That perfect moment has arrived, that moment you dreamed about for days, months or even years! It may have happened exactly how you envisioned - on a beach, in front of friends, or even in the middle of Times Square amongst thousands of people. He may have even stuttered a bit, tripped over his words, or even misplaced the ring (the horror!), regardless of how it happened that day is here! You are engaged, and now that the excitement of the proposal has dwindled down reality has set in: There’s a wedding to pull off!! What’s my budget? Where do I begin? Who do I invite? There are so many questions, and so many details as you begin this journey, that it can absolutely become overwhelming. So where do you start?
One thing I like to tell my clients is to enjoy the moment... even if it’s just a month. Enjoy being engaged. It doesn’t last forever and it’s a really fun period in your life. Think about it…you’ve spent x amount of years being someone’s girl/boy friend and will spend the rest of your life being someone’s wife/husband, why not take some time to be a fiancé? Many brides love to rush and start planning their wedding. I just think you should take a breather and cherish the time, take in the moment. Nothing wrong if you decide to plan right away, but it might be something you regret after all the hoopla of the wedding is over.
So here are the first 3 things you should do after you decide it’s time to start planning your wedding…
Once you take a moment to enjoy your engagement, it's time to start the process of planning your wedding. The very first thing that needs to happen (even before hiring a wedding planner) is determining your budget. Unfortunately this can cause conflict within the relationship because let’s face it: finances are like the number one cause of arguments in relationships. For those who have never co-mingled their finances, use this as an opportunity to learn about how your future spouse operates. Are they a saver, are they frugal, do they have debt, etc. Planning a wedding is a very costly expense and taking the time to find these things out now will only strengthen the relationship. You don’t necessarily need an item by item budget just yet (a planner can help you with that) but it is definitely a good idea to have an idea of what your overall budget will be.
The second thing to do after determining your budget is to research wedding planners. Duh! Of course I can go on and on about the benefits of hiring a planner (I’ll leave it for a future blog post), however, the main point is that a planner will ultimately help you with maintaining your budget, and often times they can help you save money on your wedding. How can they do that you ask? Well, think about it. They have spent time building relationships with venues and vendors and have the inside scoop on how to cut costs without cutting the quality of your wedding. They will also help you organize your thoughts, actions and ideas. So many of our clients come to our consultation hesitant for so many reasons: “Why spend money on a planner when I can spend it on something else in the wedding?” “I’m pretty organized, I can do this myself!” “I love planning, this should come second nature to me”. While these reasons are all valid, the truth is that a good planner is not only a great investment, but will take away so much of the added stress that a wedding comes with. Put it this way, even some of the best planners, will hire a planner for their wedding!
Onto the next one... the third thing you might want to do is sit down and start typing up a guest list (you will use this list throughout the planning process so you might as well type it up initially and save yourself the time). The guest list will let you know what size venue you need and what price range you have to work with. Remember that the per person price you get from the average all inclusive venue only covers the food and alcohol. You should also factor in the décor, favors, etc. into the price person so you have an idea what each person on your list is costing you.
Here’s a tip: I find that creating a list of everyone that comes to mind helps you not leave anyone out. So start with every single person you would think to invite if you had unlimited funds and the largest venue in the world. If you’re doing this in Excel you can add a column for Friend/Family and Yes/No/Maybe. Then assign each person Friend/Family (remember that your fiancé may not know everyone on your list so it’ll help them remember this throughout the process.) Then start going through the list and eliminating people by marking them a No or at the very least a Maybe. Take turns cutting people off the list to keep it fair and equal. I have a lot more advice on this topic so I’ll save it for a future blog because I can go on and on about this. In my opinion it’s one of the most frustrating parts of planning a wedding aside from the financial aspect of course.
One final piece of advice-- one thing you shouldn’t do is go out and start buying things right away. This is especially true for those who are not really good at making decisions or sticking to them (::cough, cough:: another good reason to hire a planner). You want to avoid paying for things twice (unless you truly enjoy double spending) but most people cannot afford to waste money so you want to make sure you take your time to buy things like a wedding dress or any type of decor before you start anything else. For example dress shopping -- Remember that during the planning process you will come across so many vendors and dress styles even after you purchase one, and the last thing you want to do is start second guessing any of your decisions. One trick that helped me when I was getting married was to try on my dress a couple times before the wedding. It would remind me why I love and chose the dress in the first place.
There you have it! Just a few pointers on where to start once the question is popped! Happy Planning!
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