Congratulations! You're engaged! Now what?
The first thing you should do is not a checklist item: ENJOY THE MOMENT. Take some time to love and be loved. Call family and friends. Craft the perfect Facebook announcement. Take the Instagram photo. Or just keep things a secret and relish this next level of your relationship for a little while. This is a fun time--enjoy it!
Now that you've basked, let's break out that wedding planning binder:
1. SET the TIMELINE
The average engagement is about 15 months, but some weddings happen sooner and some later. Ask yourself what season you'd like to get married in, how long you need to save money, how long you'll need to plan, and what major holidays/family events you'd like to avoid. You don't need to set a specific date, but decide on a range of dates you're interested in to sketch out a timeline for your engagement.
2. GET SOME INSPO
Picture your fantasy wedding: Big or intimate? Indoors or out? Vintage, modern, rustic, glam? Upscale or casual? Check out Pinterest, look at wedding blogs, check out wedding websites, take inspiration from a favorite movie scene—knowing your style and your vibe will help you with the details (what do those centerpieces look like?) but also give you a big picture plan and help you with your budget and guest list (coming up next).
3. BUDGET and GUEST LIST PLANNING
Establish your wedding budget and get a sense of your guest list numbers. You and your partner should draw up an invitation list, and then you need to tap your families for theirs. If your family is helping you financially, have a clear and honest discussion about their wedding budget as well as yours.
Now, money and guests are not often the most comfortable conversations you can have, but they are essential to getting yourself off to the right track. If you're budget-conscious (and most people planning a wedding have to be), you'll want to establish these guidelines right away. If you need some guidelines, the folks over at A Practical Wedding know their stuff. Click here to find some advice, tips to stay on budget, a breakdown of costs for a wedding, and a few sample budgets to help you visualize your wedding day budget.
Now is also a great time to choose that wedding party and ask them to be a part of your special day!
4. VENUE RENTAL and THE DATE
The next step for most couples is to research, tour, and book their wedding venue and/or ceremony site. The venue is the backdrop for all your wedding photos, where you can draw inspiration, and influences your food and beverage. Take tours with a few places when looking for venues, and run a budget on each of them. Here at Vesperman Farms, we conduct tours every weekend, and as part of our service, we'll even help you with a price estimate so you leave your tour knowing both how you feel about the space, but what you'll roughly pay. You want your venue to cross off as many items on that wish list as possible, from the look to the feel to the food to the price.
Once you've toured, budgeted, talked, and decided, narrow down that date and book your venue. And congrats! You've gotten a HUGE step of the planning out of the way.
Not sure what type of wedding you want? Go explore! Try out a few types of venues--you'll know when you find the right place.
Not sure what questions to ask? Check out this exhaustive list of all the things you could and should ask when touring wedding venues.
Once you've selected a date and booked a venue, make sure to block off those hotel rooms!
5. BOOK the OTHER PLAYERS
Now that you have a date and venue booked, go looking for those other players that make your day: the DJ/musician, the photographer, the baker, the transportation. If you're not sure where to start, ask your venue. Most venues have a preferred or recommended vendor list that they can provide you, solid recommendations to great wedding players. Get all those players into the pot as soon as you can.
Some people work renting a venue a different way, especially if they have a vendor they really need to work with. If you lock that must-have photographer down to a date, just keep that date forefront when searching for venues.
People plan their weddings in multiple different ways, and all you need to know is that flexibility, compromise, and quick but careful action are things that all couples must confront when planning a wedding.
6. ALL the DEETS
Now that you have the booking part of the process out of the way, you can really start nailing down some of the details. Talk with your vendors about decorations, music playlists, and timelines. Look for the dress. Rent the tuxes. Buy the wedding favors and the wedding party gifts. There are many details to attend to—you'll keep busy, we promise!
If you are looking for a complete timeline, the ever-wonderful theknot.com has a great timeline here for you to check out!
Happy planning, y'all!