The First 5 Steps to Take to Launch Your Wedding Planning

Updated 02/18/15

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Are you ready to start planning your wedding? Whether you got engaged last year or over the holidays, if you're ready to make decisions, it's time to jump in.

With that said, don't jump too fast. There's a specific order to follow for logical wedding planning. Most importantly, decide if you're going to hire a wedding planner or plan it yourself before you start. If you're using a planner, please hire them before you proceed with the next steps. If you're DIYing, take good notes and start detailed spreadsheets from the very first phone call or email. When you're ready to go, tackle the challenges in the following order:

1. Choose your wedding date.

True, this could be impacted by the availability of your venue, so it's not bad to have a second choice date. But have the dates in mind.

2. Make your guest list.

When you get married and where you can afford to have your reception may be affected by size of your group. Many brides and grooms opt for destination weddings after they find their "must invite" list at home has grown to enormous proportions. If you can't afford it, do not invite them.

3. Choose the location and venue.

If you don't know your destination, do serious research before signing any agreements. Get all the information about what things really cost. Watch out for hidden service charges, location fees, etc. when dealing with big hotels and resorts. Compare prices and ask questions. Feel secure about your decision.

4. Lock in the wedding venue.

Don't tell anyone your wedding date or location until you have that location under contract. If you're using a public park or historic venue, research and obtain the necessary permits and permissions. Once you have a countersigned contract from the venue, you have a wedding location you can talk about — but not before.

5. Send out your save-the-dates.

Guests who will be traveling from out of town appreciate as much lead time as possible so they can make travel plans and take time off. You should follow up with a travel information packet for anyone who will need to make hotel arrangements.

Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.

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