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Congratulations! You’re on your journey (or planning to start your journey) with the love of your life, for the rest of your life. However, to ensure your wedding is perfect (or as perfect as it can possibly be), there are a few pitfalls and sage advice you should heed to help you along the way to an “almost” catastrophe-free day.

1. Plan Early

Planning early will help you determine your budget as well as finding wedding insurance. Just because you set the date a year or two from now doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing. The sooner you get started, the more you’ll set yourself up for staying on top of things – such as budgeting, guest list numbers and insurance.

2. Investigate Dates

While it might seem obvious not to have your wedding on the 4th of July, do you know the specific days of local trade conferences in your area? Knowing the dates of events ahead of time lets you have your wedding where you want to – when you want to.

3. Stick To The Budget

Dress alterations cost money. Tuxedo alterations cost money. Wining and dining your guests cost money. Everything cost money – even if you go the less-expensive DIY route. Wedding planning tools help get rid of some of the headaches of calculating all those hidden wedding costs.

4. Listen to Mother Nature

Do you know when gnats, flies and mosquitos are going to hit? Do you know what days, at what time, and in which part of the country the sun is going to be hottest? Maybe you’re thinking of a winter wedding: is it going to be -20 degrees on your planned special day? Does the venue you have planned have adequate heating? Always keep an eye on weather conditions for your area.

5. Get Help

Have you heard the cliché “It takes a village to raise a child”? Let’s transform that to “It takes a family to make a wedding great.” If your family is trustworthy, and if you have an open, honest relationship with them, having them help you on this monumental day takes a lot of the edge off your shoulders. (Plus, you get to boss them around guilt-free, which is always a bonus.)

6. Be Savvy With Credit

Weddings are expensive – and honeymoons are even more expensive. One reason weddings are so expensive (~$25,000 – ~$35,000 seems to be the U.S. national average) is because wedding vendors are exactly that – vendors. They are particular experts (or “specialty vendors”) for a reason: they are grand at what they do – and vendors are businesses. Making dreams come true is romantic, but it isn’t cheap.

However, there’s an upside to all of this (if you have a credit card): rewards. If you have a card that doesn’t have a rewards program, shop around for one. Put every purchase you make onto this special card – it will pay you back in spades when it’s time for your honeymoon. As we talked about before, there are a lot of hidden wedding costs that you might not know about.

7. Guest List

Sort the guest list as feasibly-early as possible. Picking too high of a guest list may not fit within the maximum capacity limit of your list of venues. (25-30 sq. ft. per guest is a good rule of thumb.) Just be sure not to fall into the guilt-ridden trap of inviting people you don’t want to be there. Start with guests who have highest priority: in-laws to be, parents, family, etc.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that 10-20% of your invited guests may not show up. Do not take it personally: there may be annual holiday plans, or they’re out of town and got lost, or simply can’t make the event (especially if it’s a destination wedding such as Honolulu). However, one rule to always keep in mind is this: don’t look at any vendors whatsoever until you and your love-to-be have settled on a date. Vendors need time to plan, too, as they have dozens (if not hundreds) of scheduled weddings to be a part of throughout the year.

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