OMG! It happened. The moment actually happened. The proposal was perfect! You knew it was coming, but not really, and now here you are… engaged!
Thoughts start to run through your head. “Do I hire a wedding planner?” “What vendors do I need?” “My friend’s wedding photographer was good. Maybe I can use her.” “What decor do I want?” “What kind of food? Uh oh! I don’t know any caterers!!!” “What date do we want?” “Where should the wedding be?” “We definitely need a great DJ.”
All of these thoughts stream through your mind on a loop like your favorite Spotify playlist. You don’t mind. It’s all fun and super exciting, but you know you have some work to do and you also know that if you don’t start answering these questions now they will pile up into one big ball of stress.
You dreamed about this moment and it came. You have also dreamed about your wedding. So, how do you get from this moment to your wedding day? THAT wedding day. The one super glued to your thoughts.
Here are the Top 5 things that you absolutely must do first to get from proposal to wedding. Consider this your to-do list:
Figure out a budget. This is the most important first step because this determines every answer to all wedding day questions. It determines the number of guests, the venue, or if there will be an open bar. Knowing your budget first is imperative because it is your guideline for realistic possibilities.
Hire a wedding planner. This may seem self-serving since I am a wedding planner, but it is critical. A good wedding planner bears all the stress of planning your wedding. They should be your BFF throughout the planning process, offering advice and guidance that is in line with your vision. They are also key to saving some $cha-ching$! Event planners have relationships with vendors and can often get clients discounted rates that they are unable to receive on their own.
Find a venue. In all of the dreams you have had about your wedding, what did the venue look like? Find that venue and book it before another couple does! The venue setup will assist in determining any additional decor. I would also suggest that unless your wedding date has extreme sentimental value, you should be flexible. If you really are crazy about the venue with the lakefront view, but it is booked on your preferred wedding date, then move your wedding date. This is also why I have finding a venue before you finalize a date. However, once that venue is found then you can…
Set a date. Once your date is set, then you are able to start shopping for vendors, like DJs, and items, like rentals. Plus, your date affects your budget! For instance, if your wedding is on a Saturday, vendor prices will very likely be more expensive than a Friday, Sunday, or Monday wedding. This takes us back to #1 because your budget may assist in determining your date. If you are really struggling to save money, consider an off-season wedding.
Create your guest list. This is always the tricky one. Do you invite your dad’s favorite aunt whom you haven’t spoken with in almost a decade? If you invite her, then you have to invite your mom’s favorite 10th grade science teacher who put her on the career path to be a chemist. Ahhhh!! Decisions!! Look, invite who makes you happy. This is your day. In all of those dreams were Aunt Charlotte or Mr. Science Guy in the crowd? Remember, even if you have a large budget it is still a budget. Invite who (a) fits into that budget and (b) will warm your heart when you see they have arrived.
With these initial 5 starting points, you are now on your way to making THAT wedding day a reality. Congratulations! Happily ever after has just begun.
This post was written by Goodshuffle contributor, Rachael Schackelford. Rachael Shackelford is the owner of The Event Cottage, a planning company for both wedding and corporate events. Rachael's a former CNN associate producer and Emmy award-winning journalist who spent a decade at the international news network covering and producing the biggest news of a generation from the newsroom and the White House. She also worked as a publicist at a Washington, DC firm with federal, non-profit, and Fortune 500 clients, traveling across the country producing public relations events.