I'm Engaged! Where do I start?
Congratulations on your engagement! Take a few days to enjoy your excitement and share the joy with your family. You are embarking on one of the most stressful journeys of your life. Planning a wedding takes time; but it will be time for you and your finance to share in making many decisions. This isn’t just your wedding, it’s your finance’s wedding also; so keep their wishes in your plans.
One of the first decisions you will need to make is where/when you will be married. Your ideal wedding date may not be available if you have a specific location in mind. Many reception venues book years in advance; is the date or location important enough for you to change your wedding date? If you are flexible on dates you will find hosting your wedding mid-week can be less expensive.
I suggest you have a frank discussion with your finance about the size wedding you’d like. You may want the wedding of your dreams complete with a designer wedding gown and 400 of your closest friends and family; while your finance wants a small intimate wedding. This decision is one of the hardest to make. I recommend creating a wedding budget. A budget will help you determine where and how you will spend your dollars. What is important to both of you? Is it your location? Is the designer dress important or can your find a beautiful dress at a lower cost? What about artwork for your walls to remember your wedding. All of these questions are things you need to discuss together.
Do your research on potential wedding professionals. As friends who they have worked with, do some research online (and read reviews), or ask your other service professional for referrals.
Book your photographer early. This may not seem like an obvious early step but your photographer can be very helpful to you developing your timeline and many other important decisions. You are hiring a professional photographer for their artistic vision, reputation, and artistic stlye. Choose a photographer based on their style, price, value provided, and one you get along with well. You will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day that anyone else so personality is important! Booking them early will also allow you to have some amazing engagement photos taken. An engagement session will allow you to work together before the wedding so you both feel at ease; and you know your photographer made you look your best! You can also use the images for save-the-dates, images for your wedding decor, or even a guest book.
Gather inspiration for themes, colors, decor, and more. Pinterest has generally been the go-to site for finding ideas. Some professionals discourage use of Pinterest because of its often unrealistic vision. Your personality will help guide you on what is best for you and your finance; choose from your heart.
Choose your wedding party
Should you hire a wedding planner? A wedding planner is often overlooked but can be very helpful. If you are a busy professional with a full schedule, have young children, or just need help, an event or wedding planner can be very helpful. They will ensure every detail is considered and can also help you stay within your budget. The last thing you need now is to get derailed from your budget and enter your marriage in debt. Many venues have wedding coordinators that will help you but if you are having a destination wedding or at an unfamiliar place; I strongly suggest a planner.
Draft your guest list. This is generally one of the more stressful tasks you will have to complete prior to your wedding. There are many people that ideally should be at your wedding; parents, siblings, close friends, but where do you draw the line? I can’t stress enough that this is YOUR wedding. Don’t allow anyone to pressure you to invite someone you prefer would stay at home.
Enjoy the process. By now you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you are at least a year from your wedding date you have plenty of time! Take your time deciding on details for your reception and take care of the critical decisions first. This is a perfect time in your relationship to work together for a common goal. Consider each other’s feelings when making decisions.
This is YOUR wedding. Many couples have at least one type-A personality that will want to take over making critical decisions. While not alienating them, you can accept their ideas but make final decisions with your finance, based on your budget and what YOU want.
I wish you the best during your engagement. Take this time to work together so you start your marriage out on the same page. -Amy