You’re engaged! Woohoo! He totally caught you off guard, planned something so special, and asked you to be his forever. The day you’ve waited for your whole life; it just happened. The adrenaline and tingles running through every vein in your body. It’s hard to replay exactly what he said in your head because the rush has your heart fluttering and mind going in so many directions.
You’ll finally get to bring that Wedding Day Pinterest board to life. You look down at your left hand. The smile he gave you is plastered from ear to ear across your face. Don’t worry, it will be there for weeks and quite possibly even months. I feel you. I remember that excitement like it was yesterday.
We went for a sunset walk along the beach. I had no clue what was about to happen. My husband is from Canada, so it’s typical of him to hop in the ocean any chance he would get when he visited me in Florida. It didn’t matter if it was April, and the waters were still too cold for my Florida girl blood, he would still jump in if the opportunity arose. A few minutes into our stroll, he kneeled down on the sand. I thought he was taking his shoes off to go swimming, and disregarded what was really happening. It was a blur in the moment. I had no idea what was coming next. He grabbed my hands gently and started talking to me. I was gazing out at the sunset, tranced by the sounds of the waves apparently. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, and I urged him to get up and walk with me. He held a tight grip on my hands. Finally, I looked at him. I heard him say I want to spend my life with you. I finally clued into the fact that he was asking me to marry him. But many words were a blur during the whole thing. I still can’t believe how clueless I was and once the butterflies started fluttering…. Well let’s just say it was like the whole dang zoo let loose inside me. I had no words. Speechless I was.
In fact, he stood up, holding the ring in his hand and I heard him say, “Well? You haven’t said yes yet?”. I said yes, and he put the ring on my finger. I still can’t believe he surprised me, as I’m a very hard girl to surprise.
After a few days, we decided to start planning our wedding. I quickly found myself overwhelmed with where to begin, when planning a wedding, my wedding. I read magazines and blogs and even bought a planner book from Books a Million. Bride-to-be, please don’t spend all that time doing what I did. I’m writing this article to help you begin planning your wedding with strategic steps to make the entire wedding planning process an easier one.
Here are my top ten tips to begin planning your wedding:
01. DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR WEDDING.
Will you get married in your home church, or are you thinking of doing both the ceremony and reception at one place? Choosing a ceremony + reception site is probably the first decision a couple should make when beginning the wedding planning process. Some venues book dates 12-18 months in advance, if not more. If you are not set on having a Saturday wedding, you may find they also have availability on a Sunday instead. Securing your date is a must before you can really make any other booking decisions.
02. DECIDE WHAT SEASON YOU ENVISION YOUR WEDDING BEING IN.
Do you love the idea of having a summer wedding, or are the warm colors of fall more your style? I urge you to keep in mind the season when choosing a location. Being a wedding photographer in Southwest Florida, I have discovered that most destination brides aren’t privy to knowing that “summer weddings” aren’t the best idea down here during that time of the year. They are doable, but not ideal. Summers in Florida are humid, with temps over 100 degrees most days, and we always get rain at least once per day. Just keep in mind the geographic location and season your wedding date falls into when choosing and booking your wedding venue.
03. CHOOSE A DATE.
To begin planning your wedding, I recommend choosing a few different dates that you and your fiancée would be okay with. Don’t set your heart on one and only one date from the start. I know certain dates that are meaningful to you as a couple may be your first pick, but keep in mind you will want to find a date that falls on a Saturday or Sunday (most typical) and you will want to make sure you find a venue that has availability for that date as well. Having some alternate dates will make this easier, unless you are planning a super long engagement or choosing a less popular venue to get married at.
04. LIST WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU ABOUT YOUR WEDDING DAY (ASIDE FROM MARRYING YOUR BEST FRIEND).
Is spending time with your guests and having a them enjoy your wedding as much as you your biggest priority? Or is it the dancing and the party? Let’s not forget about dessert, LOL!
05. DECIDE ON APPROXIMATE NUMBER OF GUESTS
Do you envision having a small and intimate gathering of your family and closest friends or is a large celebration with lots of dancing and music more you?
06. TO DO A FIRST LOOK OR NOT?
If spending time with your guests is one of the most important things to you, then you should consider a first look. I don’t know about you, but being able to participate in my cocktail hour was important to me because is meant I got to spend more time with my family and friends on my wedding day. Your wedding day timeline will be so planned out, to insure that everything runs smoothly, but you want to have time to enjoy yourselves too! Doing a first look allows for all of the formal portraits to be taken prior to the ceremony, besides the family formals. Those can be done right after the ceremony and approximately 20-30 minutes later you can be on your way to the party and having some cocktails with your guests!
07. TRADITIONS vs. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX.
Are you going to do the classic bouquet and garter toss? What about the anniversary Dance? Cutting cake and feeding it to each other, or do you prefer donuts instead? Don’t be afraid to start something new of your own. After all, it is your wedding, and you should make it unique to you as a couple.
09. DETERMINE HOW YOU WANT YOUR DAY DOCUMENTED.
Are timeless photographs and an heirloom album keepsake what you want to show your kids and grandkids as you relive the memories of your Wedding Day? Have you thought about hiring a videographer. I hired both for my wedding, and I don’t regret it at all. I couldn’t choose one without the other either. I have beautiful photographs to hang on my walls, and flip through my album and look at. I also have real life video that I can hear my husband say his vows, and see my momma crying in the crowd. My video provided me with all the little moments that get lost in the hustle of your wedding day. If you’re on the fence about getting a videographer, I say do it!
10. HIRE A PLANNER.
This is one thing I regret not doing when planning my wedding. If I could do it all over again, I would have hired a planner. Having a planner be the one responsible for the set up, the placement of details, the organizing during the wedding day planning process and especially the day of, would have been a life save. Hiring a planner will help your wedding day flow seamlessly and allow you and your guests to enjoy their time during your wedding. If you’ve got things pretty handled and are quite the organized Bride, I still suggest hiring a day of event coordinator. This is one time you will want to pass the baton and you will thank me later!
Follow along with me on Instagram as I share useful tips I learned while planning my own wedding and having attended more than I can count! My Instagram!