We're Elevate

What started as a side hustle for two creative, driven sisters has now become one of the Midwest’s premier event planning and design firms. At Elevate, we find pure, unbridled joy in celebrating all aspects of life - big moments, small gatherings and anything in between.

Avoid the Overwhelm: Why We Plan in Phases

Truth bomb: Wedding planning should not feel like work. We know, obvious statement, right?

As professionals with over seven years of experience in the field, we clearly find joy in the planning process. But for some, the sheer thought of building a seating layout or choosing table linens makes them shudder. And for good reason! We do it everyday; you are likely doing it only once, and with minimal experience! No wonder it may all feel a bit daunting.

So for today’s post we thought… why not share the wealth? If you’re newly engaged and worried that the planning process may bring up some serious feelings along the way, or only one month in and feeling like you may already be on the verge of a breakdown, read on, friend. (And call us if things get scary.)

Bring in the Calm…Before the Storm

Our top two biggest tips to avoid feeling overwhelmed are, of course, to hire a professional full service wedding planner, and second, trust and lean on that planner to completely guide you through the planning process. Typically, our full service clients book us at least eighteen months (and often, two years or more) before their wedding day, so we have a lot of time to get to know each other and work through the many phases of that process. It’s absolutely a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re here the minute the gun goes off to be your pacer (and cheerleader, and coach, and watergirl… you get the point)!

Of course, if hiring a full-service planner isn’t in the cards for you, that’s okay too. Some people really, really enjoy planning their dream wedding day, and take immense pleasure in sorting through the various contracts, logistics, details and intricacies planning a well-executed wedding can bring. We get it, we love it too!

However, there is still one overarching process we stand by and use, time and time again, that we’ve decided to share with you today! It’s not complex; in fact to some, it may seem like common sense, but it’s a method and approach we wholeheartedly stand by: plan your day in phases, and include scheduled resting breaks in between. This will ensure that your planning experience is enjoyable, full of intention, and always has you keeping your eye on the prize: saying yes to forever at that finish line.

Enough With the Running Puns, Here are the Phases!

So often, we find clients and their partners worried about how many months, weeks or days away they should be doing X, how they should handle “falling behind” in their checklist, or why element Y is taking them so long to finalize. After managing, planning and executing literally hundreds of weddings, our best advice is always, always, to take a step back, think big picture, and bring it back to the key phases. Ready? Here they are.

Phase I: Booking

This is quite obviously the first and most important phase. If you successfully complete this phase and nothing else: congratulations, you will still have an incredible day. Book absolutely every vendor you can, as soon as you can, and enjoy the research! Seeking out, interviewing with, vetting, and booking your wedding team will be one of the more memorable components of your process. After all, it’s the moment you put your trust in another professional to make YOUR dream come to life – how amazing is that?!

The glaring caveat in this phase, however, is that you need to ensure you are booking quality, reliable, professional vendors. If you have a planner on board to assist with this process, you thankfully already have their years of experience in working with the people they have already recommended; if you’re handling your own booking, you’ll simply need to perform this due diligence yourself.

Once you have your entire (and we mean, entire) team booked, pour some champagne, give those checking accounts a break for a moment, and prepare for Phase II.

Phase II: Rest

Now that you have your stellar team in place, take a moment to relax and revel in the fact that your wedding day is, in fact, actually going to happen! You can use this time (if you so choose), to firm up your guest list, find your dress, continue talking to your budget contributors about expectations, browse Pinterest for inspiration, and other “buildup” activities that will continue to get you excited for the big day!

Phase III: Design

This phase is self-explanatory: take this time to design all aspects of your day, and consider absolutely every detail! This is often the phase when dreams start out big, budget comes into play, and tough decisions and cuts must be made. But, it is also your one opportunity to consider those “wow” factor details and plan out the moments your guests will never forget… simultaneously making it the most exciting stage!

We generally plan out our design phase to start no earlier than nine months before the wedding day, sometimes even closer to six months. This is because trends and pricing change often, and there’s no worse feeling than to spend weeks coming up with a palette, vision and key inspiration ideas only to realize months later that you aren’t satisfied with the direction you are taking. This is also the moment we hone in* on all of our contracts with the design team (who is, miraculously, already booked)! See Phase I.

*That's right, when we said book everyone right away, we meant book everyone. Even if you only have a date and favorite color the moment you reach out to your team, that's okay. Pay your deposit based on what you DO know, sign your contract, and modify everything later (understanding that you will always be on the hook for at least the amount of your initial deposit). We guarantee that it's the best of both worlds for you and your team.

While in this design phase, we truly recommend that you let your imagination run wild, then pare down as needed. THIS is the moment to consider color! texture! installations! rentals! wow moments! details! and all of the amazing things that will make your day one of a kind: so consider this a phase all its own and give it the attention it deserves.

Phase IV: Rest

Now that you have a clear vision and have put in place all of the incredible and necessary details to bring it to life, it’s time for another break in the action! Once you’re feeling rested and rejuvenated, this is a great time to enjoy your bachelor/bachelorette parties, all of the wonderful showers your family and friends have planned, and consider the rest of your personal style (and the smaller yet often forgotten details like your guest book, card box, and wedding party itinerary) for the remainder of the wedding weekend!

Phase V: Logistics and Execution

This is when everything starts to get REAL, and is usually what most folks consider the most “stressful” phase in the planning process. This usually begins picking up speed about two to one months before your wedding day, when your vendor team needs things like final head counts, layouts, updated rental orders, timeline specifics, and, of course, final payments.

If you have a full service planner or month-of coordinator on board, congratulations, THIS is the opportunity to relinquish all control and let them take over communications with your team so you get to focus on the good stuff! If you’re handling things yourself, you’ll need to be sure to turn up the responsiveness and answer any and all questions that come your way in this final phase – it’s a big push but for a big, beautiful reason!

Phase VI: Enjoy!

We wholeheartedly hope that absolutely every person who journeys through the planning process gets to take a step back and thoroughly enjoy the day they’ve worked so hard to plan. Sit back and let the fruits of your labor unfold, and relish in the fact that you got to that glorious finish line in a measured, calm, and controlled way – always focusing on the big picture and those key phases!