The question has been asked, a ‘yes’ has been given, parents and friends have been informed, and now you’re settling into a post-engagement glow.
Then, the questions begin:
“So, when are you getting married?”
“Have you chosen a venue yet?”
“Who are you inviting?”
“What are your colors?”
“What’s for dinner?”
“Have you gotten your dress yet?”
“You haven’t done that yet?”
“Aren’t you behind?”
Suddenly, your head is spinning! Your blissful engagement bubble has been popped and you’re probably starting to sweat. But where do you start? What should you do first? It all seems so overwhelming!
If you’re thinking, “I Just Got Engaged! Now What??” — before losing sleep or starting to pull out your hair, grab a beer or glass of wine, sit back, and read through these few easy steps to get you started and organized.
(Pre Step: Hire a Planner!)
If you are considering hiring a wedding planner to help you plan your big day start to finish, do this first! They can help walk you through all of the steps below, and they probably know some shortcuts to make your life much easier. You can see what we provide to our full service couples here!
Step 1: Budget
I know it sounds scary, but it’s important to start your planning journey with a serious discussion about your wedding budget. If you dive into planning without an idea of how much you want to spend, it’s very likely that you’ll overspend before even realizing it. There are multiple aspects to consider with your budget.
First, who is paying for your wedding?
This can be a variety of people, but it’s important to ask instead of assume. Ask all parents if they plan to contribute to your wedding, but don’t expect it. If they agree to contribute, ask them how much they feel comfortable with contributing or what aspects they would like to contribute to. Maybe they want to give you a set amount, or maybe they want to pay for the catering. Again, it’s important to have this conversation!
How much do you want to contribute?
After you find out who plans to contribute to your big day, start to look at your budget and possible contribution. How much do you and your fiance feel comfortable paying for your wedding? If you have parents or others pitching in money, look at what you want to add in to give you the wedding that you want.
While some couples will choose to take out a credit card or personal loan to make their wedding dreams happen, I would caution to seriously think about this option before diving in. Starting your marriage with a big chunk of debt might not serve you well in the future. Have a discussion before going online to secure that wedding credit card!
However, do consider getting a credit card for expenses that you can pay off each month to take advantage of rewards points that you can use towards your honeymoon!
Step 2: Guest List
After you’ve determined how much you and your family plan to spend, it’s time to figure out approximately how many people are going to attend the wedding!
To start creating your guest list, I recommend going in levels.
Level 1: Immediately family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
Level 2: Close, but not immediate, family (close aunts, uncles, and cousins)
Level 3: Family (other aunts, uncles, cousins, etc)
Close family friends
Level 4: Distant family members
Other family friends
Creating your guest list with these levels in mind will make it easier to make changes to who is invited based on the venue you choose.
As a general rule of thumb (but please recognize that there is a lot of variation based on the type of wedding you’re planning), around 70% of the people you invite will come to your wedding. So if you have a total of 200 people invited (that includes all members of each family you’re inviting), you can expect around 130-150 guests.
Creating your guest list before choosing your venue will help you choose a location that is the right size for the guests you’ll have.
Step 3: Choosing a Date Range
So now the pieces of your wedding are coming together and you’re starting to get an idea of what it will look like. The next question is: when do you want to get married?
The trees are blooming, bright greens are popping up everywhere, and there is a feeling of optimism in the air that is simply contagious.
The days are long and kids are out of school- the weather might be a little warm, but in higher elevations it’s perfect.
Those icon oranges and reds make for a cozy atmosphere. Add blankets to keep everyone warm and you’re set. (Click here for a secret about September weddings!)
Bright white and full of drama, winter can be a beautiful time to celebrate with all of your friends and family.
Step 4: Start Planning Your Theme
This might be the most fun part of the first steps of planning your wedding: it’s time to hit Pinterest! Start by browsing different wedding themes and design elements. Pin everything that catches your eye on your first pass though, don’t worry about what goes together and what doesn’t. Just pin away!
After your first pass through, your Pinterest board will probably be jam packed and a little disjointed. On your second pass, start to filter the things out that you like less and that are opposite of your normal style. You’ll start seeing a pattern emerge as you get a better idea of what you really like for your wedding theme.
Step 5: Choosing a Venue
Now that you have the basics secured, it’s time to get that venue! Use your budget and guest list and your narrowed down wedding theme options to help you determine venues that will fit how much you want to spend and provide the right amount of space & atmosphere for your guests.
Here is where the magic of picking a date range instead of a specific date comes in. If you find the venue of your dreams and your date is flexible, it is far more likely that they’ll be available for you.
If you can, schedule tours with the top few venues you and your fiance like. Walk through the spaces with the experts so you can ask questions and visualize what your big day might look like. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and read the package details carefully!
Step 6: Everything Else
By this point, you’re off to an excellent start. You’ve built the base that will make the rest of your planning decision far easier and will guide you to businesses and vendors that are the right fit for the most important elements of your big day.
I’m not going to sugar coat it: wedding planning is tough and time consuming. However, by putting these pieces together right out of the gate, your path will be more successful and much easier.
If you’re still not sure, you can always call us!