Plunging temperatures aside, I love this time of year. Winter is a season filled with family gatherings, snow-covered landscapes, and of course, engagements! Have you just said “yes” to your hubby-to-be? Congratulations!!!
Here are my top 10 tips on how to get started planning your dream wedding celebration.
- Savor the moment! – Getting engaged is a once in a lifetime experience. Take the time to enjoy and re-live the moment. Pop champagne with family and friends. Get a manicure and show off that ring! Give yourself at least two weeks before diving into wedding plans.
- Set a budget. – This may not be the glamorous side of planning but believe me it should be the first. A venue charging $100 a person may not sound bad at first glance but once you factor in all of the details that go into your day, you may be sacrificing elsewhere. In addition to main wedding costs like the venue, food, photographer, videographer and florist, don’t forget about the small costs that are easily forgotten but add up like vendor tips, postage, breakfast and lunch while getting ready, hair and make up trials, table numbers and cake toppers. $10 here and $10 there when done often can break the bank! Will you be paying for the wedding yourselves or will other family members be contributing? Make sure to sit down with all parties to find out exactly what they plan to gift you. It’s a hard conversation but it’s better to be completed now as opposed to mid-planning.
- Choose a date. – Now it’s time to choose an ideal wedding date. You may even choose a few in case your dream venue is unavailable. Start by choosing a season that inspires you. Then, check with family and friends whom you can’t celebrate without that they don’t already have a vacation planned or who may be attending or a part of another wedding.
- Create a preliminary guest list. – Your guest list dictates two big things: 1) your venue and 2) your budget. Many local venues comfortably seat between 150 and 200 guests. Venues holding more are slightly less prevalent. Your time is valuable. Don’t want to waste it looking at venues that won’t be suitable. More importantly, we’d hate for you to fall in love with a space that just didn’t work out! Furthermore, your guest list may be larger than you think. When I imagined my dream wedding day, I always thought of having 80 of my closest friends and family present. When we put it to paper and factored in our parents must-haves we ended up with 250. True story! We had to go back and adjust our budget accordingly.
- Hire a planner! – I apologize for tooting my own horn here but if a planner sounds right for you, hire her now! It’s said that a wedding requires more than 200 hours of planning, with 20-30 of that in logistical details alone. A wedding planner is a great resource and advocate for couples! We handle all of the “yucky” time-consuming research and logistical details. We present vendors who fit your style and budget, negotiate contracts, mediate vendor and family dramas that may arise and even pass on our professional discounts. Want to hear more? Check out a full list here.
- Select a venue. – On average, Pittsburgh venues book weddings one year in advance. If you’re planning to be married in popular months (May, September and October), venues may be booked up to two years out. In addition to checking this item off of your to-do list, the venue may inspire your overall event theme.
- Take it one step at a time! – I mean it! Planning a wedding is stressful and not everything needs to be done at once. I recommend choosing venues, photographers, DJs and bands within the first two months, then work through a checklist each month. Other vendors may be able to take on more than one wedding a weekend and do not want to meet with you until closer to your date for seasonal or scheduling purposes.
- Start Pinning. – I love Pinterest. It is a great resource for brides to accumulate and track ideas. Now is the time to fantasize about your day!
- Think BIG. – When you start planning, think of the overall vision as opposed to smaller details. Your vision will guide you in which vendors to choose. For instance, if you envision a garden-styled wedding, one florist may specialize in that style over another. About 2-3 months prior to your wedding day, you can begin to put all of the tiny pieces together that bring that garden vision to life. Why so late? That leads me to my last tip…
- Spend slowly. – You may want to dive right into DIY-ing or buying this table number and that vase. I say this with love, please do not! Your mind will change so many times between now and the wedding day. So many news ideas are being released weekly. Buying early can be a detriment to your budget if it means a complete overhaul months from now. Wedding approaching shortly? Look back at those Pinterest boards. You’ll see a difference in early posts versus your most recent.
Best wishes and happy planning to all of the brides-to-be out there!