You were riding on the high tides of excitement when you first get engaged, showing off your ring, exclaiming the entire engagement story, and literally jumping up and down, but then you realized you really have to sit down and plan an entire wedding. Just the thought of planning your wedding may be overwhelming and send you into a frantic panic. Don’t worry, you don’t need to do it all at once. We’ve got your guide to the things you need to do as soon as possible and the things that can be put on the back burner for a while so you can just enjoy your engagement.
Time’s a Ticking
When’s the Big Day?
The first thing people ask after you change your social media status is “when’s the big day?” but you may not have even had time to sit down and talk about it yet! The first thing to do when deciding on a day is choosing the time of year you want to get married. You might not can have the exact date because the venue may be booked or your officiant is busy with another wedding so choose a few options. Talk with your fiance about how long you want to be engaged and what month is perfect for both of you. There is no right answer. Some engagements last two weeks while others last two years.
Set a Budget
Your budget is one of the most important things driving your entire wedding. Whether you have a tiny shoestring budget or a million dollar one, you have to sit down and figure out a number. This will help you plan how big or small the wedding will be. Sometimes it’s an awkward conversation to have with family while other times a family may offer an entire wedding savings to you. Talk to your loved ones and see if they are contributing, then decide how much you want to contribute as a couple.
You may want to pay for your entire wedding yourself. You can then make a budget spreadsheet and decide everything you will need to put into that it. If you want ice sculpture and white doves, you may need a bigger budget. Write out your realistic expectations. Know that the most expensive things at weddings are usually the food and/or alcohol and the venue. You can play with the budget as you go, but it’s important to have it set so you have a starting point for all of your decisions.
Grab a Venue and Officiant
Sometimes booking a venue is like playing musical chairs. Most popular venues have wait lists so make sure you jump on your chair/venue quickly. You may want to tour a few venues to get a feel of what you really want before making a final decision. If you have a specific officiant in mind, you need to speak with them to ensure their schedule fits the venue’s schedule. Sometimes you need to speak with your hopeful officiant to see if they can perform your wedding at the venue. For example, most Catholic churches won’t allow an officiant that is not associated with the church to perform a wedding there. Many pastors take vacation during the summer months when guest speakers come in to lead their congregation so this is something to consider if you want your favorite pastor to marry you during the summer months.
Make a Guest List
The guest list may change as the date gets closer, but get it started so you know a rough amount of people you want to invite. As the date approaches your mom may give you a list of her long-time friends and you may realize you forgot to invite some co-workers, so keep this is mind and leave a few blank spaces. A general rule of thumb when it comes to invites is only about half of the people you invite will actually come to a wedding. This is great news for your budget if you have 400 people on the guest list, but know only about 200 will actually come. Remember some invites are just to be kind when you know in all reality they won’t be able to attend the wedding. The guest list will go hand-in-hand with your budget. Food is usually calculated as plate per person so this can add up quickly. If you are having a sit down meal and each person is $35 a plate, the budget can fly out the window so be careful with your guest list number to stay in budget.
It Can Wait
Wedding Party List
You don’t have to choose a wedding party the day after you get engaged. Your friends may be chomping at the bit wondering if they made the cut, but you don’t need to be in a rush. Talk it over with your fiance and decide how big of a wedding party you want. Once you decide on a number, make a list and go from there. The list can change before you formally ask your loved ones. Just ask them within a month or so of getting engaged so they can make plans to be in the wedding. They may need time to save for their bridesmaid’s dress or plan a family vacation around the wedding, so make sure to give them ample time.
The Excitement of the Wedding Registry
It’s so much fun to grab the scanner gun at a store and go wild with your registry. It’s fun, but it can wait. You don’t need to register for items until a few months before the wedding when you’ll be having showers. You may care about what you need in your house, but most of your guests have other things they’re focused on and won’t need a registry list right away. Before you grab that scanner gun, sit down with your fiance and decide on the things you really need in your future home. Take your time and go to the store(s) together to register.
You don’t need to order flowers, a cake, or your invitations right off the bat. Take time to truly decide what you want. You can decide the type of flowers whenever inspiration strikes, but you don’t need to order them until your closer to the wedding date. You need to speak with the florist to determine if they will have the type of flowers you need in case they are seasonal. You will also need to go cake tasting before deciding on a final cake so take your time. If you’re ordering from a popular baker you may need to get on their list sooner rather than later, but you don’t have to decide on the actual details until a later date. Invitations aren’t sent out until a few months before the wedding so take your time to research the style you love and perfect all of the wording and details.
Of course, you want to exclaim to the world you are engaged and give every detail on your wedding website, but you don’t need to do it all right away. Take some time to write it out what you want to say and make a really great website. Most people love to upload photos of their wedding party and old photos of the future bride and groom so take time to find the best ones to post. You can lay out all of the details of the wedding and the engagement in your own time. Remember, not many people are going to be googling your names to find your wedding website so you don’t need to share it with people until it’s perfect and ready.