It is completely overwhelming to get engaged.
As soon as you start showing off that ring, everyone wants to know the details of your wedding plans. As if you’ve had time to plan it all out in the two minutes since you said yes.
Here’s where to start.
Even if you’ve already started planning, take a scroll and make sure you’ve got your bases covered. There’s nothing worse than planning something amazing and realizing the whole thing is just slightly off (Pisa anyone?!).
STEP ONE: Set Priorities
If you don’t know what’s important to you, you’ll end up doing what’s important to everyone else. Or trying to do all the things, and that never turns out well.
Start by finding a budget planner. Then rank the categories in order of importance to you. Have your fiance do the same. Then bring your answers together to find out what your couple goals are.
Now, you can focus on your top three, drop the bottom three, and either downplay or delegate the rest.
STEP TWO: Set A Date
This is the big question.
Every. Single. Person.
My system is to choose a few. I know that doesn’t really help you answer everyone’s question, but it helps to be flexible while you are looking for a venue and those top priority vendors.
Go through your life, what dates are important? Which are important to avoid? What season do you want for your wedding? Narrow it down to about three dates that would all work.
STEP THREE: Set A Budget
The dreaded budget.
Unfortunately you need one. Unless your cash flow is endless, in which case you have my permission to skip this step. For those of us living in the real world, let’s keep going.
First, figure out what your total budget will be. This is the only potentially uncomfortable part of this whole thing. If you’re getting money from parents or anyone else, you need to get a number from them. Not ‘as much as you need’ or ‘whatever it takes’. Because your idea of what is necessary and theirs may be very different. So make it awkward before the money is spent, not after. Get a number, and find out if there are any strings attached to it.
Once you know what you’re working with, it’s much simpler. Using a budget planner, start filling in some numbers. If the planner you’re using has a percentage range, go with the high end on your top priorities, and the middle to low end on the rest. Just make sure the total percentage doesn’t go over 100!
Thankfully we live in the age of technology and you have a calculator in your hand. Or if you’re feeling it, you can make a simple spreadsheet to add it up for you as you make adjustments.
STEP FOUR: Make A Guest List
It’s starting to get fun now!
Start listing out your guests. It can help to group them. Each group should get all invited, or none invited (or B listed). For example, if you invite one cousin, you should invite them all (not necessarily the same for different sides of the family though). Same goes for co-workers, volleyball team, etc.
This is not your final list. This is just for you to have an idea of what size of event you’re going for. We can’t really move on to the next step until we have a pretty good estimate of the size of the event.
STEP FIVE: Choose A Location
This is not the venue.
Here’s what I mean. Before you can choose a venue, you have one more job. You need to know what city/region you are going to look in. Are you going back to your hometown? In your current city? A destination? A mini-destination?
Sometimes this is really simple. Other times not so much.
Weigh your options, and make your choice.
STEP SIX: Choose A Venue
Now it’s the venue.
Now that you’ve got a budget, a head count, and a location, it’s really easy to know whether a venue fits your needs or not! Make sure you ask questions (hopefully during a tour) about the things that are important to you. Ask about extra fees, extra spaces, regulations, and anything else that is on your list of top priorities.
For more on choosing a venue see the guide How To Choose Your Wedding Venue.
And now you’re set! Whatever you do from here, will be solid because you’ve got your bases covered.
Enjoy every moment (okay not every moment), and if you start going crazy…hire a wedding planner!