Congratulations all around!
After the million facebook notifications stop to pop up in your feed and after your face begins to hurt from smiling too much, comes reality. What the heck do you do next?! Should you start planning? Set a date? Look at dresses? Yes, yes, and of course! But there’s a method to the madness…follow me.
First and foremost. Take a deep breath. Relax. Most importantly what I want all of my brides to remember is to enjoy this time! We’re all so eager and anxious to just get the wedding done with that we fail to really enjoy this time planning it…with your soon-to-be! Brides, remember, it may be your day, but it is also your husband’s. Don’t make him feel out of place or in the dark! You never know, he may have some great ideas. My husband came up with the idea of naming tables after Army bases in the US…brilliant! He also came with me to most of our vendor meetings and appointments. While I’ll admit, I mostly got my way, it felt good to let him have his own mark at the wedding.
Now, to the planning. First and foremost if each of your parents have not all met yet, now is definitely the time to do that. This way if your future MIL has any opinions on how the big day should go, this can be discussed openly and immediately. This also goes with who’s going to pay for this grand event. Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for most of the wedding, with the groom’s parents paying for the rehearsal and honeymoon. Obviously the times have changed, but now is definitely the perfect time to discuss the money. That way there’s no confusion and conflict down the road!
Now that you’ve got the money out of the way, time to talk dates. I will be posting a much further in detail post about choosing the perfect date soon, but for this post, let’s condense. The first question is when did you get engaged? November to February (especially Valentine’s Day!) is prime engagement season. Which means that there will be that many more brides looking for venues, booking dates, etc. Say you got engaged in January. When should you book your date? I would honestly steer clear of the same year of your engagement. Most venues, especially popular ones, will be booked way in advance. To save yourself the stress and heartache of having to settle, book a date for the following spring or fall. You’ll have plenty of time to get everything done. If you want to book for that year…the longer you wait the better. Try for a middle/late October wedding. That gives you about 9 months to plan. Not too bad, right? Keep in mind booking venues and vendors requires deposits…which for many couples can come as a shock. Some require as much as 50% of total costs, and some only a fraction. Regardless, keep handy a good chunk of change to secure them.
So let’s say you have less than a year to plan. What next? A lot. Book everything ASAP. First thing’s first: The Venue. Your venue will most likely dictate what date you finalize, the rest of your budget, and the overall feel of your wedding. Trust me, finding your venue will be the hardest part of this whole process. Once you have settled on a place, everything else will fall into play. Look at magazines, websites, and tour as many places as possible to get the right idea. Again, talk it over with your fiance about what kind of wedding you both envisioned. Did he see you coming down a grand staircase in a Victorian-Era mansion? Or did he see you dancing the night away in a garden tent? Talk, talk, talk and make some lists. That will help narrow down those endless possibilities!
Now that you have your venue, now’s the time for everything else. Book your photographer around the same time as your venue. This way you’ll have time to take those engagement shots with ample amount of time to have them printed for Save The Dates, engagement announcements, and of course posting them to facebook! Plus, prices for photographers can change in an instant. Our photographer’s rates went up by nearly $800 by the time our wedding rolled around! Same will go for other vendors like florists and DJs/Bands. Book now to lock in those rates!
Next, what about the dress?! Is it too early? What if I’m getting married in almost 2 years? For me, it’s never too early! But, keep in mind, if you do over 2 years in advance (even then I think it’s too far in advance), styles will change. That gorgeous soft pink dress you had your eye on might be (scratch that…will be) out of style by the time your day arrives. Give yourself a good year, maybe a tad longer, to select a dress. See what I did there? I said select a dress…there’s no harm in trying them on in the mean time!
What if you and your future Mr. or Mrs. decide on waiting a while? That’s totally okay, too! In fact, in the long run it will bring much less stress on you and your family and don’t forget more time to save and plan every single detail down to a T. So what do you do until about a year before? Still plan! I would still read those magazines, visit those venues, and book dates. The best part is that you should have your pick of viable dates and vendors! If you find a dress a couple years ahead, by all means: if you love it, buy it! There’s no harm in that.
Out of all this plethera of advise what is the ONE thing I hope you take to heart? Okay, so there’s two. The first is to do your research. Plan thoughtfully and plan together. The last thing…ENJOY your time being an engaged couple! Get excited! You’ll only be engaged once, right? Embrace the outpouring of congrats, “Oooh let me see your ring!”s, and have your engagement story ready to be told. It’s going to happen and it’s going to be one heck of a ride!