First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!! We here at The Nearlywed could not be more thrilled for you and this exciting adventure you and your fiancé are about to partake in. Before you jump headfirst into wedding planning, my first (and maybe best) piece of advice is to take a moment, a week, or even a month or two, to just enjoy being engaged. There will be no other time in your life where you walk that fine line between saying goodbye to your single life and saying hello to your life as a newlywed. Soak it all in. One of the greatest pieces of advice my friend gave me when I got engaged, was to literally celebrate it every chance you got.
The first question everyone will ask – is “When is the date?” “Do ya’ll have a date set yet?” No worries, we would just smile and say we were taking some time to enjoy being engaged before we had to start the planning. Once you are done enjoying, let the planning begin. Here are five things you should do to kickoff wedding planning:
- Set a realistic timeline of how long you think it will take you to plan a wedding- that will help you narrow down a date. Since we were both working like crazy people, I had an idea of how much time I would realistically be able to dedicate to wedding planning. My husband was building his business, and I was working my tail off. Not an ideal situation to try to plan a wedding in just a couple of months. That being said, I knew I would need at least a year to plan. We got engaged over Memorial Day Weekend 2015, so that would put us at Memorial Day 2016. Since we took our time to “enjoy just being engaged,” for a couple of months, I felt I could realistically set a tentative date in August of 2016 – 15 months after we got engaged.
- Get a planner. I used Erin Condren’s Life Planner – and fell.in.love. I used the heck out of that thing the entire time I was planning. It helped me keep work and life obligations straight, along with any wedding-related items. I was able to plan appointments months in advance, track when deposits were due, set aside time for phone calls and meetings, and schedule time for some fun brunches with girlfriends along the way. You need one. Trust me. Pro-tip: (she has a Wedding Planner now)
- Pick a location. For some of you that means the hometown where you grew up. For some it means that destination on a white, sandy beach you’ve always dreamt of. What about the vineyards in Napa? Let me let you in on a little secret – it’s about the marriage at the end of the day – it’s about you and your fiancé saying your I-dos. The place is important, but you can’t go wrong with any location as long as your friends and family and all of the people you love are there to experience it with you. I’ll let you in on another little secret. I got really hung up on choosing a location. You see, I was born and raised in California, but Texas has been my home since I came to college here at the age of 17. My professional network – and personal network is largely located here in Texas. My husband’s family is all in Texas. But, at the end of the day, we ultimately chose California- it was where both of our hearts were, and we knew that’s where we wanted to say “we-do.”
- Decide if you want an engagement party. I’ll have more on this new trend in its own, separate post, but it was a question we were asked frequently. Our people wanted to celebrate!! Since we were engaged for over a year, we ultimately decided we would host an engagement party here in Texas for friends and family who might not be able to travel to California. It was the BEST way to kick off our wedding planning. And we had the best time. I had a group of girlfriends who wanted to help plan, and the fiancé and I paid. Maybe a full-fledged party isn’t something on your radar, but what about a dinner out to celebrate, or a small meet up at a local bar to cheers the newly engaged couple? It can be whatever you want it to be.
- Decide on a budget. I know, I know – way easier said than done. This is one of THE most sought after answers in the bridal world. There is no magic number to how much it will cost you to plan a wedding. We knew how much money we would both chip in, and my parents gave us a certain amount they would contribute – and that was our budget. I knew right off the bat, that I didn’t want to go into debt for the wedding. We knew how much cash we had on hand and how much of that cash we were willing to part with. I knew I wanted to be all-in with this figure (rehearsal dinner included). Once you come up with a figure, you will be able to narrow down your ceremony sites, venues and vendors.