That summarizes my email inbox for the past few days after what is labeled in the wedding industry ‘peek engagement season’. And it’s great, but. Yes, but….. in the midst of getting engaged and what used to be a time to celebrate most couples feel the pressure to get to wedding planning. Pronto! Wether it’s from family members wanting the details of the event or friends wanting to know who’s in the wedding party. Modern couples are feeling more stress than celebration the days after the proposal.
When I get an initial email like the ones in my inbox today I spend some time educating couples on what they can do to move forward in booking me for their wedding. I love assisting and being of help. In the past 10 years of my photography career, I’ve heard couples express how they really don’t know where to begin and that in fact, wedding planning makes them super stressed, draining the joy out of what should be a joyous time. That’s when this article was birthed. I thought if my brides struggle with this, others must as well. I’d like to share with you some insight and hopefully make your wedding planning process one step less stressful. If you are not engaged, my hope is that you would consider step one and come along side your engaged friends for a time of celebration!
- Take time to enjoy being engaged. Often as soon as you say ‘will you?’nd “yes, yes, YES!!!” everyone wants to know; when, where, theme, save the dates- the list is endless! My biggest tip is this: enjoy the moment. Take some time to celebrate. Whether your families are hosting an engagement party or you’re basking in making the big news Facebook official, enjoy this brief season. Sure, it’s wise to begin thinking about the time of year you wish to wed but not at the expense of missing out on this special time in your lives. You will have it but once. Soak it in. Let it last!
- Establish a realistic budget. Get your spreadsheet geek on and set financial boundaries. In this step you will need to prioritize your must have vendors, those whom you know you will not regret booking years later. If videography is a top priority, make it so on your budget! You’re fiancé is a foodie and wants to splurge on an amazing spread? Then budget that in, working out the other details of the day to suit your specific preferences and needs.
- Choose a date. Do you want an outdoor wedding? Perhaps summer months are important then! Or, are you trying to work within a tight budget? Then choosing “non-season” or non-saturday dates will be a better fit for your date as many venues have off season and weekday rates. Don’t forget to take into consideration how this date will age with you. For instance if you marry around the holidays, do you wish to celebrate your anniversary near the Christmas rush? Just some words of wisdom…
- Decide on your wedding party. This is the fun one! Go all out and enjoy the process then sit down and begin working on your guest list…. I know that sounds strange but you will understand once you read step 5.
- Book your venue. Once you know the size of your wedding you will be better able to gauge which venue fits your needs. Both esthetically and with enough room on that dance floor!! If you will be hiring a wedding planner then I will add that there should be a step 5a and you should book your planner before looking into venues. A planner can help you land that dream venue and can even help with budgeting your needs and vision. From one professional to you: A planner is an investment and one that you will not regret!
- Book Vendors. Once your wedding date and dream venue are set contact your first choice officiant, videographer, photographer and DJ. Why these specific vendors you ask? Well, there are two categories of vendors: those who who can work multiple weddings a day (floral designers, bakers, calligraphers, etc.) and those who can only book one wedding per day. The vendors who can only book one event per day typically book out months in advance. I normally book out 6-18 months in advance and once I book a date I turn work away for that date and limit my session workload for the week of and week after. Other vendors vary so my advice to you is schedule a consult with your preferred vendors just as soon as you have your venue booked.
6a I will add that when booking an officiant you may find that most require some sort of premarital counseling sessions. Call and book them early and get them on your schedule. The next few months will fly by!!
- Schedule your engagement session. If your photographer is anything like me, he/she will be thrilled to help you design the ideal engagement session to set the tone for the style of event are desiring. Get ready for some fun documenting your love!! I think this by far is the most fun of your wedding planning steps, but this may just be the photographer talking! ;)
- Save the dates. This step is not necessary but if you have it within your budget and wish to ensure that your family and friends book your date on the calendar it’s one step you can have fun with. Along the same lines, designing a Wedding Website is not necessary but greatly helps your guests know all they need to prepare for your event. I offer my clients a complimentary wedding website and always include accommodation arrangements for out of town guests. Often my clients use this website to have guests RSVP easily online- and save on postage and the hassle of un-responded cards!!
- Say Yes To The Dress!! I know this is one of the first things you want to do but ladies trust me, you want to wait until you know the season and the venue you will be walking down the isle in. Your ideal shopping time frame is 8-10 months out from your wedding date. Keep that in mind as you plan!
- Don’t forget to breathe! Honestly friend, this should be the best time of your life. Don’t let all the details and budgeting needs weigh your down. Schedule a few dates with your fiancé and promise me that you will leave wedding planning talk at the door!!! This list I’ve provided you is just the tip of the iceberg and you will have many to do lists on your plate leading up to your wedding. At the top of your list promise me you will write yourself this reminder; “I am getting married, this is not a production, this is simply a date to celebrate our love and commitment” Promise? mm’kay.