Now that you’re engaged, it’s time to get the ball rolling with wedding plans! Though there are many of things to be done along the way, focus on these nine tasks before anything else, and set a strong foundation as you build your dream wedding. Here is your first official checklist to get on the right track.
1. Announce your engagement to family and friends
Before you announce your engagement to the world via social media, update your close family members and friends first. It’s totally un-cool to spill the beans with your manicurist before telling your grandparents.
2. Decide on the wedding budget
Discuss with your families, and figure out how much everyone is willing to contribute. Your budget will influence every decision and purchase you make during the planning process. Without it, you can’t book the perfect venue and vendors for your price point, so be sure to establish your budget before you begin planning.
3. Determine a time frame for your wedding date
First, decide on a date range that works best for you. Consider your preferred time of year, the weather, work schedules and vacation time, as well as any major holidays or family events that may conflict. Just in case your desired date is unavailable, establish a range of dates before you visit venues. Keep in mind that venues can book up fast–some even book up to a year in advance!
4. Draw up your wedding guest list
Since the size of your wedding determines where you’ll hold the event, how much it will cost (prices usually increase by guest), and whether travel will be involved, creating a guest list is one of the first and foremost things to accomplish. While you draft your list, your fiancé and both families should do the same. You can, and likely will, trim the list later. However, the first guest list should serve as your foundation.
5. Choose the theme, color and style for your wedding
Before diving into the details about flowers, the wedding cake, and the dress, imagine the bigger picture and decide what kind of general style you want to create for your wedding. Once you decide on style, theme, and color, it will be easier to select your wedding venue and hire priority vendors.
6. Pick a location
Your wedding venue will become the backdrop to almost all your photos and can influence many decisions you make from your budget and guest list to smaller details like your menu (if you want a venue with in-house catering). Some in-demand venues can book up to one or two years in advance of a popular date. So finding a location should be your starting point, as you won’t have a wedding date until you make a deposit on your ceremony and reception sites. Without a firm wedding date, you can’t hire any of your wedding-related services. Hence, it’s best to pick your location first.
7. Choose your wedding party
Now it’s your turn to pop the question to your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Keep in mind that the earlier you ask for their support, the easier it will be for your love ones to make arrangements. Just give them enough notice to make sure they can attend!
8. Hire a wedding planner to help you prepare your entire event
A wedding planner has insider knowledge of the local wedding market and can help you plan your event from start to finish. Your planner can recommend quality vendors and venues, prepare your wedding day agenda, negotiate contracts, and make the most of your budget and allocate it properly. If something goes wrong during the ceremony or reception, your planner will take care of it for you. So, if you have decided to hire a full-time planner, do that before you book the venue and any other vendors.
9. Begin the Dress Hunt
If you know nothing at all about wedding dresses, at least know this one thing: dresses can take up to 9 months to be produced. In other words, start early! Before you step foot in a bridal salon, familiarize yourself with the Wedding Planning Checklist for Bridal Gowns to learn everything you need to know. As you work with a bridal specialist, learn which silhouettes, fabrics, and other dress details appeal to you the most. Also, keep in mind your venue and wedding season when selecting a dress. For example, a heavy satin ball gown may not be so comfortable at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August.
While this is not a complete list of all the major things to do as you plan your wedding, these are the top things to do first when you get engaged. After you finish this wedding planning checklist, move on to booking your vendors and finalizing other details. While you’re at it, see below for more amazing wedding ideas to get you started!