Planning a wedding can be a full time job. It's important that you have the wedding of your dreams, but without breaking the bank! Make a list of things that are an absolute priority for you. (for us it was of course, flowers, food, having a more intimate wedding and a venue that only hosted one event per day) Because we wanted a really nice wedding and we paid for most of the wedding ourselves, we limited our guest list to a maximum of 100.
There are so many different elements that make a wedding. Like anything else, things just add up. Sit down in the beginning stages of planning to come up with a preliminary guest list and a basic idea of what you envision. Personally, I feel that photography is one of the most important elements to a wedding. After all is said and done, it's what you will have left to remember every little moment. I love the photographers with a photojournalism style, where they capture the moments and events of the day without being obtrusive.
Selecting a date is another issue.... Friday, Saturday or Sunday? If you have many guests traveling from all over, you may opt for a Saturday wedding and not a Friday. Only because it might be difficult for them to travel and take a day off from work, etc. For Catholic weddings, most churches allow ceremonies on Saturdays no later than 2 pm or 3 pm at the latest. If you visualize that romantic evening wedding and do not want to inconvenience your guests choose a venue that has a flexible start time (probably one that only hosts one event per day).
I think if you start off organized, everything will come together beautifully! Organization is the key to a successful wedding or event. Make a check list of which vendors you like and write in notes when you meet with them. You'll want to book your major vendors as soon as possible to ensure you get the professionals you really love. The most popular wedding professionals book quickly, so contact them early to interview them and discuss the details. Otherwise you will be upset if you have to settle. Don't overwhelm yourself, make to do lists and cross things off as you accomplish them. It will make you feel less stressed and feel like you are getting things done in a timely fashion.
A very important thing to remember while searching for the perfect venue is ask every question you can in the initial meeting (and write all the answers down). If you are in the search for a fabulous wedding venue and really want a romantic candle lit wedding, be sure and ask if they allow real candles. Many reception venues allow candles, but they have to be enclosed in some sort of glass container. Historical reception venues however, may tell you they do NOT allow any candles. Which basically means you will have to get that romantic glow from battery operated candles. (luckily, they are making them now that are incredible real looking!) Ask if the reception venue does more than one wedding per day. Ask about the parking situation, where the cocktail hour will be, how many guests they can accommodate comfortably, what comes with the package (linens, china, flatware, tables, gratuity, tax, etc.). All of these questions will help determine whether or not the space you love fits your budget and can accommodate your needs.
The biggest thing to remember is that it is your wedding and it should be a gathering of your close friends and family. Try not to stress completely over the planning process because it can be extremely stressful. Know that by hiring some of the very best wedding professionals it will be incredible and you will enjoy every minute of it!