Did you get engaged over the holidays? Congratulations!!! I hope you’re enjoying every second of this exciting time! For all the newly engaged brides-to-be… here are my top 10 next steps to kick off your wedding planning!
1) Enjoy it! Don’t rush so quickly into the whirlwind of planning the wedding that you don’t stop to soak up the engagement itself. Trust me, your groom will appreciate it! He has probably been stressing out planning the perfect proposal for so long that he hasn’t processed the fact that his betrothed will soon consume his life with choices about colors, venues, napkin folds, etc… give him some breathing room before you dive in!
2) Consider the Location and Time of Year – where do you see yourself getting married!?! What time of year? Tradition dictates that the bride’s hometown hosts the nuptials but these days, there are no rules! Do you see yourself saying I Do where you grew up or is there a location common to you and the groom that makes more sense now. Or is an island getaway the right way to celebrate… destination weddings can be a great way to include all your closest friends and family on an amazing vacation celebration!
3) Decide on a Budget – this isn’t fun but knowing who’s contributing what in advance will allow you to make smart decisions about choosing vendors and deciding what kind of wedding to have from the beginning so there are no uncomfortable surprises along the way.
4) Start Creating a Guest List – I debated making this my 3rd tip because the headcount goes hand-in-hand with the budget. The amount of people attending your event will directly correlate to the final cost. Knowing who you MUST invite versus who you’d LIKE to invite if you can and who’s on the EXTRAS list will help you pick the right venue for your wedding. I wrote an article about this awhile ago on my blog and how the guest list played a huge role in deciding where to hold my own wedding and how we picked our venue.
5) Start Exploring Venues and Gathering Information – This goes without saying, knowing what’s available where and on what day is critical to choosing a date and a venue for the event. The more you know the better! This would also be the time to hire a wedding planning if you’re choosing to go that route. Even if you only hire a day-of coordinator – I recommend hiring one well in advance so they are privy to all the important details all along the way.
6) Prioritize! What are your most important wedding items? Is it the food? Decor? Photography? What is most important to your Groom. Is it the music? The season? Figure out what matters most to the two of you so you can allocate funds accordingly as you make decisions.
7) Book Key Vendors – Once you finalize your venue and wedding date – it’s time to start booking the critical vendors. Planners, Photographers, Bands, etc… these vendors can only work at one wedding on any given date and typically book up months to a year in advance so if you have your heart set on someone specific, make sure you lock them up right away!
8) Create Inspiration Boards – Websites like Pinterest, the Knot, and Loverly are great sites for gathering all of those pretty images you’ve been seeing on wedding blogs and magazines to create the beginning of your design vision. Once all the big things are locked up… it’s time to start dreaming and designing your perfect day! Don’t rush this process… enjoy it!
9) Choose your Bridal Party – Who are the guys and gals that will be standing beside you as you say your vows?! There are no rules when it comes to who can stand up on either side of the aisle so choose the friends and family who you want in the bridal suite getting ready with you on the morning of your wedding.
10) Start Dress Shopping – This is the fun part!! Start lining up dress appointments at local bridal shops, once you’ve picked a venue, that will dictate what kind of celebration you’re having. I recommend taking a couple key people to join you in this process… too many opinions can be detrimental to your ability to make a decision on YOUR dream dress. This is all about you and how you see yourself marrying your fiancé. Come to the shops with some vision of what you’re looking for but be open to suggestions from the consultants… they might have a gorgeous option up their sleeve that you would never have considered otherwise… you never know!