Congratulations, you're engaged! Here are some pro tips on where to start.

Congratulations! You have found your other half, the one who melts your heart and takes your breath away, the person who’s weird matches yours! That’s no easy feat, and you deserve the party of a lifetime to celebrate! This is the exciting time where anything is possible, so let’s have some fun. Here are a few tips on how to get started and how to keep the stress of planning to a minimum.

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1.     Talk to Each Other! It’s important to know how you and your partner feel about the day going in. Talk about what you’d like to include and what you want to avoid. Think of other events you have attended, weddings, birthday parties, holiday parties, what did you enjoy most? What are you sick of seeing? What event style do you enjoy- seated or reception? Do you prefer a band or DJ? Do you want a videographer, aerial drone footage? The options are limitless, but when you start with understanding what you both really want, you’ll see what makes sense. There will be plenty of others who likely can’t wait to give you their input, so once you have the base down of what you both want, you’ll have a core to come back to.

2.    Set a Budget: Weddings can be, and most often are, expensive. It’s good to set a realistic budget ahead of time to help prioritize.  Be sure to include wardrobe and satellite events (brunch, rehearsal dinners etc). Leave a little padding for overage as the little charges can add up. Don’t forget to factor in gratuity/service charges and taxes these can add up quickly and while sometimes discretionary, the last thing you want to be concerned with day of having to dig back into potentially already empty pockets. Once you have this number set, or at least in mind, you can start to make decisions on your venue, vendors, décor, etc.

3.    Hire a planner! Ok I may be a little biased here, but this is a great time to hire a planner! A good planner will have the expertise to help bring your vision to life, help navigate multiple opinions and keep you on budget. They often times can negotiate better rates and contract terms based on relationships. Your wedding partner will pair you with vendors whose personalities match your own and are best suited to what you want to achieve. They’ll then handle all vendor communication, set and confirm timelines and ensure a truly seamless event day of. I always say, I am happy to be as involved as you’d like me to be as everyone’s comfort zones are different. Above and beyond vendor/venue selection and contracting, I can help with decor, wardrobe selection, invitation stuffing, rsvp management and any of the other tasks you may not have time or desire for. If you’re not in the market for full planning help, consider a day of coordinator who can make sure your vision is carried out while you enjoy every moment without any stress.

4.    Selecting your vendors.  I could write an entire article on this topic alone (and stay tuned, one is coming), but the two best pieces of advice I can give are 1. factor in the way you click with the person. Do they understand what you’re looking for? Are they really listening to what you want rather than telling you what you should have? Your vendors are your wedding day team and you want to make sure they’re on your page. 2. Make sure they are true event professionals. We live in an age where anyone with a camera (or the latest iPhone) thinks they are a photographer or anyone with an instrument (or laptop) can entertain a wedding. While this could be true, there are a lot of other factors at play with events, and weddings in particular. These individuals are often very talented, but that may not be enough to translate to the way you want it to be day of. They may be a little less expensive but it’ll be worth it in the end not to be a guinea pig on your big day, remember this is an area you get what you pay for. 

5.    Setting your timeline. If you have a wedding planner, they’ll take care of this for you so you don’t have to worry too much about it. If not, talk to your band leader/DJ, Photographer and Event Manager at the venue. These three people will be key to keeping the day on track. If you know pictures start at 2, you’ll be able to tell your hair and make up artists and they’ll be able to tell you how much time is needed. Often times you’ll have to work backwards and don’t be afraid of changes. Everything will happen, being a few minutes behind at one point can easily be made up elsewhere.

6.    Take a minute to stop look around and enjoy the day! This is pretty self explanatory but I always remind my couples to take a moment, or two, to take a look around and soak everything in.  It will go by faster than you can imagine so it’s important to relish in it while you can. Enjoy the day and trust in the professionals you’ve hired.  Enjoy the people around you, each other and appreciate all the hard work you’ve put in to not only throwing one kickass party, but in finding that special someone to celebrate it with.  

There’s certainly a lot in the nitty gritty details but clear communication and setting expectations with all those involved will help make it less stressful and more enjoyable all around. There’s always help, all you have to do is ask. Congratulations and enjoy!!