So you just got engaged? Congratulations, Mazel Tov, and all those other jubilant exclamations! You’re getting married!! The months between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day are known as “engagement season” in the wedding industry. Now, it’s time to get down to business. Planning a wedding is a completely insane and an exciting undertaking. I planned my wedding in TWO months. (I can hear your gasps of shock now). With that, I learned a few things along the way that may be helpful to you.
1. Talk with your significant other right away about the top 5 things that are MOST important to you.
For me and Trevor that was our venue, the amount of guests we had (275 – we didn’t want to leave any of our loved ones out and I have a giant family), my dress (can I get an “Amen” sisters?), our ceremony order of events and the photography & design (obviously). It’s important to figure these things out because once you come down to the end, you begin to realize what you should cut down on and not freak out about. Always reflect back to what was most important to you as a couple. Details are important, but you don’t want to have a melt down over something silly like the color of a napkin. Does it really matter that they are white instead of blush pink? Probably not, and it may save you money in the end.
2. Talk about your budget as soon as possible.
How are you going to finance the wedding? Will your parents be contributing? His parents? Grandparents? You and your groom? Get an idea of your total potential budget — this number will be key in the planning process. Ask these questions right away and figure out a realistic budget that you can give towards the wedding. Once you understand this, then take some time together to make a quick excel sheet to budget out how much money can go to what category. (This also helps when you know your top 5 priorities). Then you can realistically see how much you can give towards each category.
3. Set A Date
Do get an idea early on from your families about any date conflicts — college graduation, milestone birthdays and family vacations can all potentially interfere with your dream wedding date. However, remember it is also your day, so you can’t please everyone’s schedules. The earlier you have a date locked down, the easier it is to start planning. You can send out your ‘Save the Dates’ sooner, booking venues and vendors and starting making a timeline for yourself of when things need to be done.
4. Contact Vendors
Don’t reach out to vendors until you have at least a ballpark idea of your budget and the day you choose to get married. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford. If your wedding budget is $20,000, and the site rental fee of the venue you love is $10,000 (before food and beverage), it’s probably not going to work. And if your favorite photographer starts at $10,000 and your budget is $3,000, don’t expect she’s going to “discount” her services to meet your budget. However, don’t be afraid to tell a vendor that you love his/her work and ask if they have recommendations in your price range or if they have packages that my better fit your budget.
5. Start Your Pinning!
Start the planning and brainstorming phase. It is a fantastic way to share your vision, style and aesthetic with your vendors. I know this has helped me exponentially when clients have tried to explain what type of design they want for Save the Dates or Invitations I have designed for them or even various poses they may want to achieve on their wedding day. Pictures are often the best way to communicate when you do not have a creative background. Showing me a design you love versus “well i think i want a rustic yellow feel”, can save us both so much time and we can compliment it that best fits your personality.
6. Pick your Best Man/Maid of Honor, but hold off on the wedding party.
You probably already know who will be your right hand gal on your wedding day, so do something nice for them to tell them that you want them by your side as soon as possible. However, don’t ask all your wedding party to be bridesmaids right away. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, such as your budget (all of those bouquets, gifts and even wardrobe can add up!).
7. Amazon will be your best friend.
If you don’t have prime, may be good to invest in it this year. Two day free shipping with loads of goods to search? Yes, please. I think I saved about $1,000 dollars because of the amount of things I was able to find off Amazon verses a party supply or rental vendor. You can find just about anything on there. Etsy is great too, but beware of vendors that have horrible customer service or shipping times. I ordered something from there with plenty of time in advance and didn’t get it until AFTER my wedding, which was a loss of money and frustration.
8. Purchase your dress at least 1 month before your wedding.
You may have found your dream dress, but I had no idea how long it would take to get alterations. I had a lot of custom work done on my dress, so it did take longer than average. Plan for at least 1-2 months for alterations depending on your seamstress. Remember to also factor in a budget for alterations in your dress category. They can range from $100-700+ for alterations alone. I never would have even considered that as part of the budget when I initially bought my dress. So when you are looking at price tags, safely budget in a few hundred on top of the price so you are not completely shocked later on.
9. Start an address list in excel
Start collecting addresses and a guest list as soon as possible. Put it all in excel so when you are ready to print out invites or save the dates you can have your designer or printer easily put addresses on envelopes. This will save you HOURS of work than if you were to hand write everything. Plus, you will have a list already formed for your thank you’s! This was probably one of the hardest tasks for us. Luckily, I have a husband who loves organizing things like this, so he happily accepted the job. This will also serve you well for future Holiday cards you may want to send out our special announcements (baby!? too soon?).
10. Ask others for help & delegate
You will be surprised how many people will be waiting to be given a job or who desire to help you. Remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Also your fiance will be waiting for you to tell them how they can help. Often guys, don’t have a clue about things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let them in on it. Make sure to include your fiance in on the process and create ways he can help out too. Throw a craft party one night to help do decorations or a envelope stuffing one night to help stuff invites or save that dates. This will relieve your stress and make an easy wedding come to be!
If you have any other questions or concerns, I would love to help give some guidance! Comment on this post or send me an e-mail at hellocompassarrow.com. I would also love to show you photography packages for your engagement or wedding day, fine-art album options and custom graphic design for your once-in-a-lifetime event. Enjoy this season! Take it slow and remember to breath! Your day will be beautiful even with a few hiccups.