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How to plan your wedding in Asheville!


Congratulations on your recent engagement! Now comes the fun part! Planning your big day! If you’re already lucky enough to be planning your wedding in Asheville, then you would think it would be easy enough right? In truth, planning a wedding can be simple, but it’s not always easy. In a destination wedding area like Asheville, sometimes the challenge can be having so many great options and avenues to take that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start! Do I have a fall wedding or summer wedding? Should I go traditional or intimate? Should I elope? Should I pick a venue that has the best views or something closer to town and more practical? Which vendors should I hire first? I could probably come up with a hundred more questions but my guess is, if you’re on this logb, you’ve already identified those questions. Our goal with this blog is to help you navigate that process by breaking it down into 10 simple steps and giving it some structure, and doing it in the right order. So without further ado, let’s get you started on planning your big day!

1. Pick a season! One of the best things about getting married in the Asheville area is you have seasons to choose from. If you’ve been envisioning a beautiful mountain wedding in the fall with rolling landscapes of reds and yellows, you can get married in the fall. If you’re in love with the idea of a winter wedding, there’s always a chance of snow during that time of year! If you want lush greenery, there’s always summer time! By picking a season it will help you come up with a vision, and timeline for planning your wedding. This can be important because if you’re getting married in late January or February, many venues shut down for the winter so this will narrow down your options. It can also affect which venues and vendors are available based on demand. For example, fall and summer weddings in WNC tend to be wildly popular so if you just got engaged over the holidays and you’re dreaming on a May wedding, finding an available venue and vendors that fit your vision can be more difficult because many of those dates book up in advance of a year as do the most popular vendors. Also consider some of the challenges that can come with a wedding in any season. In the fall it can be hard finding enough lodging options for guests if you don’t hop on it right away. During the summer, there’s a good chance of rain all the time, especially in the mountains, have a back up plan. Winter can limit your floral section as some may not be in season. Each season comes with different considerations.

2. Decide on the size of your wedding. Are you envisioning a guest count of 200 with all of your friends, family, and their plus ones? Are you going more on the moderate side (most common) of 80-120 guests? Small wedding like 40-60 guests? Intimate wedding with 30 or less? Or an elopement with just the two of you and maybe your parents? Whatever the case, each option appeals to different couples with different visions for their day. The two things affected most by the size of your wedding are going to be your venue options and costs.

3. Decide on a budget Having a total budget for your wedding in mind can help guide your decisions on the who, what, when, and where of your wedding. The sticker shock for planning a wedding can be a little overwhelming sometimes. The great news is, the wedding industry serves a range of different couples with different needs and there is always someone whose a good fit! I encourage you to do some research for planning your wedding. Get out on some of the major wedding platforms and look up the average wedding costs. They largely vary by region and town to town. Asheville has a lot of great options for couples with varying budgets. Deciding how you want to divvy up that budget is the next step. Some people are traditional and pick a total number and find a generic recommendation on what percentage of their budget goes to that vendor. While this can be a great approach for some couples and give structure, it can also limit you from hiring your favorite vendors. The other alternative is creating a value based budget, where you place a higher priority on certain vendors based on your preferences, and adjust from there as needed. For instance, some people pay enough for florals to buy a new car, and some wouldn’t even come close. If having beautiful floral arrangements is your number one priority in terms of wedding budget, this may make total sense, but if they are towards the middle or bottom of your priority list, this may seem excessive. Decide on a budget, decide on how to divide it up, and then go from there.

4. Decide what kind of couple you are In our experience, there are generally two types of couples getting married. Those who want to plan their wedding, and those who want to have someone plan their wedding. In truth couples that want to plan their wedding still realize they need a little help sometimes and conversely, couples that want someone to plan their wedding for them still like to have some say so. There’s nothing wrong with either path, but knowing which end of the spectrum you find yourself on will help you to know where to start and what step to take next.


5. Book a venue! About 3 years ago I read a stat saying that 6,000 couples a year tie the knot in Asheville and the surrounding areas. This area has only continued to grow in population and popularity so I can only imagine that number has gone up significantly. What does this mean for you? You should book your venue as soon as you are able! The most popular venues are going to book up their Saturdays during peak season a year or more in advance. They may have some Sundays and Fridays available, but it’s important to start inquiring immediately once you know you’re ready to start planning and once you know your season. Wildcard, new venues are popping up all the time so if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for in terms of vision, space, pricing, location, or availability, ask around for recommendations on social media or better yet, take our next step!

6. Hire a full service wedding planner I see people all the time posting on social media asking “Do I really need a wedding planner?” or “Is it worth it?” as someone whose team has shot over 300 weddings in the past 4 years alone, we say yes! Totally worth it! Having someone manage your deadlines, timelines, vendor searching for trusted pros, contracts, communications, and more, can be beyond helpful not only for coordinating your wedding day but ensuring that you actually get to enjoy your wedding day. Couples without a planner/coordinator tend to be a lot more susceptible to stress on their wedding days. By hiring someone to help out with this process from the get go, you’ll save yourself time, money, and from the previously mentioned stress.

7. Hire your photographer Experience has taught us wedding photographers are usually the second vendor most couples hire while planning their wedding. In the WNC region alone, there are tons of photographers and the most popular & reputable pros are going to book up first! Many of whom travel regularly around the region because demand is very high. Like your venues, they are going to book a year more in advance for peak season, so don’t drag your feet when it comes to finding the person or team who documents your memories. You’re photographer is going to spend the most amount of time with you on your wedding out of all of your vendors so it goes without saying, pick someone whose style resonates with you and someone you connect with well!

8. Re-assess Once you’ve made this far in the process of planning your Asheville wedding, it’s time to reassess. That may mean sitting with your planner and looking at the rest of your checklist for hiring vendors, adjusting budgets as needed if something was more or less expensive than you thought it was going to be, and it could mean changing the direction of your initial vision. The reason we find this step helpful because wedding planning can be time consuming. It’s easy to forget one minute detail or overlook something that could throw off the rest of your planning at this point in time. 9. Hire the rest of your vendors Now some of you may be thinking, “Whoa venues, planners, and photographers got their own section, the rest of the vendors get lumped together, are they not as important?” That is not at all the case, in fact, if you created a value based wedding budget, than that will help you decide what is most important to you. The reason those vendors were mentioned first is because they tend to book the furthest out, and planners can help you all throughout the process. Hiring the rest of the vendors on your list may look a little different for everyone. Some people hire videographers, some don’t. Most hire DJs, some don’t. Most hire a florist, some get their friends to do it. There’s no absolutes here, only than what you want.

10. Finalize your details and timeline. Depending on how many vendors you’re hired, how much creative freedom you’ve given them, how much communication has already taken place, and whether or not you’ve hired a full service planning company or day of coordinator, this process can look a little different for everyone. These are things like finalizing your reception timeline with your DJ or special song requests are certain points during your wedding reception. Or making sure your wedding photographer has a family shot list to work off of for your traditional family photos. Going over guests seating arrangements with your fiancé before sending it off to the calligrapher to be drawn on that cute decorative mirror your found to sit right outside the reception space. Some other wedding details to finalize during this time are your timeline, this will usually take some coordination between your planner and photographer, as well as your venue, and catering staff. If you’ve hired vendors you trust, and a planner, this process doesn’t take nearly as much effort and input. If you’ve opted to forego a planner/coordinator, be prepared to start on this a little earlier as well as putting in a little more time. Your vendors will most likely help with this process as well.

Congratulations if you made it this far! You are 10 steps closer to planning your wedding (technically 11, reading this counts right?). Planning a wedding can be complicated or as simple as you want it to be. In truth, we could take the above steps and likely break them all down into 10-20 steps for each section if we wanted to get super specific but, we prefer to keep things simple. By chunking each step of the planning process into something more generalized like this, it allows you to stay on track and focus on taking actionable steps. This is exactly why we say don't finalize your details and timeline until step 10. If you start focusing on too many minor details too early into the planning process, your progress can be halted quickly. No need to buy the big 400 page wedding guide at Barnes and Noble, or print all of the 100+ box checklists off Pinterest, or copy the million generic questions they have for your vendors. Simply follow these 10 steps and you’ll be on your way to having your wedding planned in no time! As you begin this journey, if you need any recommendations for amazing wedding pros in the Asheville area, just click here and see the vendors we love section of our website! We hope this has been helpful! If there’s any more questions you have about planning your wedding, drop one in the comment section or shoot us a message and we’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible!


-Jenny and Joe-


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@2019 by JCM Photography.

All Photographs are property of JCM Photography.

Jennifer and Joe Mackey

828-367-7159

Asheville, NC 

info@yourjcmphotography.com