Newly engaged? Congrats! But what comes next? Getting engaged is exciting…but also slightly overwhelming. After the first few hours of bliss with your honey, the reality of the long road of wedding planning ahead starts to set in. The VOF girls are here to guide you through the first few weeks of your engagement with the hope that you can minimize stress and make more time for enjoying the fun that comes along with being newly engaged.
1. Tell Everybody
This may sound easy, but it will consist of telling and re-telling and telling again the story of your engagement, complete with every minute detail. Depending on the size of your family or social circle, this can potentially be exhausting. But who exactly should be called first? We recommend calling parents, siblings, and close friends first (in that order), but personal circumstances can call for different priorities. Only you know who deserves that first phone call. If you’re lucky, all of your closest friends and family could be involved in the proposal, like this amazing engagement story.
Beyond your closest relationships, we suggest calling extended family, other friends, close coworkers, etc. Only then is it appropriate to post the big news on social media. To avoid offending someone you might have forgotten, put off posting the engagement to Facebook for a few hours after you finish your phone calls, just in case you realize you forgot to give Aunt Jane a ring. (It’s also important to consider those who don’t have access to social media!)
Finally, you may want to let your hometown media know about your engagement, so check into the policies of your local paper to see if they require you know your wedding date/location or only print within a certain number of days of your wedding. You’ll most likely want to wait until you can include engagement photos anyway, so no need to jump the gun on this one!
2. Nail down a budget
Here comes the awkward part: money. You need to figure out who exactly will be contributing what. If you foresee either set of parents helping pay for the big day, you need to sit down and have an honest conversation of what type of budget you’re looking at. If you’ll be funding the wedding yourselves as a couple, look at your projected budget for the upcoming year (or months in some cases) and estimate how much you can realistically set aside.
It’s important to get a good idea at this point of what you’re expected to pay for. If your parents are willing to fund the wedding, but expect you to pay for the honeymoon or bridal party gifts, try to nail down a number for what you and your future hubby can afford to keep from going overboard. No one wants to start a marriage in debt from their wedding, so keep in mind that some of the most beautiful and sentimental weddings have the smallest of budgets. This is not the time to play Keeping up with the Jones’, it’s a time to celebrate the start of a new chapter of your life as husband and wife.
3. Develop a guest list
Developing your guest list can go hand-in-hand with estimating your budget. Almost every cost in your wedding will be determined by the number of guests attending. Start big and think of anyone and everyone you might possibly want to invite. Next, divide that list into three categories: a ‘must invite’ list, a ‘really want to’ invite list, and a ‘will invite if possible’ list. In the meantime, ask both sets of parents to provide you with a list of people they’d like to invite, especially if either set is paying for part of the wedding. Let them know that you’ll do your best to accommodate their lists, as is realistic with your budget.
After creating your list, you should determine how many guests you can realistically afford to invite (obviously this number may change based on vendor prices, but a good place to start is $100 per head). From there, try to come up with a number of the invitees who you think will actually attend. For some couples, you can expect an 80% attendance rate, especially when the bride and groom are from the same area. Many times, as with C & myself, half your guest list will be asked to travel a very long distance; in these cases, you’ll probably want to reduce your attendance rate somewhere around 2/3.
You may need to revisit your budget and guest list many times during the planning process, but it’s good to find a solid starting place before contacting venues and vendors, so you can have an idea of what size event you’ll be hosting.
4. Decide whether or not to use a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
I know it can sometimes seem crazy to shell out a portion of your precious budget to have someone help you plan your wedding when you have plenty of time to do it yourself, but you might be surprised. In many cases, hiring a wedding planner can actually save you money by helping you make the most of your budget. Hiring a wedding planner will not only provide access to the absolute best vendors in your region, but it will also provide peace of mind that your day will run smoothly. A wedding planner will likely cost between 10-20% of your total wedding budget.
If you’re a Type A, planner type of gal, a Day-of coordinator may be a better fit for you. With prices ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, you can still retain that peace of mind without giving up control. Find out more about Day-of Coordinators in this article. Ultimately, every bride will need something different, but don’t write off a wedding planner from the get go!
5. Select a Venue
Finally (well, not finally, you have a long road ahead girl), you’ll want to start looking for a venue that both accommodates your guest list and your budget. Finding the perfect venue depends on many different factors. Some require you to use their preferred vendors, others have early curfews, while popular venues may book up early and quickly. One factor you’ll want to keep in mind is the number of people on your guest list. A restaurant reception might have the right vibe, but will the restaurant be able to hold all 300 of your family and friends? Meanwhile, that beautiful loft space may catch your eye, but your 50 person guest list could leave the venue feeling too open or empty. There are lots of factors to consider, so sit down with your fiance and decide what is most important to you as a couple. This will help you narrow down venue choices and find a date that is available and works for you and your families. If you already have a date in mind, this may narrow down your options even further.
When looking at prices, make sure to check what amenities each venue provides. A backyard wedding may seem like a cheaper option, but you’ll need to factor in table, chair and linen rentals. If you and your future hubby are from different places, try looking into venues at both locations if you don’t have your heart set on one or the other. You’ll be surprised by the vast difference in venue prices across different regions of the country.
M and me just hours after getting engaged. Obviously, I had not yet mastered the non-awkward ring pose yet…
M and I were out of the country when we got engaged, so I used the lack of cell and internet service as an excuse to really enjoy the bliss of being newly engaged before any planning stress set in. Being able to spend several days together without any distractions was irreplaceable (and almost like a pre-weddingmoon, people should really make that a thing). For C, she already knew exactly where she wanted to get married, so step 5 above was a breeze. Obviously the process will vary slightly depending on your situation, but loosely following this guide should make for smooth sailing during your engagement.