It’s engagement season y’all! The timelines and feeds are filling with pretty rings and big smiles. AND I LOVE IT. Saying “yes” to forever putting someone else first and loving your best friend more than yourself is such a special thing and it should be celebrated. Getting engaged is exciting, monumental, and a little scary. Now you have to plan a wedding…
Speaking from personal experience, it is so much fun to get engaged and I still look down at that ring and get butterflies thinking about the commitment it signifies. Also speaking from personal experience, it is a lot of work to plan a wedding. No matter how big or small, it is no small task and there is a lot of pressure on couples these days about having a Pinterest worthy celebration. I had lots of big dreams about the day I would marry Daniel, but I had no clue where to start. I knew I wanted a long veil, pretty pictures, a chocolate cake, a waterfall bouquet, and to wear sneakers to the reception. That was it. And those were all small details.
So I am here to help some of the fellow overwhelmed fresh fiancés with where to start your wedding planning process. These are not in order of importance, but I think the first four details you need are the date, budget, venue, and photographer.
You really can’t plan anything else until you know when you are getting married. I recommend talking with your fiancé and figuring out a general time frame (ie month of August, Christmas time, within the month before your new job starts.) It is difficult to pick an exact date right off the bat because the venue and pricing can affect which day it will be. Daniel and I knew we wanted to get married between my internship ending and my last semester of college starting, which put us between August 5-26th. Once we factored in at least a week for the honeymoon, that narrowed it to the 5-about 18th.
Almost everything in the planning process comes back to the budget. You don’t really need an exact, down to the cent amount, but a general idea is necessary. Are you in the couple thousand of dollars range? Tens of thousands? A few hundred? The answer to this question will determine what kinds of vendors you can look at. For your reference, a good general idea of what percentage of your budget should* go to each component of your wedding.
Wedding Rings: 2-4%
Favors & Gifts: 1%
Hair & Make Up: 1%
Groom’s Tux: 1%
Of course, this not an all-encompassing list, but it is a good overview for you to start out with. Keep in mind there will be some hidden costs and unaccounted for things that will pop up.
*Every wedding is different and these are not rules, just guidelines.
Decide on a general location or vibe you want for your wedding. Do you want it to be on a farm? In a museum? Downtown? Out in the country? Indoor or outdoor ceremony? Destination or local? Then start looking for venues that fit that description. For Daniel and I, we wanted to split the difference between our families. I am from New Jersey and he is from Maryland. We decided on getting married in the Lancaster, PA area because it was about 2 hours from each of those places, and it would have lots of open space for big, natural venues. I didn’t want a barn wedding, but I wanted a very natural, outdoor venue for photos and because I wanted it to feel secluded from the rest of the world. We found an amazing venue at Cameron Estate Inn in Mount Joy, PA. Also, like ours did, lots of venues have catering included. That’s a great way to kill two big birds with one stone!
For us, the availability and price of the venue determined our exact date. It is generally cheaper to get married on a weekday or Sunday than a Saturday (we got married on a Friday because of this). Lots of venues are booked up years in advance. Some days in your window are not available. You never know which detail could make a big difference in your date choice. Book your venue and lock down your date!
I know, I know…y’all are thinking I’m biased on this one. I say this one because it is so true. Just like venues, we fill up years in advance. I am already booking into 2020 and there are a few months in 2019 that are completely booked up. There are some vendors who can say “yes” to multiple couples on the same day, like florist, baker, rentals, etc. The only people who can only serve one couple at a time are photographers and videographers. I highly recommend contacting the photographer of your dreams quickly after you decide on your date and venue. Obviously I think that photos are a huge part of the wedding experience and that they are worth investing in (a blog on that is coming soon!).
Also, remember that lots of photographers travel so don’t worry if your venue isn’t in their area. We love to shoot in different cities, states, and even countries!
Well there you have it, the top 4 things to do when you get engaged. And don’t forget the #1 absolutely most important thing: CELEBRATE WITH YOUR FIANCE.
I hope this calms your ‘where do I start’ nerves and gave you a starting point on your wedding planning map. Being engaged is a special time so enjoy it. Celebrate it. Try to make planning your wedding a fun experience and especially take time to plan for your marriage. That’s the most important thing to prepare for.
Happy wedding planning fiancés!