Congratulations! This is such an exciting time for you both. Once you get done wiping your eyes and your heart starts to settle, panic starts to settle in. This is totally normal and expected. Unless you plan weddings for a living, it is normal to feel overwhelmed.
Here are some tips on what your next steps should be.....
ENJOY THE MOMENT - I can't stress this enough. Don't go from saying "Yes" straight to the bridal salon. This is an important time for both of you so enjoy it.
TELL YOUR LOVED ONES - This is big news and they will want to hear about it.
BLING - If you haven't already, get a manicure and take some ring shot photos with your now fiancé. If you don't want to hire a photographer to do them (usually only an hour and not expensive) then plan out what you want with a friend/family member to take some. You will want these later. Also, make sure you put your ring on your insurance policy. It's not expensive and is important in case anything happens to it.
RELAX - Things will start to sink in and you will start to panic some more. Breathe.
CONVERSATION TIME - This is important. Have you talked to your fiancé about what they want? Do you want a big or small wedding? Indoor or outdoors? Spring or Winter? Don't assume your fiancé doesn't have a preference. This is one of the first major things you will be doing as a couple so start it off on the right foot.
WHO'S COMING - Once you have an idea of the type of wedding you want, quickly write up a guest list. It does not have to be precise, but it's a good exercise to do. Why? Couples will typically say 100 guests if asked but where does that number come from? You don't want to go into the vendor stage saying 100 and then realize that your guest list is 200 and the venue you love can not accommodate everyone.
BUDGET TIME - Nobody enjoys this stage. I know. It's uncomfortable having the conversation, especially if other people are involved. I can tell you, though, that without a realistic budget in place prior to the vendor stage, you will end up with more stress later. Some couples bring on a Wedding Planner at this point. A Certified Planner will be able to take your guest count and your budget and give you a realistic picture as to how to categorize everything.. If you don't have a planner then there are websites that can give you an idea of how to break things down. Knowing what your budget is for a Venue will help with the next stage.
SET THE DATE - Really look at a calendar. Think about what other things might be happening around that date. For example, is there a big city wide event in town? (there goes your lower hotel wedding block rates) Are you in school and you have finals two weeks before the date you are looking at? (the stress will be overwhelming) Is it around a holiday? (how will that impact your guests) Things to all take into consideration. Also, unless the date is something you are firm on, consider having a Plan B date. This will help with when you are looking at Venues.
ENGAGEMENT PARTY - This is the time to celebrate with your friends and family. Let them celebrate you as a couple. It can be something formal or something fun, whatever fits your style as a couple.
INSPIRATION BABY - This is when things get fun. Using Pinterest, Instagram, Magazines, Websites, etc to see what you like and don't like. You can get lost in all of the creative ideas that you see. Remember, though, falling in love with a large centerpiece only to find out it costs half of your floral budget can be disappointing. Sites like Pinterest, etc are good for inspiration not for copying.
START THE VENUE SEARCH - At this point, you know how many guests you will likely have. You know about what you want to spend. You know the style of wedding you both want. Time to start looking at venues. This is when things feel really real. You are choosing the location where you will pledge to love each other forever. I always say, you will feel it when you find it. It will just feel right. If it doesn't then move on. It's too big of a deal to just be ok with it.
VENDORS - Now that you have the date, the venue, the budget, it's time to start finding your other vendors. Focus on the ones that book out the farthest first (photographer, planner, music, videographer, officiant) and then work your way closer in (florist, rentals, cake, transportation, hotel block).
Remember, breathe through the process. Couples tend to put too much stress on themselves to have the "perfect" wedding. The only way it is "perfect" is if it's perfect for YOU. Don't worry about what anyone else would think it perfect.
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