Hello, friends! One of my great passions in life is making sure that brides get GOOD information throughout their wedding planning journey (because we all know there is a lot of BAD information out there). It’s probably no surprise, then, that one of the first things any friend or acquaintance of mine does upon getting engaged is call me up. AND I LOVE THAT!! Nothing makes me happier than helping others plan a wedding — in fact, I much prefer it to planning my own :) But, since I can’t consult with each of you individually, I thought I’d lay out some of the first advice I’d give to my own BFF, were she to ask. (She’s not engaged yet, but mercy you know I’m eagerly anticipating that phone call!)
1. Spread the news. Start with your parents, of course, then move out in concentric circles to siblings, best friends, and other close relatives (especially older ones who would appreciate hearing the news directly from you). If possible, deliver the news in person; if not, over the phone. Depending on your family dynamic, I think a group email to more distant relatives is perfectly acceptable. After all the VIPs have been notified, feel free to let loose on Facebook or Instagram!
Josh McCullock via Southern Weddings
2. Put an organization system in place. Once you’re engaged, paperwork and information will mysteriously start to accumulate faster than butter melting on a biscuit, so figure out a way to corral it. We can’t recommend our Joyful Wedding Planner enough, since it comes with tons of useful information AND allows you to clip in contracts and info from vendors along the way!
3. If you haven’t done so already, start saving — and start the budget conversation. Even if you might not know exactly how much your wedding will cost, it’s a pretty good bet that it will be expensive. Like all expensive things, the sooner you start saving, the smaller the amount per month you need to save, and therefore the less painful it will be. Thankfully, even though it’s nearly impossible to know how much the wedding in your head will cost before talking to vendors, it’s still possible to set your budget, because your budget should be based on the amount of money you have, not the amount of money you want to spend. In addition to tallying whatever you and your fiance will contribute, check in with both sets of parents (if they haven’t made the first move). I would recommend going into the conversation with a grateful heart and without expectations, and being thankful for any contribution they might want to make. Lots more budgeting advice here.
Ashley K Photography
4. Dream a little. Yep, even before thinking about a guest list, I’d encourage you to dream a little. After all, if you and your fiance decide that the perfect wedding for you is a intimate destination luau, that will certainly affect your guest list! Some gals will know right out of the gate what type of wedding they want (or, let’s be honest, years before) — and some will have absolutely no idea. Either way, it’s okay! Hop on Pinterest or crack open your issue of SW and start pulling images that appeal to you. Aside from individual details, I’d really encourage you to think about how you want your wedding to feel — the individual details will follow from there. John and I had a couple of key phrases for our wedding — classic elegance, tradition with a light heart, easy and effortless, and intentional — and I kept them in mind when making every decision. Super helpful.
Ben and Colleen
5. Draw up a guest count. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what sort of wedding you might be interested, it’s time to start thinking about who might attend. Ask your parents for their ideal lists, and draw up one of your own. There will be plenty of time later to add or subtract, but at this stage, all you want to know is whether you’re dealing with 50 people or 500.
6. Figure out where (in general) and when (in general) you want to get married. For some couples, the where might be a snap decision — maybe it’s the bride’s hometown, a family vacation spot, or the city where you both live now. For others, there might be a range of possibilities that need to be narrowed down. Same with the when. John and I knew that there was no other month for us besides September, but my sister in law and future brother in law (who just got engaged — whoo!) were considering months from January 2014 to April 2014 to October 2014. Openness like that is great because it gives you more flexibility with venues, but it also leaves a lot of things in flux — namely, how much time you have to plan.
7. Book a venue, and start thinking about priority vendors. I would not recommend booking any other vendor (or even buying your dress) before you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue. However, if there’s a photographer or videographer or any other vendor you have your heart absolutely set on, absolutely reach out to them as you narrow down dates to make sure their schedules are clear. John and I knew that we needed a date that worked for our venue, photographer, and officiant, so we made sure all three were in the loop before confirming September 15.
8. Insure your ring. Your jeweler will likely have provided an appraisal by a certified independent gemologist with your purchase; if not, make sure you get one. Many existing homeowner’s or renter’s policies allow you to add a jewelery rider, but there are also great options for a separate policy. Whichever you choose, find out if you’re covered if the ring is lost, stolen, or damaged, as well as how the replacement value is calculated.
Friends! I’d love to hear from you. Who was the first person you told about your engagement? What did you book first?
Dixie Pixel and Josh McCullock are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!