We’re Engaged! Now what?!

Congratulations on your engagement! You’re basking in the happy anticipation of your new life together and looking forward to your wedding day. You’re envisioning yourself clad in white (or cream? or lilac?) holding a lovely bouquet of– roses? calla lilies? wild flowers? — as your mom and bridesmaids (sister? cousin? best friend from college?) beam at you in their matching bridesmaids dresses (pink? brown? long? short?). And then it dawns on you: Planning a wedding involves lots and lots of decisions! Before you start feeling overwhelmed, take a look at this handy to-do list from TheKnot to get yourself sorted out!

1. Determine a Date

Choosing a wedding date can be tougher than you’d think. There are a few things to consider:

  • How much time will you need to prepare for your wedding?
  • Do any loved ones having a conflicting graduation, vacation, or pregnancy due date?
  • Availability of a particular place, caterer, band, or photographer.If you have your heart set on any of these crucial vendors, that may also play a large part in your decision.
  • Try to avoid dates of big conventions or other events that draw large crowds, since that might make it harder for out-of-town guests to get hotel rooms. Find out more wedding dates to avoid here

2. Set a Timetable

Consider is how long your engagement will be.  A typical engagement lasts anywhere from six months to a year and a half or more. If you got engaged during the holidays but always wanted a summer wedding, make sure you’ve got enough time to plan without making yourselves wedding-crazy, and keep in mind that many vendors and reception sites book a year or more in advance.

3. Envision the Style

Your wedding style will be reflected first and foremost in the location, whether it’s a luxe ballroom or an intimate backyard reception. Discuss with your fiance where your wedding will take place (in one of your hometowns or in the city where you currently live, for example), and then start scouting sites that can accommodate your wedding style.

4. Set Your Budget

In the end, dollars, not dreams, are a main determining factor for the size and style of your wedding. So, what affects the price tag?

  • Formality: In general, the more formal the reception, the more expensive, considering you’ll have to match the site, food, and decor to the overall upscale tone.
  • Date and time: Saturdays, summer months, and evenings tend to be the most costly times to have a reception.
  • Location: In many cases, a wedding in a major metropolitan area is simply more expensive than in a smaller town.

5. Announce Your Engagement

Call your local newspaper, your alumni magazine, and anywhere else you want your engagement announcement to appear. Find out the name of the appropriate editor or department and ask for the writer’s guidelines or a standardized form, if available. Also, ask if there’s a fee for publication. You can also broadcast the news on your blog, by email, or by creating a wedding web page.

6. Choose Your Attendants

Although not mandatory, some like to honor their closest friends and family members by including them in the wedding parties. Remember, the earlier you ask, the sooner you can enlist their help.  Usually members of the wedding party are agreeing to spend their hard-earned money and donate their precious time, so be considerate and kind, keep them informed, and make sure they know how much you appreciate them.

7. Make a Guest List

Location and budget will have a big influence on the size of your guest list.  If you have a particular ceremony or reception site in mind, for instance, you’re going to be limited by how many people it can accommodate (you can’t squeeze 300 people into a lighthouse). And more guests you invite means a bigger bill, as catering costs are generally calculated on a per-head basis. So figure out how many people you can accommodate, and then work on filling it in with those nearest and dearest to you.

8. Consider a Consultant

If you’re a super-busy couple, hire a full-time wedding consultant to help you prepare your entire event, from the announcement to the honeymoon. You can also hire a part-time planner to devise a wedding blueprint — including budget, schedule, and lists of good vendor and site choices — before you launch solo into the preparations. Another option is a day-of coordinator, who will make sure everything goes as planned on your wedding day so you can relax and enjoy yourself.

9. Start Gown Shopping

It’s never too early to begin thinking about your wedding dress. Start by figuring out which style will look best on you. Learn the lingo by reading up on silhouettes, necklines, trains, and hues that might flatter you. Season will also affect your choice. Summer gowns are made with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, linen, or organza. A winter wedding calls for brocade, faux fur, and velvet fabrics to keep you warm. Satin, shantung, silk, and tulle are perfect year-round.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you as you start planning for your big day! We wish you only happiness as you plan your wedding and prepare for the marriage that comes after it! Congratulations!