May 1, 2020
Planning a wedding is no easy task. There are so many ideas, to do lists, and lots of unsolicited advice from family and friends around you. If you aren’t sure where to start, it can be a daunting and stressful thing to start planning. You are overwhelmed by searching Pinterest, everyone has a different suggestion, and you are trying to figure out how you are going to plan this wedding while still working as a team.
Cody and I like to consider ourselves as a kind of wedding expert by now. In addition to planning our own weddings, we’ve also worked with so many couples to help them plan their weddings, making sure that their day can be free of stress and full of joy. So are you curious what we would suggest as the first 5 things you should do once you get engaged? Keep listening to find out!
Where to Start
Being engaged is one of the most memorable times of your life. I have to be honest and not make engagement seem like it’s full of unicorns and butterflies, because man it can get hard sometimes! There is so much pressure in planning a day that you’ve thought about for your whole life. But, I promise you, it is worth it! My goal for today’s podcast is to fill you in on 5 things you can do right now that will get you started on planning the wedding day of your dreams!
When Cody proposed, I was going into my first year of teaching, and my emotions were all over the place. I am uber organized, so wedding planning was like a constant marathon I was running on top of dealing with fourteen very emotionally unstable and at times disrespectful 8 year olds each day. So I understand how difficult planning can be. But my big secret? If you want a stress free wedding day, you have to plan!
Create a Mood Board on Pinterest
Ok, so maybe you’re the girl who has been dreaming of your wedding day since you first saw a white dress. Or maybe you’re like me and you had thoughts floating around in your head, but if someone asked you what you wanted for your wedding colors you were totally at a loss. Either way, Pinterest can be a huge help in the beginning of wedding planning.
But just like the sweetest of candy, you don’t want to overdo it. Pinterest is great for helping yourself get started. I suggest pinning absolutely everything wedding related that catches your eye. Then, once you’ve gone on a pinning spree and pinned about 1,000 images, then give yourself a break.
When you are ready, go back and look at the collection of photos you’ve pinned. Imagine them all together. Take the knife to the cutting block and delete any pins that just don’t fit together. Remember that your wedding day is a celebration of you and your significant other. It should be perfectly you!
Your goal with this mood board is to start creating an overall tone or vibe for your wedding day. Nailing this down in advance will help you as you begin to look at the plethora of wedding vendors: venues, florists, cake bakers, bridal gowns, and so on! If you have a set tone that you can refer back to, the many decisions you have to make later will be that much easier.
Lastly, be super careful about creating a magical dream wedding day in your brain. Pinterest is a photographer’s dream but many of the photos you see on pinterest were curated and designed down to the smallest detail so they could be photographed and put in a magazine. Many of them aren’t even of real weddings! So all in all, use Pinterest as a tool to help you get an idea of what is possible for your wedding day. Invite your girlfriends over for a movie night and have a pinning party together!
Since you’ve curated your Pinterest board, now you’ve got an idea of what you want your wedding day to look like and feel like. It’s time to research wedding venues! Does your tone fit with the rustic feel of a barn wedding? Or do you like the classic feel of an estate wedding? Whatever fits your wedding style and budget, make sure that you research your venue before booking!
I first suggest reading as many reviews as you can get your hands on- look on Google, Facebook, their website, etc. What are past clients saying about the venue? And a little tip here- if the reviews are hard to find, steer clear of that venue!!
If the reviews are glowing, visit your venue and get a tour. Here are my tips from a photographer’s perspective: What is the getting ready room like? It’s so important for you and your photographer that you have a getting ready room that is ideal for your photographs. This is one of my favorite rooms to capture bride’s in on their wedding day because they are full of special moments. Is it full of natural light or is it in a dark corner room? Is it clean, modern, and clear of clutter? If there isn’t a getting ready room, do you have a backup?
Secondly, what is the venue like when it is raining? Is there a lot of room for people to be inside the venue or is there a covering in case of rain if you plan to do your ceremony outside?
Thirdly, what is the space around the venue like? Is there an opportunity for outdoor portraits or is space limited? Is there space if you plan to have a cocktail hour in a separate location than the reception?
Finally, think about the owner or coordinator and the relationship you will build with them if you are to book their venue. Do they seem personable and ready to help? Are they answering your questions joyfully and with a smile? Do they seem genuinely excited for you? You want your wedding venue owner/coordinator to be someone you trust to assist in any way needed on your wedding day!
Plan Your Budget
Ok, so this probably should be #1, but I am still learning how to budget well 😉 It’s absolutely necessary to have a wedding budget, otherwise you and your partner will be left on your honeymoon with $0 left in your pocket!! I promise you, just trust me on this one!
Speaking as a bride who had a solid vision for what I wanted my wedding day to look, sound, and feel like- it was reaaalllyy hard to stick to a budget. Cody and I were blessed to have help financially from many family members, but that might not be the case for you. Wedding planning can easily turn into you cashing out money left and right with no end in sight. That’s why it is important to have a budget, and to stick to it from the beginning.
I suggest using your budget as a general guideline for your wedding expenses. There is no way to know exactly how much you will spend on a venue, photographer, dress, caterer, etc until you actually book or buy those services.
The problem is if you never sit down with your partner to discuss how much is in your budget, how much money is reasonable to spend on a photographer, whether you want to use plastic dishware or rent fine china…you might end up spending a lot of money you don’t have. Or maybe it’s the opposite and you really can afford that venue you’re dreaming of, but wedding planning has given you a huge chase of sticker shock! Regardless, you’ll have to sit down with your guy and talk finances in order to determine what you are both comfortable spending on your big day!
Start by making a list of all of the things that you need to spend on for your wedding day. From big budget items like venues and dresses and tuxes, to the stamps you’ll put on your invitations. Next, do some research to find estimates for each of your budget items. Like I said, you won’t know exactly, but you can discuss what a max amount would be for each budget item. This will help you and your partner be sure that you are on the same page when it comes to spending for your wedding day.
Research Wedding Photographers
Being a photographer myself, I was already following multiple wedding photographers in my area. It’s hard for me to imagine starting from scratch and researching photographers- but I’ve heard it can be seriously difficult!
While there are a few different styles of photography out there now, there is more to choosing a photographer than just finding someone who takes good photos. One thing many couples don’t realize is that almost 90% of their wedding day is spent with their photographers. Your photographer will follow you around the entire day because you are the reason why they are there!
What I’m getting at is that you need to be sure that your photographers are not just someone you trust to get a good photo but someone you actually like and can see yourself enjoying spending time with.
When you are communicating with your photographer, think about whether you’d be friends with this person in real life. Do they seem genuinely excited about your wedding day? Do they ask questions about yourself, your love story, and what you are planning for your wedding day?
You’ll want to know that you feel comfortable to be yourself in front of them. Being in front of the camera can be an incredibly intimidating thing. Does your photographer seem encouraging and helpful? This will guarantee you’ll feel good when they are taking photos of you.
There is one last thing I want to say about researching for photographers. As all things in the wedding world, seeing photographer’s prices can give you and your partner some serious sticker shock. “They want $$$$ just for one day of shooting?!”
What I want to say is first, I absolutely understand. I was in your shoes once. I had my dreams set on a specific wedding photographer. Cody and I met with them and absolutely fell in love. But when it came time to actually deciding and paying that down payment- we had to seriously consider spending that much money.
And that’s ok. You don’t want to overspend because your wedding day is just one day of your beautiful life together as a married couple. But as a photographer myself, I can assure you that there is so much more than one wedding day that goes into that sticker price for a photographer. Many photographers these days are going above and beyond and offering services to their clients that go beyond just being a photographer. If you aren’t sure if they are worth it, reach out to past couples or read reviews.
The most important thing is that you feel excited about having this photographer with you on your wedding day. So no matter your budget, find a photographer who fits with your personality, and I promise you’ll end up loving your images!
Create a Wedding Binder
Alright, so here’s where all of my obsessive planning really shows through. I think wedding binders are so fun!! But besides being an exciting place to store all things wedding related, they are super practical for staying organized. Find yourself a cute binder from Target, no need to splurge, and start putting in everything that pertains to your big day.
I absolutely cut out photos from wedding magazines and pasted them in a binder. If that’s not your thing, maybe your binder is the place you list out all of your vendors contact information. It can be where you start to map out your guest list. It can hold color swatches for bridesmaid’s dresses, or the receipt from your photographer. There are hundreds of ideas on the internet about what to include in your wedding binder, as well as templates to organize addresses or for wedding timelines and checklists. Whatever you create it to be- have a space where you can collect and organize important wedding documents.
The reason I suggest creating a binder is that whether you’re a planner by nature or you tend to be a more go with the flow personality, being organized is necessary in order to have a wedding day that is stress free. There is enough stress already in making the 1,000 of decisions you have to make to plan a wedding. Don’t give yourself more anxiety by having to search through emails for that one receipt or having to dig through a pile of wedding magazines to find that one picture of the bouquet you love. Help yourself be at ease and prepared by creating one dedicated space for everything.
Be Sure to Tune In!
There are too many tips to type, so make sure to hit that play button and listen in! Then, rate and subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode! New episodes are dropping every other Monday, and I can’t wait for you to tune in next time. Until then, have an awesome week!