You just got engaged - congratulations! This is one of the most exciting times in your life, and it's about to get more exciting as you begin your journey to saying "I do". There are a lot of decisions to make as you begin this journey, and you may be wondering what to do first. Here's where to start:
1) Take a few days to let your engagement soak in
The first few days after you get engaged are an emotional time. There's the excitement and happiness when you realize that someone has asked you to spend the rest of your life with them, as well as the whirlwind of sharing your news with all of your family and friends. Take 2-3 weeks to let everything settle before you jump in and start scheduling cake tastings and dress fittings. I know it may seem impossible to wait this long, but doing this will allow you and your fiance to get on the same page before you start making important wedding decisions.
2) Determine how you'd like to say "I Do"
There are a lot of ways to get married, and not all of them involve a wedding. Before doing any planning, you should take some time to discuss your wedding plans and preferences. Maybe you prefer to have an intimate ceremony with only close friends and family present, and then celebrate with a month-long honeymoon in Europe. Or, maybe you'd like to have a "weddingmoon" in Hawaii, getting married on the beach and celebrating your honeymoon at the same time. There are no rules saying that you have to have a wedding, and your decision on how you begin your life together should be based around the two of you and what you really want. If you do decide to have a wedding, some questions to ask yourselves are:
- Who you'll invite - make a list of all of the family and friends that you'd like to invite to your wedding
- Where you'll get married - when determining a location consider the time of year, travel distance for guests, and other events taking place at the time. For example, having a wedding during Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque means more expensive hotel accommodations for out-of-town guests.
- When you'll get married - Again, consider the time of year. If you know that you want to get married outdoors, opt for a time of year when you & your guests will be most comfortable outside. Also take into consideration dates that might be meaningful to a large number of your guests. For example, if a large family event or celebration is taking place close to the date you're considering, and in a different location, you may want to space the events out a bit so that guests won't feel the pressure to pay for and take time off for multiple trips all at once.
3) Create a budget
After you have some ideas of what kind of event you'd like to have, the next step is finding out what you can afford. Hopefully you already have some idea, but it's good to sit down and create an actual budget to help you determine how much you have to work with, and when. Start by making a list of money that you already have, as well as any funds that are being contributed by family. After you have this amount, determine how much money you can afford to set aside each month to help pay for the event. Don't stretch yourselves too thin trying to pay for your wedding, and also remember to set 5-10% of your budget aside for unexpected expenses. Also remember that in the beginning you'll need to put down deposits, and many vendors ask for a 20-50% deposit for products and services. As the planning continues, try to make monthly payments towards the services you chosen so that you aren't stressed trying to make a lot of large payments right before the wedding.
4) Book your venue first
The venue that you pick will have an effect on many other aspects of your wedding, so it's best if you pick your venue first. When looking at venues, consider the feel that you're going for and what's most important to you. Also take into consideration accessibility, what's included in the rental fee, time of year and guest comfort, and the wedding day timeline. For example, if the venue allows you access at 12pm and you were hoping to have a 1pm ceremony, you may need to adjust your timing a little to allow enough time for setup before guests arrive.
When you begin to plan your wedding, there are many decisions to be made and things to consider. We hope that this list will help guide you as you begin planning your Big Day! Congratulations, again - we wish you all the best on this journey, and as you begin your marriage!