Weddings are beautiful and special events, but they can also be stressful, overwhelming and expensive. From the moment you decide to get married, questions start running through your mind. The following questions are some of the most frequently asked about weddings, and the answers can help you have a calmer start to planning your wedding. Read on to learn more.

Where Do I Start?

The best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity is to take a little time before you jump into planning. Most brides have been dreaming of their wedding day since they were small children. Revisit those dreams for a little while. Look through some bridal magazines and websites to find things you like. Make a scrapbook or a planning board to help you organize your ideas. Next, locate a checklist and a timeline from a website, such as the Knot.

I've Found a Wedding Planning Checklist. Is All of It Really Necessary?

No. Keep this in mind: All you have to have is the bride, groom, a witness, a marriage license, and someone to officiate. That is all, so do not feel pressured to do more. Go through the list, decide what is important to you and your future spouse, and mark off the rest. The wedding is about the two of you, not all of your family and friends.

Should I Hire a Wedding Planner?

This is completely up to you, of course, and it is all about personal preference. The downside is that they can cost a pretty penny- often $5,000 to $10,000. That can be a good chunk of your wedding budget, but the cost brings a lot of benefits, too. For one thing, they can decrease your stress levels immensely.

As they are trained to plan weddings, they know what to do and when to do it. They have connections to vendors and can make all the deals with venues and vendors. If paying out five to ten grand is simply more than you are willing to pay, you have a couple of other options. First, hire the planner to handle certain aspects, or just hire her for the actual wedding day to make sure everything goes smoothly. You can also recruit your closest friends and family members and have each one handle certain tasks.

How Much Should I Expect to Spend?

Again, only a few things are necessary, so your wedding can cost under $100. Many Americans go into debt due to paying tens of thousands of dollars. If that is your choice, it's perfectly fine. However, moving into a brand-new marriage with debt can set you up for trouble. The best thing you can do is sit down with your fiance and decide together how much you can afford and what you are willing to pay for your big day. Zola is a great resource for wedding help, including setting a budget.

How Can I Save Money?

Outside of the obvious- limiting your guest list and similar things- you can find creative ways to save. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on flowers, start a garden and plant your own. Ask a friend or family member that is good at baking to make your wedding cake in lieu of a wedding present. If you are having a reception, do it during the day. Paying for lunch for everyone is a lot cheaper than paying for dinner and wine. Instead of booking an expensive venue, have it outdoors in a friend or family member's beautiful yard or garden. Think for a while and you will find many corners you can cut.

Do I Have to Invite My Entire Family?

In short, no, you do not. In fact, you do not have to invite one single person. Remember that you are paying for each person that attends. If you have not seen nor spoken to your cousin Sally since you were five, there is no reason to feel obligated to invite her. If you just want to keep down the drama in the family, be forthcoming. Explain that you are on a budget because the two of you are saving for a home, or whatever your goals may be.

When Should I Send the Invitations?

It is important to get the invitations to them in plenty of time. If you are hiring a caterer, they will need your headcount about a month before the wedding. It is best to send out the invitations at least ten weeks in advance. Check out websites like Vista Print to cut the cost of your invitations.

Can't I Just Elope?

If planning your wedding is stressing you out, you may want to just elope with your fiance and forget the rest. It's your wedding, so of course, you can elope. Just be prepared for some loved ones to be upset with you, especially if your mom has been waiting to plan your wedding for your entire life. If you choose to elope, check out the website "Here Comes the Guide" for an elopement checklist.