Congratulations! You’re engaged! You’re grinning ear to ear, and you’re distracted by your sparkler all the time (stop looking at it while you’re driving!). It’s a very exciting (and tiring) time in your life, but now it all the sudden dawns on you that you have to plan a wedding, and that’s no simple task.
When James and I got engaged in Disneyland (yes, he proposed in front of the castle – he did good!), we were immediately overwhelmed by all the “congratulations” and attention we were getting. Actually, at one point, a Disneyland cast member came up to us to offer his congratulations (we were wearing the Mickey and Minnie Bridal Ears, so we were easy to spot). Though he was actually saying intelligent and clear words, we both heard the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher coming out of this guy’s mouth! We just stared at him dumbfounded until he repeated himself. We were just so tired from all the emotional excitement that our brains had completely shut down. This became especially difficult when we were immediately asked questions that we couldn’t possibly know yet – like when and where the wedding would be. Yes, you just got engaged and yet people are going to ask. So, here is a quick set of guidelines to help start the process (after you take a nap and eat some food, that is!).
Step 1: Set your budget.
Now, when I say “set your budget,” I don’t just mean your overall budget, though that’s also necessary. You need to also set your budgets for each aspect of the wedding. There’s a basic breakdown at The Knot: http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-budget/articles/wedding-budget-101-establishing-your-budget.aspx?MsdVisit=1.
Going along with setting your budget, make sure you and your fiancé know what is most important to you. For me, it was 1, photography; 2, details; and 3, location. Each of you should have your top three important aspects chosen, so you can adjust your budget accordingly. Setting a budget now also helps pull in the reigns on your spending. My first few trips to Michael’s, I was tempted to buy all of their bridal pieces. I ended up buying some that I never used, so hold back on the spending until you know how much you can spend and on what.
Step 2: Set a basic time for your wedding.
Not the actual date, of course. That would depend on your chosen venue’s availability, but choose a basic time when you’ll be tying the knot. It can be something as simple as “in about a year” or more specific like “spring” or even a specific month, but something. This is mostly so you have something to tell people when they ask, and so you can start the preliminary planning.
Step 3: Determine where you’ll get married.
This generally happens awhile after the proposal (as opposed to the first two steps, which should be completed soon after), and that’s just fine. Talk with your fiancé, and write down a list of areas you both like (or specific venues, if you know of any). At this stage, you should also be thinking about who you’re going to invite (more on that next), and who you really want there. This is important because if you really want “Aunt Nancy” to be there (and she’s in a wheelchair), then that venue that your guests have to hike up a volcano to get to (though impressive and a bit terrifying) is probably not the best option. On the flip side of that, if you want to cut down on the guest list, having a destination wedding can be the way to go.
Step 4: Determine your basic guest list.
Every bride is going to have a massive headache over her guest list, so stock up on the Advil now. I also advise creating a “Relax” playlist that is ready to go whenever the stress becomes too much. Though it is your wedding, those around you also believe they have a say in who attends, and they will verbalize it. The sooner you know your list, the better prepared you’ll be for those moments. Think of it this way, if the venue only allows 75 people, and you already have 90 on your list, you simply cannot accommodate other invite requests. That being said, you need to also pick and choose your battles. Inviting a cousin’s new boyfriend is a small price to pay if it means you can get out of inviting the parent’s nosey and obnoxious co-worker.
Step 5: Determine what you do and don’t want.
If it’s really important that you be married in a Church, let people know early on. That way, you won’t have people suggesting that you get married elsewhere. If it’s really important to you that children are not invited, express that as well. Basically, figure out what battles you will fight for. That way, you’ll know what other areas you can compromise on. I also suggest that when telling others your feelings on these topics, that you make it clear that the decisions are final – but in a polite way. If you’re not clear on that point, people will try to change your mind.
Of course, there are a lot more steps involved in planning a wedding, but these first tips should help you get the ball rolling. Being organized and knowing what you want in the beginning will make everything go a lot smoother!
And, of course, congratulations from ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography!
Photos by ShootAnyAngle Wedding Photography.