You're Engaged!!! ... now what? First 3 Steps in Wedding Planning
I’ve seen brides run to the store and buy every wedding magazine on the shelf. Some brides immediately start trying on dresses. Others start zipping from one side of town to another to scope out their potential venue.
Hold up. Stop. Breathe.
Wedding planning is like buying a house or shopping for a car. You don't go to every realtor or every dealership in the city and say, “Show me all of your houses/cars!!” You usually have a plan, or at least an idea of what you can want and can spend. The same holds true for planning your wedding.
With that in mind, I am giving you a plan. Or at least the first 3 steps. :) (don't worry!! You've got this!)
Determine your wedding budget. It’s hard to book a venue if you don’t know how much money you have to spend. Can you afford the amazing, contemporary venue with a $5000 room rental fee? Is that luxurious hotel with the $25,000 food and beverage minimum realistic for your budget? Sit down. Talk to your fiancé and your parents, if they are going to be involved. Do the math and determine what you can spend on the entire event before you paint a bulls-eye on your perfect venue.
2. Guest Count
Get an idea of your guest count. I have met with brides who say their guest list will be somewhere between 150-250. Again, it’s difficult to book a venue without a pretty good idea of your guest count. Some venues might be able to easily accommodate 150 guests, but are unable to fit 250. Discuss this with your SO and both sets of parents. Don’t forget to include spouses in the guest count (and children, if you plan to include them). Also, be REALISTIC with your guest count. Don’t make the mistake of estimating that only 150 will come, even though your list consists of close to 300. That’s a wedding day nightmare waiting to happen. The rule of thumb is that 75% of your guests WILL attend, so plan accordingly.
Identify your top 3 priorities when it comes to the wedding day. Food? Live band? Full bar? Photography? I recommend to my clients that the bride and groom BOTH (and separately) write a list of their top 3 things. Compare notes and decide together what is most important to you, when it comes to where your budget should be spent.
Now you are ready to start researching vendors and continue the planning process.
(If I had thrown a #4 out there, you know it would be to find a planner! Even if you only decide to work with someone for the Day Of stuff... hire them sooner rather than later. We have all sorts of knowledge and experience in this process that can be helpful from day one!).
Oh! And if you are looking for a little more in-depth help... I know someone who does this for a living. ;)