Those first few days after getting engaged are so exciting! All you want to do is show off your ring and scour Pinterest for ALL the wedding ideas. What you don’t want to do is answer the question, for the millionth time, 'have you picked a date yet’? No, you certainly haven’t picked a date because you have been way too excited to even start thinking about a date. What most newly engaged couples don’t know is that picking a date isn’t the first step. Today I’m sharing my thoughts as to how you should consider stating your wedding planning process.
1. Take a deep breath- Engagement is such a short season in the overall process of your life together, remember to take time and enjoy this unique experience. Remember that no matter how pretty and spectacular your wedding day is that it is only one day and just the start of your journey together. Be intentional and plan now, from the very, very start of the process to use this time to grown closer together and really prepare for a marriage not just a wedding.
2. Location- Where in the world do you want to get married? A common problem for today’s couples is that they don’t live anywhere near their families. Do you want to exchange vows in your hometown? Your partners hometown? Where you currently live? Where your parents currently live? Neither of these? Any of those choices is just fine, but do know from the outset that any choice is likely going to cause sacrificing something. It is better to face it now that not everyone you wish to invite is going to be able to make it to your big day. Perhaps it is cost prohibitive to travel. Or your date was booked in their calendar before they had a chance to save the date. If there are a number of older family members be aware that any sort of travel may be difficult or impossible for them.
Above all choose a location that means something to both of you. For example my husband and I choose to wed in the town where we first met. Conveniently it happened to be very close to my family, but his has to travel quite a distance to join us there. Not to mention that we two no longer lived in the area, so I was planning from a distance. Both sets for friends were scattered far and wide so they were going to be asked to travel no matter what.
3. Season- What time of year would you like to be married, and what is a realistic point in time that you could take enough time off of work? Is there a particular time of year that would suit the type of celebration you envision- having the whole this outdoors for example. At what point in the year would more of you guests be likely to travel if necessary? Are there a specific type of flowers you must have at your wedding? When will they be in season? Figure out a general timeframe that you would ideally like the wedding to be. Try to avoid getting too specific about dates at this point. Many wedding venues book up quite far in advance and you may find the perfect location, but they can't accommodate your date. Know what dates are specifically off limits and work backwards from there.
4. Budget- Get clear about this right from the start. Before you begin in on all the wedding magazines and blogs be realistic about what type of celebration you are going to be able to throw. At this point also get clear about who will be paying for what elements of the day and related activities leading up to it. Don’t make any assumptions- these conversations aren’t easy but they are so important and will save you a lot of grief later on. I would also suggest that while you are planning your budget that you also choose 3 top priorities for your big day. This will help you to clearly decided which elements should get the larger portion of your budget allocation.
5. Guest list- Next consider your guest list. You certainly don’t need to have it all nailed down at this point, but in order to start looking at venues its important to know what type of capacity you will require. I would recommend that you narrow things down to increments for 50. Small venues are less than 50, small medium are 50-100, medium are 100-150 and anything above 150 I would consider a large venue.
One thing that I tend to feel strongly about is not cutting your guest list to accommodate your budget. I would much prefer that couples find other areas of their celebration to save on rather than exclude folks who are important to them in order to save money. So figure out who it is important to you to have there and start making a spread sheet.
Having all of the above done I would say you are now ready to start looking at venues and to begin researching other key vendors like a wedding planner and photographer.
Still not quite sure how to get started? Please feel free to reach out, I'm happy to offer some additional pointers!