The winter months are a season for family, gratitude, and also a season engagements. Seriously, the statistics are staggering… estimates state that six out of every ten couples become engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. There are so many directions newly engaged couples find themselves pulled in after the proposal, it can feel overwhelming. Everyone will be wanting to know the details for your wedding right away, so, after the yes, what are the initial steps do you take next?
Set a timeline
The average engagement period for couples is approximately 15 months. Set an approximate month or date that matches your preferred time of year. Remember, this is not set in stone. You need time to celebrate and enjoy your engagement, locate and book a venue, work around any major holidays or any major friend/family gatherings. Your important guests will appreciate the information early on, and start making mental accommodations.
Set a budget and Open a Wedding Account
Start saving as soon as you can. Even the smallest wedding can cost a lot more than you think. If you have the option of opening a savings account for your wedding cash, do it. It will come in handy, plus it’ll be fun to watch your hard earned bucks go into buying everything for your special day. Depositing a set amount from each paycheck and using an online wedding budget tool will help you get on your way to your dream wedding. However uncomfortable the conversation may be, you also need to figure out what each of your families are contributing. As soon as that is out of the way, you will know exactly how much you will need to save on your own.
Draft a Guest List
Draft your guest list early on in your planning process, and ask your families to do the same. Prioritizing your lists and breaking them down into categories early on will help you in many ways. It will help you in choosing a venue, it will help you stay within your budget, and it will even influence the time you spend with them on your day of. So, be wise, and work on it early. Keep in mind this is just an estimated number, it’s not set in stone. You can always add or drop later on when you've made some more decisions on what your vision is, and where you are choosing to say I do.
Don't forget to daydream… a lot!
Dream up your special day. Figure out your style, how you want your wedding to look. Where is your dream location? Rustic or Elegant? Intimate or a party of the decade? Daydreaming is certainly allowed and encouraged! It can be an important tool to help you formulate some important decisions later on like finding a venue or that perfect dress. You don’t have to go it alone, ask your fiance or even some of your most important friends for their input as well. Once the important elements are figured out, you’re well on your way to dress and venue shopping. We once had a wedding that had all vintage china, that the couple enjoyed shopping around at flea markets for.
Pick Your Venue
As popular venues book up a year or two in advance, you’ll want to hit this hard once you’ve figured out what your vision is. You will likely be asked your estimated guest count, and a desired timeframe/date for your wedding. Come prepared to ask and be asked loads of questions. You will need to find out what decorating restrictions are, what the venue can provide for you (in house catering, tables, chairs, china, etc), nearby accommodations (if not onsite, you will need to hop on this early in the game too); the more armed with questions you come, the better of an idea you’ll have of how it’ll fit into your budget. Once a deposit is paid, the date and the venue are yours!
If your accommodations are not onsite, I cannot stress enough that you will need to check availability at these places and place holds as soon as you book the venue. They are equally important!! Especially if you have a large amount of out-of-towners. If you sit on this one, someone will beat you to it. Guaranteed. We’ve had people find themselves in this predicament and it can be very frustrating for all around.
Decide if a Wedding Planner or an on-site coordinator is right for you
If you choose to have a wedding planner, you will need to decide this pretty early on in the game. Wedding planners and On-site coordinators are very closely related and do a lot of the same things but be sure to know the difference depending on the venue you select. Our on-site coordinators will be there for you throughout the entire planning process, and can help you achieve your specific design. They know their venue best, and what does/doesn’t work. They will point you in the direction of vendors if you need it, and they will be your contact on your big day. They will also act as the liaison between you and your vendors, and will help you achieve your vision day of, making sure you stick to your timeline.
A wedding planner will help you with all of this too of course, They can also help you design and draft your wedding, and assist with many other personal needs such as hair and makeup, down to china and floral design. They will be there to help you plan everything from your engagement party to your honeymoon. They’re the ones available for the crisis at 3am or 36 hours before, and they’re a little more hands on.
Book your Priority Vendors
Most vendors book out a year in advance, so make sure you get in with your most preferred ones as soon as you can. If you need assistance in finding vendors, your venue will likely have at least a recommendation list for you to choose from, or even provide some themselves.
Party and Enjoy Each Other
Remember to relax and enjoy your engagement Have some time to yourselves and give your family and friends some time to enjoy you!