Congratulations, he finally popped the question! Now you find yourself engaged and clueless about what to do first. Well, where do you begin your journey to “I Do”?
We’ve put together an “I’m Engaged To-Do List” for you to use as your wedding planning checklist. You can add to it as you personalize your wedding, but this should serve as a solid base for you to begin with if you’re clueless about what to do next after you’re officially engaged.
Preliminaries: As soon as you get engaged
- Decide on a wedding date as early as now. Do you want it to be a long engagement or a short engagement? You will need to choose a date before you can start booking all suppliers.
- Discuss your budget with your spouse-to-be. How much are you going to spend for your wedding? This sets a solid boundary for what you can accommodate in your plans.
- Decide on your ideal venue. Are you going to do a local wedding at a church, outdoors, or out of town? The vendors you choose for your wedding celebration will depend on your chosen location.
- Choose your theme. Do you want a traditional or a non-traditional wedding? Choose or develop a theme that reflects who you are as a couple for a truly personalized wedding.
- Are you going to do the wedding planning and implementation yourself, or are you planning to hire a wedding coordinator? Decide whether you need a planner and what your level of involvement in the entire wedding planning process will be.
- Start creating your guest list. This will change as your wedding day nears, but you need to think about who you want to invite early on in the wedding planning process. You need to at least know who you definitely want in your entourage.
Your Booking Priorities
After going through the preliminary list of things to do, you need to start booking the locations and service providers who will complete your special day. You also have to start thinking about your entourage, as you will have to fit them into fittings and rehearsals and include them in your invitations later on. For now, though, your booking priorities are the following:
- Wedding venue and reception: Booking venues for wedding celebrations can be competitive, especially during peak wedding season in June. It’s best to book as early as possible. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, make sure to book an alternate location or a tent as well in case the weather does not cooperate on your wedding day. Ask if the venue comes with a wedding officiator – most venues do, but others may not, which means you will have to book the officiator separately.
- Wedding photographer and videographer: You and your fiancé should start looking at photography and videography service providers to select the one who can produce the look and feel you are going for in your wedding day.
- Wedding car: Like the wedding venue, booking your wedding car can be competitive, especially if you’re going either for a classic vehicle or a luxury one. Start looking at cars and calling bridal rental service providers for a quote.
- Musicians, wedding singer(s), DJ and other entertainment:Talk to local providers to make transport to your event easier. Decide with your partner whether you want traditional entertainment such as music and audio-visual presentations, or if you want more engaging entertainment such as games or a photo booth that encourages guests to actively participate. Talk to vendors early to get the best deals.
- Utilities (Lighting, sound system, etc.): In the early stages of planning, you won’t know at once what is included in your event package. Make sure to ask about the coverage of utilities when shopping for an event organizer – this saves you time from looking for lighting and sound system providers.
- Caterer: Start looking for a caterer who will serve perhaps the most important meal of your life. You can do this after booking all the other vendors, but start shopping around for caterers early so you can create a shortlist of candidates and schedule your food tasting at the most convenient time for you and your future husband. Find out if they cover all aspects of catering (including servers) so you know if you have to find another provider of servers.
- Florist: You can book a florist last, but make sure you still book ahead. The look and feel of your wedding can be made or broken by your bridal bouquet arrangement, the entourage bouquets, the wedding venue setup and the reception setup.
- Hair and makeup: Will you be doing your own hair and makeup, or are you going to hire a professional? Make sure you talk to hair and makeup artists early on to schedule your trial run early.
For the Bride
There are some things that the bride will primarily be concerned about, such as:
- The wedding dress (and all other dresses for her entourage). “The Dress,” or simply put, the wedding dress, should make you feel like a true queen on your big day. It’s important to find the perfect dress (if you’re buying a ready-made one) or the perfect designer (if you want a bespoke gown). You also need to decide what your entourage will wear, and whether you are going to buy them ready-made or have them designed exclusively as well.
- Wedding vows: This is optional and depends largely on your wedding script, but if you do decide to include this, remember: no one can write your vows to your future husband better than you! Set aside some of your time from wedding planning frenzy to write those vows.
- Notice of Intention to Marry: This isn’t exclusively for the bride, but this might be on your list of to-dos. Fill this out no more than six months before your wedding date and no less than one month and one day prior.
- Invitations: Make sure to find a designer and printer for your wedding invitations so you can have them all printed and ready to mail after you file your Notice of Intention to Marry. This gives your guests enough time to clear their schedule and RSVP for your wedding, and it gives you enough time to discuss seating arrangements and head count with your caterer and your venue.
- Seating plan: You will need to finalize the seating plan at your reception to make sure your family and friends who RSVP are given seats in tables where they will be most comfortable. This can be tricky especially in bigger families, so have a tentative seat plan ready and make adjustments and finalize when RSVPs come in.
Make sure to have a back-up plan for everything, because no matter how much attention you put into your planning, unexpected setbacks may and do happen. Have an alternate venue if it rains, back-up for your entourage in case someone pulls out at the last minute, and tell your caterer to prepare meals that will cater to every type of guest – you never know who’s going vegan now.
In the middle of all wedding planning frenzy, don’t forget two things: that this is a celebration of love, and that you should take care of yourself before the wedding! Take some time to pamper yourself, or take your fiancé along and turn it into a bonding experience. Congratulations, you’re getting married!