Congrats! Somewhere in the midsts of your friends and family congratulating you on recently getting engaged, the questions are going to start rolling in. It's ok though, there are so many tips and tools out there (and yes, we know that you probably have a secret pinterest board that you've been pinning things to forever) to help you. We've come up with our own team research what we've seen work and what helps you feel prepared for your first few conversations. Now, everyone's wedding is not the same. Some elope, some prefer the large banquet halls and some would rather have a destination wedding. So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your planning time!
DEFINE YOUR BUDGET
I know, this is the scary conversation. But trust me, you want to do this now. This is going to allow you to set parameters, which, believe it or not, will actually make the journey easier and wedding-related decisions less daunting. If you haven’t already, speak with both sides of the family about whether or not they feel comfortable contributing to your Wedding Day budget. Then sit down together and come up with an estimated figure. I will be posting a more concise overview of budget on the AYE Journal soon, but here are some stats and figures for your reference for the time being:
Average cost of a wedding in New Jersey (based on 150 guests): $38,000 - $45,000.
**based on weddings planned and executed by wedding industry professionals
Venue, Food and Drink: 45%
Photography and/or Videography: 18%
Florals and Decor: 16%
Entertainment (DJ): 5%
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
You’ve been dreaming about this day since you were seven, so don’t stop now! Take some time to day dream about the aspects you hope to incorporate into your Wedding Day! Jot down these ideas and take a look at the piece of paper. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you will see the makings of a wedding style/theme starting to form. Farm tables, flower crowns and floral garland... looks like you might be dreaming of an al fresco affair!
Do you have a general location in mind? Will you get married in your hometown? Or maybe your fiance’s hometown? What about where you spent the Summer as a child? Or are you are you dreaming about jetsetting for an intimate destination wedding in Bora Bora? You don’t have to specifically pick your venue at this point. Just hone in on your ideal location.
CREATE YOUR GUEST LIST
You’re thinking, “this is going to be tough” (cue Steve Martin in Father of the Bride cutting everyone from the guest list). But it doesn’t have to be! Create your list with your fiancé by working from the core outwards. Start in this order: immediate family, close relatives (first aunts, uncles and cousins), best friends, family friends, work friends and colleagues, and finally distant relatives (great aunts, uncles, second and third cousins, etc). You can refine later, but at this point you will have a pretty good handle on your estimated guest count.
NARROW YOUR VENUE OPTIONS DOWN (THEN BOOK!)
Now take your dreams and general location and do a little research. Go to weddingwire.com and theknot.com and review venues in your location that have a look that fit your wedding style. Call all of your venue options and set up a time to chat with your venue representative about potential dates. Set up site visits with each venue that has availability. And once you find one that you love, book your date immediately!
And there you go! Five "next steps" that will help you jumpstart the wedding planning journey and lay down a fantastic foundation for your overall plans. I hope you found this guide helpful, and I hope you feel more confident moving forward with this very exciting experience! Comment below with any questions, and of course subscribe to be the first to know about more posts about planning your upcoming wedding!