You're engaged! Congrats! Before you start diving into the wedding planning world, take a step back and celebrate with your fiance! After you pop that champagne, now lets dive into the wedding industry with these Top 10 Things to do First Upon Getting Engaged!
1) Decide on Your Wedding Day Vision
This is where Pinterest, daydreaming, fun wedding online quizzes, may come into play! Sit down with your fiance and decide what is important to you both. It may be the budget, a photo booth, great food, an awesome location, tons of flowers, a 10 tiered cake! Whatever it may be, narrow down the overall vision and your wedding day wants. Decide if you want a rustic wedding or a grand ballroom wedding. Knowing these key elements of both your wedding day visions will help narrow down a lot of things. You know longer need to visit the rustic barn venues if you are not looking to have that style of wedding. Understanding your wedding day vision is key to starting the planning process.
2) Guest List
Now if you have not already read our post on the Guest List (click here), now would be a good time to review it. To sum it up, you need to narrow down your guest list pretty early on in order to determine an appropriate wedding budget. As mentioned in the blog, the average wedding cost is $30,000, however, it is closer to $40,000, in Northern Virginia, but that $40,000 is also based upon 150 people or less. If you are planning to have more, your budget needs to be adjusted, or you will be compromising traditional wedding elements in some way.
Once you have narrowed down your guest list, this allows us to move onto your wedding budget. You ideally want to plan your guest list around your budget, so now is the time to revisit your guest list and make sure you are inviting everyone who you want to be there and figuring out those "like to have's." Remember those extra people add to your overall budget. They are one more plate, possibly another table meaning another centerpiece and additional china. They are an extra slice of cake, another favor, possibly a welcome bag as they arrive at the hotel, and so on an so forth.
In addition, understanding that wedding flowers on average start around $3,000 for bouquets and centerpieces, and maybe an additional element or two. Realizing a delicious slice of wedding cake can go for $6 a slice. Anytime the word wedding is involved, there is an additional cost associated with it because it is not just any cake or a small flower arrangement you may order for a party once in a while, there are multiple components that factor into it. There are delivery fees, special request, personalizing elements to match the overall theme of the wedding, and so much more!
Understanding the cost associated with weddings is a key component for your wedding budget, which then factors back to your guest list.
Before you start the planning process, pick an organization method and stick to it. Your calendar will quickly fill up. Maybe you want a wedding specific calendar or you want everything all in one place, maybe you want to use Google Docs and Sheets, or a traditional Excel spreadsheet. Maybe you are the binder type. Whatever you are, pick an organizational style and stick with it!
5) Set a Date!
Now if you are new to the wedding planning process, very rarely do you get to pick your wedding date. Typically your wedding date is given to you by what is available at your chosen venue. So when I say set a date, it really means figure out the season or the time of year you are interested in having your wedding. Do you want to be a winter bride (you could save money with off-season dates), or do you want to have that fall wedding? Decide on a time frame, but realize you may need to be flexible with your wedding date!
There are tons of wedding day timelines online to keep you organized and most of them all state the same thing. Pick one and stick to it! A general rule should be you can always book things earlier than needed, but don't fall behind on those dates! Most venues, photographers, and wedding planners are booked up a year in advance!
7) Visit an Expo
Now, these can be a bit overwhelming, but an expo is a great place to start. They will be most busy when the expo doors first open and begin to die down around lunch time and after, so plan accordingly! By not arriving early, you do risk the chance of missing out on some wedding day prizes and giveaways many vendors do.
But overall, you will get great information at a wedding expo and it can be a great place to start. You have hundreds of vendors you can meet all in one day. That can save you a lot of time. However, if you plan on going a few tips include 1) make labels or business cards with your contact information to hand out to vendors, or you will constantly be providing this information. 2) Don't go on an empty stomach, because you can plan on being there a minimum of 2 hours if not more! 3) Bring a friend, water bottle, and pack lightly! Don't carry around unnecessary items because you will get a lot of information to collect at each booth you visit! 4) Have fun! They can be a lot of fun and you can sample cakes, see DJ's in action, see fun photo booth options, watch a fashion show, learn about venues, and more!
8) Consider a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
Don't just assume that you can't afford a wedding planner without reaching out. There are a variety of wedding services that planners and coordinators offer. Upon reaching out, if you decide to hire a wedding planner, the stress of planning a wedding is going to be a lot less stressful. If you can't hire a full wedding planner, you will definitely still need to have a coordinator, whether it be a month of coordinator or a day of coordinator.
A coordinator will take a lot of stress off you on your wedding day, because if you don't hire a coordinator, you, your mother, or worse, a guest at your own event, will have to run the show! A venue coordinator pretty much comes with every venue that you can book, however they are not a wedding coordinator. Don't get fooled they will run your rehearsal, contact vendors, confirm the wedding timeline is going as planned because their jobs are to make sure the venue side of things is being handled. For example, they will be handling temperature controls, bathrooms, the correct layout of your table and chairs are just as you discussed, but not too many other wedding day details.
9) Ensure Your Ring
Take the time to ensure your ring. You can add it right to your renters or homeowners insurance. Typically, it is a page or two to fill out of information and you are covered. It doesn't take long, but boy will you be happy to have it if something does happen!
10) Engagement Party!
It is time to celebrate! Whether it be an intimate setting of the immediate family or a larger gathering with friends and family, you only get married once, and you only get certain things at certain times of your life. You can't exactly throw an engagement party if you're already married. Don't look back and not have something you may regret. It doesn't have to be big, but even a small night to celebrate with just champagne and desserts is better than nothing at all! Take time to celebrate this important and exciting time in your lives!