel for the wedding party and important family members and for paper goods such as invitations and signage. These differ from the aforementioned components of your event because they require an actual product with a deadline (fittings, sending out save-the-dates and invitations, response cards). It generally takes about sixth months for a dress to be ordered (production times can fluctuate and are designer dependent) and paper goods several weeks, so setting the appointments and purchasing these need to be dependent on your timeframe overall.

The appointments, consultations, and deposits for these services should be completed by half-way through the planning process. Contracts with each will be detailed regarding payment schedules and when products will be delivered.

It’s all in the details

The last bits and pieces that should be taken care of before the big day are little accessories to the event, such as live painters, bridesmaids/groomsman gifts, and favors, should be done about a month before the wedding. We advise this timeframe so that in the event that something does come up closer to your wedding, it can create as little stress as possible. After all, the ultimate goal is to enjoy this time in your life and your wedding day!

The hardest part of the planning process is figuring out where to start and determining what is important, so I hope that this checklist style of a wedding planning timeline assists you in your planning. As long as you rely on the professionals and the friends and family that will be by your side throughout the process, you are bound to have a fantastic event.