If you are reading this, you are likely engaged. (Or maybe you are thinking you are about to be engaged... if that is the case stay calm and let it happen on its own! Don't force it!)
If you ARE engaged, congratulations! I know you are feeling all sorts of emotion including extreme excitement.. and probably a little stressed at the idea of planning a wedding. If this is you take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of prosecco (or champagne or a beer if that is your thing) and keep reading.
1. Figure out how you are going to announce to the world that you are engaged. Are you going to send out postcards or are you going to announce on Instagram? Are there people that you need to call or stop by in person so you can tell them before you announce to everyone else? You should probably tell your best friend and grandparents before you announce to the whole entire world.
2. Enjoy just being engaged for a little bit! As excited as you might be to start planning, and planning, take some time to celebrate! With your family, your partner's family, your friends, your partner's friends... you get the picture.
3. This next step is not fun... I know. But if you address it early it will solve a whole lot of problems that could come up later. Talk about finances. Who will be paying for the wedding? The rehearsal dinner? You as a couple, your parents, or maybe everyone is contributing? The average cost of a wedding in 2017 was just under $26,000. That is a lot of money. I know most people don't like talking about money but having a good financial plan will take a lot of future stress off of you. Trust me! Get it out of the way early!
4. Pick a location! Do you want to get married in your hometown? Do you want to have a destination wedding? We work primarily in the Nantucket and Hilton Head regions so we are considered a "destination area" because so many of our couples have vacationed here and come back to get married here! Destination doesn't have to mean out of the country- it just means an area different than where you live! Keep in mind that location can impact your costs. For example, New York City is the most expensive city to get married in. New Mexico is the least expensive state to get married in. Cities or destinations will probably be more expensive than more rural areas.
5. Create a guest list. This doesn't have to be a final draft- it is just to help you get an idea of how much space you will need. Keep in mind that your guest list is the largest driver of your costs. That being said- your long lost 4th cousin that you haven't spoken to since you were 5 years old doesn't need to be on your invite list. Create rules for both you and your fiance and STICK TO THEM. Such as.. no kids outside immediate family or if you haven't spoken to them in over a year- they don't go on the invite list. Your wedding day goes by really fast so make sure you are spending it with the people that really mean the most to you. If people complain later that they weren't invited just blame it on the venue you fell in love with- it can only fit so many people and you had to stick to that number!
6. I may be biased in this next step...but once you have an idea of budget, location and guest list the next step you should take is to hire a local wedding planner. This is especially true if you are having any sort of destination wedding. A planner will know the area, have local contacts and will be such a resource to you. I love when couples come to me first because I can save them sooo much time and money! A planner will start to get an idea of your vision and make sure when you do come to tour venues that you make the most of your time. If you are looking for a southern-elegant wedding they will be able to recommend and show you certain venues that match that and will not waste your time showing you a modern, beachfront space. As I said before, wedding costs vary depending on location and a local planner will be able to get you a better idea of costs in that area. Even if you are not doing a destination wedding, a planner will have so much knowledge to pass along. After all, it is their job to plan weddings for a living- so they are going to be better at it than you are. (no offense) A planner is also important because they will take care of all the set up for the wedding day. The last thing you want is to be sending your mom to go decorate while she should be sipping mimosas with you. Also, know the difference between a wedding designer, planner and day of coordinator. Some people, such as myself, do all three. Others do not.
7. Find a venue that you absolutely love. Look on The Knot, Google, or even contact the local Chamber of Commerce. (Or take advantage of that trusty planner you hired) Make sure the venue fits with your overall vision. Going for a rustic vibe? An ballroom is probably not going to work. Make sure it can fit the number of people on your guest list. Logistically, a space can only fit so many people. If the space you fell in love with only fits 100 people- you can only invite 100 people.
8. Once you have booked your venue and set a date, send out "Save the Dates." People like plenty of notice. They want to make sure they can celebrate with you and who can blame them?! You are awesome!
9. Pop a bottle of prosecco (or again- champagne or beer) and celebrate! You just checked off the most important and biggest step of planning your wedding.
10. Start securing your other vendors. This includes stationary, DJ, baker, photographer, videographer, clown (just kidding- clowns freak me out) and any other vendors your might need. Even if you don't know exactly what you want, for example flavor of the cake, get your name and date on the baker's calendar. Once you have secured all of your vendors the fun can really begin. You get to breathe, celebrate and focus on the fun details that will make your wedding YOURS.
My final piece of advise is to make sure you enjoy it! Your wedding day goes by so quickly so enjoy every part of it- including the planning!