Your fiancé has ‘popped the question’ and you responded with a resounding YES!  While you’re in a state of absolute euphoria, you should take some time to determine what your next steps are.  You want your dream wedding, but it’s not going to happen without careful and deliberate planning.  So, where do you start??  These are An Elegant Affair’s Top 10 Tips for getting started!

1. Announce Your Engagement

This announcement can be as formal as a newspaper announcement, or as informal as an email to family and friends.  If you decide to do a newspaper announcement, do not publish details such as wedding date and location (thieves regularly read these announcements for possible places to burglarize).

2. Decide on the Type of Wedding You Want

Ever since you were a little girl, you have dreamed of this moment in your life.  Now that it’s here, it’s time to narrow down and write down how you envision your big day.  Do you see yourself wearing an elaborate gown with a long train, or something a little more casual?   What types of locations do you want to have your ceremony and reception (hotel, church or synagogue, beach)?    Documenting your ideas will help you with the next step….

3. Talk About Money

Now’s the time to have a serious conversation with your fiancé and your families regarding the total amount you want to spend, and who will be financially contributing to your big day.  This can sometimes be a sensitive subject, so tread carefully.  Everyone involved should agree on a bottom-line figure and commit to sticking to it! The last thing you want is to start married life IN DEBT!

4. Pick a Wedding Timeframe

We suggest you pick a timeframe (a particular month or season), not necessarily a firm date, so that you can be flexible when booking venues.  You may have a preferred date in a particular month or season you are considering; but when visiting venues, always have a ‘Plan B’ in mind in case your preferred date is already booked.

5. Determine the Number of Guests and Start Working on a Guest List

The number of guests on your list will be closely tied to your budget.   During the planning process, if you ever need to reduce the cost of a component (i.e., food, favors, etc.), the guest list is the first thing that should be adjusted to more closely reflect your budget.

6. Determine the Size of Your Bridal Party

This too will tie into your budget.  If you have a smaller party, your budget for such things as flowers (bouquets and boutonnieres) and food will be lower.  Don’t forget, the bridal party has to eat at the reception too!

7. Consider Pre-Marital Counseling

In the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, sometimes we forget to focus on this fact….after the wedding, there is a MARRIAGE!  Pre-marital education is an excellent way to help prepare for this major life transition.  In counseling sessions, you will delve into such topics as communication, finances, household chores (somebody has to clean the bathroom!), family life and spirituality.    Although no marriage is perfect, pre-marital counseling will arm you with the tools you need to deal with issues when they arise.

8. Don’t be a Bridezilla!

It’s always said that a wedding is the bride’s day.  While it’s true that the bride is the “star of the show”, always remember to be considerate of others.  For example, you’ve decided to register as high-end department store, and all of your gift choices are expensive.  Your guests will be discouraged if they are unable to afford to give a gift from your registry.   Be sure to have gift items in a variety of price ranges, so guests feel they have options.  Also consider having more than one registry at different stores.

9. Decide Whether You Want to Hire a Wedding Planner

The task of planning a wedding, along with continuing your normal life (work, school, family, etc) can be a daunting one!  If the thought of doing all of this work yourself is overwhelming, consider hiring a wedding planner!  He or she is an expert, and has vendor contacts in the wedding industry to make your day the one you have always dreamed of!  He or she will also help you stay within budget, remind you of deadlines, be your sounding board, and keep you focused.  If you do want to plan your own wedding, do your research!  There are many websites, books, and classes available to help you understand and educate you on the planning process.  We also strongly suggest that you hire a day-of coordinator to ensure that all of your plans come to fruition on your wedding (many wedding planners offer this as a stand-alone service).  It is not fair to saddle this responsibility on your mother or maid of honor, who both want to enjoy your special day!

10. Lastly, Have Fun!

This is a special time in your life that you will look back on for years to come.  The time will go by quickly, so savor each moment!  Enjoy the attention, don’t stress yourself out, and always keep in this in mind:

You have found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and this is only the beginning of a lifetime of happiness!

Happy Planning!