Woohoo! You’re engaged! You’ve laughed, cried and hugged and probably have already made all the calls to your closest family and friends. And while the excitement lingers in the air, it’s also time to start planning your big day. Where to begin?
Here’s a list of a few key points for every couple to discuss before making phone calls and looking at the Pinterest board you’ve had saved for years. We hope this will help you stay focused and prepare you for all the decisions, excitement and fun you have in store.
If you’re anything like me, finding the man of your dreams and getting engaged is something you have longed for. For something that is so important in your life, if you are a person of faith it is vital that we take time to thank the Lord for what He has done and ask His continued blessing on your relationship. Besides, He created marriage and knows how to do it best. Set yourselves up to keep what is most important at the forefront of your relationship.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of planning your wedding, contacting vendors, and picking out a dream dress, but don’t forget to stop and take some time to really talk through what matters most to each of you. Yes, make sure you are on the same page about a big wedding verses a small wedding, or what flavor cake you want, but focus on things that are even more important. If you could each only pick one thing about the day, what would it be? What can you each do on your wedding day to stay connected when you are pulled to chat with your great aunt who flew into town, or take the 100th picture with your college friends? How can you make sure this day is about the two of you, your story, and the future you have planned – so it represents YOU?
Some of these are easy and fun, but it can get tricky when the questions switch to, “what happens when one of our parents disagrees with our decision, especially if they are helping to foot the bill?”. Yes, these conversations aren’t necessarily the most fun, but they do set you up for continuing to develop your communication skills, hopefully minimize snags along the planning process, and most importantly they help you establish a strong foundation going into marriage.
Money. It’s the thing that is most likely to cause arguments between people, which is why being explicit with your plans and expectations is key. If you are able to have no budget and choose everything your heart desires for your big day – that’s awesome! If you need to make selections based on what’s affordable, or if you need to scale back your day to save for the future, that’s great too! There’s not a right answer for “how much should we spend on the wedding?”, as long as you are both honest, comfortable and responsible about the decision you make.
Try asking each other some of these questions:
- Who is paying for the wedding?
- Based on the previous answer, how much can we reasonably afford to spend on this?
- What else would we do with this money, if it wasn’t spent on the wedding?
- If our budget gets tight, how will we adjust our plans to stay on budget, or will we increase our budget? If we increase it, how much?
- How will you feel if we spend this amount on the wedding?
- How can we be respectful of each other’s views in this decision?
4. Guest Count
Coming up with the guest list is arguably one of the hardest decisions for a couple when it comes to wedding planning. You’ll need to determine who you want to surround yourselves with on your wedding day, who your family wants to add to the list, and how many people will bring plus ones. The process can take some time, and you may find yourselves with an A and B list of people who you want to come. Either way, make sure to have a solid idea of how many people you are expecting because this number will be super important to your wedding planner and vendors.
How you are able to shape your day with a menu, venue space, invitations, programs, table centerpieces, favors, etc. will all affect your bottom line, and all of those factors are affected by your guest count. Be prepared to adjust either your plans for the wedding or your guest count in order to stay within budget.
5. Wedding Dates
Now to think about the actual day you will get married. This may be pretty obvious to avoid the day your brother graduates from college or your best friend is getting married, but there are a few other things to keep in mind. Make sure to check the calendar for additional events that could affect who decides to attend your wedding and who decides to skip out. I’ve heard of people getting married on Super Bowl Sunday, which, as you can imagine, created a much different reception vibe than the couple imagined when there were groups of people sitting at the tables streaming the game on their phones. Definitely something you want to avoid if you are hoping to have a packed dance floor!
On another note, it can be helpful to have an idea as to what festivals or events may be happening in town on your wedding weekend. This can either provide a fun activity for your guests to participate in the day before your ceremony, or be a problem with booking local hotels for your out of town guests. You can easily avoid this by checking your local tourist website, or doing a quick event search on Facebook. This will at least give you a quick idea about what to expect as you narrow down your dates.
6. Date Night!
This may sound silly, but many people find wedding planning consumes so much of their time, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Thankfully, if you have a wedding planner, they can help carry that load for you and make each piece seem manageable. Regardless of how you go about prepping for your wedding, taking time to schedule some intentional couple time can be so beneficial!
Doing this can come in all kinds of ways – whatever works best for both of you. Both my sister and I were very intentional to plan a date night during the week leading up to our weddings. That time, specifically, can be crazy as family comes in town, final touches are made, etc., and it’s easy to miss the last few moments of being engaged. Even though the upcoming marriage is what you are looking forward to, the time you are engaged has a purpose too. Embrace the “in-between” by setting aside time to put the business aside and set your eyes on your relationship. You won’t be sorry!