So, your person popped the question, and you said yes. Now what? Most couples aren’t sure what to do after getting engaged, or aren’t sure where to start on the wedding planning process. From ordering your silicone wedding band sets to giving your caterer your final head count, here’s a brief guide to help you ensure everything is ready in time for your wedding!
Pro Tip: Don’t Go It Alone
While you might not think the expense is necessary now, you’ll be so thankful in the long run — hire a planner/coordinator! Their entire job is to make the process run smoothly for you. Even if they don’t go to catering tastings with you, they can typically provide you with recommendations for seasoned and reputable vendors and handle all the final details so you don’t have to. No stressing about whether or not your chair covers were delivered on time. Your planner’s got it covered!
As Soon as You Get Engaged
There’s a couple of things you’ll want to do as soon as you get engaged:
Determine your budget
This is the biggest — and most important — task of all. You’ll need to determine how much you’re willing to spend on your wedding. The average couple ends up spending about $30,000 for their wedding. Recognizing early on that weddings cost more than you probably think will go a long way in helping you craft your budget.
Hire a planner
If you decide not to hire someone to work with you through the entire planning process, at least consider someone who handles the month before. This way, all your final details will be handled by a professional, and if any issues come up, there’s someone available to help problem-solve well in advance of the wedding.
While you might think setting a date is more important than touring venues, you’ll need to think again. There are specific months out of each year that are the busiest for different regions across the nation. If you choose a date before touring venues, you’ll get disappointed very quickly when you find out that the venues you’re interested in are booked well in advance, especially if your wedding date is during the height of wedding season for your area. Instead, tour a variety of venues early on before picking a date to get an idea of what you like and when they have availability. You’ll have to decide what’s more important to you — the date or the venue (chances are it’s the venue!). Then, choose a date at a venue that fits within your budget.
Pro tip: Venues are typically less expensive during the off-season. If you’ve fallen in love with an expensive venue, you can probably find a more budget-friendly option if you choose a date during the off-season!
Six Months Away
About six months away from your wedding, make sure you’ve done the following:
Booked your vendors:
From the caterer to the DJ, make sure you’ve booked all your vendors. Most couples typically have seven to 10 vendors for their event: hair and makeup, designer/florist, music/entertainment, caterer, baker, officiant, venue, coordinator, transportation and rentals. Some of these will be combined (some caterers are also your baker, and some designers handle rentals). Either way, make sure you’ve gotten all your vendors booked by the time you reach six months out from your event!
Finalize your guest list
The guest list is always the toughest, especially if you have a big family. If you’re struggling to finalize your guest list, here’s a couple of tips:
- Start close, then widen: Write the maximum number of people your venue will hold. Then, look at your current guest list. Put a star next to the names of the people you’ve talked to within the past six months. Then, put a star next to the people you’ve spoken to within a year. If, at that point, you still have room to invite more people, add a star next to the names of people you’ve spoken to within the past year and a half. The people with three stars next to their name will be guaranteed an invite to your wedding.
- Consider your catering budget: If you’re struggling to make your guest count mesh with your current catering menu, consider switching to a buffet or changing some of the menu options. Your caterer should tell you which menu options are going to be best for your budget.
Bought your attire and accessories
You should have purchased your gown, bridesmaids’ dresses and decided on which tuxes/suits the guys will wear. Additionally, you should have purchased your wedding rings so that you have enough time for them to be made and shipped to you.
Pro tip: If you and your fiance opted for metal bands, consider getting a backup set of silicone wedding rings! If your metal bands don’t fit, then you can wear the silicone ones at your event. Plus, they’re great for everyday use!
One Month Away
Here are some of the tasks you’ll want to have finalized a month away from your wedding:
Track down your RSVPs. Whether you have to call guests who haven’t responded or send a reminder by email, get your final head count so that you can pass it along to your vendors.
Do a final walkthrough:
Final walkthroughs are beneficial to all your vendors, especially if you booked them after you booked the venue. It gives everyone a chance to work out any final kinks prior to the event with plenty of time to make adjustments.
All your vendors should be paid before your event. Make it easy on yourself and just pay all your vendors the month before your wedding. That way, you don’t have to worry about tracking payments to anyone else!
The week of your wedding should be focused on final personal details. Write your vows, make your mani/pedi appointment, set your out-of-office email… These small tasks, which don’t seem like a lot right now, are absolutely necessary to ensure your day goes smoothly.