Congratulations, sweet girl! It happened! The man of your dreams got down on his knee and asked you to marry him. And then a whirlwind of emotions and excitement ensued. While I hope you are still wrapped up in this dream come true, I know that little question has started nudging at you... “what do we do next?” I’m sure it seems a little bit daunting, addressing this question and taking on this journey towards your Wedding Day; the day you have been dreaming of since ever since you were a little girl. But I promise you, with the right tools and guidance, you can plan and host one of the greatest weddings your loved ones have ever been to! And the best way begin is.. off on the right foot.
At AYE, my intention at a client’s initial consultation is to essentially start her off on the right foot and lay down a good foundation. Many of my brides tell me that the first thing they do after their engagement is hop onto Google and begin the endless search for venues, caterers, photographers, stationers, etc. And almost all of them tell me that within a few days, they are completely overwhelmed... which typically leads them to go back to Google and type “wedding planners” in the search bar. So when a bride books with me, my goal is to address all of her worries, and provide her with our next steps. Below is my “First Steps to ‘I Do’” guide, which outlines the six touch points I use at my initial phone calls/consultations to help my brides start from scratch.
Define Your Budget
I know, this is the scary conversation. But trust me, you want to do this now. This is going to allow you to set parameters, which, believe it or not, will actually make the journey easier and wedding-related decisions less daunting. If you haven’t already, speak with both sides of the family about whether or not they feel comfortable contributing to your Wedding Day budget. Then sit down together and come up with an estimated figure. I will be posting a more concise overview of budget on the AYE Journal soon, but here are some stats and figures for your reference for the time being:
- Average cost of a wedding (based on 150 guests): $38,000 - $45,000.
- **based on weddings planned and executed by wedding industry professionals
- Budget Allocation:
- Venue, Food and Drink: 45%
- Photography and/or Videography: 18%
- Florals and Decor: 16%
- Planner: 10%
- Entertainment (DJ): 5%
- Stationary: 4%
- Ceremony: 1%
- Miscellaneous: 0.02%
Dream a Little Dream
You’ve been dreaming about this day since you were seven, so don’t stop now! Take some time to day dream about the aspects you hope to incorporate into your Wedding Day! Jot down these ideas and take a look at the piece of paper. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you will see the makings of a wedding style/theme starting to form. Farm tables, flower crowns and floral garland... looks like you might be dreaming of an al fresco affair!
Do you have a general location in mind? Will you get married in your hometown? Or maybe your fiance’s hometown? What about where you spent the Summer as a child? Or are you are you dreaming about jetsetting for an intimate destination wedding in Bora Bora? You don’t have to specifically pick your venue at this point. Just hone in on your ideal location.
Create Your Guest List
You’re thinking, “this is going to be tough” (cue Steve Martin in Father of the Bride cutting everyone from the guest list). But it doesn’t have to be! Create your list with your fiancé by working from the core outwards. Start in this order: immediate family, close relatives (first aunts, uncles and cousins), best friends, family friends, work friends and colleagues, and finally distant relatives (great aunts, uncles, second and third cousins, etc). You can refine later, but at this point you will have a pretty good handle on your estimated guest count.
Narrow Your Venue Options Down (then book!)
Now take your dreams and general location and do a little research. Go to weddingwire.com and theknot.com and review venues in your location that have a look that fit your wedding style. Call all of your venue options and set up a time to chat with your venue representative about potential dates. Set up site visits with each venue that has availability. And once you find one that you love, book your date immediately!
Book Your Wedding Planner
This step can come into play even before this point. Some brides book a wedding planner before reserving their venue, therefore their wedding planner will be very actively venue scouting. When looking for a wedding planner, look for experience, good recommendations and take a look at his or her portfolio. And most importantly, try to find someone that you connect with immediately. A personal connection with you planner will make the experience that much more enjoyable.
And there you go! Six "next steps" that will help you jumpstart the wedding planning journey and lay down a fantastic foundation for your overall plans. I hope you found this guide helpful, and I hope you feel more confident moving forward with this very exciting experience! Comment below with any questions, and of course subscribe to be the first to know about more posts about planning your upcoming wedding!