It's that time of year again! Engagement season! Among all of the presents during Christmas and New Years, engagement rings can be one of the most popular. If you are one of those lucky ladies - or gents - reading this, I offer you a hearty congratulations! Marriage is sweet and wonderful, and challenging, but so worth it. But now that you have the ring, is your head swimming with things to do, and no idea where to start? Here's a few things I tell brides to focus on first when getting engage.
1. Focus on enjoying the new season with the love of your life. Before you start in knee deep in wedding planning details, take time to savor these moments with your fiance. Engagement is filled with anticipation, joy, a new level of security, and if you're a normal girl, a bit of anxiety. Talk through your dreams, your desires, and what you want your marriage to look like. You marriage is far more important than your wedding. Don't miss out on starting to build a foundation for a healthy marriage in these early moments of engagement. All the details will come together, I promise - especially if you have a planner or coordinator helping you.
Take time to go on dates with each other without talking about wedding plans and details. Talk about each other, and enjoy being with each other. Don't focus more on the event than the change about to take place in your life. Save yourself unneeded tension and make time to be together and not talk about the wedding. Yes there will come times when you have to talk about things regarding your wedding, but your relationship will thank you later if you make time to do things aside from wedding planning.
2. Pick a date. This may need to be moved to spot three on importance if your venue is more important to you than your date. But typically, the second thing you should do is focus on picking a date. Be aware that prices of venues (and most vendors) rise in the summer and around holidays due to demand. But if you must have a June wedding, I say go for it, just be aware that cost may be a bit higher.
It's also helpful to look at some of the most important people you want at your wedding. Will your best friend be out of town for a month in the summer, or your sister and brother-in-law traveling out of town for the holidays. If people are important to you, then make sure to think through a date when most of those important people can be there to share in your joy.
Finally, decide if there are any important dates you would want to get married on. Such as a grandparents anniversary date, the date of the first time you said I love you, or another memorable date. To some people this doesn't matter at all, but to some, it can be very important. Decide if that's the case for you and your fiance.
3.Pick a venue. Once you have a date, start looking at venues that fit your estimated guest needs. Note: you don't need to complete a guest list at this time, but you should have a rough idea of how large both families are and an approximate idea of how many friends you want there outside of your family. You may just want a small intimate wedding or a huge party with everyone you've ever known. Size will help in determining a venue.
You also need to look at style of a venue. Do you want your reception in a barn? Does your ceremony need to be in a church or your parents back yard? Do you want an elaborate reception hall with a Victorian feel? Decide what style you are going for and look for that.
Location is a huge determining factor when choosing a venue and can not be understated. Do you and your fiance live 100 miles apart? Will you choose a central location between both families or pick one town over the other? Do you want a destination wedding? Do you want a specific part of town such as downtown near the center of the city, or out in the suburbs near the mountains? These are all things to think through when choosing a venue. If you have a great planner or coordinator, they can help in finding a few venue options that fit the location, size, and style you are going for.
4. Determine a budget. This is also something that could be moved higher on the priority list depending on your specific needs. In fact, most of these, except #1 can be interchangeable in my personal opinion. Regardless, you need to decide how much money you have to work with. Before you start dreaming of those massive centerpieces at every table, or an elaborate 4 course meal served to each table by a wait staff, you need to decide how much you have to spend. Talk with your family, talk with your fiance, talk with your fiances family. Traditionally the brides family pays for the wedding, and the grooms family pays for the wedding rehearsal dinner. But in today's culture it is becoming more and more common for both family's, and the bride and groom themselves to put money towards the wedding costs. Determine an overall budget and then you can go from there. Know that the average wedding in the U.S. costs approximately $25,000. Weddings are expensive. You can do things to cut costs, but if you want to do that you should check out my blog post on using non-professionals on your wedding day.
Once you have these things decided and put in place, all the other details can fall into place. As always, I will say choosing a good wedding planner or coordinator can help save you a ton of headache. I wish I had hired a coordinator at least(though a planner would have helped tremendously being a senior in college, working part time, and holding a role as an RA), so that on the day of my wedding I didn't have to coordinate all the details. I spent more time worrying about who was where, and what was happening that I missed many moments. If I could go back and change one thing, it would be hiring a coordinator.
If you have any questions, never hesitate to contact me! I'd love to chat with you!