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Newly engaged, what next?

Hi there!

How exciting!! You just got engaged, you’re over the moon at the idea of sharing the news with family and friends and cannot wait for this big day to come around to celebrate with your loved ones!

As you start on this journey, and your entourage starts asking questions about the big day, you’re probably realizing that you do not know much about planning a wedding, and why should you? This is absolutely normal, and you are not alone. The great news is that you’ve started to take action by doing your research! So, let’s dive into the first few steps to wedding planning.

The When

No matter how much or how little time you have to plan this wedding, starting as early as possible will help you to pace yourself and make the best decisions throughout this process. And let’s be honest, you are probably eager to start looking at venues, dresses and choosing décor and flowers.

However, I would strongly suggest taking so time to bask into the bliss of just being engaged! This is a milestone of its own and needs to be celebrated accordingly. So allow yourself to have dinner or drinks with friends and family to share the news and plan dates with your other half without feeling guilty for not having a date or a guest list for the big day yet.

Generally speaking, most weddings are planned somewhere around 12 months in advance. Now a few factors can come into play here: the type of wedding you would like, whether it will be local or a destination wedding, the number of guests you intend to have, if you are already set on date…

If you have more than 12 months, great! This means you will be able to possibly be able to do more research, pace yourself a bit more and take more break throughout the process. If you have less time, that’s absolutely ok. Nothing is impossible as long as you have a plan.

The How

Ok, you’re ready to get into planning mode… but where and how to start?

If you’ve frantically been doing research on Pinterest, blogs, asked friends etc., you’d likely have been given one of those three answers: Budget, Guest list or Venue. And yes, those are at the top of the list on your planning journey. But how do you know how many people you can afford to invite without 1) an overall budget and 2) knowing how to allocate this budget to the different categories. Similarly, how to know which venue to choose without 1) a dollar amount for this item and 2) knowing if it will suit your aesthetic and your style?

So here’s my 5 steps to starting on your planning journey.

1- Priority list

Figure out what is most important to the two of you for your wedding day. No two weddings are the same and thank goodness for that. This day should represent you as a couple, taking a step towards your future as a married couple.

So what are your ‘must haves’, your ‘that would be nice’ and your ‘can do without’? How do you want this day to be remembered by you and your guests? It can be food, a live band, the décor, the venue, any religious and/or cultural aspects…. What do you like? What do you dislike?

This list will dictate what you should focus on both in terms of time (doing more research, taking more time to make a decision…) and money (your top items may not take the biggest chunk of that budget but may re-arrange your expense distribution on this budget).

Photo credit: Photostock-Studio - Getty Images

2- Budget

This is probably one of the least appealing part of wedding planning, but it is necessary to have the money talk early. You should never start researching venues, vendors or items for your big day before you’ve determined at least an overall budget you are comfortable with, or you risk going over that number quickly.

Weddings are expensive… there’s no two ways about this. Whether on a small, medium or large budget, this will likely be one of the most important financial decision you have to make with your spouse to be (for reference, on average $30,000 are spent on a wedding day in NZ). So approach your wedding planning journey as you would a business plan: your priority list is your goal and mission and your budget is your financial plan.

In order to determine your overall budget, start with deciding on a number that you can set aside each week, fortnight or month and multiply it by the time you have ahead of you (if not specific date set yet, you work off an overall idea as to when you would like to get hitched). To that you can add any saving you can spare and allocate to this big day and any contribution from family if applicable.

Remember that life goes on and you will have bills to pay between now and then (and after the day too).

Allocating this budget can be a little more tricky, however, you can now turn to those templates and advice you may have fond during your research and remember that your priority list will affect the percentage you may spend on the different categories.

3- What, when and where

Since you’ve come up with your priority list, you should have a good idea of what type of wedding you are wanting (religious ceremony, modern or traditional, formal or informal, dinner style and options…) and have an idea of the overall vibe and style. This will therefore help with the type of venue, the time of day, time of the year…

4- Guest list

I know, it sounds very early to start working on a guest list. Especially if you have 12+ months ahead of you. Let’s just call this a draft, your wish list for people to attend. Of course, not everyone will be able to attend and you may remove or add later on during the planning process. However, it is important for you to have an idea of how many people you intend to have on this day in order to start researching venues and vendors. You do not want to fall head of over heels for a venue only to realize later on that they can only accommodate 2/3 of your guest list.

Photo credit: Nadtochiy

5- Venue research

Alright, moving on to a more exciting items on your to do list… you get to visit venues and start imagining what the day will look and feel like!

The venue should be your first booking as the level of services and the conditions in their contract will affect the decis

ions you will then need to make for a number of other vendors (catering, rentals, decors…) as well as your budget.

eg. For all-inclusive, catering will automatically be from the venue’s kitchen and chef. However, if the venue is somewhere between all-inclusive and dry hire, there could be a list of required vendors or preferred vendors, or none (in which case you can hire anyone you prefer for all the services required for the day).

I hope that you found this list helpful and feel a little more confident taking your first step on this exciting journey.

Want a more in-depth step by step agenda for your planning journey? Download our full planning timeline below!

Want a more in-depth step by step agenda for your planning journey? Download our full planning timeline.

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