So you’re newly engaged!?! CONGRATULATIONS!!
By now, you’ve shared the good news with your dear parents and BFFs.
The next step is to actually plan your dream WEDDING! You want to make it perfect, beautiful, true to who you are and fun, but do you run out and buy wedding magazines for inspiration OR argggh, how do you start the planning process?
Fret not! The team and I gathered some of the top 10 BEST newly engaged advice to help you figure out what to do right after you get engaged plus some wedding planning guides for you.
1. Plan Your Wedding Budget
Ahhh, the budget: the trickiest piece of the puzzle (yet one of the most important) is the wedding BUDGET. In addition to reaching out to parents, relatives and recently married friends for advice, here’s a helpful guide.
- Openly discuss how much money you actually have to spend on the wedding, including personal savings and/or assets or contributions from the parents.
- Compile a priority list of those must-have wedding elements (and the budget you can allocate to each). The Knot also has a Wedding Budget Calculator to do the math with a personalized budget breakdown based on average wedding costs for every aspect of your wedding.
- The Knot’s Wedding Checklist (what to do & when) provides a customized task list that can be edited, delegated, and checked off once completed
2. Save the Date!
Good wedding dates book quickly! Here are some questions to think about as you pick a date:
- What season and weather do you want to get married in?
- How long of an engagement do you want?
- How much time do you need to save up money for the wedding of your dreams?
- Is it important to you to get married on a weekend or is a weekday or holiday weekend a good idea?
- What major holidays, birthdays, busy times of year or any events do you want to avoid?
- List out all ‘unavailable’ dates, so you’re left with a shorter list of viable wedding dates.
3. Research Ceremony & Reception Venues
Another wedding element that books quickly. Some questions to ask include:
- What city do you want to get married? Your hometown, parents’ hometown, the city where two of you met or a city with special meaning to you both. I recommend starting with a general area and time of year before delving into the specific venue search.
- What venues are available on your proposed wedding dates?
- Do you want both the ceremony and reception to take place at the same location? Doing so eliminates having to get a limo.
- What does the venue offer and how much does it cost?
- Does the venue provide its own services and props?
- Does the venue have a backup rain or inclement weather option?
- Where will your guests be coming from and how easy is it to get to the venue?
4. Confirm Your Guest List
Who to invite? The more guests you have, the more money you may need to spend since it’ll affect: number of meals, chairs, drinks, décor, etc.
- What’s the target guest count taking into account your budget?
- Start out by making a dream list of everyone in the world you would like to invite and decide who is a “Must-Invite” vs. “Nice-to-Have.” “The old saying rings true: if you wouldn’t invite that person into your home for dinner, do you really need to invite them to your wedding?”, said Lisa Costin of A Charming Fete.1 Consider consulting your parents or family members when drafting the list.
- Are kids invited to the wedding?
- Can guests bring a plus one to the wedding?
- Something to plan for some guests might not show up at the last minute for various reasons.
5. Book Your Wedding Photographer
The flowers will wither. The cake will be eaten. The only parts of your wedding that will actually last long after the wedding day are your wedding bands or ring and the photos.2 Other than your bridesmaid or groomsman, the wedding photographer could be the one spending most time along with you for the whole wedding day, so you should make sure he/she absolutely fits in with both of you. Here is a list of questions you can ask during the interview:
- Is photography your main business?
- How long have you been shooting weddings?
- Have you worked at our selected venue before?
- Will you be my photographer on the wedding day? What is your Plan B if you are unable to make it?
- Can we see a recent finished set of proofs from an entire wedding?
- Are you willing to follow our shot list?
- How are you different from other photographers? What is your photography style?
- When can we see the photos after the wedding?
- What is your wedding packages and what will I need to pay extra for?
- How much of a deposit is required to book the wedding date? When is the balance due? What forms of payment do you accept?
6. Choose Your Bridal Party
These VIP spots are reserved for your best gals or guys. Here are some things to consider as you determine your bridal party members:
- How many bridesmaids or groomsmen do you want and how that number factors into your budget?
- Does it matter if you have an odd number or even number of bridal party members?
- Will you have any bridesmen or groomsladies?
Your bridal party will hopefully keep you sane, let you vent your frustrations, be your idea springboard, and accompany you on any important errands. One rule of thumb: be clear with everyone about their roles and your expectations.
7. Design Your Wedding Style/Theme
And finally the fun part! What do you want your wedding to look like and your guests to experience? Talk honestly with each other and determine whether you want something intimate and cozy or a huge party; luxurious and grandeur or just casual and low-profile; a glamorous ballroom affair, candelit romantic soiree, a festive fete that incorporates your cultures or an intimate garden theme? The world is your oyster when it comes to personalizing your wedding theme.
Big-name wedding magazines like The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides etc. could give you some inspirations. For the themes, Amanda Hudes of Smiling Through Chaos suggests picking your color palette before anything else. “The color scheme actually determines so much, including the theme, the type of flowers you’ll use, the décor, and basically the entire look of your wedding,” she says.3
8. Custom Wedding Website?
Do you need a wedding website? What are the pros and cons of the website? Here are some reasons for creating a wedding website and wedding website resources.
- Extremely handy for posting additional wedding and reception details (not found in the wedding invitations)
- Helps decrease the number of phone calls you might get requesting wedding details like time, date, address, etc.
- Great way to share your gift registry to guide your guests’ gift purchases. Check out Zola Bridal Registry, which has a FREE website resource as well.
- Share your love story and update your guests with personal stories in short poems, photos or videos (get creative!).
- You can create your own wedding website from scratch or use one of the many wedding website templates like those from The Knot, eWedding, SquareSpace, WeddingJoJo. Another option is Zank You, which provides wedding websites with interactive multimedia capability including a cash registry option, option for guests to post comments and even upload songs and videos in the guest book and it even has a guest polling feature so you can involve guests in wedding planning decisions.
9. Plan Engagement Party
You’re engaged, and that’s totally worth toasting, but do you want an engagement party? HINT: refer to Point 1 about budget.
- If the answer is yes, do you want to plan it yourselves or let your parents or close friends manage it?
- Is it going to be low key and in your home or a friend’s backyard?
- Or do you prefer everyone meets at your favorite bar for drinks or rent a space for a catered dinner?
10. Hire a Wedding Planner & Vendors
Many wedding elements require a fair amount of planning—negotiating with bakers and caterers for the best prices, finding the ideal venue packages, picking the florist with the best flowers etc.—and you need to determine whether you want and/or could tackle it just by the two of you or if you’d rather hire a wedding planner (A wedding planner can help lots of stress reduction and time-saving, but only if your budget allows it). One thing to remember: avoid planners who talk about their own weddings all the time, and stick with the ones who show they’re truly listening to you,” Fallon Carter, founder of Fallon Carter Weddings said.4
- Large sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire offer local directories based on region, as well as discussion forums, enabling couples to get advice and reviews about different types of vendors in your area.
- Meet with vendors in person to make sure you feel comfortable with them and your personalities vibe well together.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive guide on everything you should consider as a newly engaged couple, but I hope this helps make the journey down the aisle a little bit more seamless. Wishing you both Happy Planning and of course, a Happy Wedding Day!