1. What do I really want?
As soon as you get engaged, you will be bombarded by a billion ideas and opinions from parents (especially if they are footing the bill), other family members, friends, co-workers and social media—which can make it hard to shut out all the creative noise. It's important that you stay true to your stylistic ideas and skirt wedding planning peer pressure. We like Whelan's rule: for each important opinionated person, max their requests to three and if they try to squeeze more, ask which of the previous three you should cut.
2. Should I hire a wedding planner?
You may have been dreaming about how you're going to create the perfect wedding day—completely doable—but you should remember that you're not just a host, but a guest too and should enjoy every minute of it. Consider how you deal with pressure and whether you (and your fiancé) have time to do everything you had imagined. If you opt for a full-service planner, hire one right away that way you get the most out of the experience. Remember, event planners have established relationships with a slew of vendors and can save you both time and money in the long run. Another alternative is looking into a month-of-coordinator service that will help tie up all the loose ends to avoid last-minute stresses.
3. How can I possibly stay within budget?
Before you even talk to the vendors, outline a budget—assume that you might spend up to 20 percent more than you had planned on unexpected extras. Now you have a reference point that will show if you have wiggle room to splurge in some area after you save in others. As long as you realize that a wedding budget is a sliding scale you shouldn't have too many surprising expenses.
4. Do I have to invites kids or give guests a "plus one"?
If you decide to have an Adults Only reception, it's always considerate to provide childcare in a separate area. This allows new parents to still attend without worrying about a babysitter. As for "plus ones," you can limit added guests to those who are married or who have been dating for at least a year—just make sure to keep it consistent for all guest so you don't hurt anyone's feelings.
5. Am I ready to get married?
Even the happiest couples can have fleeting doubts about tying the knot—and that's completely normal. You and your partner are bound to have differences and fights, especially if the planning process is more stressful than you anticipated. The important thing is not to get hung up on little details, but focus on whether you see eye-to-eye when it comes to lifestyle choices and can easily communicate about finances, whether you want to have kids, and mutual respect.
6. Is everyone crazy?
Getting hitched is a big life event, for everyone intimately involved in the wedding, not just the bride and groom. While people may mean well, sometimes their emotions can get the best of them and yes, they can act a little cuckoo (as can you). Suddenly a family feud breaks out over cocktail hour appetizers and you're not sure how to rein everyone back in. Parents, siblings and the bridal party are key players in keeping sanity as you plan. If you see someone getting out of hand, gently remind them of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.