Congratulations! You’re engaged! If you’ve recently said “yes,” and are still basking in the excitement of it all, you may not have switched your attention to wedding planning just yet. Of course, each bride-to-be is different, but if you want to get married within 18 months, I recommend starting the process sooner than later. Depending on what you want to do and where you want to do it, there are certain things you must attend to in order to secure your dream wedding. I’ve compiled a list of important tasks to do as soon as possible when you begin planning your wedding.
Planning Your Wedding #1: Set the Budget
Don’t mean to be a killjoy, but the money conversation has to happen early on in this wedding planning game. Whether it’s just you, your fiance or someone else footing the bill, you need to know exactly where your financial boundaries are. At least get a rough figure in your head so you don’t go crazy and bankrupt yourself before the nuptials. Do you and your fiance agree on this topic? If not, find a way to bring your desires closer together. Compromise may be necessary to find common ground. Discuss your wedding dreams with whomever else is offering to help, as well.
Planning Your Wedding #2, 3, and 4: Set the date, Book Your Venue, and Make the Guest List
Unless you’re planning a really long engagement, get these things done quickly. Think about when you want to get married and whom you want to invite. The number of guests will affect your venue choice, so make sure you have a rough estimate before you start making calls. If you have a specific date in mind, ask about availability first. Take your budget into consideration when you’re looking around for venues for your ceremony and reception. If you find a location you love that is just out of the budget, consider getting married off-season or on an off day. Once you’ve got a shortlist, go back and look at the contenders again. The first time you visit, it’s easy to get carried away with the romance of the experience.
Once you’ve chosen a venue, firmly set a date. Write a proper guest list and order some save the date cards. The more notice you can give, the higher the chance your friends and family will be able to attend. You don’t need to send formal invitations until around 6 weeks before the wedding.
Planning Your Wedding #5: Shop for the Dress
When you’re looking for your dream dress, try not to put pressure on yourself. Allow for plenty of time so you don’t settle for something less than what you want. I recommend shopping the bridal magazines and online first before you head to the stores. This way you and your bridal consultant can hit the ground running. Be open-minded, and don’t panic if the style you wanted doesn’t suit you. Many brides end up with something completely different than the picture they’ve cherished. Relax, enjoy the process and try different shapes and styles.
Planning Your Wedding #6: Shop for the Rings
If you want to design customized wedding rings, it’s best to start thinking about styles and materials well in advance of the wedding. It may be a good idea to speak to a jeweler about what you envision. If it’s a simple design, you should be able to find something already made. Have a look online to get ideas and understanding of the costs. Something like this 3 carat diamond ring from Diamond Registry is extraordinary but might not fit into your budget. Be realistic and don’t overspend. You can always upgrade your choice in the future.
Planning Your Wedding #7: Book the Photographer
Good wedding photographers are in demand, and they can get booked up months, even years, in advance. If you don’t already have a photographer in mind, ask around for recommendations. Always search online and check out your prospects’ portfolios. You can see his or her general style and whether it fits yours and the wedding. Your photographer will be with you and your fiance throughout the day, so it’s important that you feel comfortable.