7 First Steps for Planning a Wedding in 2023: Quick Tips from a Detroit Wedding Photographer

Today, as a Detroit wedding photographer, I want to share the 7 steps I think you should do FIRST when planning a wedding in 2023.

Whether your recently engaged or have been engaged for a while and are just finally starting to plan your wedding (hey, I don’t blame you – the last couple of years have been a little dicey!), I am so glad you made it here. I know it can be a little bit overwhelming to start, after all, your photographer is usually one of the first vendors you’ll book (more about that later) and I love connecting with my couples so early on in the planning process.

I really try to make wedding planning as fun and stress-free as possible, at least when it comes to your wedding photos! If you have any questions (or would like to continue the conversation), make sure to find me on Instagram.

1. Celebrate being engaged

First, take a deep breath and relax. As exciting as it is to be planning a wedding, being engaged is such a special time too! This chapter of your relationship goes by so quickly, and it’s easy to spend the entire time obsessing and stressing over wedding planning so much that you forget that this IS in fact a significant part of your love story. I recommend celebrating by popping some champagne and booking your engagement photos, but I will leave the “how” you celebrate up to you!

winter engagement photos with champagne pop

2. Create your wedding budget & guest list

I didn’t become a wedding photographer because I love crunching numbers and entering data into excel spreadsheets, but sometimes these are the necessary evils we need to do to make sure the rest of your wedding planning goes off without a hitch! It’s so important to have at least rough numbers for your budget and your guest list so that you don’t rush out and book a gorgeous wedding venue that won’t fit all of your family and friends (and you won’t blow your entire budget on wedding florals before you know how much catering will be… even though it will be tempting).

creating a guest list is one of the first steps to planning a Detroit wedding at top Michigan wedding venue

3. Decide on the Vibe

Once you have a budget and guest count in mind, you can start thinking about the vibe. Do you find yourself daydreaming over an abundance of pampas grass and boho wedding decor? Prefer rustic touches in a charming old barn wedding venue? Want an outdoor wedding venue you can make your own? Whatever you are dreaming of, take some time to create a clear vision of what you are looking for before you start looking at venues (or hiring vendors).

outdoor wedding in Detroit

4. Book your wedding planner

When you picture your wedding day, I imagine you are picturing getting ready with your wedding party, standing with them before the ceremony, celebrating with them after during photos, listening to their toasts during the reception, and rocking the dance floor at the end of the night. Not only will a wedding planner make the process of planning a wedding in 2023 MUCH more enjoyable, they also make sure that your wedding party can be present on your wedding day (because if you don’t have a wedding planner putting out fires, someone else will have to!).

When it comes to planning a wedding in 2023, you want your wedding planner to be the very first wedding vendor you hire. They can help you fine-tune your wedding guest list and budget before you make any decisions, and I promise this will save you from headaches down the line!

Wondering if you really need a Detroit wedding planner? Read my thoughts here! 

bride stands with bridesmaids getting ready

bridal party gives toast at Detroit wedding reception

5. Book your wedding venue

Alright – now we are ready to really put some pen to paper! The very next step to planning a wedding in 2023 is booking your wedding venue. After all, a wedding venue is really what “saves your date” so it’s hard to book any other vendors without it! To make it easy for you to get started, I’ve collected a list of the top wedding venues in Michigan here.

wedding venue setup in Detroit

6. Book your wedding photographer

I’ve been waiting for this one! As soon as you have your wedding venue, you are ready to book your wedding photographer. I’m obviously a little biased toward this step, but it’s so important you love your photos! Here are a few more resources to help you book the right wedding photographer:

If you are looking for a Detroit wedding photographer, you can learn a little more about me here  (or check out the experience of working together here).

PS: The second you book, we can get started planning your engagement photos (here are 10 tips to planning your engagement photos as a little preview). If that’s not reason enough to get excited I don’t know what is!

two grooms in wedding photos in Detroit shot by LGBTQ friendly wedding photographer

7. Start Dress Shopping

When it comes to planning a wedding in 2023, a lot has gone back to “normal”. With that said, for anything you might have to order you can expect a longer transit time. Wedding dresses often have a lead time of 6 to 8 months and that doesn’t even factor in time for alterations. Once you have your first wedding vendors booked – I’m talking about your wedding planner, your wedding venue, and your wedding photographer – you are ready to start looking at wedding dresses ASAP. Seriously, don’t wait!

wedding dress hangs in backyard wedding venue

Congratulations on Planning a Wedding in 2023!

As I mentioned at the very beginning, try to let this process be fun! Planning a wedding in 2023 should be exciting, so make sure to build a vendor team that makes you feel that way. Despite what some of the marketing out there says, you probably don’t have to go out and book all of your vendors within a week of saving the date. Take a breath, enjoy the time, and soak up all those “we are getting married” vibes!


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