The First 7 Wedding Planning Decisions to Make After You Get Engaged
One of the best things I’ve seen popping up again in my newsfeed recently is lots of couples getting engaged. Hooray! It feels especially good to be celebrating love during a challenging time. So if that’s you, congratulations! Once you’ve spread the news, popped plenty of champagne, and called each other ‘my fiancé/e over and over, it’s time to make some wedding planning decisions. But where do you start? I know wedding planning decisions can be overwhelming and I’m here to help.
First, however, a word about COVID-19. Weddings right now are, as you may know, an evolving landscape. That doesn’t mean you need to put your wedding planning on hold, but it does call for you to be flexible and open to having a Plan B (and a Plan C, D, and E!).
Here are the first seven wedding planning decisions that should be on your To-Do list.
Layout the basics. You don’t need to pick a color scheme just yet, but before you make any other wedding planning decisions, it’s a good idea for you and your partner to talk about how you envision your big day. That way, you’ll both be on the same page. Small wedding or a big one? Winter or summer? Formal, casual, or somewhere in between? Discuss your expectations and what’s most important to each of you.
Choose a destination. In the same way, it’s a good idea to agree on a location early on. Perhaps you want a backyard wedding in your home town or the city where you live. Or perhaps you’re dreaming of a destination wedding somewhere exotic. Narrow down your ideas to at least a country, state, or region.
Choose a date (range). Choosing an exact date will usually depend on your venue and other factors (especially for 2021). However, it’s a good idea to settle on a preferred month or at least a season early on. If nothing else, it means you’ll have a ready answer when people ask (and they will!). Of course, you may ultimately need to be flexible with your date, but this will give you a starting point.
Set a budget. Creating a budget can be a difficult and awkward task, but it affects all the rest of your wedding planning decisions. Best to get it out of the way now! Sit down with one or both sets of parents (if applicable) and come up with a number you’re all comfortable with. It’s also a good idea to agree on who will pay for what. Once you know what you can afford to spend, use a spreadsheet or other tool to track your expenditure.
Draft your guest list. Once you’ve set the budget, it’s time to figure out who you’re going to invite to the wedding. Start by jotting down your ‘must-have’ guests and use this as a minimum headcount. It’s also a good idea to ask your families for input, especially if they are footing all or part of the bill. They may have a longer list than you expect! Your guest list is another area where you may need to be flexible thanks to Coronavirus restrictions. Be sure to keep your original lists as they may be helpful if you have to cut the number of guests later.
Book the venue. With an estimated guest count and a budget in mind, you can start researching and contacting venues for virtual or in-person tours. Where you choose to say “I do” can make a big difference to the style of your wedding. Venue availability may also dictate the wedding date. So, be sure to confirm your booking and pay the deposit before you start shopping for décor or sending out those save the dates! And consider options like weekday weddings if you haven’t already.
Hire priority wedding vendors. Maybe you have your hearts set on a particular band or caterer. Or perhaps there’s a top photographer whose work you’ve been following on Instagram. Many top vendors get booked up well in advance, so if you know who you want to work with, contact them asap. It’s also a great idea to get a wedding planner on board since they will be able to refer you to their network of trusted vendors and save you a lot of time and research. Plus they can help negotiate the venue contract too!
Now that you have the most important wedding planning decisions in place, the rest of the process will flow more easily. Happy planning!