You’ve just gotten engaged and congratulations are definitely in order. This is probably the most exciting time in your life – and quite possibly will be one of the most stressful ones as well. As exhilarating it is to be engaged, the impending process is, to a certain extent, pretty overwhelming. There are so many little details to consider – where do you begin?
Enjoy Your Engagement
Go ahead, stare at your ring. Glance at it again. It sparkles, it shines, and it’s finally yours. Savor the moment of your engagement and enjoy it. Take pictures, begin a journal, kiss your fiancé. Tell him that you love him, a thousand times. Jump up and down. Do all the girly things you should do. Live in the moment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Parents First, Friends Second
After you’ve basked in your new social status, you want to tell your parents (or those who raised you) before anyone else. Both of you should be present and preferably in person when breaking the news. They will be thrilled about the news, want to look at your ring and begin talking about your wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s parents should be told before the groom’s. Once your family has embraced the news, you can run off to tell your closest friends – the ones who mean the most – and who probably will be in your wedding party. After the news has been broken to these wedding VIPs it’s fair game to announce your upcoming nuptials to the world.
Broadcast To The World
In today’s digital age, there are so many ways to announce your new status. If you’re a traditional bride-to-be you may want to look into print publications, mailing out wedding announcements or having an engagement party. If you can’t wait to spread the news and are more of a modern bride, you can set up a wedding website, send out email announcements, create a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Then blast the news into cyber-space for everyone to see. Keep in mind though, older family and friends may consider this a faux pas, so you may want to send out Internet announcements to the younger generation on your guest list and traditional announcements to everyone else.
Setting the Date
The first question you will be asked as soon as you announce the news will be, “So, when is the date?” You may want to consider setting a general time frame before making the announcement, this way you can respond such as, “We’re thinking sometime in the summer of 2014.” The sooner you set a date or narrow down your choices, the sooner you can begin the wedding planning process. It will be impossible to begin to plan anything without having a date in mind.
Set the Budget and the Tone
Before settling on the exact date, sit down with your partner and discuss each other’s wedding vision. Write down what is important to you both, your must-have’s and the things you can do without. A beach themed bash? A black-tie affair? A religious ceremony versus a civil one? Once you know what you both want, selecting the date and all other aspects will become easier as you narrow down your choices.
Chances are your wedding date will dictate your necessary budget and the tone of the wedding. A Saturday evening affair will definitely be formal, where as a Sunday afternoon event will be more casual. The reception venue prices will vary on the day of the day of the week and season you plan to marry in, which ultimately will consume the largest portion of your budget. The first step is to decide how much debt you are willing to take on, how much you can reasonably save, and how much (if anything) your parents can contribute, or alternatively, what aspects of the wedding they are willing to pay for. In today’s economy is no longer wise to go into tremendous amounts of debt just for a single day. However, you may want to consider taking out a joint credit card which offers you perks such as airline miles or “cash back” – just be sure to pay off the bill each month in full.
Draw Up A Preliminary Guest List
As you set the budget you will need to consider your guest list. Bottom line, the more guests you invite, the more the wedding will cost. You can expect the reception location and catering to take up approximately 50 percent of your budget. Once you decide on a total number of guests you can afford, take that number and divide by 4. Each prominent figure in your wedding gets a fourth of your total number of invitees. The bride, the groom, the bride's parents and the groom's parents traditionally each get a fourth of the total guests. So if your inviting 200 guests, each gets 50 guests to invite. Stick by that number to avoid blowing your budget.
Make Appointments For Ceremony and Reception Venues
Many popular locations book a year in advance or more. These are the first two vendors you should book, before any other vendors. The ceremony location should be scheduled first as some religious venues may have requirements to fulfill before the actual wedding date, or will have certain dates blacked-out. Once your ceremony location is set, begin to look at reception locations. The further in advance you book, the more likely you will get the date and time you are looking for.
Selecting Your Attendants
Whether you ask your wedding party before you begin to plan or just in the beginning of the planning stages is up to you. They do more than just stand up for you the day of the wedding, so get them involved as early as possible. Weddings usually have anywhere from two to 12 attendants total, some couples may choose only to have a maid of honor and best man, while other couples may have a larger group of family and friends.
Scout, Investigate, Plan and Hire
Once the ceremony and reception locations are booked, you will need to begin the process of weeding through the countless vendors you will need: entertainment (DJ or band), florist, caterer, baker, photograph and video services, jewelry, wedding party attire, wedding accessories, favor and gift vendors, limousine/transportation companies, and possibly even wedding insurance. Wedding insurance doesn’t only cover if your relationship ends – it can also cover out of business vendors, weather emergencies, illness and more. Check the contract for exactly what is covered, it may be money well spent for peace of mind.
Enlist Help When Needed
No bride can do it alone. Whether you just want a second opinion on the bridesmaids’ dresses or help negotiating a better deal with a vendor, you probably will want someone to share this experience with. Although you may have a best friend or an entourage of girls in tow for support, you may also want to consider hiring an event planner – they can cover anything from small consultations to full, hands on planning and execution. They may be your best ally in finding the best deals and making sure your wedding goes smoothly.
If a wedding planner is out of your budget or if you prefer a more “hands on” approach, there are many websites, communities and forums to source deals, steals, vendor suggestions and reviews. With such a plethora of information readily available at our fingertips, with a bit of time and research you may find little gems that will make your wedding shine.
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