Every Adventure Needs a Good Roadmap



Wedding planning can be a lot of fun. Choosing your theme, colour palette, centrepieces. These are the details that keep us glued to Pinterest and Style Me Pretty for hours on end.

Sounds like a blast, right?

I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but, it’s time for a reality check. Those fun details are not your top priorities. At least not right away.

The average wedding can take 250 hours to plan. That’s more than six 40 hour work weeks! Yes, planning can be a lot of fun but like any great adventure, it helps to have a roadmap. A wedding planning GPS if you will.

In their excellent new book Emily’s Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6th Ed., authors Anna and Lizzie Post (yes, the great-great-granddaughters of that Emily Post ) slot wedding planning responsibilities into three categories:


Level One

These are your biggest and most important decisions. This is also where the most intense conflicts and challenges can arise:

  • Budget
  • Venue
  • Guest list
  • Officiant
  • Season, date and time-of-day
  • Style and degree of formality
  • Wedding planner/coordinator
  • Wedding party
  • Rings
  • Honeymoon


Level Two

  • Clothing and accessories
  • Invitations and related stationery
  • Gift registration
  • Menu reviews


Level Three

  • Music for ceremony and reception
  • Ceremony readings
  • Personal details and special elements
  • Planning wedding-related events (e.g., activities for out of town guests, day-after brunch)
  • Gifts for attendants
  • Seating plan

When you start your planning try to focus on your Level One decisions. Of the ten listed above your priorities will be the holy trinity of budget, venue and guest list. These three are inextricably linked and are, arguably, your most important decisions. You, your fiance (and possibly your families) will have some serious discussions to determine priorities and affordability. For example, let’s say you have your heart set on a particular venue. Your guest list is currently at 140 and counting, but the venue can only accommodate 125. Do you chop the guest list, or look for another venue? Here’s another scenario:  your dream is a summer wedding at a stunning lakeside venue. The good news:  the venue is available for your preferred July date. The bad news? The cost is beyond your budget. Here you need to ask yourself if you can save money elsewhere (fewer guests, less elaborate centrepieces, a less expensive wedding dress) or do you choose a non-peak date (say, a late winter Friday) in order to make your venue more affordable?

Coming in very close behind those Top Three is your officiant – after all, without an officiant there is no wedding. If you have a particular officiant in mind you’ll need to work around his or her schedule and adjust your wedding date and time accordingly.

For most couples nailing those first few Level One decisions will be a challenge, but once they’re done, your road is clear for the fun stuff ahead. Stick with your roadmap and you can’t go wrong.


2 Responses to “Every Adventure Needs a Good Roadmap”

  1. Toronto Wedding Photographer Says:

    Your posts are very informative.
    Never thought of the planning process in terms of levels.
    It is definitely a great way to prioritize.

  2. Christine March Says:

    Thanks so much! Glad you’re enjoying my blog.

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