Wondering what to do now that you’ve joined the ranks of the recently engaged? In addition to staring at your left hand for hours on end, there are some essential steps every newly-engaged bride-to-be should put on her to-do list right away. From the fun (get a manicure to show off that sparkling engagement ring!) to the nitty-gritty (set your budget)-these 10 things will get you organized, on track, and well on your way to planning the best wedding ever.
1) Get a Manicure
Take a deep breath. Yes, it’s true you have a lot of decisions to make in the next few months but, for now, take time to enjoy being engaged. Get a manicure to show off that sparkling ring, after all it’s the right hand everyone grabs as soon as you’ve announced your engagement!
2) Set a Timetable
The first thing to consider is how long your engagement will be. This will depend on a couple of factors, such as your ideal wedding date and how much time you’ll need to prepare. 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 of the best suppliers 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?
5) 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 have a conflicting event, holiday, or pregnancy due date? If you have your heart set on a particular place, caterer, band, or photographer, the availability of these crucial suppliers 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.
6) Announce Your Engagement
Call your local newspaper, post it on Facebook, and anywhere else you want your engagement announcement to appear. Calling your nearest and dearest is a nice way to let them know your good news, but if you can’t see or call everyone, consider emails and other social media networks.
7) Choose Your Attendants
It’s time to honor your closest friends and family members by picking your wedding parties. Remember, the earlier you ask, the sooner you can enlist their help. Keep in mind that your wedding party is agreeing to spend their hard-earned money and donate their precious time — be considerate and kind by informing everyone about all your plans, showing them a good time, and making sure they know how much you appreciate them.
8) Make a Guest List
As you begin to build your guest list, you’ll need to consider a number of factors. 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). Would you rather have one-on-one time with each guest or to throw a once-in-a-lifetime party for all your friends and family? If Mum and Dad are adamant about inviting throngs of friends and family, you’ll have to hear them out — especially if they’re footing a major part of the bill. Obviously, the more relatives you must invite, the larger your list will be. And more guests means a bigger bill, as catering costs are generally calculated on a per-head basis. So, in addition to location, your budget will have a big influence on the size of your guest list.
9) 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 consultant to devise a wedding blueprint — including budget, schedule, and lists of good supplier and site choices — before you launch solo into the preparations. Another option is a day-of coordinator (which we definitely recommend), who will make sure everything goes as planned on your wedding day.
10) Start Gown Shopping – Yippee!!
It’s never too early to begin thinking about your wedding dress. Start by figuring out which style will look best on you. How? Learn the lingo before stepping foot in a dress salon. Read up on silhouettes, necklines, trains, and hues that might flatter you. Season will also affect your choice. Getting married in the sweltering summer? Go with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, linen, or organza. Having a winter wedding? Brocade, faux fur, and velvet fabrics will keep you warm. Satin, shantung, silk, and tulle are perfect year-round.