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September 14, 2009

The Stages of Wedding Planning

A while back, I was discussing with one of my BFF's the difference between wedding "research" and planning. We were going through the number crunching phase of one venue to see if it's an option for her to put on her list of possibilities. At the time my friend was in the "researching" phase of wedding planning, but this phase of "researching" that she was in made me realize that wedding planning has various stages that I think all Bride-to-Be's (BTB) go through.

So here is the easiest way that i broke it down... i may have skipped a stage or two, or you may have gone through it slightly different - but generally speaking, i think all us brides have these various stages.

The first stage is excitement! Yippeee... it's FINALLY my turn. {Keep in mind "finally" is all relative and i think all BTB's feel it no matter how young or less young they are when the day comes to start planning for one's wedding.} Images of excited bride in her white dress on the "happiest day of her life."
(Image borrowed from Corbis)

The Second stage would be confusion. Where do I start? What do I want? WAIT, he wants WHAT? I didn't think he'd care about that! What do my parents want? Where do I start? Just how this picture depicts a bit (or a lot) of confusion, i think we start off just sitting still in front of the computer "where do i start?" Maybe at this point you start asking close friends for advice...

The Third stage is Determination. Feeling equipped with a few good words from friends who have ventured into this arena before, google becomes your best friend and you are determined to find some possible locations to hold your ceremony and/or reception. Just like this Ronin Warrior, ready to go to battle, the BTB is ready to tackle any thing that comes her way. (Image borrowed from here)

The Fourth Stage is Overwhelmed. This is where you realize how huge the wedding industry is and that the choices are endless. There are so many venues, so many packages, so many options, yet so few beaten paths that will actually work... You realize at this stage that you may need a little help... or make that a lot!
(Image borrowed from here)

For me the Fifth stage was the hardest. Realization of REALITY! This is the stage where you realize, holy crap... how am I ... my family... I... we gonna actually pull this off? This is where all the times you've heard "weddings are expensive" or "just saying 'wedding' brings the price up" is very true... and you realize for the first time, and reality starts to set in! This is where that time you went to that one wedding 5 years ago and you weren't given a "plus one" and you complained... now you began to understand why the bride and groom did what they did. This is where you question... can we afford to pay over 25k for 250 people on just food and drinks (but not full bar tab)? This is the stage where the calculator gets busted out and then...(Image borrowed from Cyberbarf)

Stage Six doesn't always express itself in the same way, but to make it easy to understand, we'll just say its the stage of crying, angst or depression. This is where you just want to pull out your hair. You curse the wedding industry and all the people involved. You question over and over again "Why is it so expensive?" or you curse and say "It's such a money making monster". Stage six can involve tears and sadness or complete anger aimed at your loved ones that you weren't born into the Hilton family and able to afford anything you wanted. (Don't worry, after stage six, you are very thankful you weren't born a Hilton and regret even admitting that the thought crossed your mind). Stage Six needs to be expressed and I think any bride on a budget goes through some emotion during this stage. (Image borrowed from here)

Stage Seven is the resolve. You are now resolved to find an answer. You began to brainstorm and ponder various different alternatives. This is the stage where prioritizing things on your "must have at wedding" list becomes reexamined. Stage Seven and Stage Eight overlap a bit, as Stage Eight is persistence. This is where you realize there has to be an answer and you just have to find it. You are resolved with your reality and persistence sets in so that you can continue to figure out your solution! You will problem find and there WILL be a solution! (Image borrowed from Jupiter Images)

Stage Nine is real wedding planning... This is where you now have a more realistic idea of what you want, need, must have, can do without... This is the whittling down stage. The guest list will have been whittled down. Your venue options will whittle down. The "to do" list will whittle down. Your "must have" list will whittle down... and now you get your hands REAL dirty... you cut out places from mere glances at the package plan or you add them to the list. You visit venues. You have a can-do attitude that is based on the realistic situation of the means allowed for this extravaganza... and you are OK with that. In fact even with complaints still abundant, overall you are ready to get this show on the road... At this stage you either have a wedding planner (which i highly recommend and please feel free to ask me why) OR you are your VERY own wedding planner! (Image borrowed from Yahoo Movies)

Stage Ten... is the actual Wedding. I have yet to really pass Stage Nine and often go back to Stage Six ... so i can't really elaborate on Stage Ten, but I can not wait to get there!

So, What stage are you in?


  1. I love love love this! I am in the married for 4.5 years and have a baby stage... stage 24?

  2. I would like permission to reprint your article, "The Stages of Wedding Planning on a Budget" on - I'm happy to give you credit and post a copyright. Let me know as soon as possible. Call: 480-998-9411 or send e-mail.

    Larry James -

  3. I am so in stage 6. Great job. I might re-print this on my blog! I'll let you know if I do.

  4. Haha these are great. Although, I think stage one should be PRE planning while not engaged! haha


  5. This is so great...

    For me stage 1-4 happened within 2 months, I felt completely overwhelmed. What a great break down.

  6. I just started planning my 2011 wedding so at this point, I think I'm feeling stages 1-3 simultaneously (with a tiny touch of stage 4.)

  7. This really is one of your best posts. It captures the emotions so well. It should be republished in all bridal magazines.

  8. You have a brilliant mind! I love your creativity and view on wedding emotions. Thanks for sharing. Here's a little site that was helpful for me when planning my wedding, just thought I'd share,


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