Congratulations! You're engaged! Time to pop the bubbly and start the fun of wedding planning! For most couples, the idea of wedding planning falls somewhere between the most exciting, and the most overwhelming thing they've ever done. So before you start trying on dresses, tasting cake, or picking your bridal party, let's take a step back and start with some of the basics that will make your whole planning process easier, and more fun!
Create a Budget
Ahh, the wedding budget...everyone's favorite topic. I know this isn't the most fun thing to discuss, but I promise you, if you have a clear budget set at the beginning, your planning will go so much smoother. Now you don't need to have every line item set yet (yes, I do recommend a spreadsheet later on in your planning), but you do need to start thinking about how much you are comfortable spending on your wedding. Here are some things to consider when determining your budget.
Will you have help from your parents/family? If you're not sure, have the (sometimes awkward) discussion right away. You never want to assume that you will have help, so until you know for sure, I recommend planning your wedding as if you're paying for it yourself. If you will have help, make sure to have a clear answer on how much.
Do you want a small or big wedding? You don't need to have the exact invite list down, but you do need a general idea of how many people you're inviting. The invite list is the biggest determining factor in the cost of your wedding. More people = more everything (invites, meals, drinks, favors, chairs...).
Are you going on a honeymoon? If so, be sure to include that in your overall budget. This is a large expense that can be forgotten and sneak up on you at the end of your planning when your budget is running low. If a honeymoon is important to you, be sure to set aside money for it.
Pick a Date
Yes, this seems like a pretty big decision, but knowing your wedding date will impact how and when you proceed with your planning. I don't mean that you need to have the exact date set on the calendar, but you should have a ballpark idea of when you will get married. Have you always dreamed of getting married under the big oak tree in your parents' backyard, or a beautiful indoor winter wonderland? The season can play a role in the theme of your wedding and should be considered when setting your date. It will also affect your planning timeline, and setting up the order of your to-do list. Once you know your ballpark date, you can build your timeline from today's date to the estimated date of your wedding. If you have a longer engagement, you can spread out your to-do list, but if you have a shorter engagement, you'll need to start going right away (think save the dates, photographer, venue). My biggest piece of advice about selecting your date is to be flexible. Your dream venue may not be available on the date you select, so be open to other dates or venues. Once you have your date, the other pieces can begin to fall in place.
Determine Your "Why"
Of course your "why" is that you want to get married and live happily ever after. But really think about why you're getting married, and why you're planning a wedding. I'll be honest, wedding planning can get a little stressful, and when tension is high, going back to your "why" will help you overcome the stress of the small details, and allow you to continue planning the wedding of your dreams. Sit down with your fiance and discuss your why. It can be simple, sappy, or cheesy...just make sure you're on the same page. Then I recommend writing it down and sliding it into your wedding binder/folder to serve as a reminder throughout the entire planning process.
NOW, pop that bubbly and let the fun begin. Happy wedding planning! Cheers!