I love dispensing advice from my wedding planners. If you got engaged over the holidays, this is a must read – courtesy of Virginia Swopes, owner of Stylish Planning by VFS.
Finally the moment you have been waiting for has arrived – you’re engaged! You’re very happy, but you also have many questions. Where do I start? How much will the wedding cost? Who should I invite? How many bridesmaids should I have? And, of course, everyone has an opinion about what you should do and how to do it. Wait, wait … breathe deeply. Don’t worry – all of this is normal. Planning a wedding can be daunting, but here are five steps to help you overcome the first stage jitters.
Define a possible date for the wedding. Share your ideas with your fiancé, think of a time that suits you both, consider availability, vacations, family living outside the area and season according to the style you want. Remember, May, June, September and October are the most popular months. If you want to have your wedding during one of those months, book well in advance.
Think about what style you want for your wedding. For example: Do you want an elegant evening wedding with plated meal service or a daytime country style wedding at a vineyard with a buffet. The wedding style indicates how big your budget should be and the type of venue you should look for.
After deciding on a style and tentative date, work with your fiancé to make a preliminary guest list. Although it will change along the way, a preliminary list lets you know if the location is suitable and helps estimate the budget.
Now define your budget. This is not an easy task. The first thing to do is check all sources of income you have. These sources may include savings, loans, help from family or all of the above. For me, this is the most important step – a wedding can cost the same as a car, so why not take time to think about what you really want. Do not make the mistake of signing contracts or ordering things and waiting until the bills arrive to plan for all of the expenses. Nobody wants to start a marriage with economic problems.
Armed with your wedding style, budget, desired date and preliminary guest list, you can now look for a venue. Here you have two options: (A) You can choose a place based on the number of guests or (B) You can define the number of guests based on the place. If you fell in love with a place but it only holds 75 guests, you have to decide which is more important to you. Remember to evaluate your options. Fridays and Sundays usually less expensive than Saturdays, as are mornings and afternoons compared to evenings. Ask about seasonal discounts.
And last but not least, here are two tips I like to share with my clients. The first is to follow your instincts. Your wedding should be a reflection of what you like and enjoy as a couple. Do not make your decisions based on what others think or want. They’ve already had – or will have – the chance to plan their own wedding. And finally, ENJOY the planning process – it’s part of your wedding!
Virginia offers full, partial and day of planning/coordination and specializes in Latino and multicultural weddings. To schedule a complimentary consultation (a $250 value), call (703) 347-3013 or email her.