This is such an exciting time for you, your fiancé, and your families! Getting engaged is one of the biggest decisions you make in starting to plan out your future. For now, you're focused on enjoying your engagement, starting to plan for your marriage and for the day you become husband and wife. There are so many moving parts in this season of life and it can be incredibly overwhelming, so let's slow down and start the conversation of what to do once you get engaged!
1. Find a qualified wedding planner - I know what you're thinking. Sticker shock. Trust me, this is one of the best investments you can make in order to keep your sanity throughout your wedding planning process. A wedding planner can assist in guiding you through finding the venue of your dreams that you may have never found on your own, they can help you create a realistic budget, guide you through what to expect when you're looking for the best vendors to make your dream a reality. They are your unbiased sounding board when you're making important and expensive decisions that will make your wedding planning experience amazing, versus being happy the planning is finally over. Trust me, I've only scratched the surface. A wonderful wedding planner is worth their weight in gold. Plus, they know how to save you money.
2. Start a preliminary budget based on what you can afford, but be realistic. Weddings are expensive, but if you're going to do it, why not do it the way you want to? If that means having a slightly longer engagement to be able to afford what you want, WAIT. You don't have to get married 6-12 months after you get engaged. There's no time limit. There's a lot of pressure out there once you get engaged and people ask you so many questions about when, where, why and if you're having babies soon. Don't let this season of life be a stressor - make decisions based on what you and your fiancé want. Be true to who you are.
While we're on this topic, remember that the costs you're seeing (from any vendor you inquire with) are not purely profit. Packages and pricing are created mindfully to cover a myriad of costs - labor, equipment, and insurance to name a few (that's oversimplified and a very watered down explanation) and don't forget that roughly 30% of what you're paying goes directly to Uncle Sam. It's ok to ask why the pricing is what it is - this should help you make more informed decisions.
Once you have a roundabout number you're comfortable spending..
3. Pick your TOP THREE non-negotiable must haves.
- Is it a big guest list?
- The venue you've been dreaming of for years?
- Is it having a band over a DJ?
- Getting the photographer you want?
- The most amazing floral installations?
- A full-service wedding planner?
- Your favorite catering company?
Start getting quotes from your TOP THREE non-negotiable must haves. Adjust your budget based on those costs and build out from there. This is where you'll realize if you (for example):
- Need to cut your guest list down? I had a potential bride say once in an email that they didn't want to meet anyone new on their wedding day and it really resonated with me. I love that they were being intentional about their guest list from the start.
- Do you really need wedding favors? Favors are great when they're intentional and have meaning - don't worry about them if you're doing it just to do it.
4. Start planning for your marriage! This is the single most important thing you will do in this season of life, friend. Pre-marital counseling is a great place to start, but if you don't want to jump into that quite yet, I highly recommend picking up the book "Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts." I just finished reading this book and it was practical, easy to read, and so insightful. Also, it's short - I'm not the best at following through with reading an entire book, but this was easy and kept me wanting to read more.