Although many couples will get engaged in the period between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day (40% according to Associated Press) there is no “right” time to get engaged, except for the time that is best for you and your partner-in-crime.
That being said, January coincides with many of those just engaged beginning to research information on venues, planners, photographers and other vendors. It’s a big time for bridal shows and venue open houses, too.
I’ve noticed a lot more traffic on the site recently and have been getting a lot more questions from brides and grooms seeking help with the early stages of planning, so I thought I would create this handy guide to where to start when planning your Vegas wedding! So if you are newly engaged or just new to planning the perfect Las Vegas wedding and need advice, read on! (And be sure to check out part 2!)
This article will cover the stages BEFORE you start booking venues, buying gowns and deciding what the reception menu will be.
Setting – and Keeping – a Budget
In this city, the sky is the limit, with amazing venues, incredible entertainment and vendors with the world at their fingertips. Luckily Las Vegas is just as kind to those looking to get creative with their budget as the high rollers.
Destination weddings are unique, and Style Me Pretty has a guide on what you might want to factor in for your budget including things you may not have considered, like meet and greet parties, day after buffets, transportation and subsidizing wedding party members and their travel.
Don’t be afraid to have frank discussions with your husband or wife-to-be and family members about what people can contribute if they would like to. Money is difficult to talk about, but the earlier you talk about it the less chance people will be disappointed. And once that budget is set, stick to it!
Choosing a Date
Obviously Las Vegas is a special destination that can be rocked by insane amounts of visitors during holidays, concerts and certain conventions. Although the city is well set up to deal with huge influxes of people, you may want to choose a wedding date that avoids major holidays and conventions as hotel and flight prices go up and venues and restaurants get much busier during these times. This calendar lists major conventions in town – use it!
Weather is another factor in choosing a date. The city does get some rain, but boasts close to 300 days of sun a year. The traditional wedding “high times” of May through October can be very hot in Las Vegas, with July and August being killer, and you may choose to avoid those months. Autumn and spring are absolutely gorgeous, but are busier for those reasons. Winter can be a bit windy and rainy, but is still warm, especially if you are coming from a place covered in snow! This weather chart may come in handy to guide you.
If you are having trouble booking your dream venue on your preferred date, consider flexing your date a bit by choosing another day of the week in the same time frame, or switching the time of day. Friday and Sunday evenings often offer better availability than Saturdays, sometimes with better pricing. And have you considered an afternoon wedding with a reception luncheon? Also keep in mind New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day and special dates like 12/13/2014 are very popular for weddings.
Your Wedding Planning Timeline, Vegas-Style
Most traditional wedding planning timelines will recommend you begin planning your wedding 18 months or longer out. Because of the sheer amount of choice, Las Vegas is a bit more forgiving, but be warned that the most popular venues and vendors get booked up early as the city hosts 100,000+ weddings annually. If you have a specific location on your wish list, book it quickly to avoid disappointment!
On the flip side, if you are planning a spur of the moment wedding, the city has many options, so don’t be afraid to contact the wedding photographer or venue of your dreams at the 11th hour. Literally, or figuratively! Many Vegas destination weddings are easily planned in as little as 6-8 months, with a smaller percentage done spontaneously, as the city is so famous for.
Most planners will suggest starting with a general guestlist count, then securing the venue and date next before finally moving onto the details like vendors, decor and colors and wedding day attire.
Create a Guest List
Las Vegas is unique as a wedding destination in that it encourages people from all over the United States and North America – heck even the world – to convene. It’s a city with a range of affordable hotel accommodation pricing for all budgets, there are lots of activities to do outside of the wedding and it’s easy to reach with direct flights from most cities.
That being said, steel yourself for guests who must decline. Factor in that approximately 50-65% of your invited destination wedding guest list will be able to attend, with the likelihood rising for those coming from Utah, California and nearby states. There is not much clear data on average wedding sizes in Las Vegas, but the size of many destination weddings featured on LVW run in the range of 25-40 people and elopements are generally under 10 people.
You don’t have to have all the details figured out, but do try to give your guests a lot of notice with a save the date card, to allow them to figure out vacation days and budget money to travel with. This will also give you a general idea for how much space you need to book for venues, and will limit or open up your search accordingly.
Choosing a Venue Location and Style
If you are searching for unique wedding venues for ceremonies and/or receptions, you need to start with this list of Vegas wedding venues. Las Vegas is more than drive-thrus and chapel weddings…so much more! Do you want an all-inclusive experience? Quick and quirky? Formal? Indoor, outdoor? Answering these questions will help narrow down the search in what might be the most overwhelming part of your planning.
The city boasts a huge array of venues that are suitable for intimate elopements all the way up to week-long parties with over the top events. And think outside of the box. Restaurant receptions, in-suite ceremonies and cocktail parties, nightclub buyouts, historical museums, desert weddings, even vows in a helicopter are all popular choices. The city is full of options, both on The Strip and off, so do not limit your search to one or the other.
Related posts that might help:
- Sky High Weddings: 18 Vegas Venues with a View
- 8 Ultra-Chic, Modern Vegas Wedding Venues
- 7 More Modern Vegas Wedding Venues
- 140+ Restaurants for your Vegas Wedding Reception
- Checklist of Pro-Tips on Organizing and Decorating for an In-Suite Wedding
- Tips for Planning a Perfect In-Suite Wedding Reception
- Rental Homes, Villas, Mansions and Private Estates in Las Vegas Perfect for Wedding
Collect Ideas and Inspiration
Collecting wedding ideas is fun, and it can help you keep your budget in line if you give time for your wedding style to take shape versus buying everything you see the second you see it. Your concept for your wedding will flex over time as you see new things, so it’s best to wait until you are completely sure you are ready to start buying decor and locking in colors or themes.
We share a huge selection of wedding eye candy on Pinterest, so follow us and get your pin on! Or if you are old school (like I am) clipping magazine articles and bookmarking websites might be more your style. But keep your mind and your eyes open for inspiration anywhere you go, and take note of it.
Very Pinnable posts to pull ideas from:
- Browse All Styled Wedding Shoots and Wedding Inspiration on Little Vegas Wedding
- 12 Great Vegas Themed Tunes for Wedding Recessionals or Receptions
- 9 Unique Vegas Thank You Gift Ideas for Bridal Party Members
- DIY Las Vegas Save the Date Ideas
- Oodles of Fun Vegas Wedding Favor Ideas
- Showdown of the 11 Best Wedding Cake Alternatives in Vegas
- Ultimate Las Vegas Wedding Mix Playlist
- Unique Wedding Invitations for a Vegas Wedding
- Ravishing Rentals: 5 Unique Vegas Event Styling Companies
Scout It Out
If you will be having a destination wedding, you may want to schedule a scouting trip to Las Vegas see venues, meet vendors and do trials in advance. It’s not always possible with most budgets or timelines, but it will give you a better idea of what to expect ahead of your wedding. It also allows you to narrow your list of potential venues, as seeing them in person may drastically change your opinion, for better or for worse!
An alternative is to keep watching the real weddings on Little Vegas Wedding to get an idea for how a venue looks. You might also like to stalk your favorite wedding photographer to see where and how they are shooting weddings.
Stay In the Know
Las Vegas is a town that can change overnight. A restaurant or venue fully operational today might shut down suddenly and without warning tomorrow. And new places are in the works all the time! Some great resources for staying in the know on general Vegas information are Vital Vegas and Vegas Tripping. If you are into podcasts, I cannot recommend listening to Five Hundy by Midnight enough.
The final word is: have fun! Planning the wedding can be tear-your-hear-out, argue-with-family-members and worry-about-money stressful, but it’s also a part of an amazing life experience. ENJOY IT!
Be sure to read part two of this series, as we move onto more of the details involved in planning a Las Vegas wedding, including the stuff no one else will tell you!