Thanksgiving through Valentine’s is “engagement season”. The holidays and time with family can create a perfect setting. And, what’s more romantic than New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day?
Newly-engaged couples have several initial tasks ahead of them as they embark on the journey of planning their wedding.
Announce your engagement.
Northern brides and grooms may find themselves the guests of honor at fairly formal engagement party. In the South, an engagement announcement runs in the society pages of the local newspaper. Tech-savvy brides and grooms will set up websites, Tweet their friends, and change their facebook statuses.
If your parents haven’t yet met, now is the time. Any help they are going to be during the planning process will go much more smoothly if they have met.
Select a wedding season.
Selecting a wedding date can depend on your ceremony and reception venues, and even your favorite planner/coordinator and photographer (most other vendors can handle more than one wedding on a day). For now, get an idea of what time of the year you’d like to get married and consider a window of ~6weeks while you shop for venues and your key vendors.
Outline a rough guest list: 60 family members on his side, 30 on yours, 40 friends, a handful of his guy friends from work, a dozen or so from your job. The numbers need not be exact for now (but you might as well start a list for the rough count). But, having a general idea will help you narrow down ceremony and reception venues and may influence the style of wedding/reception you select. Be sure to consult with both sets of parents on this, too. And, be willing to stand your ground when things go too far. If your parents are going to invite all their colleagues and business associates to your wedding, be sure that they are helping you foot what will certainly be a heftier bar tab. Be sure, too, they they all have their own section or room at the reception. You’ll want to concentrate your attention on family and your friends.
Establish a budget. There are many great tools for this. Find a tool that works for you. Involve all those who are contributing to the cost of the wedding. Parents always forget how expensive weddings are. (They know how much inflation has occurred since they got married, but they are still floored by the updated costs…every time.) If they are helping you pay for the wedding, you should show them some hard numbers. Your vendors can help you explain to them why things cost what they do.
Next, take your total budget and divide it by the number of months in your planning process minus 2. Put that much money into your wedding fund every month. The extra two months will give you a cushion to handle unforeseen expenses, last-minute splurges, or contributions from family that don’t quite work out like you’d hoped.
Here’s an example: You get engaged on Valentine’s Day and decide you want a May wedding the following year (14 months away) in Austin, Texas (average cost $26,722).
$26,722 / (14 – 2) = $2,226.83
is what you’ll need to put into your wedding account each month.
Then, in April and May of next year, you’ll have some breathing room in your budget and can splurge on a couples massage or that special thing you didn’t think you wanted early on, but now you really want.
Once you have an idea of the season and the time of day for your wedding, shop for your wedding gown. Take two truly honest friends with you. There is a statistic floating around out there that something like 93% of all brides buy the first gown they tried on. The theory is that they can’t replace the feeling of seeing themselves in a bridal gown for the very first time. Consider your emotions and factor this in. Try a wide variety of dresses including styles you think aren’t quite you. You want to see a wide range of dress types. Ask your friends which dress looks the best on you and which one accentuates your best features. Do not fall for that “first dress” experience. After all, a savvy saleswoman has just put you in a dress just “this much” more than your budget…and with accessories, you’ll spend far more than you had planned.