Engaged, Now what? - A quick guide to the very first things you need to consider
Wohoo! You’re engaged, now what? Whether it’s a big surprise engagement or you’ve been hinting for years, once the engagement bubble wears off you’ll be inundated with questions about “the big day” but how do you start planning a wedding? What’s the most important thing to do after you say ‘yes’ and what order do you plan in?
Here is a quick summary of the main things you need to do to get the wedding planning started!
Set a Wedding Planning Timetable
Get ready for the “when’s the wedding” questions hitting you left right and centre, often from people you awkwardly weren’t actually planning on inviting… more on that later.
Setting the date will largely depend on the big vendors’ availability, in most cases the venue is the main one as these tend to book out well in advance and generally set the tone for the rest of the wedding day plans. Focus first on finding out a range of dates that work for you both and the important members of your friends and family. The average engagement is about 15 months so you should have plenty of time to find something that works.
Think about the weather, how much notice you need for overseas VIP’s and even consider dates outside of the peak season Oct-April to increase your chance of being able to book your favourite wedding vendors.
Make a guest list
Arguably one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning, the guest list can often cause tension as everyone has an opinion on who should be invited.
I have added this right up the top of the list because there is no point in falling in love with an intimate church or venue only to realise your soon to be mother-in-law is expecting to invite 200 of her closest friends… work on this with all the people involved. Side note, I would make an A and B list so when you do find your dream venue you can invite a few more or a few less.
In a recent poll we did via Instagram “the guest list”, “deciding who to invite” and “wishing I had invited the people I wanted and not the people I thought I should” ranked among the top answers to our questions on the hardest part of wedding planning and our brides’ biggest regrets!
Decide on your wedding style and pick a Venue
Don’t even think about wedding dress shopping before you lock down a venue and define the style you want your wedding to steer towards. Are you thinking barefoot at the beach or black tie hotel reception?
While you're picturing your perfect wedding, here are some key things to consider:
Big party (everyone you know) or intimate (just close friends and family)? Outdoors or in? Home (current city or hometown or away (a destination wedding)? Modern minimalist or traditional bells and whistles? Formal or casual or somewhere in between? Make sure this is something you and your partner agree on so that you can both easily make all of the other little decisions that will come up during the planning. Take our quick quiz to find out who makes the cut
Money Money Money – Set a budget
Sit down with your partner and your families and figure out how much everyone is contributing. Unfortunately, this number is your budget, as simple as that. As much as we all want to have the best of everything, it’s better not to start a marriage with a big fat debt.
Decide on your budget and choose a few things that are non-negotiable splurges and things that really don’t matter in the end. We saved hundreds not having wedding favours and to this day I don’t think we lost a single friend over it…
Use tools like The Curator’s new budgeting feature to keep things on track.
Book your Photographer
Since we are wedding photographers it would be rude not to mention how important it is to book your wedding photography and videography package. Typically we book out about 9 months ahead so it pays to get looking as soon as you have a date. Make sure you have a good chat to whoever you have chosen and you feel really comfortable with, not only their work, but with them! Ask for some reviews from previous clients or check there Google ratings, those things can’t be doctored so it’s going to be good honest feedback from past clients!
The same goes for florists and caterers if your venue doesn’t provide them, any big wedding vendors which can’t take on more than one client per date tend to book up very quickly!
Insure Your Engagement Ring
This might seem like a bit over the top but chances are that ring is now one of the more valuable pieces of jewellery you own.
Most insurance policies will ensure things up to 10k with no additional changes to your homeowners’ policy but you do need to log it with them so check the details and make sure its been noted on the policy. It also helps if you can keep the receipt and images should you do a Kim K and lose your diamonds swimming in Bora Bora – Here is a link to the video of her crying over it if you need more convincing
Pick your Bridal Party
Now it’s time to pick the people that will stand up next to you as your bridesmaids and groomsmen. The sooner you can propose to them the sooner you can get them involved in the wedding planning process. It’s also really important to make sure the dates you’ve chosen work with them, after all they are your number ones. Keep in mind that it’s a big commitment being a bridesmaid or groomsman so be respectful and keep your expectations realistic. Just because they are over the moon for you, doesn’t mean they want a text at 2am with dress options.
Speak to them frankly about what role they might play and consider anything extra they offer to help with a bonus and not a given.
Consider a Wedding Planner or Coordinator
If (like most of us these days) you both work full time and you don’t think your boss will appreciate you using work time for constant wedding planning then consider the help of a wedding planner. Trust me you will find yourself saying “this feels like a second job”.
You could also consider hiring an on the day co-ordinator to just ensure all of your best laid plans run smoothly so you can concentrate on having the best bloody day of your life.
Book a Wedding Venue (and Set Your Date)
Once all the above has been considered its time to narrow down that venue and set THE DATE. This will influence all the rest of your decisions so get the venue locked in asap. Make sure you find out who the best contact is at your chosen location and arrange things like additional viewings for your vendors so they can set up and pack down. Make sure you know exactly when you have access to the venue the day before and when you are expected to leave the night of the wedding. Don’t forget to ask about clean up, how much they will look after and how much is down to you. No one wants to be sweeping confetti at 2am…
Find your wedding dress
I am going to assume that most of you are brides… I’m sorry if that’s presumptuous and please do let me know if you are a groom reading this!
It’s finally time to get that dress sorted, these days with so many options it’s important to leave plenty of time as gowns can take 6-9 months to be completed if you are not buying off the rack. Even if your gown is ready to wear, it pays not to leave this too late as not all boutiques will carry a full size range so might need to get yours in. As much as I loved my gown I do wish I had tried on a few more options, aim to try on at least 5-6 gowns in at least two boutiques. If your budget allows, consider popping overseas for a weekend of wedding shopping or have a look at our minimalist wedding dress guide for local designers whose styles are less-is-more.
Most boutiques require a fee to try on the gowns but this is usually reimbursed when you purchase. So they can give you their full attention, a booking is usually required and weekend appointments fill up fast so make sure you book these well in advance. Bring a trusted friend or family member but try not to bring more than one or two as this can just make things more stressful and confusing with everyone’s different opinions.
There we go, the quick guide to getting your wedding planning started, if you need a more comprehensive checklist here is a link to our more comprehensive wedding planning time line!