Time to Start Your Wedding Planning?
Congratulations on your next big adventure! You should take just a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy your new status. Once the initial shock of being engaged wears off (and you take a second to peel your eyes away from the new ring on your finger!), you'll need to start making decisions. Here are the 11 most important things you need to do to kick off your wedding planning:
Set a Timetable
The minute you get engaged, everyone will be asking for your wedding date. But in reality, you won't be able to set an exact date until other significant decisions—like choosing (and booking) your venue—are made. So first, focus on determining a range of dates that'll work for you. The average engagement lasts 15 months, but also think about what season you'd prefer. Consider any major holidays or family events you'd like to avoid conflicting with. And finally, how long you predict you'll need to plan. Did you know that the date you choose could alter your wedding budget by thousands of dollars? The most recent wedding trend is fall weddings. Booking a wedding in the months of September or October could increase your wedding costs significantly. And if you're looking to book in 2020, watch out! The most sought after dates are 6/20/20 and 10/20/20. Most preferred vendors have been booked solid for those dates for months.
Dream Up Your Style and Pick a Location
Before you try on a single gown, book a band or sample a bite of cake, look at the big picture. Imagine what kind of style and vibe you want to set for your wedding. After that consider where you want to hold it. Close your eyes and picture your fantasy wedding. What do you see? Is it a candlelit ceremony in a mansion? Are you walking barefoot on a beach in the tropics? Or maybe it's in your hometown's botanical garden. While you're picturing your perfect wedding, here are some key questions to consider: Big (everyone you know) or small (just close friends and family)? Outdoors or in? Home (one of your hometowns or your current city) or away (a destination wedding)? Modern, classic, romantic, vintage, rustic or all-out glam? Fancy, casual or somewhere in between? To help you get a better idea of what you want (and what you don't want), spend some time to gather inspiration. Check out magazines, books, and real wedding photos online. However, don't limit yourself to the obvious sources. Something as unlikely as a wallpaper pattern, a scene from a favorite movie, or a family heirloom can spark your creativity. Bottom line: Always keep your eyes open for inspiration while wedding planning.
Set Your Budget
Sit down with your families and figure out how much everyone is contributing. This number will affect every decision and purchase you make. So, be sure to work out your budget before you start planning with our online wedding budget tool. It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have. However, it's better to get it out of the way now so you have a realistic picture of what you can spend. Remember we're always here to help with your wedding planning. That's why we've provided you a link to check out with the average cost of a wedding in Erie, PA: Average Wedding Cost
Draft a Guest List
As you begin to build your guest list, you'll need to consider some factors. If you have a particular ceremony or reception site in mind, for instance, you're going to be limited by how many people it can accommodate. You just can't squeeze 300 people into a lighthouse. Would you rather have quality one-on-one time with each guest or throw a once-in-a-lifetime party for all your friends and family? If mom and dad don't budge about inviting crowds of friends and family, you'll have to hear them out—especially if they're footing a major part of the bill. Keep in mind that more guests mean higher prices, as catering costs are calculated on a per-head basis. Guest count is the BIGGEST influence on your Wedding Planning Budget. So, in addition to location, your budget will have a big influence on the size of your guest list.
Register (Before Your Engagement Party!)
Worried that you'll look gift-grabby if you register too early? Don't! With all the engagement parties, showers and well-wishing relatives in your future, everyone will appreciate your foresight. And although gifts are optional for engagement parties, some of your guests may want to give you something to commemorate the occasion. So register for at least a few items beforehand so they don't have to ask (or guess) what you'd like. One thing to note: Don't include registry information in your engagement party invitations or any other formal manner. Stick to using word of mouth or links on your wedding planning website.
Get Insurance on Your Engagement Ring
This doesn't seem like it would be a part of your wedding planning. But, no matter how careful you are, the peace of mind that engagement ring insurance will give you and your fiancee is worth it. There are two basic ways to do it: As an extension of your renter's or homeowner's policy (which would reimburse you for a set amount of cash if you lose the ring), or through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance (which might offer more coverage than a standard homeowner's policy by replacing a lost or stolen ring).
Choose Your Wedding Party
Now it's your turn to propose to your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Remember, the earlier you ask, the sooner you can enlist their help. And keep in mind that your wedding party is agreeing to spend their money and donate their time. Be considerate and kind by informing everyone about all your plans (including costs for attire, bachelor and bachelorette parties and more). Always show them a good time and make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Consider a Consultant
If you're a super-busy couple, have demanding jobs or have big (read: complicated) dreams for your wedding weekend, then you should hire a full-time wedding planner. A full wedding planner will help you prepare your entire event, from the engagement party to the honeymoon. You can also hire a part-time consultant to devise a wedding blueprint. This usually includes a budget, schedule, and lists of good vendor and site choices. This is all done before you launch solo into the preparations. Another option is a day-of coordinator, who will make sure everything goes smoothly on your wedding day. It's crucial to ask what your Consultant includes in their service. Some will help with decor while others will refer you to another professional. Erie Wedding Services has a full time Certified Wedding Coordinator/Planner available to answer questions and get your started on the less stressful path. You can contact her here: Erie Wedding Services Consultant
Book a Venue (and Set Your Date)
Your reception venue will become the backdrop for virtually all your photos. It can influence everything from heavy hitters like your budget and guest list to smaller details like your menu (if you choose a venue with in-house catering). Ensure that you get the look, price, and extras you want by scouring local listings, shopping around, scheduling visits and booking early. Bonus: By signing your venue contract, you will officially have your wedding date (congrats!).
Hire Priority Vendors
If you just can't imagine getting married without a specified local band or Disc Jockey playing at the reception or a photographer whose work you love, act fast. Many top wedding photographers and other in-demand vendors are hired more than a year in advance, and once they're booked, they're gone. Your Highest Priority Vendors should be (in order) Photographer, Disc Jockey and Catering. The DJ creates your atmosphere and controls the flow. The Photographer captures your special moments. Finally, your catering staff keeps everyone full. If you hire high-quality professionals in these three areas everything else will fall into place. A great professional will make your wedding planning easier.
After you've booked your Hall, Photographer, DJ and Caterer it's time to get down to details. Begin your search by browsing dress photos online (and saving your favorites—you'll want to take them with you to your appointments). Then, learn the lingo before setting foot in a dress salon. Read up on silhouettes, necklines, trains, and hues that might flatter you. The season will also affect your choice. Getting married in the sweltering summer? Go with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, linen or organza. Having a winter wedding? Brocade, faux fur, and velvet will keep you warm. Satin, shantung, silk, and tulle are perfect year-round. Also, take into consideration how the rest of your bridal party will look and feel in the style you're selecting. You'll want their outfits to compliment yours while you shine!
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