Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! This is a very exciting time for you, your fiancé and your respective family and friends. For hundreds of newly engaged couples, once the excitement of the engagement has subsided, they are unprepared for what follows and ask, “What do I do next?”
There is a wealth of information about planning your wedding that can be found in bridal magazines, at bridal shows, and online. Absorbing all of these details, in addition to getting advice from family and friends who will tell you what is best for you, how much money you should spend, where you should purchase your dress, how much you should pay for it, how many people to invite, who to invite, what type of photographer you will need, etc. can be quite overwhelming. Although you may want to take the advice of your loved ones, the most important point is to have a wedding that represents you as an individual and as a couple by having a wedding that is designed especially for you.
After you have announced your engagement, I encourage you and your fiancé to dedicate much needed time to sit down and determine what your top five priorities are for your wedding. Some of the more important items to consider are the ceremony itself, the venue for your ceremony and reception, your wedding dress, the music, the menu, and the pictures and/or video. Once you have ranked your priorities, you will know what is important to you and your fiancé and you can begin to plan your budget accordingly.
Your budget should take into consideration all forms of contributions, such as funds from you, your fiancé, parents, godparents, family members and in-kind services. As you determine your budget, you can project how much you want to spend for flowers, decorations, music and entertainment, catering, venue for ceremony and reception, etc. Please remember that these figures will constantly change until you have made your final decision.
While working on your budget, you and your fiancé can start contemplating the answers to the following questions: (a) What type of wedding do you want to have, a formal or semi-formal wedding or a combination thereof? (b) do you want to have an intimate wedding or a lavish wedding or something in between? (c) do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? (d) what time of the year do you want to get married? (e) do you want to have a sit-down dinner, buffet dinner and/or cocktail reception with passed hors d’oeuvres or food stations? and (f) do you want to have your reception at your favorite restaurant or do you want to the have the ceremony and the reception at the same venue?
Once you have answered these questions and have determined your budget for what is important, you should then select a venue for your ceremony and reception. Location of the ceremony and reception site will set the tone for your entire event. You should select a venue that represents who you are individually and as a couple. It may take you a significant amount of time to find a venue that meets your specifications, but when you do find the venue that you want to be part of your special day, you will know it. Always check the venue out thoroughly before contracting with them by ensuring that they are licensed and fully insured. When booking a venue, time is of the essence. If the ceremony and reception are not being held at the same place, you should always book the venues simultaneously. Remember that most venues are booked well in advance and if you find a venue that meets your expectations, don’t delay in booking it!