Wedding Planning – Part 2

Images from 4/9/2022 April+Gus – Venue:


Welcome! Today we will be covering where the heck to even begin when starting your planning
process. For those of you know don’t know, I’m Kate, owner of KEP. You can check out my work
on my website If you’re interested in booking hit me up in whichever way is convenient for you and we’ll chat!

Today’s beer is the ever-delicious Delirium Tremens. Delirium Tremens is a psychotic condition
involving tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation. If that doesn’t describe the leap
into wedding planning, I don’t know what does.

As far as wedding planning goes, some people start super early and some people do it in just a
few months but the list of TO DO’s is usually the same regardless of timeline.

“Planning a wedding is a BIG job and you’ll spread out any potential stress over time if you simply spread it out.”

If you have a choice, always air on giving yourself more time than less. Planning a wedding is a BIG job and you’ll spread out any potential stress over time if you simply spread it out. This also allows you the time to search for your ideal vendors and it ups your likelihood of them having availability on your date.
If you can’t give yourself all the time in the world, which occurs for a myriad of reasons, don’t stress! There are lots of amazing venues and vendors that are constantly trying to fill calendar dates. You will absolutely be able to find the perfect mix of people to make your day awesome.

So, now we’ll get into the nitty gritty…

We won’t cover EVERY aspect of planning today because we are all busy and I want to make this as bite size-able as possible.

So today we’re talking about, what I like to call, THE WEDDING TRIAD. The wedding triad consists of three things… shocker. The beginning planning triad consists of your:

  1. Budget
  2. Venue
  3. Guest List

All of these things are intertwined and let me explain why.

Your budget, which is arguably the first thing you should start with. This will determine what your venue choices are, your venue size and style will have an effect on the length of your guest list and your guest list will have a massive impact on the remaining budget.

Similarly, it goes the other way as well. Your budget will determine your guest list, your guest list will determine your venue choice, and your venue choice will factor into your overall budget.

These things are the trifecta of wedding priorities because you can’t really move forward with décor or styling or dates without having an idea of where these things land.


This is arguably one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning, mainly because most people don’t know how much everything costs upfront. With a little google research and a few phone calls, you can get a good idea of prices in your area and start to gain a really realistic understanding of what you will be spending.

All of this becomes infinitely easier when you have a wedding planner. They can give you a great idea of the costs associated with everything and get you the best deals through their connections and experience.

It is inevitable that as you start planning, you’ll have to start reining in some of your wedding dreams as your budget becomes clearer. Now, this isn’t to say you have to give up things on your must-haves list, but I am saying that once you start to realize that puppies for every guest will cost you about $500 per person, you’re going to start to slow down.

Along with budgeting, I highly recommend making a list of your top priorities for your wedding (you must have seafood, you’re not willing to cut guests out, there HAS to be a bounce house). You’ve got to hone your interests in so you can allocate budget funds effectively.

In order to get a clear idea of how and where you want to spend your money, you MUST know where your money is coming from. Are you paying for the event yourselves? Are your parents helping? Did Auntie Linda send you a sweet $25k birthday check and now you’re ready to cash it? These are all considerations for your day.

“Now, this broaches the ever dreaded subject of potentially asking your loved ones for money.”

In my personal opinion the best way to figure out this part of your budget is to treat the conversation like a Nike ad: JUST DO IT Honesty and transparency from all sides are super important!

This takes the pressure off both of you and creates a situation where at worst they decline and you know for certain you’re paying for it yourself and at best you’re receiving help and are able to channel that into your planning. It’s a win-win as far as planning is concerned. Once your budget is set, you know where the money is coming from, you’ve made a plan based on what you make, what you’re willing to spend from savings, etc. then it’s time to look for a venue!

Step Two: VENUE

90% of the time, your venue will be your top priority. It guides the entire look and feel of your day so it’s pretty important to most people. Also, it’s fairly hard to get married nowhere. Even a courthouse wedding requires you to go in person to the building, so venue should be pretty high on your list of things to settle on first. Along with being aesthetically aligned with your vision, you need to look at functionality as well. Some venues are super cheap to rent the space but you have to then gather everything else to make the wedding happen. And let me just say, it’s a TON of stuff.

On the other end, other venues are thousands of dollars, maybe 10’s of thousands, but come with catering and furniture and they look incredible without you having to provide décor and everything is included.

The decision about which works best for you is one that only you can make. Some people get really sticker shocked at some of the big venues that are out there, but if you really look into the value of your time and the hassle saved then what they’re offering may be worth it. By the same token, if you are a DIY and planning guru then you might be more comfortable ordering and organizing everything yourself.

The Date

When you choose the venue, you’ve got to think about the date. Now, the date could be considered another prong of the pried, making it a quad, but it’s wrapped up pretty immensely with the venue so we’ll go ahead and cover it here. Rule number one when picking a date: is it available at your venue? Can’t get married at your dream castle in the sky on a day because someone else is getting married there? Having flexibility with your date can really open up your options when looking at venues. If you’re willing to do a date any time in the

“…Some people have a date they MUST get married on.”

Fall vs. just the first weekend of October, it’s going to be easier for you to pair up your venue with the perfect day. Now, some people have a date they MUST get married on. An anniversary, birthday, a date your psychic told you were lucky, right? If that’s the case, it’s fine! Just open yourself to some flexibility regarding venue in case your first or second choices aren’t available. This also ties into getting an early start on these aspects so you have a better chance of snagging the spot you want.

Rule number two with choosing a date is convenience. And this means convenience for you AND your guests. Choosing a timeframe that matches up with your school schedule, military leave, health concerns, and family obligations is important so you’re not adding on additional stress. I would not recommend getting married during your finals week or on Christmas day. These kinds of dates can be HECTIC to work around.

This brings up the point of holidays and I won’t go too much into it because it’s something that drives me a little nuts. But just think… if it’s a day people would most likely be spending doing something special regardless of your wedding, I would not recommend getting married. Major holidays are generally NOT the best time. Not just because it might disrupt someone’s holiday, but because travel, accommodation, and scheduling all become infinitely more difficult. Some hotels won’t rent room blocks over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many vendors charge additional fees for holiday weddings. It tends to create more stress for you and more stress for your community, and why pile that on when you could just pick another day. Of course, it’s a matter of opinion, but that’s in insider tip for people wondering how a LOT of vendors feel about holiday weddings.

“If you’re going to throw an all night rager with an afterparty and nothing but tequila shots, you might not want to get married on a Sunday evening.”

ANYWAY. Rule number three when choosing your wedding date; timeline. If you’re going to throw an all night rager with an afterparty and nothing but tequila shots, you might not want to get married on a Sunday evening. If you want golden hour sunset photos directly after your ceremony and sunset as you walk into your reception, you may not want to get married at 3:00pm in the middle of August. If you want calm skies and sunshine, you’re not getting married at Ocean Beach. During any season. Right? All the nuanced things you want from your day are important to prioritize and consider when choosing a date.

It should also go without saying that if you want a full house and no delays getting from point A to point B, you may not want to get married in Downtown SF during the Warriors NBA champs parade.

Maybe the parade could be your reception, but there’s not getting around a street blockade. Same goes for Pride or Jazz fests, holidays (as mentioned before), or even just weekday evenings. You don’t want to lose all the time you were going to use taking photos sitting in traffic. As a photographer, we know lighting is finite and that’s why we always suggest leaving plenty of wiggle room in your day just in
case, but we’ll talk about that when we come to our timeline chat another day.

The last consideration for timeline is popular dates. We had 7 weddings booked on 10-10-2020, and I am not even exaggerating, we were starting to plan to turn people away. Save for the pandemic, that was lined up to be the most popular day in recent years. While it’s not an absolute no-no, you can throw that one under “the more time you have, the more likely it is you’ll get your ideal date”.

“The last part of this conversation is about your guest list, and let me tell you, this is the piece that will require the MOST planning where you are expected to take other people’s considerations into account.”

Step Three: Guest List

The last part of this conversation is about your guest list, and let me tell you, this is the piece that will require the MOST planning where you are expected to take other people’s considerations into account.

You need to decide very early on who is A list and who is B or even C list. This may sound harsh, but we all have to do it if we plan a wedding. A list people are MUST BE IN ATTENDANCE OR IT’S NOT HAPPENING people. Family and friends that are integral to your relationship and your joy on the day.

B list people are people you love but are also more obligated to invite. Extended family, long time family friends, friends of parents, etc. C list people are people you enjoy and would be fun to have there but you wouldn’t perhaps keel over and die if they couldn’t come. This might be some co-workers, college friends you haven’t seen in a while, people you don’t talk to on a fairly regular basis.

“A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t spoken to them for 6 months or more, they might not be on the list.”

Obviously this takes a lot of yessing and noing and input from parents and in laws, but keep in mind that it’s your day and you CAN say no even when someone you love really wants someone there. Guest list is especially important for sticking within your budget.

When you start looking at catering options and venue rentals and all that kind of stuff, you’ll see your budget number skyrocket as your guest list gets longer. According to The Knot, the average overall cost of a wedding in CA in 2021 was $28,000 ($34,000 including the engagement ring) and had a guest count of 131 people.

A quick number crunch will tell you that that boils down to $297.71 cents per guest. So if you’re not willing to spend $300 on them, don’t put them on the list. Of course, this isn’t every wedding. Couples are finding it easier every day to DIY, count on the venue for rentals/décor, and find tricks to keeping cost down. But even a 125 person wedding at $200 per guest would average out to $25,000, and that’s still a massive chunk of change. Having a clear idea of exactly how much money you can/will spend over the amount of time you’re booking and paying for services is KEY to not wiping your accounts dry and having a heart attack over those final payments.

WHEW! Ok. So. Those are the basics of wedding planning. Of course, that’s simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything you need to do, but if you can do these things you should be well on your day to planning an AMAZING day that at the venue of your dreams, without breaking the bank, and with everyone that you love in attendance.


If you ever have questions don’t hesitate to ask away and you can catch me at @lovekemedia on all platforms. Instagram, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn. I can’t wait to continue help you get your perfect day organized and with all of the accommodations you want, love, and absolutely NEED!

About Kate

Kate Cohen (she/her) is an International LGBTQIA+ wedding photographer based in Northern California who is focused on storytelling, candid captures, and iconic portraits of couples all over the globe.

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