Choose your wedding’s style. Figure out the type of wedding you want – formal, semiformal, or informal. Choose a style that best reflects your personalities and the message you’d like to send about what you esteem most in your relationship. Once you decide on a style, check to make sure that the wedding location you have in mind has everything you’ll need.

Establish a budget. Don’t hesitate to discuss wedding costs thoroughly with your fiancé. Know that it’s acceptable to split the costs with your parents, his parents, or another family member or friend who wants to contribute. Realize that you can’t make everyone’s wedding dreams come true. Decide to focus on whatever will have the greatest impact on your wedding and your families. Make a list of all your expected costs, including amounts for: ceremony expenses (church or other location, pastor or other officiator, and marriage license), transportation, rings, pre-wedding parties and rehearsal dinner, reception, cake and food, florist, photographer, invitations, attire (bride’s dress, veil, accessories, and groom’s outfit), gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen, accommodations for people attending from out of town, and the honeymoon. Track your expenses as you spend so you can see how even small costs add up. Understand that, if you want a lavish honeymoon, you’ll likely have to scale back on how much you spend on the wedding. Consider scheduling your wedding before May or after October to take advantage of out-of-season discounts. Be creative about taming costs, such as by choosing a standard meal for all guests and paying for a set amount of drinks only. Save even more money on food by scheduling the reception in between traditional meal times and serving just hors d’oeuvres.

Choose your attendants and guests wisely. Keep in mind that your attendants should be people you know you can rely on to help you with whatever you need. Consider appointing a maid or matron on honor, bridesmaids, a best man, groomsmen, a wedding coordinator, a ring bearer, a flower girl or boy, Scripture readers, etc. When figuring out your guest list, don’t cave into pressure to include people you don’t truly want there – such as people you don’t know well. Focus on what and who is most important in the long run and make your decisions accordingly. On your invitations, be clear and specific about exactly who is invited. Be sure to include the spouses of all married guests. If you don’t want children at your wedding, address the invitation to “Mr. and Mrs. (Guest)” rather than “The (Guest) Family” to avoid confusion.

Create a countdown calendar. After you have established a wedding date, create a calendar that lists the timeline of everything that needs to be done to prepare. Refer to it often in the planning process to stay on track.

Choose your rings well. Remember that your wedding rings are symbols of the love that you and your fiancé share. When selecting rings, be true to who you are and your lifestyle, choosing rings that can naturally become a part of your lives. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be wearing your rings every day for years to come; decide on ones that you’ll be comfortable with for a long time. Decide whether size or clarity matters most to you, and choose accordingly. Have your rings sized when you and your fiancé are both calm and your body temperatures are normal, to obtain the most accurate measurement. Consider engraving the inside of your rings, and don’t forget to insure them.

Choose your gown wisely. Select a gown that reflects your own style instead of other people’s opinions of what you should choose. Think about how you will feel looking at your wedding photos years from now. Be realistic about the right size, cut, fabric and price for your needs; have your gown accent your best features and play down the rest.