So you’re engaged! I’m thrilled for you – this is such a wonderful and special time. The days and weeks following a proposal are always a happy whirlwind: calls to friends and family to share the news, getting used to the sparkler on your finger and drinking lots of champagne of course! But when the dust has settled, where on earth do you start with wedding planning? Here are five things I recommend you do first, and three things NOT to do!
Decide what’s important to you. Plan a night in, switch off your phones, and really talk about what each of you envisions for your wedding day. Big party or intimate gathering? Black tie formal or beachy casual? Try to come up with three things that you agree are most important to you. This might be food, photography, music or anything else you love. Throughout the planning process, try to prioritize these three details.
Pick a date. As soon as you announce your engagement, people will start asking you the wedding date. It helps to be ready with an answer! It doesn’t have to be an exact date (and often that will depend on your venue) – a month or even a season will do.
Discuss your budget. So many things rely on this, so it’s important to know your budget up-front. Depending on who will be paying, sit down with one or both sets of parents, or just the two of you and come up with a number you’re comfortable with. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, so it’s good to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
Agree on a rough guest count. Before you start looking at venues, you’ll need to have a good idea of how many people you will be inviting, so start by jotting down a rough list together. You should also ask your families for input, especially if there are guests they will expect to invite.
Start gathering inspiration. You certainly don’t need to make any final decisions on colors or styles just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surround yourself with inspiration! Buy a pile of wedding magazines or find blogs that resonate with you. Start a Pinterest board and pin images and ideas you like. You’ll often find yourselves naturally heading in a specific direction and that can help narrow things down later.
So what are the things you shouldn’t do? Here are three worth noting:
Don’t promise anyone an invitation. It’s easy to become caught up and say things you’ll regret later on, when budget or venue size limitations arise. Remember: there’s no good way to un-invite someone! The same goes for your bridal party. Even if you think you know who you want, it doesn’t hurt to wait a little while before making it official.
Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by wedding planning; it can all be incredibly stressful. Tools like Pinterest are very useful, but they can also add to the overwhelm by making you feel like you need to care about every single detail. Ask for (or hire) help where you need it – don’t try to do everything on your own.
Don’t let the wedding take over your lives. In the months before the big day, it can start to feel like every conversation is about napkins or flowers or ceremony readings. Make sure you create some wedding-free time for the two of you to share regularly.
The wedding planning journey won’t always be smooth sailing, but keep focusing on what really matters: your marriage – and all will be well!