Happy Holidays, and congratulations on your engagement!
It’s true! Did you know that the majority of couples become engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, with the single most popular day being Christmas? And why not? It’s the most cozy, romantic time of the year, made for snuggles in front of the fire, fairy lights (think diamonds!), hot chocolate and mulled wine, and all things red – the color of love and passion!
If you are basking in the glow of a holiday engagement, you are probably a bit uncertain about what to do first. While the period just following the engagement season is a great time for wedding professionals to spend time with you getting started on your wedding planning, as it is a quiet period for actual events, it can be an awkward time for booking. If you want to get married in the coming summer or early fall, the most popular wedding seasons in Colorado, you may find that you are already locked out of your chosen or preferred venue, as well as some caterers, photographers, musicians, etc.
To have the most successful experience, here are the top six things you should do – in this order – once you’ve spent a little time celebrating your engagement with your family and friends:
1. Talk with your fiancé about the kind of wedding you both would enjoy, and with both your fiancé and relevant family members about a possible budget.
Where would you like the wedding to be? How many people do you want in attendance to help you celebrate? Do you want an indoor or outdoor event? Will your ceremony take place in a house of worship? How formal should it be? Is there a season that would be best for your wedding based on your work schedules? And what can you reasonably afford?
You don’t have to have final answers to all of these questions, but getting focused on them will get you thinking “big picture”, as well as help direct you to venues that will be a good fit for your wedding.
2. Begin a venue search.
Once you know your approximate guest count and general wedding preferences, do some basic research for venues that might meet your criteria. If you are local to the area you may want to go ahead and arrange a few tours, and get an idea of availability. However, if you possibly can, avoid choosing a date before you have your venue(s).
3. Research and schedule a meeting with a competent and experienced wedding planner.
Now that you have a general idea of your preferences and have checked out a few venues, it is time to strongly consider hiring a competent wedding planner. We do not recommend this simply because we are wedding designers, planners and managers, and love to have business – even even if we just wrote a wedding blog we would give the same advice. You may think you can’t afford a planner, but the real question to ask is whether you can afford not to have one.
The work of the planner is not just to free up the time of the couple or family, although we certainly do that. An experienced planner is truly an expert, particularly within the community or state where you plan to wed. She will know what you can realistically expect in costs (many of us start by setting a comprehensive budget with the couple and family) before you get too deeply into it only to find that you don’t have enough money.
Of crucial importance, she will be familiar with the majority of venues, and if you are facing booking problems, she may very likely be able to recommend great places you have never heard of. She will also be able to help you compare and contrast, navigating the maze of what is included, and what is not included, in the pricing of each venue – as well as the overall quality of experience with many venues.
Of utmost importance, she will have stellar vendor and wedding professional recommendations and will know to whom you should be steered, based on the vision you have for your wedding, and your budget. All of her recommended professionals will be people she has known and come to trust. In major metropolitan area like Denver or Colorado Springs, reaching out to unknown vendors can be both hazardous to the success of your wedding and cost you money you don’t need to spend. Your planner will advise you how spend your money wisely – and more often than not pays for herself in the process.
Most planners offer different levels of service, based on your needs. Talk through the various choices until you can determine which suits you the best.
3. Get your date chosen and your venue(s) booked.
If you are planning a wedding in the coming year you and your planner will want to get your date chosen and your venue booked as soon as reasonably possible in the new year. At this point do not try to spend undue amounts of time thinking too much about details – colors, décor, menu and the like. There will be plenty of time for these decisions later. Focus on the most important early tasks first.
4. Book key vendors and professionals.
Once your date and venue(s) are set, with your planner’s help you should now begin locking in key wedding professionals – particularly those who can only do one wedding a day or a weekend (that is, may book up the most quickly). These include your photographer, videographer, band or DJ, and some hair and makeup artists. These are critical components to your wedding and the best ones book up quickly and many even limit the number of clients they take per year. By booking early, you avoid settling for someone other than your first choice. If not provided by your venue, you should also be investigating and booking an appropriate caterer, again with your planner’s help and advice. A good caterer is absolutely essential to the success of your wedding.
5. Go dress shopping!
We generally recommend waiting to select your wedding dress and bridesmaids attire until you have determined the formality, style and the season of your wedding. However, you do want to allow sufficient time for custom orders and fittings. So once you have your date and venue set, and are starting to get your vendors lined up, go shopping! Take one or two friends or family members with you to give advice. Again, be sure to stay conscious of the character of the venue(s) and the season.
6. Start gathering inspiration for your design aesthetic and choosing your creative partners.
Now that you have the above big items checked off your list, you can really get into the fun of planning the aesthetic and details of your wedding. If your planner is helping with design, she will work with you to bring your vision to life – creating vision boards, meeting with florists, cake and décor companies, and gradually completing a picture that matches your vision, style and personalities.
By approaching your wedding planning in this systematic step-by-step fashion you will avoid becoming overwhelmed. Above all, enjoy the process!