Now that you have found your forever love and you are engaged to be married, what are the most important steps in the first stage of planning?

Securing your venue-
This is your number one priority after establishing your budget. Your venue includes your site rental, food, and beverage cost, which is 50% of your total budget on average. Most venues are booking 12-15 months out, so choose your destination, and then ask all the venues you are interested in to send you a wedding packet to review. If they use outside catering, ask for a list of the caterers they use onsite. In Tucson and Phoenix, the busiest months of the year for weddings are April and October because of the weather. The state of Arizona has over 30,000 weddings every year.

Choosing a photographer-
Although there are many professional photographers, not all of them are skilled wedding photographers. These professionals get booked even before the venue is selected many times, so ask to see their work, meet with them, and ask for their pricing to ensure it matches your budget. You only get one shot at your wedding photos; so do invest in a quality, experienced professional.

I hear couples all the time trying to decide if they should have videography for their wedding. All of those who do rave about it! To have a visual story of your wedding to keep forever is worth its weight in gold. You don’t get to see absolutely everything at your wedding, but your videographer does. If you hire a videographer to capture your day, you will too.

To hire a wedding planner or not-
Whether you decide to hire a planner for the day of, or from the very beginning, a planner is a must! Experienced planners obtain your wedding vision right away and get to work for you, which saves lots of time. They think about all kinds of things you haven’t even thought of to ensure everything goes smoothly. They keep you on budget and give suggestions on how to accomplish your vision without emptying your bank account. They know the vendors and venues, and can guide you in selecting your “dream team” of wedding professionals. Most important, they are your project manager, who pulls everything together and has everyone working in parallel while you and your guests are enjoying every moment of your wedding. I can tell you a million stories of things that have happened during production, and how I immediately corrected it so the wedding was perfect! It is very difficult to produce your own wedding when you are the star of it and should be cherishing every moment.

Have more questions? Ask Rackel directly at (480) 560-1456 or