Your Engaged, Now What?

With engagement season upon us, many are experiencing the exhilaration of moving from “boyfriend/girlfriend” to “ fiance”.    Of course, you’re proudly walking around showing off your ring. Family members, friends and everyone are excited.    But, once the initial excitement and exhilaration subsides, reality hits!  You have a wedding to plan.  So now what?

As the manager of a catering facility, and specifically The Mauch Chunk Ballroom, I get to meet couples that are just beginning to embark on their journey to the aisle.  Naturally, the reception facility is the first thing they look at and rightfully so. After all, you need to know where and when the party will take place in order to gather all those other things you’ll need.  Often times those I meet are overwhelmed.  A recent inquiry from a perspective Bride gave me the inspiration for this blog topic. She was flustered because she was so overwhelmed and it was becoming harder for her to make decisions.   So, how can you avoid driving yourself to the brink of insanity?

  1.  Give Yourself Time – There is no expiration date on your engagement. There are no rules that say you have to get married within a certain period of time. Even if there were, who cares!  Don’t feel pressure to pick a date for your wedding that doesn’t allow you the proper time to work on the details.  And, everyone is different. Some are juggling more than others and may need more time to pull together the details without pulling their hair out.  Think carefully about what is on your plate.  Once you follow the steps below, you’ll know how much you’ll need to do it all  and then set a date that is within a realistic timeline for you to get it all done.
  2. Know how much money you can afford to spend – This is so very crucial.  Costs can quickly get out of hand if you don’t have a clearly defined wedding budget in mind. Are you paying for it yourself or are your parents willing to pick up some, if not all, of the tab?  Now days most are covering the costs themselves.  These budget talks are going to be a part of your life for every decision you make; children, buying a house, taking vacations and retirement.  You can consider the wedding budget your first challenge as a couple.  This budgeting will most likely require you to look at your monthly expenses and, to have the wedding you want, you may have to cut out those extra trips to Starbucks every morning (hey, it adds up!).  But, you’ll need to know this up front because knowing what your budget is will determine where you will look for your wedding day vendors.  You certainly don’t want to be looking at a place that you can’t afford because it will only make the ones you can afford not as appealing.   And, you don’t want to find yourself having overspent in one area, only to have to skip or skimp in another because the contrast will be noticeable and it may leave you unhappy with the results.
  3. Make a list of what you want for your wedding day – This step is so very important. So important that I recommend it to avoid some other planning mishaps. Here’s the deal.  You have to make a list of everything you WANT at your wedding. Then, you have to go through the list with  real world glasses on (as opposed to the Rose colored ones we wore when we dreamed up our elaborately expensive weddings fantasy as little girls) Score each of the wants on a scale of importance; what can you sacrifice vs. what you absolutely won’t.  And you both should have input on this list.
  4. Take the total and set the budget! – There are many tools to help you a lot percentage to certain aspects of your wedding budget.  It’s not really rocket science and your not re-inventing the wheel.  As a matter of fact, I use a free spreadsheet that lets you plug in the total on one sheet and fills in the dollar amount you can spend on another.   The Knot has a fantastic tool for calculating your budget.
  5. Set your timeline – Again, this is not reinventing the wheel.  Every month there is a wedding timeline printed in just about any wedding magazine.  Take that timeline to heart. It really works.
  6. Set your to do list – Break it out into a realistic list for yourself.  If you set a to do list that is unrealistic for yourself, you’ll get overwhelmed and discouraged.  Each of you should pick the tasks that you feel you can handle, but make sure you get those tasks done and on time.
  7. Choose your wedding party & utilize them – Your wedding party should be made up of your closest friends and family.   Your best man and maid (or matron) of honor should be the right hand of the bride and groom. Don’t be shy in asking for their help and don’t turn it away if they offer.  Just don’t overwhelm them or give them tasks that they can’t handle.
  8. Shop online first for your venue – By the time you get to step 5 & 6 you should be able to set a date (following the advice in #1).  Your next step will be to look at different venues that are in the area you are looking to get married.   Read through their reviews and what other Brides have said about them.  Stick with ones that fit your budget.  Make a list of the ones that appeal to you and then call them to make sure they have dates available in the month/year you are looking, and then set an appointment to visit them. Don’t try to see them all in one day or one weekend.  Space it out over a couple of weekends.  If you try to fit too many into one weekend, you’re more likely to overwhelm yourself with too much information.
  9. Hire a Wedding Planner – If you’re someone that is truly very busy and career oriented, you won’t have the time to give your wedding the full attention you would like at least not without stressing yourself to the max.  So, if it is within your budget and your means, you’re probably better of hiring a wedding planner.  Your planner will meet with you, learn about you as a couple, help you set a budget, then present ideas for your wedding . Better yet, a wedding planner can often score things at a better price than you may be able to because she is someone that brings a lot of those vendors business time and again. Those savings more than make up for  the cost of hiring a planner.  He or She will keep you on track and more importantly sane.    Remember, this is what your planner does for a living and it is not as overwhelming a task for them as it is for you.  Just be sure that you hire one with a good reputation and ask for references.
  10. Just try to enjoy it – This is supposed to be an amazing time. Things happen; some are avoidable, others are not.  But know that no matter what, you’ll look back on your day with joy and you’ll be married at the end of it.  You’ll want to enjoy the entire process, including the planning.

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