Entertain | February 2016
Find your way to premarital bliss
with some expert advice
Story by Michelle Hope
Photography by David & Tammy Molnar
& Christen Jones Photography
Make the big announcement
Get the word out officially and show off your bling! Let both of your families know in a special way first, and then share the news publicly. This gets everyone excited and the free advice will begin flowing in. You can even do a fun photo session to use on social media announcing the news!
The ‘B’ word
Before you delve into planning and designing your dream wedding, determine a realistic budget. Figuring out an estimated guest count is important and will help guide you in nailing down a budget. The average wedding cost in the South, based on 250 guests, is $30,000. We like to tell brides to consider taking all of your guests out to dinner at a nice restaurant. That cost in addition to a private location, ceremony cost, and entertainment and decor all factored in can add up quickly and make sense of why the budget seems higher than you would expect. The dress and other necessary details are not even factored in yet so you can see how it adds up quickly.
Set the Date
Knowing the season or month you want to marry in will help you in choosing that perfect date, but flexibility can be an asset when searchingfor venues and ceremony locations. Many couples plan 10-12months out so popular venues may not have the first date you want open. Keep in mind — Friday and Sunday’s are usually a more economical option if you are on a tighter budget. Once you set the date you should book the church/ceremony location and reception venue. However, if you are considering hiring a full service planner, don’t sign any contracts or hire any other vendors until you have hired the planner. They can negotiate contracts and often offer discounts that will save you money on the front end.
Get Organized (or Hire Someone Who Is)
If you are doing all the planning yourself- start researching. You don’t want to skimp on your own wedding and without any prior experience you are setting yourself up to be overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted throughout the process. Get a notebook to keep everything organized. You should include your budget, vendor information from meetings and your vision — aka lots of photos and examples from magazines. If you are spending close to the averagewedding cost, you can afford to hire a wedding planner. This will be the best money spent and hopefully (if they are experienced and good) they will help you maximize your budget and create the wedding of your dreams with very little stress! In the least — if you cannot afford a professional planner to help you from start to finish, consider hiring a day of coordinator. This will allow you to enjoy the day and all that you have planned.
Hire your A-Team
I recommend making a priority list of what the most important aspects of your wedding are to you and your fiancé. For example, you love to dance and your fiancé loves to eat. Make sure you allocate money in your budget according to your priorities.The band and caterer would be where you want to spenda little more money to ensure you get top notch professionals that will exceed your expectations. Once you really jive with a vendor, ask them who they like to work with! The wedding industry is a small world and having a team that works well together ensures a successful event. Don’t be afraid to check references for vendors either. You don’t want to have any regrets and there are too many reputable companies to settle for second best.
Choose your people
Who will stand by your side? You can find a unique way to ask your bridal party to be part of your wedding. There are tons of ideas online to help you. Once you enlist them — let them help you in the planning if you need it.
Say Yes to the Dress
You don’t want to wait too long to start dress shopping. It can take months to get in that perfect dress and then you almost always have alterations. Looking your best can take some work — so the sooner you start, the better. Finding that dress can also help you jumpstart your wedding diet if you intend to start one.
Congrats! You are engaged. Now what? Here is a simple guide to help you get the planning process started. These basic tips will help cover a few of the bases and send you on the way to living out your wedding dreams.