Congratulations … You’re engaged! The proposal was absolutely perfect! You suspected something was up, but when he dropped down on one knee and asked you the one question you’ve dreamed about all your life … “Will you marry me?” you were filled with excitement, tears, and an overwhelming feeling of love! You are on cloud nine! But now it’s time to start planning your wedding!
You’ve made the big announcement to the world and now you’ve got some big decisions to make, but where do you start? You’re still glowing in the excitement of your new engagement, but you know you’ve got to get started planning soon, so what is your next step? The venue? The planner? The date? The guest list? Colors?
Oh, there’s plenty of advice out there on the internet, but it can all be so overwhelming! Well, don’t worry, I’m here to give you some expert advice on where to get started.
First of all, don’t forget to take time to CELEBRATE. This is the beginning of the best of your days spent with the love of your life. Take time to reflect on why you’re doing this and what it is that really matters to you and your love! Open that bubbly and celebrate!
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Even before you start making your guest list, you’ll want to decide on a time of year. First of all, decide which season you’d prefer. Do you want a spring wedding on the lawn of your favorite winery? Or are you looking to have a winter wedding at the hottest venue in town? Then you’ll need to think about holidays and special family events. You don’t want to conflict with other important family celebrations and risk forcing people to decide between important family events.
Once you’ve decided the season and a date, next comes the time of day. If you want the best, most fabulous pictures, I recommend having a late afternoon or early evening wedding. You’ll want to plan your ceremony time so you can take advantage of the beautiful sunset light. The best time for sunset photos is about half an hour before the sun sets. Typically, family group photographs are taken in the 30 minutes after a ceremony, that is if you’ve already taken your couple’s portraits before the ceremony. If you opt to wait to see your beloved until you walk down the aisle for the first time, then you’ll want to allow about at least an hour for photos post ceremony.
Sunset times vary with season and location around the US. Here in Southern California, springtime sunsets are around 7pm, with summertime sunsets an hour or so later, and fall and winter sunsets an hour or more earlier.
Another reason to choose your date first? Your style and colors will be reflected by the season you choose. Soft pastel colors are perfect for a springtime wedding, and bolder colors are perfect for fall. Obviously rules are meant to be broken, but it is something to consider.
DREAM UP YOUR STYLE AND LOCATION
You have your date selected, now let’s talk about the look and feel of your wedding. Close your eyes and think about the wedding of your dreams. Was it a beachside wedding with the sand between your toes? Or do you dream of candles and roses in a fairy tale castle? Perhaps you have something much simpler in mind and dream of walking among the flowers in your grandmother’s garden. Whatever you have in mind for your dream wedding, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Do you want a big wedding or something small and intimate? Indoors or outside? City or countryside? Home or Destination? Modern, classic, rustic, Hollywood glam? Again, all this can be overwhelming. Spend some time perusing your favorite wedding magazines and blogs, looking for inspiration in styled shoots and real weddings. But don’t stop there, while you’re out running errands, watch for patterns and colors that catch your eye. You can even find inspiration in your favorite movies or your grandmother’s favorite brooch. Just keep your eyes open, you never know when inspiration will strike.
Still don’t know where to start? Sit down and ask yourself and your partner the following questions (sourced from Martha Stewart). Perhaps they’ll inspire your big picture and settle on some of those lovely details.
- Where did you meet?
- Where did you go as kids (summer camp, family trips, summer abroad)?
- What did you do on your first date?
- Where was your first vacation together?
- What time of year do you love the most?
- What colors do you gravitate toward?
- Are you obsessed with a certain flower?
- What family heirloom would you cherish carrying on your day?
- What song lyric or poem moves you the most?
- Do you have a pet?
- What bar do you frequent?
- What’s your favorite sport or team?
- What’s your go-to food?
- What’s your favorite restaurant?
- Do you share a guilty pleasure?
- What are your hobbies, or do you collect anything?
- How would you describe your dream date night?
- What are your nicknames?
- Do you have a desert-island book or favorite quote?
- What’s your number one film?
HIRE YOUR EVENT PLANNER
You’ll hear so many differing opinions on when you need to hire your wedding planner. Many will tell you to wait, that it’s too soon. But in my opinion, the sooner you engage your professional planner, the sooner you’ll be on your way to stress-free wedding planning.
Hiring a full-time wedding professional is well worth the money, especially if you and your fiancé are super busy, have demanding jobs, or just have really big (translated complicated) dreams for your big day. The full-time planner will see to all the details for your entire wedding, from the engagement party to the honeymoon. They will even guide you to the perfect locations you have envisioned for your dream day, finding that secret gem!
Don’t have the cash to spend on a full-time planner? Hire a coordinator to help you come up with the blueprint for your wedding – your budget, a schedule, lists of vendors and venues to match your vision. Once you’ve got a plan, then you’ll be able to tackle the individual projects one by one.
BOOK YOUR VENUE & FINALIZE YOUR DATE
Once you’ve figured out your style and hired the perfect wedding coordinator, then it’s time to choose your venue and finalize your date. This is where the fun begins. Think about the big picture, but don’t rule out something outside the box. If the wedding of your dreams is fairy tale gala set in a candle-lit ballroom, consider the possibility of having that princess wedding in a garden instead. A springtime wedding in the garden could just as easily transition into an intimate seaside affair complete with barefoot dancing in the sand. With your dreams of style options in mind, your professional event planner will guide you to choosing the perfect venue. Everything is falling into place…your dream wedding is well on its way to becoming a reality!
Now you have the final date, dream venue and a planner by your side guiding your through the journey, what’s next?
Head on over to Wedding Wire and get a personalized wedding checklist for all the nitty gritty details you will need to think about. The fun has just begun. But remember, when things start to overwhelm you, (I’m not gonna lie, you will get overwhelmed and that is ok), just take a deep breath and call your event planner! He or she will know what to say to talk you back from the edge! With the right team members and family and friends there to support you, it will all be ok and you will get through this. Just take a moment and ask for help from your fiancé, planner, mom or maid of honor. You want this to be a fun journey and you can build the perfect team by your side to walk you through every step. Don’t get carried away, enjoy the process and remember why you are pulling all this together. To celebrate the love you and your fiancé have with the people who matter most to you!