WeddingWire have given me an idea to write about something that is right down my alley, and something I wish I could talk to everyone about: the pre-pre-wedding checklist. Having a wedding checklist like this one from my friends at WeddingWire is key to staying on track during this wedding planning process.

Essentially, this is a simple guide to help you find your why before your what.

The what is your wedding, and if you don’t know why you’re having a wedding, then how on earth can you even have one let -alone have a good one?

The “why” of your wedding

I hope you’re sitting down to hear this: you don’t need to have a wedding to get married.

A wedding isn’t a legal or societal requirement for you and your favourite to spend the rest of your lives together in a union. Further from that, speaking as a wedding vendor, I don’t want to be a part of a team creating a wedding that the couple aren’t passionate about.

So as a starter, I need to you to know that this wedding doesn’t need to happen and hopefully that liberates you a little.

Now that you know it doesn’t need to happen, you’ve got some options:

  1. Host a wedding!
  2. Elope!
  3. Sign your marriage paperwork in a simple marriage registry/courthouses situation. The wording changes depending on where you are – but this is the non-event option where you are becoming legally married without an event.

Getting married and hosting a wedding aren’t mutually exclusive and although I love attending weddings, it’s my full-time job, I’d rather you not have one under duress.

Wedding or elopement?

So our first step on the checklist is

🔲 wedding, or
🔲 elopement

A wedding is a community event, it’s an opportunity to get your people together and to celebrate together as a tribe or a village.

An elopement is quite literally you running away from a wedding but you still want to mark the occasion and experience something beautiful. Don’t think an elopement is a small wedding. A wedding has guests and invitations, an elopement is almost always a solo affair or sometimes you’ll ask your closest family or friends to join you and witness the ceremony.

A wedding has guests, an elopement can have witnesses.

What’s important to you both?

The next step on the pre-pre-wedding checklist is to identify what’s important to you.

🔲 The Ceremony – i.e. Putting some words around your marriage – you’ll know the ceremony is important to you both if words are important to you, you might write them or speak them, but you know that words create worlds

🔲 Photography – i.e. Making still images of the event – you’ll know photography is important to you if your Instagram is full of real photos that you love of you both, instead of #inspo quotes

🔲 Videography – i.e. Making a film of the event – you’ll know videography is important if you tear up watching films, because the moving images affect you

🔲 Music – i.e The soundtrack of the event – you’ll know music is important if you have more Spotify playlists than you do books

🔲 Location – i.e. The where of the event – you’ll know the location is important if you’re the kind of couple that go back to that same cafe you had your first date at because nostalgia just kicks you right in the feels

🔲 Styling – i.e. The look of the event – you’ll know styling is important to you if you’ve got a Pinterest board for “Home” and you’re not adverse to the odd bunch of flowers.

🔲 Entertainment – i.e. Activities and things to do or watch at the event – you’ll know entertainment is important to you if you have a calendar event for the next local fair or sideshow alley show

🔲 Food – i.e. What everyone will eat at the event – you’ll know food and drinks are important to you if you Google for best restaurant lists when you visit a new city

🔲 Time versus money – i.e. What do you value moe, your time or your money?

Identifying your “getting married” values will help you make decisions down the road when some idiot asks you if you’re getting a photo booth for your wedding. You’ll already know because you’ve sat down and asked yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you need to do to achieve that.

Over the next few points I’ll give you some pointers on how to create your real getting-married to-do list based on your values.

The Ceremony

If the ceremony is important to you, then you’re a person after my own heart. The reason I became a marriage celebrant is because I believed that the marriage ceremony is the most important and most valuable part of the wedding day. It’s the business part of the event, it’s where the actual marrying takes place and it’s where you set the tone for the day.

You’ll want to think about an awesome marriage celebrant (I know a guy, here’s a hint, it’s me!) and you’ll also want to think about how the ceremony will look and feel, the location, music, and styling will come into play here.

Your photographer will help you with a timeline that takes venue and date into account and help you find the latest time on the day for you to begin the party!

Photography

Britt and I love a spectacular photo, we’re always quick to double-tap on Instagram when our hearts melt as a result of an amazing capture. If you’re like us, you’ll probably spend too much time looking at photographers, so let me give you four guidelines:

  1. You’ve got to love their photography, to the point that you could imagine yourself in the photos. You might even get a little crazy and photoshop yourselves into their portfolio images. This is completely normal, don’t be ashamed, please alert your supervisor.
  2. Go through their portfolio and check out their ceremony photos. Any photographer that has a website and a Facebook page should b able to take a quality portrait photo because they’ve got full control of the environment. Ceremony photos however are a whole new level. If they can make a live event with rank lighting, ugly crying, and loud laughing look good then I bet they’re worth every cent.
  3. Do you love the human behind the camera? You’ll be hanging out with them all day, and if their BO is bigger than their personality then it’s going to be capital-A awkward.
  4. How’s the business side of things looking. Are you happy with the product being delivered and the cost to deliver? Keep in mind that for every hour they’re at your wedding, there’s about 2 to 4 hours in the studio working on everything.

Videography

A flick through YouTube will inform you how many different videography styles there are. That’s how different videographers will be, so take all of the pointers for photographers and apply them to videographers – and it doesn’t hurt to check if the videographer and photographer get along (because many of them hate each other, that’s just between you and me, don’t tell anyone)

Music

You’ve got two options for music, so in starting your real wedding checklist – ask yourself, do you prefer a live concert or to be in the comfort of your own home listening to the originals? Also, get your music “provider” to come to the ceremony as well so the whole day has awesome music.

And if music isn’t important to you, then you know you don’t have to have any, right? Just take some time to think about the audible feel of the event.

Location

The location is as equally unimportant as it is important, that is, your wedding “venue” or location is the frame to the picture. When you have a picture hanging on a wall it’s all about the picture, but the framing presents it in a way you can appreciate it and take it in. That’s your wedding venue, it’s the setting, the frame, for this event. Approach it like that.

You’re also going to find that all the best “frames” are booked out on Saturdays a year or two in advance. So now’s a perfect time to open your mind and expand your possible days to the other six awesome days in the week. After all, most of my friends don’t work Monday to Friday anymore, and plenty of yours probably don’t either.

Just between you and me, it’s very very likely that all the best wedding vendors will be available next Tuesday, and they might even sling you a slight discount for giving them something to do mid-week.

Styling

This is a point that can go on and on and on and on. Alas, I’ll leave you with this. No-one will remember good styling, everyone will remember bad styling.

So if the look and feel of the event is important to you, do it well, or don’t do it at all.

And yes, we’ll all be able to tell that you made your own bouquets 😉

Entertainment

This is also and endless list of possibilities between photo booths, lawn games, magicians, MCs, inflatable castles, and a dance troupe.

Entertainment is going to be for your guests, and you might get a quick go, but in between Aunties and meeting new boyfriends you’ll likely be too busy to jump on the jumping castle.

Food

Food is a little like the styling, if it’s not good it’ll be the talk of the town. Options to consider here are cocktail (standing) or the banquet (sitting) style. From there, work with what you have, what you want, and what you can afford. Yes to food vans, no to delivered pizza or drive through McDonalds on the way home because the servings were the size of my little finger.

Time versus Money

This is the big one, and I saved it until last because it’s going to shape everything.

There’s a common corporate saying that if you have three options in good, cheap, quick, then you can choose two. Your wedding can be good and quick, but not cheap, cheap and good, but not quick, quick and cheap, but not good.

Coming away from that little tidbit from corporate coaching world, if your time is more valuable than your money (because I’m assuming no-one here is having a not-good wedding) then you’ll want to look at hiring a wedding planner, or an on-the-day coorindator. They take your money in exchange for your time and when the average wedding can take 100 to 1000 hours depending on size and complexity,  a wedding planner takes the load for you.

If however you are flush with time and not-so-much with money, then start Googling and preparing for a DIY invasion. Maybe it’s time to disable your Netflix account until after the wedding though.

On to the checklist, or, the “what” of your wedding

Hopefully now you have a pretty good idea as to what is and isn’t important to he both of you as a couple. Yes, as a couple. I hope you and your partner sat down and went through this together because here’s a spoiler: the wedding is celebrating the two of you getting married. This isn’t “the bride’s day” or some old-fashioned gender-biased tradition where one of the two is the superstar for a day.

Your wedding, or elopement if you go that route, is about the two of you. If your partner isn’t onboard, then shoot them this link and ask them to read right through to the bottom because a wedding without both people emotionally invested is a waste of money and you might as well head to the courthouse and just sign the paperwork today and save the thousands of dollars you almost threw into the river.