Yay you’re engaged! Let’s start wedding planning! Where do you start?
The first thing I want to encourage you and your new fiancé to do is sit down and figure out your budget. Yes, I know this is not a super exciting step but it is an important one. If your realistic budget is less than you had in mind, you won’t look at things you can’t afford and will be able to steer clear of major disappointment.
A beautiful wedding can be accomplished with ANY budget. You don’t want to start planning and blow all your budget in one area and have nothing left for something that is really important to you. Hence, the first step of setting a budget, which also leads me into the second step of, listing in order what is important to you.
What’s most important???
If I was able to tell myself 13 years ago (actually 14 years ago is when we got engaged) what I know now, the first bit of advice I would give myself would be to hire an amazing wedding coordinator. Because I seriously had no idea what I was doing! My husband and I didn’t have friends getting married at the time. We were the first, other than my brother and sister in law who got married 5 months before us. It’s nice to have someone around that knows what they’re doing because right now is when everyone is going to give you advice about “what you should do…” for your wedding.
You can look through Pinterest or wedding planning websites and they’ll all give you a list of what you shouldn’t forget, which is usually a list of details and people or things you have to find. It will have items such as, colors, season, location/venue, flowers, food, invitations, cake, dress, rings, DJ/MC, photographers, favors, shoes, jewelry, etc.
So now you’ve set your budget, then decide to hire a planner (how much they are involved depends on the package you choose) and now you need to look for a location/venue and a photographer. Yes, pretty much at the same time and no, I’m not just saying that because I’m a photographer (though I might be a bit bias with how important photographs are of your once in a lifetime amazing day!). The reason is, both the photographer and the wedding venue reserve dates a year or more in advance a lot of times, so getting those two things set early on in your planning is important. You want to make sure you are able to choose the venue you envision your day taking place at and are also able to hire the photographers that you are confident will be able to document your day perfectly. Their style should reflect your personality and they should be professional and someone you feel really comfortable with and gets excited about the vision you have for your wedding.
Another bit of advice I would give myself is, don’t worry about everyone else. Maybe that seems harsh, rude, self centered, a bit bridezilla-ish but let me tell you, it is not (unless you go around shouting “It’s MY wedding and I can do what I want”). It is your and your future spouse’s day. Don’t choose the season, date or location for the convenience of others. I wanted an outdoor wedding up in the mountains and thought it would be too inconvenient for family. Maybe I didn’t think they would come. That was silly really. Looking back I’m pretty sure most of them would have made the trek to celebrate our special day. Why? Because they love us and would want to be present for this beautiful day!
The colors, flowers, food, invitations, cake… these are wonderful details… but they are not part of your love story. They play a supporting part… they add beauty, they help tell the story of the day you will make an amazing promise to the one you love, your best friend. (Side note: I will say if you’re wearing your mom’s wedding dress or your husband’s grandma’s wedding ring those type of details are indeed part of your story.)
So don’t get caught up with the details. Focus on what matters and by that I mean, think about, What will you have left after your wedding day? What will you have that will remind you of the butterflies of excitement you felt putting on your dress. Or how you felt walking down the isle surrounded by loving family and friends. And then that moment you locked eyes with your soon to be spouse. The amazing reaction your fiance had the first time he saw you. The elation after you were pronounced husband and wife. The sticky cake cutting kisses.
These moments are why I am a photographer. I want you to remember those feelings of joy and excitement, love and tender touches. I want your children to see where it all started.
(shameless plug) If you love my work and want to get together I would love to meet with you and talk about your dreams for your wedding day. All of my wedding packages come with 2 professional photographers, my sister Nancy and myself. Between our unique styles, we are able to create a collection of photographs that tell the complete story of your wedding day, down to the very last detail.