Congratulations! You’re engaged! You’re getting MARRIED! You are you cloud nine right now! You keep looking down at your ring and admiring how shiny it is. Your face hurts from smiling so much. I might have gotten engaged almost nine years ago myself, but I still remember those emotions and how awesome it felt.
Now that you’re engaged, it’s time to plan a wedding! It can be a little overwhelming with all of the different things to think about: from the cake to the florists to the venue to the (of course) photographer! There is a lot that goes into planning a wedding. An average engagement lasts around a year or so. Some couples are engaged less than that; others are engaged longer. Whether you have six months to plan your wedding or eighteen months, you have plenty of time to plan your wedding! (I planned mine in seven months and was in Kenya for two of those!) The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not stress. Have fun and enjoy the process! It’s your wedding!
So now what? I have listed below the first 5 things you need to do in planning your wedding.
1) Timeline: The first thing you need to do is pick a date! Of course! Or rather, I should say, set a timetable. I recommend choosing a handful of dates or a range. Do you want to be engaged for eight months? A year? More? Think about what season you want to get married in. Think about the weather during that time of the year where you live. Or will you get married at a different location? Do you want to get married outdoors? Will you get married in the summer outdoors? Do you care about that type of stuff? You’ll want to think about any major holidays or other events that might conflict with your wedding. Does your city have a huge music festival the weekend you’re looking at that would cause terrible traffic from the ceremony to the reception sites? These are all things to consider.
2) Venue: Once you have your date chosen, you’ll want to find a venue. Now, the first part and this one might be something you switch depending on which is more important. Do you have a date that you’re absolutely in love with? You might have problems finding a venue that is open if you’re completely committed to a date. Do you have a venue that you HAVE to get married at? You’ll want to be flexible on your wedding date, because you might have to switch it up if you’re dedicated to a venue. Think about outdoor venues and indoor venues. If you are married to the idea (hehe… see what I did there?) of getting married outside, would you be happy with their indoor backup option? You need to consider the amount of guests you’ll want to have and make sure the venue can accommodate comfortably all of the people you’ll want there. (Just a rule of thumb, about 2/3 of your guests you invite come to the wedding). You venue determines the style of your day, so make sure you pick one that fits you!
3) Set Your Budget. Are you and your fiance paying for your wedding? Are your parents paying for all of the wedding, helping you pay for the wedding? You’ll want to sit down with whoever is helping pay for the wedding and figure out a budget for what you’ll be spending. This can be an awkward conversation to have, but it is an important one. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of planning and find out that you have hit your budget and have to cut out things or take out loans to pay for the wedding. Something to consider, most weddings go over budget about 5%, so plan a cushion for a little extra beyond what you have budgeted.
4) Wedding Consultant: Decide whether or not you want a wedding consultant. If you’re a super-busy couple, have demanding jobs or have big dreams for your wedding weekend, then you should hire a full-time wedding planner to help you prepare your entire event, from the announcement to the honeymoon. You can also hire a part-time consultant to devise a wedding outline for you, including budget, schedule, and lists of good vendor and site choices before you head off and do the rest on your own. Another option is a day-of coordinator, who will make sure everything goes smoothly on your wedding day. I recommend having one of these at least. Ben said it perfectly at a consult one time, “You’ll have a coordinator for your day. It’ll be someone you hire or bring on to help or it will be you. You don’t want it to be you.” He’s right. The last thing you want to do is deal with the small things of the day that take you away from the fun parts of your day!
5) Photographer: Finally, to round off the first 5 things you need to do, you need to hire me! Okay, well you need to find a photographer. On average, most photographers get booked up anywhere from nine months to twelve months out from the wedding date. The last thing you want is to find your photographer you love and miss out on them because you waited too long to look for one and book one. Plus, most photographers have a cutoff with how many weddings they will shoot in one year. Already for 2016, I have eleven weddings lined up. Most of my current brides booked me at least a year out. My first wedding of this year coming up in March was booked last February, thirteen months from the wedding. I’ve had two different inquiries for that same date since then that I’ve had to turn down since I’m booked. Wondering how much you should spend for an experienced photographer? For an experienced photographer, you will be spending at least $3,000. Check out my blog post next week on why you want to hire an experienced photographer!
From there, you’ll want to decide if you’re going to do Save the Dates. If so, you’ll want to schedule pictures with your photographer soon so that you can get them taken for those awesome Save the Dates! Then you’ll start working on your other vendors for the wedding! Don’t forget to contact your bridesmaids and ask them to be in your wedding! (haha… like you would forget that!) And the dress… can’t leave that out! 😉 Best of luck as you begin your wedding plans. I look forward to talking to you about your wedding and your plans to get married!
Feel free to take some time to check out some more of my 2015 weddings!