Hey, lovelies! I’m Evan Lane, a family and wedding photographer here in the great state of Virginia. I’ve been in the photography biz for about 6 months now and have loved every second of it. With that being said, I am so much more than that. I’m a daughter, sister, believer, friend, dog mom, and fiancée. Yep, you heard me right. A FIANCÉE. Tyler and I are getting married June 20 of this year and are SO excited because it’s finally our time. We’ve been engaged for over two years now. I know… y’all are like, WHAT? Why so long? Well, to be honest, wedding planning is overwhelming. Especially, when you want it to be extravagant and charming yet intimate and within budget. You think that wouldn’t be too hard, right? WRONG. It’s tough, so tough. Vendors are expensive and are a hot commodity when thousands and thousands of brides are also looking for vendors in your area. Trust me, if anyone gets it, it’s me. Me, the girl who took over two years to plan her wedding because she didn’t know where to begin and couldn’t imagine ever getting to her wedding day and having everything done. So, now that my wedding planning is nearing the end, I thought I would share what I’ve learned in hopes that you, lovely bride-to-be, would not be in the dark as much as me! SO, LET’S BEGIN!
10 Things to Remember as you Begin Wedding Planning
- Figure out your budget. This is not only your budget for the whole wedding itself but also what you want to spend on each vendor. This touches on my 2nd tip a bit, but find what’s important to you and prioritize that in your budget. For example, if photography is most important to you (just a little bias over here) and you want to spend a lot of money on a great photographer, then budget your money so that you are able to do that. Then, be willing to spend less money on something that is not as important to you. Okay, let’s move on.
- Take time to figure out what YOU want. I can’t express this enough!! This does not mean what your parents want, not what you think everyone else will want or love, but what YOU as a couple want. When do you want to get married? What season? What timeline is realistic for you? If you want to plan a wedding in two month, DO IT! If you want to have a long engagement, DO IT! This is YOUR time and your timeline.
- Book your venue first. Your venue is central to your wedding theme and will be what secures your date. From there, you can expand on what you want your theme to look like because you know what space you are working with. Some venues may require you to use their vendors as well. It would be terrible to have a bunch of vendors and not be able to book your dream venue because you can’t use the vendors you already have.
- Get a wedding planner. Trust me on this one. I really, really recommend getting a wedding planner at the beginning of the wedding planning process. They will walk with you through the journey and have wonderful suggestions. Bonus points if your planner has worked a wedding at your venue. If so, they are able to suggest the best vendors who have done weddings where you’re getting married.
- Add tipping your vendors into your budget! THIS IS A BIG ONE and something most people don’t think about until the last minute. Here are some sites that talk about proper tipping for your vendors. Please don’t skimp on this! Aside from being a vendor myself, my vendors that I have hired for my wedding have already done so much for us and they deserve it after my high maintenance self requested so much from them!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to say no! No question is stupid, too big, or unimportant. You are spending a lot of money to secure and have your vendors provide a service for you on the biggest day of your life. Before you secure them and even after, do not leave any stone unturned. Ask away!
- Secure hotel rooms as soon as you can. Typically hotels don’t let you book until about a year out. This may not be a problem for some, but for some who are having a long engagement like myself, it’s important. Especially if you are having a destination wedding, you will need to book multiple hotels rooms and hotels. Hotels typically only let you hold 10 rooms for your wedding block. Once you book those 10 rooms, they may or may not allow you to open another block depending on the amount of rooms available. So, I advice you book a block at 2-3 hotels just so you have that part covered.
- Make a website! This really saved my life. On my website, I was able to link the hotel accommodations, share Tyler and I’s story, tell people where we were registered, and have a ‘Frequently asked Questions’ page. I then put the link to my website on my Save-the-Dates and it has worked great. Here are some places where you can make free wedding websites:
- Invite who you want. This ties a bit into tip #2, but this was one of the most stressful things about my wedding planning process, personally. If you’re anything like me, you have a pretty big family and lots of friends, but only a certain amount of people you can fit into your venue. So, you have to condense. You don’t want to hurt peoples feelings which makes it harder. So, here’s my advice to you!
- Write down all of the people you want to invite (even it’s more than your venue will hold).
- Divide your list into ‘A’ and ‘B’. This will be the people you couldn’t imagine not having at your wedding (‘A’ list) and people you would love to have, but would be okay if they weren’t there (Harsh, I know. But it has to be done).
- Once your ‘A’ list is packed to the brim (keep in mind about 15-20 people probably won’t be able to come), send out your Save-The-Dates to your ‘A’ list.
- You will be surprised to learn some cannot come. If that’s the case, go ahead and send your Save-the-Dates/invites out to some of the people who are high in your ‘B’ list. Continue to do that until your list is full!
- Enjoy your day! This is 110% the most important of all. I saved the best for last! After having a long engagement, i’ve grown to realize that everything that i’ve worked so hard on is just background noise to the one thing that matters the most; you and your future as husband and wife. Your day will go by so fast and you won’t have time to stop and notice all the things you did to plan for your wedding. The only thing you’ll be focused on is marrying your best friend in the entire world and all the people who took time out of their busy lives to celebrate you two becoming one.
Advice from the Experts
Don’t just take advice from me. I mean, what do I know? I’ve only been through the engagement and wedding planning process. However, these beautiful ladies, have been through it all! They’re the experts and they want to help you! So here’s some advice from those who have been there and are sharing their wholesome wisdom:
- “Organization is key. I own my own wedding planning business, Gracefully Created. When my husband and I got married last year keeping a running list on excel saved us!” – Stephanie Elizabeth, Owner of Gracefully Created Weddings & Events (Gracefully-created.com)
- “Prepare for your marriage more than anything else. Your wedding day lasts one day- your marriage lasts forever. Allow yourself to pick things you both want for the day rather than everyone else. I often see so many of my brides not enjoying their day because it didn’t feel like it was theirs. You know you best. Don’t forget to be in the moment and take a step back to just look around at all the people there that love and support you!!” -Madisen Hopper, Madisen Hopper Photography (www.madisenhopperphotography.com)
- “The earlier you start planning the better. You will experience hiccups along the way and if you give yourself plenty of room to correct them your stress may be lower. Finding the venue should always be first. Be flexible with your date at venues then book other vendors. For your first year of marriage, be intentional to still date or pursue each other. Life kicked us in the teeth our first year of marriage but my husband and I always intentionally made sure the other knew they had someone cheering for them and supporting them all the way. Little things like doing dishes or making a coffee first thing in the a.m. can be sweet reminders too.” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Use a wedding book to keep important documents and names/numbers all in one place” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Don’t take things so seriously, realize that our culture and media has glorified the wedding process and wedding above the actual marriage itself, just have fun with it and don’t compare your journey to other people!” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Stay organized but still have fun with each other! Go on dates and still make each other a priority. Wedding planning can be stressful as well as dealing with all the drama that comes with family but make time for each other in the middle of the madness.” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Accept the help of others. If someone offers to find addresses or seal envelopes or organize something for you, let them. You have so much to keep track of already, it’s okay to delegate the little things. And don’t let the expectations of others about what a wedding should be dictate what you do. Weddings today are incredibly varied, if you want a pie instead of a cake, etc., go for it.” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Don’t do wedding favors. Do a first look.” -Sweetly Anonymous
- “Be open to opinions/advice – especially from other married couples – about tips/tricks/things to consider but don’t be afraid to say no. It is your wedding after all. You can say thanks but no.” -Sweetly Anonymous
I hope you love this post as much as I enjoyed creating it for you, sweet brides-to-be! I pray it helps you as you venture on this beautiful, blissful journey that you will never forget!