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He popped the question & you said yes. No you have a sparkly ring, along with a thousand and one questions & a bit of panic about planning a wedding. Where do you start? Should you hire a planner? How to tell your mom she’s not making all the decisions? Who gets invited, & who can’t you afford to invite? There are actually a thousand & one answers to those questions. The best place to start is a hot cup of coffee in your new “Feyonce” (insert ring emoji) mug & right here at this article. I’ll give you my biggest “do’s” & “dont’s” tips to get you down the aisle stress-free!
DO: Take Some Time To Enjoy Being Engaged
The wedding planning frenzy sets in almost immediately & family members start to call asking when the date is. It’s okay to say you aren’t sure yet, & that you want to enjoy being engaged before planning. Aunt Linda might want to jump in & start acting like a planner, but spend some time with your betrothed & soak up the limelight for a few days. Get your ring properly sized if necessary, post a few couple’s selfies, & update that Facebook status to engaged.
DON’T: Get Overwhelmed With Where To Start
Before you break down about the extra weight of planning a wedding, take a breather. Start with a Pinterest board (let’s be honest, you’ve had it for 8+ years), a notebook & envision your ideal wedding that’s within reason & budget. Day dream about what the general feel & look of your big day is going to be. Once you know what style you’re going for, refer to this general list of places to start:
~ PHASE ONE: THE BASICS
Set a date– start with your ideal season, consider weather, & honestly, just pick one.
Pick your wedding party– decide how many on each side, & ask them!
Establish a budget- you will go over budget, so make sure your date reflects how much time you have to save up.
Make a rough guest list-consider must-invites, then add in extra for potentials to come up with a rough number. 20%-25% of invited guests decline, & having an estimate is important in choosing a venue. (PS food is the biggest cost. Less guests=less overall cost.)
Choose colors & a theme– while not necessary, if you are having a color scheme, it’s best to have it planned ASAP to move forward with invites, bridesmaids dresses & table settings.
Find a venue– Once you have a set date & rough number of guests, you can begin looking at a venue. Size of the location will be important for the ceremony & reception.
Join a Facebook resale group– you can buy gently used wedding items at a fraction of the cost, which means for a longer honeymoon 😉
Send Save the Dates- don’t do this until the date & venue are secured. Use one of your enagement photos! (Highly recommend Punchbowl for online save the dates to save money!)
Hire a photographer- Photographers are often booked far in advance, so research styles you like & contact multiple to find a great deal! Watch for giveaways, & free engagement photos which save money!
~PHASE TWO: THE GRUNT WORK
Now is the best time, once the above is done to:
GET YOUR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS TAKEN!!!!!! <3
Design: your table settings & invitations
Rent: Tables & chairs, cloths, dinnerware
Hire: florist, videographer, DJ, officiant, bartenders
Taste: meal samples & hire a caterer & order a cake (honestly skip the cake tasting & just pay a baker to make it),
Book hotel rooms for guests
Register for gifts
Find your wedding dress & buy or rent bridesmaids & groomsman attire
Plan your honeymoon
Ask flowergirls (FG) & ringbearers (RB)
~PHASE THREE: DETAILS
This phase is all the little things. Table settings, buying wedding rings, getting your marriage license, gifts for wedding party and FG/RB, writing your vows, choosing your ceremony & reception music, arranging transportation (limos, shuttles), planning the rehearsal dinner, hiring a hair & makeup artist, buying cute decorations & sparklers/ bubbles & a guest book, making your programs, alterations & bridal jewelry/veil/garter/shoes. Smile & have FUN!!!!!
DO: Sign up for credit cards
It sounds like the last thing you should do, BUT signing up for credit cards can actually PAY for your honeymoon! Lots of credit cards offer airline or hotel miles, which can go a long way in paying for your dream vacation! Be smart & don’t charge what you can’t pay off at the end of the month. Also try to get a 0% interest card to pay for what you can’t pay off right away. You can also click this link to a previous post about wedding planning. At the bottom of the article is a chart of some of the best card to apply for, their benefits & catches: https://expeditionjoy.com/2016/11/29/6-tips-for-a-perfect-wedding-day/.
DON’T: Hire a Wedding Planner
I know it sounds crazy coming from a wedding coordinator, but if you are able to do the planning yourself, 100% do it. Own it. Enjoy it. It can be stressful at times, but in the end it’s a blast to plan your whole wedding. With that being said, don’t leave yourself high & dry on your wedding day. Hire a day-of wedding coordinator to handle those details (unless your venue provides one at both ceremony & reception). A planner costs $3000-$5000 or more while a day-of will cost between $350-$800. A day-of can handle organizing the ceremony & rehearsal, coordinating between vendors & managing the details & emergencies. This ensures you, your wedding party, and your family can relax & enjoy the wedding instead of being stressed. (Pssst. if you’re looking to hire one near Chicago, send me an email at expeditionjoy@gmail!)
DON’T: Buy Wedding Favors
While thoughtful, they aren’t 100% necessary. You are paying for a meal, & often favors are expensive & get left behind at the end. People are there to enjoy your day, not to get a gift. If you want to take care of your guests, spend a bit more on good food, or offer an open bar (or open bar hour) to make guests feel appreciated. Make sure you face to face greet every guest at least once, too.
DO: Allow Friends and Family To Help
At first, it might feel like it’s taking away from your big day. But in the long run you need as much help as you can get. Asking for family friends in wedding related businesses can get you deals on all your bookings! Even asking Grandma to read a scripture during the ceremony or a cousin to be in charge of the guestbook can make them feel special. They all want to celebrate you !
DON’T: Be Afraid to Say NO
This is YOUR wedding, you only get one. It’s okay to be picky about the colors matching or decline a family member who is a photographer because you aren’t a fan of their style. Don’t succumb to “peer pressure”. Be confident because you have the power to make decisions.
DO: Include Your Fiancee
They may not want to have a hand in every detail, but this is their wedding too. If they want a say, compromise. The number of groomsmen won’t matter after it’s all said and done, & it’s not worth a fight.
I promise you that you will miss it. The planning, the dress fittings, & table arrangements. Maybe not the next day, maybe not the next week, but someday a little piece of you will wish you could go back & do it all again. So cherish this moment. It may feel like it lasts a lifetime, but one day you will wake up next to your spouse, married, & you won’t get to go back. Relish in the attention, the minute details, and each other. It really is the best day of your life, because it’s the beginning of your best life.
*All of our beautiful wedding photos are from Lisa from LB Photography! The engagement photo is courtesy of Cassie Lee Imagery
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