Being a Type-A personality all the way, I am obsessed with “to do lists”. (Seriously, even my husband secretly loves my to do lists … I think.) The day after my now-husband proposed, my mind started whirling. I bought a stack of bridal magazines and Googled like a maniac. But I had no idea where to start, other than screaming the big announcement from the rooftops. So I thought I’d put together the first few steps, to give all you newly engaged brides-to-be out there a fighting chance at a perfect “to do” list!
1. Revel in it a little – you’re engaged! Make a quick list of the people closest to you, and start making the announcement phone calls. They’ll be thrilled to hear from you and you’ll get to relive the magical moment over and over again. Today technology carries news a lot faster than you can, so for everyone else, why not put together a quick e-mail announcement to send to friends and extended family? This way, your friends and family will still feel included, without finding out the news via Twitter/Facebook, long before you can get to them.
2. Set a budget. Talk to family and your soon-to-be husband, and consider where all of the money is coming from. Pick a final number and stick to it (as best you can.) Creating parameters and guidelines to work within will make your life far less stressful, and because the big ticket items are decided upon fairly early on (venue, catering, music, flowers, etc.), you’ll know how much play money you have left and what things you can DIY (i.e., do yourself).
3. Choose a handful of potential dates. A big part of deciding on the date is giving yourself enough time to plan this wedding of your dreams; often that’s at least six months away, but anymore, plenty of couples have both shorter and longer engagements. No matter how much time you plan for, nail down a few dates and run them by the people you are closest with. The date you wind up choosing may not work for everyone, but so long as that date works well for you and immediate family, and as many close friends and family as you can manage, it’s probably a winner. Remember, you can’t make everyone happy (a mantra you’ll need to repeat to yourself throughout the majority of your wedding planning!)
4. Work on a guest list and come up with a number. The guest list is vital to the venue and budget as well, so though it’s tedious, and trust me, most grooms-to-be have little interest in making these kinds of lists (not that I enjoyed it any more than he did!), you can’t know your numbers until you’ve starting writing down names. You’ll quickly find that the number of people you want to invite, and the number of people you can reasonably and within a budget invite don’t always go hand in hand. You’ll write and re-write, add and take off names, over and over again, so get started early!
5. Narrow down and decide on a venue. Venue is a big one because unfortunately, popular venues fill up quickly, and even those venues that are not so popular or not regularly used as venues for weddings or other events, tend to have less availability as their sole purpose is not to host functions. Once you’ve got a rough idea of the number of guests and a general budget, you can start researching venues. When you’ve narrowed down those venues that you like, e-mail or call and find out what availability they have and whether the dates you’re aiming for are in that time frame. If you’re considering a destination wedding, research potential travel options and hotels (if overnight stay is necessary) as well. Start taking notes and keep track of what you find for each potential venue. Then tour and/or scour the pictures, online reviews, and prior weddings, and go with your gut. Once you have your venue booked (deposit and all) and your date secured, the rest is in the details (the best part!)
6. Choose your wedding’s theme or style. And then there were the details … My favorite part of wedding planning was pouring over beautiful images, details, projects, and ideas. I bookmarked like a maniac. The sooner you can come up with a cohesive look or inspiration for your wedding, the sooner you can come up with your own ideas. I used Pinterest to gather many of my favorite images and ideas, and found it oh-so-helpful! My prediction: themes, more than color or decor, will feature prominently in 2012 weddings, so don’t hesitate to get playful with your own wedding and incorporate what you and your partner love!
And don’t forget to enjoy every last minute of it!