You're engaged, now what?!
Photo by Jackie Averill Photography
You said yes! You’re engaged! Now how to you begin the planning process? Our biggest piece of advice is to figure out your budget before you do anything else. You don’t want to end up in over your heads] so this is a very important first step!
We often get asked what’s a reasonable budget or how much should I plan to spend on my wedding? There really is no exact answer to this question- how much you want to spend is completely up to you and your fiancé. There are so many variables to choose from that impact pricing that it is nearly impossible to answer this question.
For that reason, we recommend taking the following steps to estimate your budget and begin your planning process:
Estimating your total funds
Talk to your fiancé and figure out who will be contributing to the wedding fund. If parents are involved, discuss their thoughts on how much they are planning to put towards your wedding. Same goes for you and your fiancé- how much do you think you’ll be able to put aside for the wedding? With these numbers coming together, you should be able to get a decent estimate of your overall budget. Remember, it is really just an estimate to give you some parameters for what you and your fiancé are comfortable spending.
Draft your guest list
It might feel early to do this, but it is the best way to begin to understand what your total venue/catering cost will be. Just know that this list will likely change 100 times before your invitations go out (er and probably even after that)! Have a quick conversation with your families and get an estimate for the size of your invite list. You and your fiancé can work together on a friends list. For now, include people even if you aren’t sure if you would invite them or not- you’d rather over estimate than under estimate!!
Consider a Wedding Planner
If you think you’d like a planner to help you during the venue selection process, now’s the time to begin those conversations. If you are considering a service like day of coordination which begins about a month out, you can wait until your wedding date and venue are locked in to begin outreach to planners. (Photo by Ifitz Productions )
Look at Venues
Once you have your budget down, it’s time to start looking at venues! The reason it is so important to know your budget and rough guest count first so that you don’t look at a venue that costs more than you can afford or that can’t hold the amount of people you will be inviting. Often, your venue cost ends up being about 50% of your total budget. That said, we would not recommend booking a venue that is 70% of your budget and assuming that you will just cut corners or save on the other vendors.
When you begin looking at venues, make sure you think about the time of year and day of the week that you would like to have your wedding. Most venues offer discounts for the off-season (typically Nov-April) and for weddings held on Friday or Sunday.
Be sure to account for both venue fees and catering costs in her for your budget (including service charges, tax, etc). If you are having a wedding where you have to bring everything in yourself (ie linens, tables, etc) make sure that you add those to the list, counting towards your overall venue cost.
If you are having an outdoor ceremony or cocktail hour, be sure to talk to the venue about the backup plan. You want to make sure it is something you are comfortable with and still excited about.
Check out the venue’s bridal suite and inquire about what time you will have access to it on your wedding day.
Think about your guests and other logistics- how far away are the hotels? How far away is the church or ceremony site? If guests arrive early to the venue, what are the options (ie some venues will allow you to offer guests an open bar or cash bar in a separate area during that time)?
After you’ve secured your venue and date it’s time to begin your outreach to vendors. Wedding planners, videographers, photographers, bands/dj’s and caterers (if needed) are the vendors we’d suggest reaching out to first as those are the vendors that tend to book up the fastest, especially in the shore area. From there, you can continue with the rest of your bookings over the next few months.
Hopefully this helps you with how to get started on your wedding planning process. If you have more questions about getting started or how a planner can help you with the process, you can email us HERE! Good luck and happy planning!
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