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So You’re Engaged… Now What?!


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Congratulations! If you’re reading this post, that means you have found the one you are meant to spend your life with and you’ve made it official! Yay! At first you’re overcome with excitement; you’ve shared photos, updated your relationship status, and spent way too long staring at your left hand, right? (It’s ok, that baby deserves the attention!) And then you realize you now have the overwhelming task of planning a wedding added to your to-do list. But don’t fret! A few baby steps in the right direction and you will be well on your way to the wedding day of your dreams.

#1 Set a budget. The first thing you and your fiancé should discuss is what your budget is for the wedding, and figure out who is paying for the wedding. Are your parents helping? Are you covering all the costs on your own? Figuring out a number you are both comfortable with will be really helpful when you start looking for vendors. You should also figure out what your top three or four wedding priorities are. What are you willing to splurge on, and what things aren’t as important to you? Your dream wedding doesn’t have to break the bank, and planning and prioritizing will help you get the most bang for your buck. Check out this “quick tip” I posted previously on the blog for my two cents on the most important wedding day expenditures. #2 Tentatively set a date. I use the word tentatively because this can be tricky. If you already have a venue or a photographer or another vendor that you are absolutely set on having be a part of your day, you will be at the mercy of their availability. The further out you are planning, the easier this will be. Most venues and photographers book 12-18 months out.#3: Figure out approximately how big your guest list is. This doesn’t need to be an exact figure right off the bat, but having a ballpark number in mind will be helpful when you start to look for venues. There’s no reason to waste your time looking at venues with a max guest count of 100 if you know you have 250 invites to send. Once you figure out what size celebration you’re looking at, you may want to quickly revisit your budget and make sure this number is still realistic, then start researching venues in your area. #4: Schedule venue visits. Now that you’ve got some numbers down and have researched venues, it’s time to go check them out. Some things to consider when you’re looking for the perfect venue (other than its size – to accommodate your guest list from #3 – and its price – to work with the budget and priorities you set in #1) are parking accommodations, weather considerations (if it’s an outdoor venue, what is their rainy day plan?), and what limitations they may have (do they allow outside catering services, etc). Some of my favorite West Michigan venues are listed below:

Downtown: Grand Rapids Public Museum, Bissell Tree House – John Ball Zoo

Outdoor: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

On the Water: Bay Pointe Inn

Rustic / Industrial: Baker Lofts

Rustic / Barn: Wildwood Family Farms, The Barn at Monterey Valley

#5 Choose your Photographer! This is numero uno in my book, obviously, but to be fair, it does make sense to have your date, budget, and location considerations done first. The reason this makes the list as one of the first things you should consider when you get engaged is because, like your venue, photographers book up quick! If there’s a photographer you know and love their work, contact them sooner rather than later about their availability. Of course, I would love for you to choose me to capture your big day, but I know that my services aren’t right for every bride out there. If you do love my work, I would love the opportunity to work with you! Read more about choosing the right photographer here and here.

I hope this little bit of information helps get you organized as you start your wedding planning process. I have lots of other helpful posts for brides to be. Just check out the “For My Brides” section of the blog. Happy Planning!

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