You’re Engaged – Now What?

You are engaged to the love of your life, your soulmate, your best friend. Life has been good. Your first response to being engaged is excitement. Planning a wedding should be fun and unstressful. Once you start thinking of all the possibilities and money and details you start to get frustrated, freaked out, stressed and overwhelmed. I can assure you that those feelings are normal and most brides / grooms feel them. That does not mean you have to keep those feelings. This article is to give you a few guidelines to keep your stress level down. Take one detail at a time, one task at a time.

What to do first

1. The first thing you do is think about your personality, yours and your fiance's interests. This will help determine what type of venue you'll want to have the ceremony and reception at. Are you outdoorsy? Are you frilly and formal and proper? These are the types of questions that can help not only to decide where you will have your ceremony and reception, but what kind of budget you'll be looking at to spend.

Ceremony & Reception Venues

Ceremony & Reception venues will be the first things you'll be booking. This will determined your date and your budget. The majority of your budget will be the food and catering for your guests.

Some questions to ask seasons is how many people they can accommodate. This will let you know if you can have a big or small wedding. You will want to ask reception venues if they serve their own food; if they allow other caterers in; if they serve buffet style, family style or plated dinners. Buffet is usually cheaper. Plated is usually the most expensive.

Important next steps

2. Guest List – The larger the guest list the more expensive your wedding will be. You already know how many people the reception venue can accomodate so you can start with that number and shorten your list. You and your fiance will have to decide how many people you can order from each side and how many people your parents can attend to equal your total amount of guests you want at your wedding.

When deciding who should be a guest, think about if you have spent time with that person in the last 5 years. If not, no need to invite them. If it's family, think about how close you are with them. If they are distant relatives, sending an announcement can be nice and not inviting them to the actual wedding.

Try to keep as many children out if have a big list. This will allow more of your closest people to come. If you have lots of nieces and nephews decide what age is your limit. Will your siblings be upset if you did not invite your nieces or nephews? Maybe your siblings will be happy to have an adult night out. Will they be able to get a sitter for the night?

3. Photographer – Photographers are an important vendor for your wedding day. They are the one person (s) who will help you remember and capture the special moments on that day. Photographers get booked fast, so research your local photographers, meet with them and look at their personal work and see if that is the style you're looking for. Start writing in a notebook of the types of photos you want taken. Look at magazines and books for photo inspirations. Even look at friends' and family's wedding photos to see what you like and do not like. Talk to other brides who have hired that photographer and ask how they liked dealing with them and if they were happy with their pictures.

4. Videographer – Not everyone hires a videographer, but they are another vendor that has an important job. If it's not in your budget, I highly recommend you ask a few of your friends or family that will dedicate at least 20 to 30 minutes each of videotaping your ceremony and parts of your reception. After your wedding take your raw footage and have a company edit them together for your final cut. You can watch every year on your anniversary. It saves you money from the hiring aspect and it still gives you the memories that you want.

5. DJ / Band – At your reception you want your guests to have fun. They can not have fun without entertainment. A very good DJ or band will get your guests on the dance floor and interact with them. Your guests will have a memorable evening if you hire the right DJ or band. Hiring a live band can be expensive, but if that's your priority it will be totally worth it. DJ's are more affordable than bands usually, because it's one person compared to 5 to 6 people in a band. DJ's have all the latest songs played by original artists. Bands will play a lot of current stuff, but may not have the variety you're looking for. Researching them and listening to them live will give you a good sense if they are worthy of your business. In hiring a DJ or band you need to see video of them doing their job, seeing how they interact with their guests / audiences.

6. Florist – Flowers do help with the feel of the wedding. Even if you're not a flower person, even the smallest little additions to flowers here or there will add to your wedding. Are they a necessity? No, but I think they add to your decor. A good florist will know what to recommend to you after hearing your vision. She / He will know how much or little of flowers will be needed for your wedding. She / He will know what flowers to recommend for the season and budget. Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. You do not want flowers that will overpower your smelling senses. Your florist will know which flowers have strong frangrances.

7. Cake – Is cake a necessity? I attended a destination wedding in St. Louis. Thomas and the bride and groom didnt want a cake. We did not miss the cake at all. The groom and bride decided to have a dessert menu instead. The waiting staff attended out dessert menus and we chose from the menu. It was a great alternative. If you're not in to cake, maybe you're in to cupcakes, cookies or even donuts. IF you are going to have a cake, make sure your cake person knows exactly what you want. If you feel they are not getting it, then move on and hire a different baker. I've coordinated a couple of weddings where the baker was not on the same page as the bride and despite the guests did not know, I knew and the bride knew the cake was not right.

8. Transportation – Limo? Limo Bus? Trolley? Carriage? Classic Car? Antique Car? Rental Car? What will you choose to drive in on your wedding day? The cheapest choice is to drive your own car. However, if you're going to be drinking alcohol, having someone drive you the best choice. Whether you hire a taxi service to drive you back to your hotel or house or have someone you trust to be your appointed driver. Limo cars and buses are great ways to get your whole bridal party to travel with you for photo shoots and to get to your windows all together. Trolleys are another alternative to the limo. It's that same concept but a different look. A carriage is usually just for the bride and groom.