As you may know, I have been engaged since last January. I had a longer engagement, so it’s hard to believe I am under the “2 month mark”! As I reflect back on all the planning and details, if it weren’t for my mom or my event planning background, I would have been lost. I wanted to write this post as a way to help those who are engaged, and for those at any stage of the engagement. There have been so many helpful things I have learned along the way, and I hope you’ll find it useful. Right now I plan to fit the rest in a Part II follow up post, but there may end up being a Part V for all I know (haha). So let’s begin!
First of all, congrats! This is about to be the most exciting and busiest time of your life! You’ve called your family and closest friends, you’ve had some celebratory glasses of champagne, so now what? Below is some helpful information to get you started! This by no means is comprehensive, but it definitely helped Nick and I!
Decide your date. Everything depends on this! Sure you can look around at wedding venues or churches, but the first question they will ask you is, “When’s your wedding date?” Once you have your date set, you can really get started searching for your venue and church (or other ceremony location). These two components are critical to decide on in advance. Also, be prepared for everyone to ask you “Have you set a date?” It’s okay to say no! We were asked the next day, and we simply didn’t have an answer yet–and that’s okay.
Intimate or large wedding? You may think you want an intimate wedding until you start working on your guest list and realize that “200” probably isn’t “intimate”. To avoid this, work on your guest list right away. Not only will you determine the size of your wedding, but it also helps the start of your guest list document.
Create a guest list document in Excel. Thinking of who you want to invite is the easy part. Obtaining all the addresses for this list is not so easy. It’s simply time consuming. Start early on this project. You’ll thank yourself later! Utilize Facebook and have both your family and your fiance’s family help you with this.
Structure your guest list. It was super helpful for Nick and I to divide our guest list document by the following tabs: Friends, Family, and Family friends. We did that for both my side and his side. Within each tab we created the following header columns:
Save the Date
For the Save the Date and Wedding Invite columns, Nick and I used this as a “check mark” tool as we were addressing and stamping these pieces. It’s easy in excel for your eyes to skip a row, so this verified we addressed one for each person. After obtaining all the information (to help determine number count, etc.) if you want to format in an address layout, you could definitely do that. This was just something that worked for Nick and I.
Engaged for a couple of months
Now that some time has passed, it’s really time to think about location and budget. There are so many options to think about, but before deciding anything, make sure to have the budget discussion with your fiance and family. What was custom years ago, isn’t always the case in today’s world. Figure out a budget and who is responsible for what. Once you have this confirmed, asking for price quotes from venues will be an easier process!
Bridal Expos. Go with your girlfriends, or your mother and/or future mother-in-law to bridal expos to find real venues in your area. Pinterest is great for inspiration, but you need the florist and photographer in your area to make that happen! Make sure to collect business cards, and take as much information as you can. Don’t throw anything away! Also, be prepared to repeat yourself a lot–it’s normal. Take pictures, have fun with it, and enjoy the memory!
Church. Decide whether you want to be married in a church or not. Is your fiance’s faith different than yours? How are you handling this if so? These are big discussions, and it’s definitely not something to minimize. If getting married in a church isn’t important to you, is your pastor available to conduct your ceremony elsewhere and will there be a fee? Do you want your licensed family friend to conduct the ceremony? Figure this out early on and also make sure to discuss any costs the church may have to hold the ceremony.
Do you want engagement photos? I personally love engagement photos, and they are perfect to use for Save the Dates. Make to check out sites like Wedding Wire, The Knot, and Plan the Day to find photographers in your area. Make sure to read my post that talks about our engagement pictures!
Fine tune your Pinterest Board. Whether you already had a huge pinterest board dedicated to “One Day”, or you are just getting started, now is the time to really decide on what you want. What is your theme or overall vision? I struggled with loving so many options, but at the end of the day I knew I wanted something timeless and classic. Really fine-tune your board. Florists and venue coordinators love to see boards to help understand your vision for the day.
Wedding dress shopping. Don’t be fooled, some dresses can take up to 6-9 months to order. This isn’t always the case, but this is another area to start sooner than later. Also, be willing to try different styles on. That satin, mermaid silhouette you were always interested in may not be easy to walk in! There were plenty of dresses I loved trying on, but ultimately didn’t go with due to inability to move or the weight of the dress. Last but not least, you’ll know when it’s the one. It’s simply a gut feeling! I have a whole blog post dedicated to my incredible experience!
These are just a few helpful tips I utilized early on during the process. Hopefully this will get you through until my next post, Engagement Tips Part II. Stay tuned for more information!