Excitement is in the air!

Now that you’ve said yes and told your closest friends and family, it’s time to get started with planning your big day! Planning your wedding ceremony can be a fun and rewarding experience for couples, even with the many details there are to be covered. With a little foresight and preparation, you can avoid feeling rushed or falling into the “ceremony crunch”.

 If you’re ready to start planning for your “I do”, but are unsure where to start,
follow our easy guide below on ‘ceremony basics’ to make sure you ready to go once the big day arrives!

First Things First

Before you get start diving into all the little details that go into creating the perfect wedding ceremony, it’s important to take a step back and have an honest conversation with your spouse (as well as any other contributing parties) about your budget. While it can be incredibly exciting to visualize your dream day, it’s just as important to talk about the ceremony basics. Since your finances will inform many of the decisions that play a part in your ceremony, it should be one of your first priorities. When it comes to building a budget, a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind are:

What is My Final Number?

Setting an absolutely firm point (with your wiggle room already built in) is important because it not only gives you a hard number to work with, but it also helps put certain decisions into perspective as you go along. Knowing what you have to spend will help prioritize different elements of your ceremony and avoid any unnecessary stress later on.

How Long Do I Have To Save?

While it’s important to know your budget in advance, bear in mind that you’ll likely have some time to save before the ceremony, as many popular venues book as far as 18 months in advance. If a few extra months helps to comfortably afford something you’re wavering on, you may be able to consider a ‘splurge’ in that category (just remember, relying on future income to cover the cost of something upfront may not always be the most secure plan).

Where Are My Finances Coming From?

Weddings are a special time for everyone involved, not just the bride and groom. For couples receiving financial support from family members, having a respectful upfront conversation about the level of involvement and input on key decisions can help avoid conflict later on and set clear expectations going forward.

wedding ceremony basics

Book Your Venue ASAP

As we mentioned above, popular venues can have a long waiting list for dates. If you have an ideal location in mind, contacting them as soon as possible will help avoid disappointment and increase your chances of locking in your preferred date. Having a list of 2-3 top venues in mind will ensure you have a backup option in case your first choice falls through and helps to alleviate the pressure of finding a new location with less time later on.

Tip: Not picky on your date? Looking to save on your big day? Ask your venue about their off-season rates, as well as any availability for weekday weddings!

Cornerstone Weddings_Canmore_Alberta bride and groom walking down the aisle with bridal party cheering from behind banquet room at canmore nordic centre

Officiant/Marriage License

If you’re planning on making your ceremony legally binding, there are a few key elements you’ll want to lock in as soon as possible. Contact your officiant early on to ensure they are available, and make sure you have the necessary documents and details on hand to secure a marriage license when the time comes.

wedding photography planning

Find A Photographer

Nothing is more treasured than visible memories of your special day. Finding the perfect person to capture the moment is an important part of any ceremony, so you’ll want to set to work finding a photographer quickly. As a word of advice: look for reviews! While there’s no shortage of camera owners on hand and ready to make some spare change, you want a professional who is able to provide exceptional quality. Take the time to do your research and contact the photographers who’s portfolios catch your eye. Key questions to ask include:


  • Availability
  • Past wedding experience (some photographers may be more experience in editorial, etc)
  • Budget
  • Package details
  • How long will it take to receive final proofs of your photos
Canmore wedding ceremonies, Tree Island at Canmore Nordic Centre, Cornerstone Weddings

Make Your Guest List

It can be tempting to invite your entire group of friends and family, but it’s important to remember that more guests tend to translate to a higher cost overall. Decide early on what you can comfortably budget for and then craft your list accordingly. Aim to send invites well in advance and request at least 3 weeks for an RSVP so you can give an accurate final number to your caterer and venue.

Wedding Attire

For brides, finding “the dress” can be a magical moment that helps to tie together every detail of the big day. Shopping for your dress early on can help make sure you feel less rushed, and allows for plenty of time for alterations, etc. Made to order dresses can take up to nine months to make, so the sooner you make your selection, the more time you’ll have to factor in fittings and everything else. Select your bridesmaids dresses in advance as well to allow for fittings and alterations so your bridal party feels comfortable and looks their best!

For grooms, there is generally more wiggle room (sorry, ladies!) but that doesn’t mean you should leave your selection to the last minute. Whether you plan on renting or buying it’s best to give yourself ample time so you’re not scrambling to get the details-from cufflinks to matching shoes-in order.

choosing a wedding venue

Wedding Planning / Venue Provided Assistance

With so many little details to factor in, it’s no wonder that couples can end up feeling a little overwhelmed throughout the process. Checking to see what support your venue offers, whether it’s access to a dedicated wedding planning team or a list of recommended vendors can help take some of the weight off your shoulders and help you focus on your special day. This will also help you coordinate the finer “day of” details like the timeline for arrivals, ceremony start, etc.

how to plan a successful wedding

Day Of Essentials

You’ve made it! The big day is here and all your hard work has paid off! Before you run out the door to make your way to the venue, make sure you have following:

  • Marriage License
  • Outfits (if you are getting ready on-site)
  • Rings!
  • Bridal emergency kit (safety pin, hairspray, deodorant, lipstick, etc)
  • A big smile!

As you draw closer to the “finish line”, remember that it’s perfectly normal to have some nerves, and to feel excited! Relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy your moment. It’s time to celebrate with the love of your life!

Looking to book your dream Rocky Mountain wedding?

Nestled in the heart of Canmore, Alberta, Cornerstone
Theatre is an ideal location for couples looking to bring a touch of natural beauty to their big day.

Contact us today to learn more!

Title ×