Did you just get engaged? Congratulations! We’ve got 7 essential tips for newly engaged couples that will help you figure out what’s next! We planned our own wedding in 2009, and we’ve helped thousands of brides and grooms over the years. So we’ve got a few personal stories to share, along with common sense advice to help you make sense of your new adventure.
Tip 1: Wait! Don’t Jump In to Planning Yet!
We know you’re ready to get started with the planning, but don’t rush it! Enjoy being engaged for a little bit, this is a special time. Planning is stressful – it may be the biggest challenge you two have faced so far. So enjoy this moment! Take some time to yourselves to dream a little before making it a project.
This is something we didn’t really do. Surprise, we’re both hyper planners. In retrospect, we probably should have waited a little bit and enjoyed it a little more.
Tip 2: Make Your First Guest List and Budget
Go somewhere together where you won’t be disturbed: maybe go on a drive, take a walk, do something where the two of you can talk and take notes. Work together to make a list of the top MOST important things to you for your wedding. For us, it was photography (so our memories would be captured well), invitations (because we do that!), and the dress (because Melissa sews and she was super excited to create her own gown).
We did this in the car on a trip back from St Louis – actually BEFORE we were engaged (that’s how hyper planner we are). But it was a perfect environment for us to talk without distractions, and it made the miles fly by. Just give yourselves permission to change this first draft, because it’s definitely going to change.
Tip 3: Select Your Venues and Dates, but Be Flexible!
We had our hearts set on a huge, beautiful Presbyterian church here in downtown Chattanooga. Once we visited and saw the cost and rules, it didn’t feel right for our wedding. We ended up finding a smaller church on top of Lookout Mountain, and it was perfect!
Even if you’ve been thinking about a particular venue for a long time, don’t be afraid to change your mind once you actually make a visit. If you’ve got a feeling that something’s not the right fit for your wedding, then don’t do it.
As far as the date, start with a range and narrow it down based on availability. September and October are popular, as are May and June, so availability for venues will be limited in those months. Flexibility is key at this stage, and you may have to make a decision about whether a particular venue or particular date is more important.
One last thing about dates: Try to steer clear of major holidays unless there’s some family significance to it, or you’re planning a smaller celebration. After all, the idea of a big Christmas wedding might sound charming, but very few people outside of your immediate families would be willing to shelve their own Christmas traditions for a year in order to attend your wedding.
Tip 4: Consider Using a Wedding Planner
Let’s face it, you’re probably rookies at this whole wedding thing, even if you’ve been in your friends’ weddings. As you have probably already discovered, there’s a lot more to planning one than being in one. Wedding planners have a remarkable level of expertise, connections, and experience to help you. Many wedding planners have different packages with different levels of service for a wide range of budgets. And if you really, truly can’t afford one, there are websites and apps that will help
We planned everything ourselves, and we wish we had used a real planner! The stress relief would have been worth the expense, and having a planner might have helped the day feel like less of a blur. That’s something that sticks with you for the rest of your life.
Tip 5: Be Careful What You Share
We understand, you want to make your engagement “official” on social media – that’s fine, once your families know. (Seriously, be sure your families know first!) But be careful how much of the planning you share on your social feeds. You don’t need a bunch of unsolicited advice, and you definitely don’t need people inviting themselves! And yes, that will absolutely happen.
Social media has changed a lot since we got married. In some ways, we’re old dinosaurs. Still, good advice doesn’t change, even if the platforms do. Resist the urge to throw everything on insta and snapchat, and don’t share every one of your Pinterest boards. Too much sharing leaves no surprises for your guests!
Tip 6: Partner with a Pro for Your Printed Goods
DIY is great, and there are lots of good tutorials out there for different techniques to create invitations. However, professionals have expertise and access to materials and techniques you simply don’t have. Consider this: Do It Yourself doesn’t mean “Go It Alone.” We serve many couples who do their own assembly so they can add their personal touch to the invitations we create.
Working with experts means less stress for you. Let the pros take care of the technical stuff, so you get to focus on the fun stuff. After all, the fun stuff is the best part!
Tip 7: Your Wedding is the First Day, not the Only Day
We’re going to say something a little controversial here: The most important thing in all of this is actually NOT your wedding day – it’s your marriage! If the wedding isn’t 100% perfect, that’s ok! Your wedding day is literally the first day of the rest of your lives, so invest in your relationship more than the ceremony.
We did premarital counseling as part of our engagement, and we learned things about each other that are still part of our everyday lives. If nothing else, pay attention to how your future spouse prioritizes and plans with the wedding. You’re going to learn a lot about each other doing this together!