The holiday time shows a spike in proposals and engagements - chances are, if you’re reading this post, you may be newly engaged yourself.
If so, congrats! Here are five quick tips to remember in the early days of your engagement, no matter how long it may be until the actual wedding day:
BREATHE AND ENJOY THIS MOMENT! I can tell you from my own personal experience that announcing your engagement will be one of the most heartfelt and warm moments of your life (probably right up there with your actual wedding day!) Friends and distant acquaintances whom you haven’t seen in decades will come out of the woodwork on social media to send you their congratulations. Everyone will offer to lend a hand (some may offer to “lend” an opinion, too!), and you and your significant other will be in a prime spot to bask in all of the love coming your way. DO THIS! At some point, you’ll have to turn to the realities of planning the wedding, but for now, be present with your partner in this moment of celebration.
START A BUDGET. I’m afraid to say it all starts here, folks. In order to discuss any themes or decor ideas, venues, and vendors, you’ll need to have a frank discussion with your partner about how this is all getting paid for. Going the independent route and paying for it all yourselves? Well done, you! While you’ll be beholden to no one but each other in the decision-making process, you’ll also be on the hook entirely for the expenses you’re about to incur. Getting some help from family? Be sure to thank them for their generosity, but be upfront with them about what their monetary contributions will mean in real terms. Whether your budget is $10k, $30k, or $90k, the money will be spent, and it can be done in various ways, which leads me to my next point...
BEGIN DISCUSSING A FIRST DRAFT GUEST LIST. A $30k wedding for 80 people will be something entirely different than a $30k wedding for 200 people (which can be done!). Having a ballpark estimate on how many guests you anticipate will go a long way in determining how you eventually spend your budget, and what venue and vendors you select. It’s also a good idea to get the ball rolling on A list and B list, if you need trim your numbers. These conversations may seem stressful, but they don’t have to be! Just be open and frank with your s.o. and trust me, you’ll arrive at a number you can both live with!
SELECT 2-3 POSSIBLE DATES. Booking your dream venue should be one of your first priorities, but before you start reaching out to venue managers, you’ll want to have an idea of when the wedding will take place. Autumn? Summer? Indoor/Outdoor? Are you flexible with your dates, or is it non-negotiable (meaning, if Venue A doesn’t have your date available, you move on to Venue B)? Are you finishing law school, so you really need to hold off on your wedding until after you take the bar exam? Venues will want to know you’ve done your research before contacting them, and these conversations will go a long way in articulating your priorities!
DETERMINE YOUR VENUE(S). Now that you’ve honed in on your top three wedding dates, it’s time to research and reach out to possible venues. This can take many forms. When it came time to select my wedding location, my s.o. and I knew there was only one place we wanted to get hitched, and we went all-in on making that venue work. Because of that priority, we had several July dates in mind, ultimately booking our second choice date, but at our first (and only) choice venue. Keep in mind that while many wedding venues book up to a year and a half in advance, conversely, there are some venues - particularly hotels - that don’t open up their wedding or special event bookings until one year or less out from the date in question. If that’s the case with your venue, you’ll want to carefully keep track of when the booking period opens, so that you don’t miss out on your dream location!
Whew - that’s enough for now to get you started! Check back later for more timeline touch points as you move through the wedding planning process - including a frank discussion on priorities - and always feel free to reach out to me if you want to take advantage of my services or vendor connections!