You’re Engaged! ...And possibly already overwhelmed. This exciting time in life comes with a lot of questions that can lead to stress – and that is what I'm here to help you avoid. Your wedding should be a fun, authentic, and stress free experience. Odds are, you haven’t done this before (even if you have, it’s never the same twice). So give yourself some grace and start with this easy guide to help navigate you!
1. First and foremost, CELEBRATE! You and your partner are engaged! Take time enjoying this sweet season of life with your partner, friends, and family. The planning can wait a little while. It’s true when they say that life is a journey, not a destination. If you can allow yourself to enjoy the “now” you will have more joy (and more fun) planning your dream wedding.
2. De-stress. Make each task a “I get to” instead of “I have to”. Then get a massage, go for a walk, have a date night – whatever helps to relax and motivate you! Wedding planning is only stressful if you let it be. It’s true, some things will take a little adjustment, brainstorming, and revisiting - but in the end these things often add beauty to the day (I highly recommend manifesting your perfect day, I mean, what can it hurt!).
3. Before you start wearing that gorgeous ring everywhere, in the name of love, get it sized and insured! Getting your ring sized perfectly to you will help ensure that it does not get lost, will feel more comfortable when you are wearing it, and will look better in photos (because let’s be honest, we all want to show off how good our fiancé did!). When getting your ring insured, you can go through your homeowners/auto insurance policy (but be aware that claims may affect your entire policy), or there are online options or options through many jewelers. One important take away point is to make sure you read the fine print and know that your insurance covers everything from theft to accidental loss or damage.
4. Start gathering inspiration. First rule is to keep an open mind because options for your special day are endless. You may end up going in a direction you hadn’t previously thought of once you do this exercise, and that’s totally ok!
So here it is: Order in your favorite take out, put your favorite music on low in the background, and sit on the floor with your partner in front of a blank piece of paper and a handful of colorful pens. Together, meditate on what your perfect day would be like. Write down whatever pops into your head. The thoughts you write down may be anything from specific desires such as a certain venue or place you have always dreamed of getting married at, to basic and broad terms such as “authentic” or “unforgettable experience”. Once you both feel like you have gotten all your thoughts out (don’t worry, you can still add as you go!) take turns reading off and discussing each thought. Talk about what it means to both of you and brainstorm ways you could implement this into your day. This fun exercise takes the stress out of planning and helps to promote both partners being involved in the process from the start!
5. Next in line is the guest list. Your guest list affects the rest of your planning – so it is important to establish an idea of how many invites you plan to send. When making your guest list, refer back to your brainstorming session and try to reflect on the values and ideas most important to you. If one of the words you wrote down was “intimate” you may only invite a handful of your closest friends and family – or maybe even no one but your photographer and officiant. If one of the words you wrote down was “party” you may invite everyone you know and their second cousins. The choice is entirely yours, but whatever you do, make it authentic to who you are as a couple and what you imagine for your special day!
Tip: Don’t forget to include your bridal party on your guest list!
6. Discuss your budget. I know what you’re thinking – oh no – the B word… but hear me out. Budgeting is fun (Okay, it’s fun to me and also I may be slightly insane, what creatives aren’t) but honestly – having a budget takes the stress out of planning. It gives you PERMISSION to spend money without stress and guilt! Start with what you think is a reasonable total amount to spend (what you can reasonably set aside, save, etc.). That may be $500 or it may be $50,000. Divide your budget up into categories – venue, photographer, dress, food, etc. and start with budgeting money into the categories most important to you. You may have to revisit your budget and make adjustments as you plan, but try to be realistic with the cost of things and give yourself a buffer or emergency fund. In many situations It may just end up being a case of taking money from one category where you over budgeted and putting it into a category where you under budgeted.
7. Pick a date! If you are really attached to a specific date, be aware that you may have to be more flexible with your venue and vendors. If you are really attached to a specific venue or vendor, you may have to be more flexible when it comes to your date. The two play off one another, so decide what is more important to you and go from there.
8. Pick your vendors. This is a fun part, but it can also be overwhelming. If you have vendors in mind that fit your budget and have your date available, this part is easy! If you aren’t sure where to start, head to Facebook or to your already married friend’s and look up vendors or ask for recommendations. I recommend keeping a list of no more than 5 vendors for each category. If you find someone you like who fits your needs and budget, move them 1-5 on your favorites list (1 being your favorite, 5 being your lesser favorite). Those who don’t make the list, you no longer have to worry about. This helps to reign in overwhelm and keep things tidy. Once you have your list, go through, starting with your favorite and see if they are available. If so, you get to check off this task. If not, you know where to go next!
Quick photographer tip – if you are offered an engagement session by your photographer, take advantage of it! It is a great way to get to know your photographer and get comfortable in front of the camera.
You may not want or need all of these and there may be some extras you want to add, but just to give you a head start – here is a vendor checklist.
· Venue (ceremony & reception)
· Videographer ($ tip - some photographers provide both photo and video!)
· Wedding Planner
· Decorations – think drapes, incredible balloon arches, centerpieces, etc.
· Attire (Dresses, tuxedos, shoes, etc.)
· Bakery – wedding cake and other deserts
· Alcohol (if applicable)
· Linens (tablecloths, napkins, etc.)
· Music – DJ or Live Music
· Hair and Makeup
· Transportation (Limo, horse drawn carriage, helicopter, etc.)
· Clean up
9. Plan your honeymoon! This is one of the best parts about getting married, so whether you plan it yourself or pay a travel agent, whether it is big/expensive or small/affordable, enjoy it!
There is so much that goes through your mind right after getting engaged, and even more that goes into planning your perfect day. Remember to have fun, refer back to your idea sheet and budget throughout the process, and most importantly, stay genuine to yourselves and do what makes you happy!
I hope this guide helps to put your mind at ease and makes things a little easier on you.
Congratulations and happy planning!?