I GOT THE RING! Now What?
Nov 21, 2020
Congratulations! You’re engaged!
It will take approximately three nanoseconds for a clueless coworker to admire your new ring, then grin and ask, “When’s the wedding?”
Don’t panic. Remind them that you’ve only JUST gotten engaged. It’s okay to say you don’t know. Unless you have some really strict family traditions, or have kept up an obsessive Pinterest board since you were fourteen, you probably have no idea where to even start when planning your wedding.
Step 1: Relax. Enjoy the glow. Adjust to referring to your partner as your fiance now, and smile every time you slip up and get to coyly say “Oops” and wag your new ring at someone when you correct yourself. There’s no time limit on engagements and you have more than enough time to spend just enjoying the feeling of a big step in your relationship.
Step 2: Have an honest discussion with your partner (and/or family) about your budget. This is the time to get into the uncomfortable details of expectations and ability. Your budget will set the entire tone for your wedding and absolutely must be established before anything else. You don’t want to start with venues and get your heart set on one that would eat up more than two thirds of your budget. Make sure that you establish clear expectations on who pays for what and how, and hard limits on what you can and cannot spend. Be realistic, up-front, and honest.
Discuss with your partner what’s most important to each of you when it comes to the wedding. Is it really important to you that you have a “first look”? Do they really, really want to serve tacos? (10/10, I do recommend). Knowing where your values are will help allocate your budget appropriately.
The national average spending on a wedding is about $35K (probably skewed by the Kardashians), but it can be done for much less, depending on the factors involved. For a typical wedding budget, you can expect your big-ticket items to be the venue, the photographer, and catering. If you have to cut costs somewhere, I cannot emphasize enough how much I would encourage you to cut anywhere but the photographer.
Step 3: Make a preliminary guest list. I have another article that goes into more detail on who makes the cut. Deciding who must be present when you tie the knot is another crucial step in making sure that you’re prepared to start shopping.
Step 4: Decide on a time of year. Personally, I wanted to keep my wedding anniversary far from the gaggle of summer birthdays in my husband’s family, and the avalanche of fall birthdays in mine. Bear in mind any known obligations of any of your must-attend guests, such as pregnancies or seasonal work. Establish any “absolutely not” dates – like Friday the 13th, or your divorced parents’ anniversary.
I was also dead-set on an outdoor wedding, which in Texas means you’re limited to about two weeks in March or a few weeks in the fall. If you’re on a tight budget, I encourage you to consider the “off” season to save some money. Many venues will charge less if you get married between December and March. Unless you want to get married on an anniversary or there’s a fun holiday conveniently on a Saturday that year, you don’t need to settle on an exact date until you’re booking venues.
Step 5: Venue shopping! This is one of the more impactful decisions you’ll make and can affect the rest of your design choices, including your colors and your dress style, as well as which vendors you’re able to hire. Check out my more detailed article about how to choose a venue.
Step 6: Hire a photographer. These are the vendors that are typically the most in-demand, so booking them as soon as you have a date secured with your venue is key. This is the point at which you’d want to plan your engagement photo shoot.
From there, you’ll be able to hire all of your other vendors and start bringing your vision to life. Don’t forget to hire a wedding coordinator at least three months in advance too! ;)