Nearly to Newly Engaged: Where to Start

Happy Wedding Thursday, everyone!  I realize I’m a day late for the Wedding Wednesday post, but I thought a day late is better than never, right?

When writing last weeks post on setting a budget I realized that I needed to dive deeper into the beginning stages of planning your wedding.  I briefly touched on creating a guest list, which is another big step in the initial planning process, but what else is there?  Well, you’re in luck because that’s what we will cover today!

To help with kicking off the planning process, I have created a checklist that couples can downloaded and used as a starting point.  I want to caveat that no two weddings are alike and not every couple wants the same thing for their weddings so not all of the items on this checklist may pertain to your planning process.  Some of these may also be no-brainers but I wanted to be sure to include – just in case you are so excited you forget!

Wedding Checklist

Download here

So – let’s get started.

Every couples first step should be to announce your engagement!  Yay! Congrats!  I remember when the night we got engaged we called our parents before we sat down for dinner [I’ll have to tell our engagement story in another post – the hubby did a fabulous job in planning the day!] and I sent a pic to my closest girlfriends.  Before making the big relationship change on Facebook, we made sure all of our close family and friends knew – which was pretty easy since the Sunday after we got engaged was Mother’s Day.

After you announce your engagement, you should sit down with your fiance and determine the wedding style you envision for you big day.  Maybe the two of you want something really small and intimate, maybe you are looking to elope or have a destination wedding… maybe you know you want a really big party but the ceremony to be traditional.  Remember that this is your day and you two call the shots.  You only get married once so make it the day of your dreams!

Your wedding style might drive your budget, or vice versa – your budget may drive the style – which is why it’s so important to sit down and figure out how everything is paid for before you start booking your vendors.  Take some time to ask your parents if they are able to help pay for your day.  Remember, they are not required to help in any way so be grateful for any type of assistance.  Also remember that if they are helping fund the event that they will be allowed some say in the planning!  Once you have an idea of how much assistance you will receive from your parents [or other family members – I’ve heard of grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends helping with wedding costs] sit down and set a savings plan with your fiance to cover the remaining costs.  Be realistic and responsible.  It’s definitely hard to start a marriage when you are thousands of dollars in debt because of your wedding day.  The hope for creating a savings plan in the initial planning stages is to ease the burden once the day gets closer and final payments are due.

I went over this last week in the budgeting post, but it’s important to also start thinking about your guest list while creating your budget.  Your guest list is going to play a BIG role in planning because it affects both your budget and your wedding style.   For instance, a guest list of 350 people won’t fit in a ton of venues so if you’re particular on where you want to have your wedding you will need to think about that.  It is also is expensive to feed 350 people so you will need to think about that when setting your budget – you will probably need to compromise on other areas to cover off on that expense.  So think about this when you begin to plan your day!  I would like to note that this initial guest list is just a starting point – you definitely can, and likely will, alter this prior to sending your save the dates and invites – but this will help you in keeping in line with your budget and will ensure your searching for venues that can accommodate the amount of people you plan to invite.

After your guest list is pulled together, you should start looking for your venue – which includes ceremony and reception locations.  At this time you should have an idea of the season you want your wedding to take place.  It’s important to remember that a lot of venues book out months, even years, in advance so be sure to set your priorities.  If you are set on a certain date, you may need to prepare yourself that your venue of choice may already be booked.  Or, if you are more set on a particular venue you may need to be flexible with the date.  Just set your must-haves before you begin contacting vendors and don’t get discouraged if you don’t get what you want in the beginning.

Once your venue is booked your wedding date should be solidified so you can start reaching out to other vendors that will play a big part in your day.  Start with those vendors that are most important to you because they tend to book up fast.  Maybe you have a certain photographer that you know you want to work with – make sure you reach out with plenty of time for your best chance at securing them for your event.  Or perhaps the florist is your most coveted vendor – secure their time early because more often then not they only work on a certain number of weddings in one day.  I should mention that one of these vendors may be equally or more important to you than your venue selection and may help decide your wedding date. That’s definitely a choice that you and your fiance should talk about when starting your planning!

In addition to researching vendors, you should also start thinking about who you want standing up with you when you say I do.  Figure out a fun way to ask your wedding party – maybe it’s a little gift, maybe it’s a fun card – just make it unique to your relationship.  You are asking a lot of your family and friends when you ask them to stand up for you, and you are doing it because they’re important to you both, so make them feel special and excited about the day!  I should also note that timing is important when asking your wedding party.  If you plan on a long engagement it might be ideal to hold off on asking because relationships can change over an extended period of time.  I have heard and read many horror stories of couples who asked friends or family members to stand up for them and then they have a falling out or their relationship changes and it creates an awkward conversation.  You’ll also never know who may come in your life that you may want to include once the day gets closer.  But that’s just my two cents!

The last three bullets don’t necessarily pertain to every couple.  You don’t need a wedding website, but I think it’s a great way for your guests to get to know you both better;  write about where the you both grew up, how you met, what you’re doing now, your engagement story and so on.  It’s also a great resource for guests to know wedding details, including where the event is, directions, links to hotels and registries and any other important information.

You also don’t need engagement photos or save the dates, but when you begin your planning process they are definitely items to think about.  Engagement photos are something that should be talked about when you are securing your photographer.  Sometimes this is a service that’s included in photographers fee or can be added to your wedding day package.  I think the engagement shoot is a great investment because it gives you and your fiance a chance to get to know your photographer before your wedding day and see how you react together in front of a camera.  I’ll have a whole post on prepping for your engagement photos and will even show you some of ours – but that’s still a few weeks out.

Save the Dates aren’t a necessity either – this is a way to cut costs if you’re looking to do so.  I would recommend sending one to your guests if you plan on having your event over a big weekend – such as a holiday weekend that a lot of guests tend to have existing plans [think Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, New Year’s Eve/Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.].  Save the Dates are also a fun way to set the tone for your wedding and show off those engagement photos [if you had them done].  I shared our Save the Dates in a post a few months ago [please excuse the horrible photos… I took them with my phone and didn’t edit] so feel free to check them out!  I saved money by designing them myself and having them printed as a postcard [it’s cheaper to mail a postcard than it is to mail a standard card… remember that if you’re trying to cut costs!] and they were a huge hit!

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So there you have it – another novel on wedding planning.  I hope the checklist and additional information helps you in your beginning planning process.  Again – be sure to check back each week on tips for planning and to hear more about my planning story!  I have a lot to share!



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