So the overwhelming tasks of choosing a location, season, date, along with finding the perfect ceremony & reception venues are behind you and you are left with piles of wedding magazines and likely a list of "preferred vendors" from your catering company and venue. Hopefully the budget and guest list are for the most part done given that a rough draft of both are definately needed before booking the big day. Where do you begin ? We get this question quite frequently from our readers and wanted to take the time to help organize this for all our brides to be. Unfortunately, there is not ONE right way. Different brides have different priorities to where they want and need their next move to be. Different geographic locations will need you to pay attention to different things before others, and different time lines will also come into play when trying to map out your next move.
Our biggest piece of advice is to organize and research. Give yourself only one or two tasks at a time so as it does seem overwhelming. Everything will and does get done, but having a focus helps keep you sane. If you are planning to send save the dates or a wedding website, this might be a good place to start. This takes some of the stress out of having to choose another vendor and helps get the bride and groom excited for what is to come. If an engagement party is being planned, it is also a good time to focus on that and have some fun before diving into some of the other tasks. If the engagement party is the only pre-wedding party that you will be having(i.e. no bridal shower), bride and grooms usually opt to register. If this is the case, registering for the party before the invites are mailed will also be priority.
The wedding dress and bridesmaid dress orders typically take some time so beginning the dress hunt (see our previous posts on how to get that fabulous task started!!) is usually important. Choosing a bridal party (if you choose to that is) should also be done in the first few months. Not only is this proper etiquette, but its also essential to having assistance in all of these wedding tasks. Bridesmaids are an excellent source of help and support and while all of your real friends will be during this time, its helpful for them to know in advance as well as they are going to need to prepare emotionally, financially, as well as with their schedules.
Vendors that tend to book furthest in advance are photographers and entertainment, i.e. band and d.js. Beginning to do some research, check out websites, schedule appointments and go to band/d.j. showcases will be a good place to start with this. Always think about people in your life that may have trusty referrals. An old friend, a relative whose wedding you adored, or even online community sources such as..you guessed it, blogs! Florists, limos, hotels, makeup, hair and invitations can usually wait while you and the groom handle the rest aforementioned tasks.
While this is a very brief summary simplifying enormouse tasks, it is a guideline to map out the plan of action in advance. Of course, keep in mind that things don't always work out how you planned and that is OK to. So if you happen to fall in love with a florist that you met while booking your venue, go ahead and book him/her. Be flexible! Just make sure that you don't make any decisions under pressure. Always give yourself a night to think, process, and compare before signing contracts and handing over that check.
And our most vital piece of advice is to discuss all decisions and plans with your fiance' and enjoy every moment. While the decisions may seem stressful at the time, it is how you come to the decisions together as a unit that foreshadows so much of what is to come in your marriage. And taking the time to stay present through it all makes the process that much more enjoyable. Which is probably why I was filled with tears of nostalgia and joy as I flipped through my wedding album for the first time this weekend, a month before the marking of our first anniversary together!!