You’re engaged! That’s awesome!
Getting engaged is one of the most incredible moments of your life. The person you love more than anything in the world has asked you to spend the rest of your life with them. But once that initial euphoria wears off, you’re hit with the realization that you now have a million decisions to make. And regardless of how long you plan to take planning your wedding, you’re going to feel like you don’t have nearly enough to do it all.
Here are 10 things you should do right now to get started with your wedding planning.
You’ve waited a long time for this day to come. And now it’s here. It’s time to plan that wedding you’ve dreamt of for so long. Or maybe it’s finally time to start dreaming! Either way, it’s important to think of all the things you see when you close your eyes and dream of your special day. What type of ceremony do you see? Will your wedding be indoor or outside? What colors do you see your bridal party wearing? Do you see yourself at a local venue or will it be a destination wedding? What kind of flowers are you carrying down the isle? Who’s there with you? Are you inviting everyone you’ve ever known, or keeping it small and intimate? Are your decorations extravagant, fancy, or casual? Talk with your fiancé, your friends and family, your wedding planner, and explore the Internet to imagine the style of wedding you want.
Look for inspiration in books, movies, magazines, or even less obvious sources like a wedding you remember from when you were younger, that beautiful park you picnicked in once, or lyrics to a song. You never know where your inspiration and creativity will come from.
A great place to start is Pinterest
2. Establish A Budget
This one can be stressful and sometimes flat-out painful. If you’re paying for your wedding on your own, setting a budget might make you think of all the things you can’t have. And while a smaller budget can limit some things, it’s important to remember that research and creativity can stretch a small budget to great lengths.
If you’re fortunate enough to have family members contributing, arrange a get together as soon as possible and get this uncomfortable conversation out of the way. Once you have that magical number, you can start planning!
3. Hire A Wedding Planner
You may have never thought about hiring someone else to help with your wedding, and that’s fine. You may not need one. But if you and your fiancé have crazy work schedules, or you’re on a tight timetable, or maybe you just feel completely clueless about what to do, a wedding planner might be the lifesaver you’re looking for.
Wedding planners can help with everything from budgeting, planning, and connecting with highly sought after vendors and venues, to simply keeping you and your bridal party calm and focused. Your wedding day can be a lot less stressful when know everything is handled and your planner is there to handle any unexpected hiccups.
Most planners offer a variety of packages, ranging from a full-time planner who takes care of everything, to a day-of coordinator who works with you the whole way, but truly takes over on the actual wedding day to make sure it goes smoothly.
4. Get It Scheduled
Getting engaged will initiate a firestorm of questions like, “when’s your wedding?” and “so, have you set a date yet?” So it’s best to get a date set as soon as possible.
Unless you’re getting married at the home of a friend or family member, you may have to be flexible with your date in order to book the venue you want, so it’s a good idea to select a few different dates. This will give you options.
The first step is figuring out what season you want to get married during. Do you want a sunny spring wedding, a colorful fall wedding, or a snow-covered wedding wonderland? Once you’ve decided on the season, be sure to check your calendar for major Holidays, family events, and other potential conflicts that may prevent loved ones from attending.
Next, determine whether you need to get married on a Saturday, or if a more non-traditional date will work. A lot of venues and vendors offer discounts for other days, like Fridays and Sundays. This is a good thing to keep in mind if your budget is lower than you’d hoped.
Lastly, make sure to give yourself enough time. Ideally, you’ll want at least six months to plan your wedding. Typically, engagements last from six to eighteen months.
Once you have your list of dates that work for you, you can book your venues.
5. Book Your Venues
Yes, I said venues. Remember, you’ll need a venue for the ceremony and a venue for the reception. Some places offer the ability to have the ceremony and reception at the same location. This can save you a lot of time and hassle, and make travel easier on your guests.
It’s important to know that regardless of how many people try to tell you it’s “all about the dress”, the true ruler of your wedding day will be the venues. All of your pictures will include your venues. And almost every decision will be influenced by things like capacity, layout, lighting, location, and availability. Not to mention, until you have a venue booked, you can’t do much else. Make sure your venues provide the look and feel you’ve been dreaming of. And be sure it can handle the type of reception you’re planning for.
Unless your heart is already set on one, set up visits with multiple locations and start checking them out. Once you’ve gotten your venues booked, your date will be finalized and everything else can start.
6. Hire Your Vendors
Once you have your date set, book you vendors ASAP. Quality caterers, DJs, photographers, and stylist book up fast, especially during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. (We have some weddings on our books more than 24 months in advance.)
Typically, the most important vendors to book first are your:
• DJ or band
• Hair Stylist
7. Build Your Guest List… and then Narrow it Down
I’m not going to lie: this is probably the most difficult part of the wedding planning process. Unless you have unlimited funds and a massive venue it’s nearly impossible to invite everyone you know. Your budget and your venue will determine how many people you can invite, and once you have that number you’ll need to start trimming your list.
Start by creating a spreadsheet (for easy sorting by last name and adding contact details later) with your closest friends and family. Meet with your families and gather all the “must-invites.” After you’ve built your list of all the potential guests, start narrowing it down until you hit your number.
I wish I had more advice on how to choose who stays on the list and who will have to hear about your special day on facebook, but the most important question to ask is, “Can I imagine my wedding without this person?” If you can’t, then they should stay. Keep in mind though, if you have family members helping with the expenses, their input is important here. Good luck!
8. Propose to Your Wedding Party
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and it should be spent with the most important people in your life. Chances are, you know exactly who you’ll ask to be in your party, but if you are having trouble, think about the people that have been there for you during your best and worst moments.
Keep in mind; these people will be spending time and money to be a part of your special day, so be sure to let them know what you’re planning and an estimate of the costs. Most importantly, make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
9. Insure Your Rings
This is one not a lot of people think about. The engagement ring you just got (or gave) was probably pretty expensive. And the rings you’re going to exchange on your wedding day are also expensive. Losing them or having them stolen would be horrible emotionally, but it could also cost you thousands. Talk to an insurance agent and protect yourself.
Planning your wedding will be stressful. There are a lot of details to think about, decisions to be made, and things that can go wrong. One thing I tell every couple I work with is that things are going to go wrong. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re not going to get everything perfect, but as long as you walk down that isle and get married to the person you love… nothing else matters.
Your wedding day should be one of the best days of your life. Don’t let the little things bother you. You can only prepare for so much.
Use this list as a guide for getting started and remember that nothing is as important as the love you are pronouncing to your fiancé. Years from now, you’ll forget those little disasters that ruined your mascara, but you’ll never forget the way you felt, how your friends and family came together to show their love for you, and the moment you realized you just got married!