Wedding Planning Part 1 | Step-by-Step “To Do” Guide After the Engagement

by Molly Gardner
save the date

I am beyond excited to share this wedding planning checklist post.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I got engaged right before NYE this year, (AAAGGGHHH!)  I wanted to pull together a step-by-step guide of what we’ve (let’s be honest, I’ve, lol) done so far for planning.  

I’m going to be sharing a lot of hair tutorials for brides, bridesmaids, and wedding guests.  Stay tuned for those coming up and for our Part 2 guide for wedding planning.

Also, I want to thank Minted for gifting us our Save the Dates.  More on that below!

After getting engaged, I was beyond excited.  My fiance and I decided to take two months to just be engaged.  No planning, no stress, just enjoying the moment. 

Honestly, I will always remember those two sweet, fun, relaxed months.  It was just a really special time to me. 

Then we started planning. 

Cue the wide-eyed emoji. I hope this checklist makes it a bit easier for another bride-to-be!  Here is exactly what we’ve done so far, in chronological order.

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1 | Decide What Matters

Sit down with your fiance and discuss what the most important part of your wedding is to each of you. 

This “Most Important” list will help you while deciding on venue, location, and the vendors needed for the actual event.

For both of us, it is really important to have our friends and family there.  We have each had so many people support us over the years, it is time to let people know how much we value them. 

Because are hoping for a high percentage of “yes” RSVPs, we decide to stay somewhat local.  As much as I love destination weddings (and ours will still be a cross-country trek for many guests), this made the most sense for us. 

We also agreed that an open bar (premium for my fiance), great food, and dancing/music are all really important to us. 

Also, because we are a little older and a a lot of our friends have kids and have moved away from Los Angeles, we decided a hotel wedding would be best, so we can all spend the whole weekend together, instead of one night only for the wedding. 

We luckily found a stunning hotel that also has insane views.

2 | Venue Tours

After figuring out that a hotel wedding was important, so that guests could be together all weekend and we wouldn’t have to worry about transportation for all the guests, I started searching hotels. 

I contacted hotels and resorts in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and around Yosemite.  

We got their wedding packages and rates and I narrowed the field from around 20 hotels and resorts, down to four.  I set up tour times, we booked airline tickets and hotels for Las Vegas and Yosemite and off we went. 

This part does get a little pricey.  I recommend really narrowing your list down before taking tours.  We booked an extra day around each site, so we got a mini vacation out of the trip.

We finally narrowed our choice down and signed with the venue that will (hopefully) be a perfect fit for our wedding!  Seeing the places and imagining your wedding there was helpful beyond words.  Photos are great, but being at each location was invaluable.

We were able to imagine our guests going through the process of getting to the resort, renting a car, driving the routes, checking-in, dining, etc.  As gorgeous as the lake front resort was, Yosemite was out because it was a five hour drive from LAX and would require our friends to rent a car for three days.  

Summary: on-site tours are invaluable. 

3 | Save The Dates

Once we had the date locked down, we wanted to get our Save The Dates out quickly. 

As mentioned, we have a ton of east coast friends and family and most have children.  We wanted to give people as much time as possible to find childcare for the weekend and block out that time.

I always wanted a magnet for my/our Save the Date, because I love having my friend’s magnets on the side of my fridge.  I’ve held on to all their magnets well past their weddings, because they make me smile every time I go to open the fridge door.  I remember all the fun we had those weekends!

We couldn’t decide on a photo or non-photo Save-The-Date, but when Darius and I came across what we picked on Minted’s website, we both started laughing and agreed, we had found it. 

I really loved that Minted gives your options to look through the Save The Dates for: photo or no photo, horizontal or vertical layout, by style (classic/modern/boho, etc), color, etc.  It really helps narrow down your choices and made it so much easier.  

The 2nd best part, is that once you get everyone’s addresses in a pdf (they provide the form) you upload it to Minted and they print the addresses on the envelopes for you.  Let me emphasize, no need to lift a single pen.  Every envelope comes pre-printed.  Game changer. 

They even give you the option to print addresses in the same font and style as your invite, which is a detail that I love and some of my friends noticed. 

I even had one friend who made her husband get the envelope out of the recycling so she could see it.  She told him “brides think of all the details, I need to see the envelope!”  I laughed so hard and loved that she appreciated the whole experience.  Details do matter!

Minted also has whole wedding “suites”: available so you can coordinate the style of your Save the Date, invitation, rsvp cards, etc if you so desire.  I chose a different style for our invitations, but stayed with the same color scheme.

The #1 best part is that we’ve been getting texts non-stop since our Save the Dates went out!  Everyone LOVES them.  We’ve gotten photos of them from over half our guests.  I honestly can not believe what a huge hit they are! 

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save the date close up

Shop Minted | save the dates . weddings

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4 | Vendors

We are currently on this step.  Once our venue was in place, we knew we wanted (I knew I wanted 😉 ) a gorgeous design and table decor that enhanced, but didn’t compete with with ocean views. 

We’ve just booked our photographer and found a DJ and wedding coordinator that we liked.  We happened to run into a work friend of Darius’s at the supermarket and she got married at the same exact venue a few years ago.  She forwarded us so many vendors, it was amazing!

Currently on the hunt for a great videographer and locking in some design details.  I can’t wait to share more as I book more things and get more details done. 

I ordered these table numbers from Minted as well, as I’m already clear on our wedding colors and the decor I want.   

I LOVE that you can customize them right on Minted’s site to have your and your fiance’s name and wedding date on them and the font in your wedding colors.   I even changed ours to spell out the table numbers vs numerical 1, 2, 3, etc.  I love all these personalization details, I think it’s these small details that really add to the overall vibe of the day.

Darius actually picked the table numbers up when they came in and said they look amazing.   I was so surprised he noticed and appreciated them.  

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table numbers custom

Shop Minted | table numbers

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I hope you love these Save the Dates (and table numbers) as much as we do! 

p.s. – I did blur out a few of the details on both the save the date and the table numbers to respect my fiance’s privacy.  But you can customize them with your full names, wedding website (on our invitations), and your wedding date (ours is under the dash on the table numbers).

I also ordered a small surprise for Darius, a photo of Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles.  This is where we had our second date, a breakfast date, as I was recovering from having all four wisdom teeth pulled.  We sat for over three hours laughing in a corner booth, so I thought the picture would be a nice reminder of that date.

I still need to get it framed, but I love it!

The photo was 1 of 350 prints available.  I really love that Minted supports and promotes independent artists.  I don’t think I would have been able to find the artists who designed our Save the Dates, table numbers, and this photo if it weren’t for Minted.  

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photo of canter's deli

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