Congratulations on your engagement! Getting engaged is such a fun and exciting time in your life! You are starting the whole process to make a lifelong commitment to each other. But if you aren’t careful, all of the joy and excitement can be overshadowed by the pressure to plan a guest list, book vendors, pay deposits, and quickly you can find yourself stressed about the whole process instead of enjoying it. The first steps you take after your engagement can really set you up for success!
With engagement season in November and December, and booking season in January and February, it is extremely important to prioritize items on your wedding to-do list that need to get done first to make sure you lock in the vendors that are most important to you before someone else does.
So you got engaged, now what?
The first thing I always tell brides is budget, budget, budget. Figure out exactly how much you are looking to spend total. Make sure you know how much your parents plan to contribute, or in-laws, or if you are financing yourself, and decide exactly what budget you want to stay within. This is super important for you to be able to know exactly how much you should allocate in the budget for each vendor.
Once you have established an overall budget, decide the items that are most important to you. Is your date flexible? Do you have a dream venue? Have you had your eye on a specific photographer you know you definitely want to hire? All of these things are factors that play into what your budget for each item should be, and it will also help prioritize which vendors to book first.
For some, the wedding date is extremely important because certain days of the year have significant meaning. If that is the case, start reaching out to venues as soon as possible and see what their availability is. For others, the dream venue is the most important. Make an appointment and go see it and lock in a date as soon as possible. Typically if it is your dream venue, it is a lot of other couple’s dream venue as well and venues can book up peak dates and months two years in advance!
If you are looking for a way to keep up with your budget and deposits and see what you have remaining, click the link below and you can download my user-friendly budget spreadsheet! Plug in your vendors, put what your total contract amount is, put what you paid for a deposit, and it will show you your remaining balance due and your overall total cost. This can help you stay more on tract with your budget.
Click Here to Download the Wedding Budget Spreadsheet
In addition to budget and prioritizing vendors, you also need to write down your top three must haves for the big day. Is having a ton of flowers super important to you? Then make sure you allocate a little less for the caterer/bar and add that to the floral budget. Are you more interested in a high-end caterer or a plated meal? Then maybe hiring a DJ instead of band is a better choice. Writing down and establishing what is important to you can help you determine what you would like to spend on each vendor.
When looking at different vendors, be sure to price out and compare packages. Not every vendor has the same packages so be sure to know exactly what you are paying for. And as a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for. If photos are extremely important to you, make sure you allocate enough of the budget to afford an established and experience photographer. There are certain areas you can cut cost to keep a wedding affordable, just remember like anything else, you get what you pay for.
Lastly, if you need help figuring out what cake vendor to use, or florist, etc., ask around! Vendors love to work with people in the industry who also do a fabulous job and can definitely lead you in the right direction. If you plan on hiring a wedding coordinator or planner, think about booking them sooner in the process, rather than later. A wedding planner or coordinator’s goal is for you to have an amazing and perfect day and they are going to refer you to other vendors who are going to help make that happen. I absolutely love helping brides get the best vendor for their style and budget and it can make the wedding day go much smoother knowing you have a solid team of vendors.
Have any other questions while you are kick starting the planning process? Please feel free to email me! Congratulations again on your engagement and happy planning!