Did you know in the wedding industry we have created our own season,  Engagement Season!  Engagement Season is deemed the most active 4-consecutive months in which couples get engaged over the holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day.  These 4-remarkable months bring families together and the opportunity to celebrate love.  You have just said, “Yes”,  I know your heart is racing, everyone is congratulating you and want to know all the details!  Then someone finally asks the question, “When is the big day?”.  Then everything pauses because reality has just set in and now you have to plan a wedding.  Don’t worry, I am here to help you through this process with (10) tips to start planning your wedding.

THE DATE: When selecting your wedding date, make sure to choose a date that will be most convenient for the two of you.  Select a date that will provide you with adequate time to save and the opportunity to finance (wisely) for the celebration.  Lastly, when selecting the date be aware of any special holidays and how this will affect the attendance of your wedding, if any.

THE INVESTMENT: How much do you want to invest?  Money is always a tough discussion in any type of situation.  However, budgeting for your wedding will help make the decision and planning process definitely stay on target, and it lets you aware of what you can do, where you can improvise, and those things that you just have to say “NO”.  An agreed upon budget helps to keep everyone calm.  Caution to the wind, do not begin the planning process without identifying a budget. I will go more in-depth for 2023 wedding budgets in Part 2 of this series – so stay tuned!  In the meantime, you can read my blog regarding how much I advised to invest in a wedding for 2022 to give you an idea.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT: After deciding on a budget and before organizing details, creating your guest list, pause to prioritize a list of “What’s Important” to the both of you!  List only (5) things that are most important and that both of you will agree upon which will be the focal point of the planning process.  This helps when it is time to make critical decisions and it keeps you on the right path.    

BE FLEXIBLE: Keep an open mind and be flexible regarding your ideas, the possibility of reducing your guest list, the date that you have selected with your wedding day, etc.  Most importantly, keep an open mind to the cost of planning a wedding. Your flexibility will allow the planning process to run smoothly and for everyone to remain calm.

HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER!:  When it comes to wedding planning, every little thing is EVERYTHING. Therefore, a highly competent, reputable and professional Wedding Planner should be number one on your wedding dream team. Why? If for no other reason than their ability to take the stress, worry and tasks associated with wedding planning off of your plate. A Planner brings their MacGyver genius level of intellect of the wedding industry, wealth of innovative concepts, and artistic talents for you to tap into. I will cover the role of a wedding planner in more detail in part-3 of my series to include the levels of service you can hire a wedding planner, i.e., full-service versus wedding event management.

THE LOCATION: Before selecting any of your vendors (besides a wedding planner), your venue is the first priority in the planning process.  Without a venue, you will not be able to inform your vendor professionals specific details about your wedding. When selecting your “I Do” location, create a list of what you are looking for in your venue.  Do you want modern, rustic, classic; do you want to get married in a church; do you want to get married in a hotel or unique venue space; do you want to be in the city; do you want to get married at a location where you can have both ceremony and reception?  These are just some of the things to consider so take the time and research the locations that meet your criteria.

Your Fiancé: With any decision regarding the planning process, both persons getting married should always agree on the details, finances, logistics, etc.  The more he/she knows the happier each will be and the planning process will be a breeze.  Create a centralized location for all your wedding documents (budgets, timelines, contracts, guest lists, etc.) so that both of you will always be informed.  Google Drive is an excellent centralized resource tool for sharing and storing all things wedding!

The Parents: Parents sometimes want to plan the wedding themselves or take complete control.  After you have mapped out the planning process, share this information with them and the role they will play and who will make decisions.  This will let them know how they can be involved, and not overstep any boundaries that you may not want them to cross.

The Wedding party:  Start early with your wedding party by informing them about the details that pertain to them only.  Provide them with deadlines related to their attire, special wedding related events, and how they play an important role in the wedding.  Utilize a messaging App such as GroupMe, to communicate in a centralized location with your Wedding Party on the go!

COMMUNICATE: Communication is a critical component to planning a wedding.  Communication includes many key players that need to receive vital information for pre- and post-planning stages.  As with anything, the more informed people are the more relaxed all involved and plus it makes everyone feel like they are important to contributing to the success of your special day.

ORGANIZE & SCHEDULE: Be Organized!  Can’t repeat the word “organize” enough!  Create a planning calendar with tasks and deadlines, and with whom will be completing with these tasks.  Go to your local office supply store and buy a planner/calendar that also allows you to make notes and has dividers.  You can also utilize online tools from WeddingWire or The Knot (great for task pre-built checklists) or create a separate calendar in your Google Gmail Calendar or Outlook Calendar (great for centralizing all your appointments).  In organizing your calendar, create “time off” every 4-6 weeks; this allows everyone a time to have a little relief from the planning process and for you to concentrate on the love of each other and enjoy being engaged.  Oh, and for all those random thoughts about your amazing wedding ideas, utilize Evernotes or Google Keep, to store your great ideas; and you can share this with your Fiancé.

DELEGATE: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!  As a couple, take your tasks and divide the responsibilities but knowing that some of the responsibilities can also be accomplished jointly.  Outside of yourselves, delegate tasks to family members, the best man, and matron of honor that you “know” will get the job done and not individuals that will only procrastinate and cause friction.  Give everyone deadlines and possibly do a Skype call every 30 days to keep everyone on the same page.  If you have allocated in your budget, a Wedding Planner will be essential to taking on the majority of your tasks and alleviating the stress of the planning process.

RESOURCES: Utilize “trusted” resources!  The best resource is a Wedding Planner!  Professional Wedding Planners have extensive knowledge of the wedding community and have cultivated strong relationships.  Planners can recommend and connect with other wedding professionals without the extensive research and able to negotiate on your behalf (saving you money!).  If you are not able to afford a Planner, get advice from your most valued friends that have recently gone through planning a wedding – ask whom they used and their thoughts of the company.  Other great resources are online wedding publications such as , Washingtonian WeddingsMunaluchi Bridal , PartySlate, Carats and Cake, WeddingWire, and The Knot to name a few.  Another avenue is wedding industry associations who have a complete directory of their members in a variety of professions; WIPA, NACE, The National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals. Lastly, as you are securing wedding professionals, ask them about other wedding professionals that they have worked with and who they recommend. 

I hope the tips I shared will help you with the initial phase of planning your wedding.  Your wedding is a once in a life-time moment that you want to treasure forever; and those memories start with being engaged – to the planning process – to the day of “I Do”.   

(photo credit in this blog:  Brigitte Renee Photography, real weddings by Perfect Planning Events)