Okay, I feel like if you’re reading this, you’re thinking an engagement ring is coming your way super soon. How exciting is that?! For many brides, the next few months can be overwhelming, but it won’t be for you because I’ve got some tips to help stop the overwhelm before it starts.
Enjoy the moment
It’s very on-trend right now to post all over social media the moment you get engaged. And that is TOTALLY OKAY! But I want to encourage you to take 24 hours to just enjoy this time. Call or FaceTime your loved ones who will want (or need) to hear it straight from you and just live in the moment. That will look like different things for each bride-to-be; go get your nails done or get dressed up for a fancy dinner. Most of the time the guy plans it all, so after is the time to add in your own celebration. You can even spoil him with a little gift or “pamper” him in a way you know he will love (cigars, bourbon, leather wallet, a fancy smancy shave).
You’ll never get these first days back. Whether you know it is coming or are hoping to be completely surprised, those first few hours will be so surreal! Waiting a few days to announce it to the world will also help you have a little bit of time to nail down some answers to all the questions you’ll be getting immediately after. Questions and comments like “where?” “when?” “who are your bridesmaids?” “will you wait until after all this covid stuff?” “you should wait for a big wedding” “you should just elope now”.
Spend time with your fiancé
Whether or not your new fiancé and loved ones plan a surprise get together for you, I want you to plan a day right after for the two of you to spend alone time planning and dreaming of your future. Talk about your wedding day and what you both want to feel at the end of it. Ask what is most important to him? to you? You will need to go back to this conversation time and time again during the planning process. Remember you two are now a team. You are fighting for and with each other; for your future family. I also recommend this Couple’s Goal Setting Guide* from Cultivate What Matters to walk you through what your dreams are together.
Continue to intentionally date each other through the wedding planning process (and marriage). Just a heads up, he may not want to talk about wedding planning every time you see each other. If you plan planning dates and plan regular dates, he will be much more attentive to the details when you need him to be.
Get out your calendars
Think about the time of the year you get engaged and what season you’d like your wedding to take place. Do you want a fall, spring, summer, or winter wedding? Take into consideration what else is on your calendar or your work schedule; for example, accountants are really busy in March and April, insurance agents are busy in November and December, and teachers have more time to plan (or honeymoon) in the summer.
I recommend giving yourself at least 6-9 months to plan the wedding. Right now, vendors are booking up further and further out. The way weddings are right now, people are booking venues further and further out. Picking several dates that could possibly work will give you more room to work with the venues and vendors you love.
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Set your budget & your priorities
More than likely, you’ve never planned a wedding before, so you probably have zero clue what a wedding will cost. And that’s totally normal. If you feel comfortable asking your friends (in your area) for an average, definitely ask them! You’ll need to have a starting point for your budget, so if you (or your fiancé or parents) have a number saved, start there, but know that you may need to be a bit flexible as you learn what things will cost.
I wish all vendors put starting prices on their websites, but unfortunately most don’t. Here’s what I ask my couples – what are your top 2-3 priorities for your wedding? This can be a certain venue or photographer, do you want to spend money on an open bar or a full band. Maybe your priority is the dress and venue but his is the food (or vice versa!). The go from there and tweak as you need to. All of my couples get a spreadsheet that they can put estimated numbers and final numbers so they can adjust as needed. The number one thing that will affect your budget is your guest count. That doesn’t mean you need more money for more guests, but your money is spread out over more rentals, more food, a bigger venue, etc.
If someone other than you and your fiancé are helping to pay, talk to them about what their priorities might be and be very appreciative of their support. This doesn’t mean they get the final say on everything (or anything), but you should be respectful in your acceptance or deferral of their suggestions.
and my number one tip for engaged couples is…
Hire a wedding planner
There’s a lot of chatter out there about day of coordinators, month-of planners, or full planners and whether or not they are worth it. Well, if this is the only thing you get from this post – please hire someone who will work with you more than just showing up at your rehearsal who doesn’t have a clue what’s going on and expect to be stress free on your wedding day. I have worked with many vendors recently who told me that they worked weddings where there was not a planner and the days ran way off schedule, which led to a lot of stress for everyone involved.
Let me break it down real quick
The term “Day of coordinators” is still used, the industry is trying to change that because we can’t do our best work when we don’t know what is going on. Newer planners may offer this service where they literally show up only on the rehearsal and tell you when and where to stand, but there is so much more to wedding planning/coordinating than that. (side note: I do not offer this. I cannot give you my best at this level. There are too many unknowns for us to have a successful wedding day if I just come the day before or day of your wedding)
Most of my brides opt for “Month-of Planning” / Partial Planning. If you’re a bride-to-be who knows what you want for your wedding, but need help organizing it all, I’ve got you! From day 1, you get all my planning tools, access to my favorite vendors, and support throughout the process. We’ll have in person meetings, phone calls and we’ll do a venue walkthrough 6-8 weeks out from your wedding. I’ll handle the final timelines and vendor communications and still be there for the rehearsal and all day on your wedding.
Full Service Planning is for brides who either have very little time or don’t want to stress over all the details and don’t know where to begin. They still receive all my planning tools, but I do most of the leg work for them in regards to finding vendors, design options, and booking the vendors. While month of is more bride-led with guidance from the planner, this package is more planner-led with final approval from the bride.
In my opinion (and I’m very biased – haha!) the last two are so necessary and absolutely neither are wrong. It just comes down to how much time & energy you have to put towards your wedding. I love both types of brides because I love designing for full-service, and I love seeing how my month-of brides’ visions come to life.
So for full disclosure, my MOP package starts at $1300 and my FSP package starts at $3500. If you’d like to get a little more information about these two (even if you don’t know your date), I would love to chat with you!! Just click here and send me your contact info and I’ll be in touch!
*this is an affiliate link, meaning I get a little kickback if you purchase this guide