You just got engaged, now what?
I think the first step should always be to soak in this moment and have fun! Enjoy your engagement! One of the first things I did when I got engaged (ok well a few hours after), was talking with my fiance on dates, and venues. Granted he was excited as well but I felt like we should have taken a couple breaths first and just taken a few weeks to enjoy it and not worry about venues or a date. I originally wanted to elope and have a smaller intimate wedding, but due to some other decisions we are throwing a big bash which we are excited for- but keep in mind, whether you elope, have a backyard wedding, or the big thing, this advice will help!
Everyone is different when it comes to wedding planning. Either way I have found that it comes down to what you and your partner truly want.
Everyone is different when it comes to wedding planning. Are you thinking of a longer engagement where you can take your time? Or are you wanting to get all the big decisions decided right away? Either way, I have found, as a wedding photographer and as a bride-to-be, it comes down to what you and your partner truly want. How do you want to remember such a big chapter in your lives?
I have gathered some advice from my past wedding clients to hopefully help in this new season of life. Firstly, this advice will help you take a moment to think about your vision for your wedding day. Secondly, the following advice from brides will give you actionable steps on staying organized and prepared. Also, I want you to keep in mind, that no matter what, your wedding day is going to be magical!
1. Have joy throughout planning and the day! As hard and stressful as it is to plan and execute a wedding day, try to find something to be joyful about. On the day, make it a rule for you and your husband to just be joyful. It doesn’t matter how the day goes, if you’re joyful, your guests will see that and also be joyful! You’re getting married after all!
2. Take it a one day at a time! Too many tasks at one time can be overwhelming. I always worked on a little bit every week (ex: this week ill reach out to my photographer and work on my invites) to keep myself sane!
3. Don’t let the stress overcome you! Your day will be perfect no matter what happens! My husband and I forgot to cut our small cake, our microphone cut out during our ceremony (all things I thought would ruin my day) but it was still the most perfect day!
4. If looking for decorations, a lot of my decorations I found on facebook marketplace and facebook wedding groups that post items that prior brides are seeing. **I will add to this, I have found that renting decorations and doing research on vendors in your area that offer this service was something that took a huge weight off my shoulders. I invested in the set up and take down service because of the value it will bring to me not having to worry about anything. I also find value in Wedding Coordinators, who offer this service and help you with so many details!
5. If looking to cut costs on invites, I purchased a template off of Etsy and had them all printed and cut at office max. I then purchased the envelopes from Hobby Lobby and it saved me a lot of money, especially having a large wedding.
6. Soak it all in! The day goes by so fast. So do all you can to SOAK it all in. Take some time to stand back on your big day and just look around at all your closest family and friends there to support you! Its an amazing feeling!
7. Get out on that dance floor and have a blast! This is YOU and YOUR spouses big day!
8. Make sure you eat your cake at your wedding! The tradition is to save a piece or two for your first anniversary. Don’t bother, it won’t taste the same and you should enjoy the fresh taste on your big day!
9. Designate specific people/family members to help clean up at the end of the night- other than you- especially if you need to be out of your venue by midnight.
10. Designate someone to collect any left-over desserts. We had a lot of left over pie that I bought from an outside vendor and my venue threw it away without asking. Make sure you have someone in charge of collecting things you want to keep.
11. Have the late night snacks- pizza, popcorn, dips. If you are looking to cut something don’t cut the 10pm pizza. People love it and no matter how good your dinner is, they WILL be hungry.
12. Leave some time in your wedding day schedule to just relax.. even if it’s only 30 minutes before the ceremony. The whole day goes by so fast. you will appreciate the time to just relax.
13. EAT the food you serve at your wedding. This might seem basic but seriously. You spent so much time picking the food and desserts for your day, make sure you eat it! Even if you are nervous, or not hungry, eat it!
14. Sneak away at some point just the two of you- bride and groom- and just enjoy the day and the peace and quiet.
15. We personally didn’t want to skip the receiving line after the ceremony. I knew I wouldn’t get a ton of time to connect with everyone so this was a chance to do that.
16. If you don’t have a videographer, have someone film your speeches at the wedding or parts of your first dance on their cell phone.
Focus on what is important to you, and also include others in on the planning process so they understand your thought process of how you want the day to go.
17. Everyone has certain things they want to spend more on. For me it was a good make-up artist and hair stylist- it’s fun being pampered!
18. Make a seating chart. It’s really not that much work and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Some people skip it but as an attendee it takes the stress out of trying to find a table with your friends and reserving seats- just make it easier on your guests to give them a designated seat.
19. Introduce your ushers to the people you want them to seat, so they aren’t guessing who and where Uncle Johnny is.
20. Introduce your photographer to certain family members or make sure your maid of honor knows who they are so they can help organize people for photos.
Organizational Tips From Brides
21. Make a schedule for everyone involved in the big day and give it to them a couple days before.. text it to them, email it to them, send them a picture of it. It can be basic and include where to be and what to bring or it can be extensive. It prevents all the questions of, “I don’t know what time to get there? Where am I supposed to go” Ushers, personal attendants, bridesmaids, groomsmen- especially them 🙂 Remind the boys to bring undershirts, socks and belts. If you think they know, they don’t, they will forget 🙂
22. Bring your decorations in clear totes and label them. Have an inventory list on the box of what’s inside and what it’s for. It helps the day of coordinators and it also helps at the end of the night to see if anything is missing. Make a list of what should be on each table and how you want it set up. Set up your decorations at home and take pictures of how you want your tables to look, include the photos with the list for the day of coordinators
Do not forget to have fun- this day is about you and your partner and the promise you are making to each other, and the lives you are going to build together.
This day is about you two and your happiness. It’s easy to get sucked into wanting to make everyone happy. As a photographer who has documented many weddings, and as a current bride-to-be, I have witnessed and learned that the wedding day for couples can sadly be ruined fast by the littlest things. I truly believe with the advice listed above, but more importantly if you keep in mind what you and your partner truly want, the day will be beautiful. Don’t expect every little thing to go perfectly as planned- understand that things in the schedule might run a few minutes behind, or heck even ahead! Whether you are having a big wedding, eloping, or a intimate wedding of 25 guests, this day is for you two, soak all the little moments in and enjoy it. This is the start of the next chapter.