I'm Engaged, now what? - 7 tips to get you started
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Congratulations! You just got engaged and all of the sudden everyone is asking if your date is selected, what venue you have secured and giving you all the advice on what their wedding was like!
First off, take a step back. Take as long as you want to ride out the pure bliss of being engaged. It is a little spark of renewed love (in my opinion) and is a special memory that unites you and “your person” back together. So soak it in!
When you are ready to get down to business...there are a few things I recommend doing first. PS: This is a blend of my professional opinion from working in the wedding industry and also my opinion as a bride!
1. Describe Your Perfect Date…No, I don’t mean the Mean Girls reference either.
Picking a date can be an intimate decision, a trending number such as the infamous 10/10/2020 or, a random draw of the hat (if you’re like my husband and I)! Pro Tip: keep your date preferences open until you have selected your venue. Trust me, the date becomes special with your marriage, they’re all just numbers but you only have one real wedding day and you do not want to risk losing out on your top venue due to being stuck on the date before you actually secure it.
2. Money Talks & So Does Your Guest Count...This is a double whammy. Newly engaged couples are very undereducated on the reality of wedding planning. Hence this post. So take my advice both as a pro and as a bride. Your guest count determines how the rest of your budget is based. 150 guests or so is an average for a wedding. I had 398 invited and 320 attended. Guest count is personal to each couple & that is OK! Pro Tip: budget 15% no show… even if 20-25% don’t actually show (more realistic number for local wedding total opposite for destination) you will have budgeted for 15% so you just may have nice extra cash in your pocket a few weeks before the wedding versus being tighter on cash. A fair number for a wedding with alcohol, dinner (seated or buffet) with 150 guests can easily cost you a minimum of $12,000 in the state of Ohio. Certain seasons can be cheaper but only if it is due to a fee reduction & not a spending minimum reduction. Weddings can very easily spike above $20,000 and often do, don't get struck by these numbers late. Get to know the costs before you plan / secure details so there are no surprises later.
3. Like Panera but Better...Pick 3. Get it? Because Panera has a pick 2, but I am giving you an extra choice at no extra charge (get used to those with weddings). So here is a pick 3 (because spoiler, it isn't a soup and salad). When I say pick 3, I am really saying JUST you and your fiance, alone (seriously just. you. two.) should make a list of the 3 most important things to you on your wedding day. Examples would include: a designer dress, a grand cake, linen and room upgrades, bar package, large wedding / intimate wedding, culinary experience, florals...you get the idea. Pick the 3 that you both care about the most and know that whatever isn’t on your top 3, should not exceed the budget you have set out for the other categories. Pro Tip: If you picked Venue, Culinary Experience & Florals, then that means you have $x,xxx for videographer and $x,xxx for all other categories and nothing more. Otherwise, you will go in a downward spiral of going over budget.
4. I Am Overwhelmed...Where do I keep all this information? One of the first things I bought myself was this wedding planner off of Etsy. In fact, when a friend of mine gets engaged I buy them one, too! (Engagement gifts are the best!). This is a great starting point. This book will be your training wheels until you get the idea of planning and your budget. It has a breakdown of every single category that will require $$$. Pro Tip: It is a great place to make weekly or monthly goals (don’t overkill this, just make about 2 goals per month). Example: knock out guest list and save the dates, then next month select a vendor and research honeymoon options.
5. The Knot is your best friend ...Not only can you search vendors by the city you will get married in, you can also search vendors based off of the Best of The Best, which are vendors who are reviewed yearly by real couples and come out on top. Reviews are SO important when finding vendors. Do not ever be afraid to ask for photos, reviews, examples...etc.Pro Tip: When you reach out to a vendor, make sure to follow up with them if you decide to use them or not (they are real people too and operating a business) so be open and honest when messaging vendors...don't be that rude bride!!!
6. Don’t Be A Hero...Seriously. Don’t. Be a bride that’s what you should be. When I say don’t be a hero I am really making a blanket statement that if you want the most stress free planning / wedding...leave it to the professionals. Do not DIY your whole wedding. It sounds backwards but hiring a wedding planner will save you more than money in the long run. It will save time & energy but also bring you knowledge and cover all the bases that I promise will not be running through your mind on the big day. Pro Tip: Hire a wedding planner...I don’t necessarily mean a ‘day of coordinator’ either because I am assuming most weddings take more than a day to really understand. I hired a month of planner, Ashlee from Eva & Co and absolutely adore her & her team if you are in Ohio / Kentucky. She was the boss so I could be the bride. Save money in your budget for this priceless resource!
7. Go Full Service...This goes along with not being a hero & since I do work for a full service venue I could go on and on about why full service is the way to go. For one, it saves you from hunting down more vendors (nearly 75%. more then you need to). No need to hire a caterer, bartender, servers, clean up crew… you get it. Having food prepared fresh in house is the best way to secure a great culinary experience. Full service venues also take out the middle man, which makes for seamless communication for so many details of your special day! Pro Tip: Don’t be surprised to see something called a service charge with a full service venue…(usually about 20-23%) this is America so just like when you go to a restaurant with a large party that % comes automatically. Be sure to double check if that includes gratuity or not. Trust me, the venue deserves that % it is a much smaller price to pay compared to losing your sanity and even more $$$....promise.
My last tip should go without saying but it needs to be said ...remember why you are planning this wedding in the first place. You are marrying your person, you are joining families, you are starting forever. You cannot afford freak-outs on small details or it will eat you alive. Be firm in your wishes for your day but also know most input provided to you comes from a place of others reminiscing on their own wedding day, it comes from love. Allow the time you spend planning to bring everyone together, as that is what it is about. Be inclusive, be excited and be you!!! Congratulations & I hope this little guide kicks you off on the right track.
Now, go drink some bubbly and try on wedding dresses!