So you got engaged…now what?
Questions to ask yourself and your partner as you start to plan your wedding
One minute, you are overwhelmed with joy and excitement over getting engaged. You can’t stop staring at that beautiful rock on your finger, the celebrations are endless, and you are enveloped in the happy bubble that is the role of ‘bride to be.’
It won’t take long before the questions start rolling in…when and where are you getting married? Have you tried on dresses yet? Obviously my daughter will be your flower girl, right? Are you inviting Uncle Jim and his new wife? And don’t even get me started on unsolicited advice. You MUST use my caterer…they were seriously soooooo good. OMG you know what you should do? Have all of your bridesmaids wear jumpsuits! They are SO in style right now. And so on and so forth.
Some of those questions may not matter to you at all, or perhaps those few examples alone sent you into a flurry of panic. I’m here to tell you this: most of your worries do not need to be a 10 out of 10 on the worry scale. Trust me, coming from a self-proclaimed (and confirmed by multiple sources) control freak, you CAN let things go, and you WILL be able to go through this process while maintaining your sanity!
Here’s the trick: the wedding planning process is filled with hundreds (possibly thousands) of decisions, big and small. It may seem overwhelming, but taking some time at the start to determine with your partner what truly matters to both of you can take a ton of pressure off you both and prevent petty arguments over details you didn’t even know you cared about (and you probably don’t.) This two-part series will guide you along this introspective process and help you to face the planning of your wedding confidently while allowing you to enjoy the things that should be enjoyed.
The first part of the series (this part) will focus on the external pieces that typically comprise a wedding day (location, music, food, decor, etc.) and how to determine which vendors are best to provide those services for you. Whether your budget is $1000 or $100,000, a plan of simply getting the most expensive or ‘best of’ each vendor won’t necessarily provide you with the wedding YOU envisioned; it’s more important to choose which things matter most to you and focus your energy on making sure those vendors are equipped to bring your dream to life.
The second part of the series (coming soon) will focus on the internal pieces that will lead to you maintaining your happy glow along with your sanity. That portion will explore the roles that you, your fiance’, your family and friends will play and how to manage those relationships. For some reason, although weddings can bring out the best in people it can also bring out the worst, and being prepared is essential.
NOW, LET’S GET STARTED!
First, I invite you to perform an exercise. Simply close your eyes and let yourself imagine your wedding day. Take your time, and make sure you are looking all around you. With your mind’s eye, fill in the people, perhaps a location you’ve always dreamed of, smell the florals, hear the music.
Ok, come back to me (hopefully you have opened your eyes by now). The images, sounds and moments that stuck out to you during your exercise will help you to determine which elements are most important to you, as well as how you want to focus your energy (and funds!) to bring it all together.
Was your vision set to a soundtrack? Did you see people jumping up and down in unison on the dance floor, or the sweetest first dance with the perfect melody accompanying your moves? If this is the case, finding a good DJ is your mission. Perhaps more than anyone, the DJ has the ability to drive the flow and mood of your event during each portion of the day. They will read the crowd during each moment and adjust accordingly, and most DJs offer lighting services as well to further set the mood. Find someone willing to collaborate with you so that you can ensure they understand your vibe and can translate that into the right tunes for you. One important thing to note, even if music is “your thing”, allow for a little bit of liberty on the DJ’s part…not all of your personal go-to dance songs may work for a wedding crowd, and there may be music you hadn’t even considered that will get those booties on the dance floor (and more importantly, keep them there.)
Did you envision the exact spot you’ve always dreamed of getting married? Perhaps on a mountain overlooking a gorgeous sunset, or maybe in a museum where you had one of your first dates? Location is key, and booking your venue is extremely important to do as early in the process as possible since they tend to book up months (and sometimes years) in advance. Are you on a short timeframe and devastated to find your dream location is booked? If location is a nonnegotiable, consider swapping the date or changing the day of the week to a Friday night or Sunday. Is an outdoor wedding essential for you? Make sure to have a plan for inclement weather; having a tent or covered area secured as an option can give you peace of mind if an indoor alternative is not going to work for you.
Did your mind create multiple still shots depicting very special moments, such as a flower girl twirling in her dress or a close-up of your mom’s hands buttoning up your delicate lace dress? Put your efforts towards finding a photographer who will not only capture these moments for you, but will also capture them in the style you dreamed of. Look at wedding photography and see what types of pictures catch your eye: dreamy, blown-out shots with lots of streaming sunshine, or maybe a highly edited look enhanced with colors and effects for a special wall of photos in your home. When you do start to speak to photographers, look at their photos and make sure they can do what you are looking for. Even though most photographers can capture many different types of photos, finding an artist who specializes in what you are looking for is easier than finding one who has to amend their signature style to fit your desires.
Your dress! Those bridesmaids lined up in a perfect grouping, your makeup on point, your hair styled to perfection. You are dreaming of the look and style of yourself and your wedding party, and that means you have some fun shopping to do! Since the dress is important to you, take your time to shop around and make the experience as positive as possible by surrounding yourself with people who are just as excited as you are (a little honesty helps too, so long as it is delivered with kindness). If hair and makeup looks make you swoon, be sure to find beauty artists who will help you adapt your personal look to the vision in your head. Be sure to have a test run…I personally took a chance on my wedding makeup by not doing a trial run, and I ended up wiping it all off and doing it over myself in a big rush because my makeup artist and I were not on the same page.
Is your stomach growling after envisioning a 7-tiered cake, or a perfectly plated gourmet meal placed in front of you? Catering (and/or a specific baker) is going to be your main focus.Think about the traditional decisions such as a buffet versus a plated meal, but also about options to make your day stand out, such as a mac and cheese bar or an ice cream truck to deliver late night treats. Caterers are extra important because they do so much more than just make and serve food; they will often take care of centerpieces, keep your guests from getting hangry and control the bar (as well as any guests who may be over served).
Did you focus on special moments, both planned and unplanned? Maybe your self-written vows being read through tears, or the smile that comes over your fiance’s face when he first sees your gorgeous self walking towards him? Consider a videographer. In the list of vendors, a videographer is often overlooked as an unnecessary expense. In fact, if a videographer hadn’t been gifted to my husband and me by our Maid of Honor, I would have missed or forgotten so many special moments of that day, such as the excitement of our friends and family as they waited for the ceremony to start, my father’s sweet smile as he waited for our first look, or the unexpected moment when I took over the DJ booth (still not sure how that happened but we can probably blame the wine). Plus, watching your highlight reel makes a wonderful tradition on your anniversary!
Were your thoughts zoomed in on the little personal details, such as a pop of blue shoes or a bit of lace from your grandmother’s dress wrapped around your bouquet? If so, there’s a good chance you are a DIY bride, and the thought of spending hours on Pinterest or having an assembly line of friends helping you make centerpieces or bouquets makes your heart go pitter patter. This is all the more reason to let your vendors do the jobs they were hired for so that you can focus on what makes you happy! A great way to make this dream a reality is to hire a wedding planner (cough, cough…may I recommend All Aboard Event Planning?) to do your heavy lifting so you can DIY to your heart’s content.
What if you didn’t really see or hear anything specific, and instead were just overcome with a sense of happiness that you, your partner, your friends and family were all together enjoying one of the most special moments of your life? You are in luck, and you are also miles ahead of the game! You have already realized the true purpose of your wedding day, which is that it is simply the first of many, many days of married life. All of those days, along with your wedding day, will have highs and lows and hiccups and joys, and if you can see the big picture for what it is and put your trust in the process (and your vendors), you will be good to go!
I know this was a long post, and while I hope you found it helpful I can also summarize for you in a few simple points:
- Determine which parts of the day matter to you and your partner the most, and prioritize those things while giving the other things a little bit more wiggle room for compromise and changes.
- Choose your vendors wisely by first focusing your efforts on those who deliver the services you are most interested in.
- Enlist help from professionals. Your wedding day probably isn’t the time to try out your friend’s great new “wedding playlist” on a set of wireless speakers, or for your cousin to play with her new camera and perform double duty as photographer and wedding guest. Weddings are no ordinary event, and with something this important you owe it to yourself to make sure you are surrounded with people who have experience with all of the intricacies of the day (and can head off or deal with any problems that may arise without you ever knowing about it).
- Use a Day of Coordinator. Even if you have meticulously planned out every single detail and all of your vendors are ON POINT, someone needs to be your advocate, knit that all of your plans together, and ensure that you are no longer ‘working’ at your wedding so you can truly enjoy your day!
Head over here to see part 2!
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