I SAID “YES!” NOW WHAT?! – Getting Your Wedding Plans Started

Screenshot 2016-02-28 10.20.40This month’s “The Corner of Chestnut & Vine” is inspired by my friend Lauren who got engaged over the holidays.  Like most brides, one month into her engagement the initial euphoria began to settle down and reality set-in that she has a wedding to plan.  A resourceful law student with little free time to waste, I found the following message in my Inbox, “So I am completely overwhelmed by this whole process.  Do you have any tips, good blogs, anything?!”  Why of course I do, and I have yet to meet a wedding coordinator who didn’t jump at the chance to give solicited wedding advice.  Based on my own experience, the hardest part is figuring out where to begin, which is why I put together this step by step guide for Lauren and all newly engaged couples to kickstart their wedding planning process.  Remember:  the key to not getting overwhelmed is to concentrate on only one aspect of your wedding at a time and before you know it you’ll have an incredible plan in place to guide you up until the day you utter the words, “I do.”

Step 1: Find your location and finalize your date.  Everything else you do (your dress, your colors, your invitations, etc.) revolves around these two important details.  Therefore, focus on venues and available dates before you do anything else wedding related.

Step 2: Make your wedding dress shop appointments.  These appointments fill up fast, especially on weekends, and keep in mind that the average wait time for wedding dresses to be constructed and delivered is 9-10 months.  So make your wedding dress shopping appointments as early as possible to avoid expensive rush fees.

Step 3: Once your wedding venue and date are set, hire either a Wedding Planner/Designer or a Day-of Wedding Coordinator.  If the thought of choosing colors, decor, vendors, menus, favors, musicians, invitations, flowers, etc. sends you into a panic because you are someone who is short on time or has trouble making decisions, a wedding planner/designer is exactly what you need.  These creative professionals will work with you to devise your wedding day vision and handle most or all of the work for you.  Couples who are excited to create their own wedding day vision and figure out all of  the details for themselves should hire a day-of wedding coordinator (such as Chestnut & Vine Day-of Wedding Coordination!). These experienced event professionals will offer guidance through the whole planning process to keep their clients on track and then will take over all of the coordination in the weeks leading up to their wedding day, which  allows the bride and groom (and their family and friends) to enjoy their entire wedding day stress free knowing that all of the details are being handled by a wedding professional.

Step 4: Uncover your inner bride and groom.  Now THIS is the fun part that helps you discover what your dream wedding will be.  Gather your girlfriends together to sip wine and flip through bridal magazines.  Build your wedding inspiration boards on Pinterest to share with photographers, florists, cake designers, and caterers you plan to interview.  Follow professional wedding experts and websites on Instagram and Facebook, and sign-up for their digital newsletters.  Here are a few of my favorite:

The Perfect Palette  (www.theperfectpalette.com; @theperfectpalette): They have every imaginable color combination that will make any ceremony venue and reception hall pop!  Perhaps you have your heart set on a dusty blue but have no clue what to pair with it, this is the site for you!  

Southern Bride & Groom Magazine (www.southernbrideandgroom.com; @southernbrideandgroom) This is the go-to local wedding resource for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the Greater Triangle.  

Southern California Bride (www.thesoutherncaliforniabride.com; @southerncaliforniabride) They have some of the most beautiful photographs that brighten up my Instagram account.  Plus, Lauren (the inspiration for this blog) lives in San Diego and will be a beautiful SoCal Bride.  So, this site is especially for her!

Stephanie Scholl Events (www.stephaniescholl.com; @stephaniescholl)  It was by pure chance that I became friends with Stephanie when I was brought on to assist with a Chapel Hill wedding she was coordinating.  She is making quite the name for herself as a wedding/organizational expert in The Triangle Wedding Industry, and her inspirational Instagram posts are what keep me up-to date on the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill wedding scene.

Wedding Chicks (www.weddingchicks.com; @weddingchicks) – A wedding blog site filled with tips from wedding professionals located all over the world and unique inspiration boards with something for everyone.

WeddingWire (www.weddingwire.com; @weddingwire) The best place to find wedding vendors from every profession in all regions of the U.S. and read honest reviews from couples who have used their services.  

Step 5:   Research, interview and book your photographer.  Not only is it important to hire your photographer early because the experienced, in-demand photographers’ calendars are snatched up quickly, your photographer is another great resource to recommend vendors and offer wedding planning tips.  It is smart to schedule your engagement photos early on to give yourself a chance to find another photographer should you discover your personalities, working styles and artistic vision are not in sync.

Step 6:  Book your officiant.  Some officiant’s require couples to meet with them only once and others require a series of sessions to prepare you for life as a married couple.  Either way, you want to make sure these meetings are on your calendar before your calendar fills up.  Your officiant will also inform you of local marriage license requirements.

Step 7: Choose your wedding party.  If you are still feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask your closest family and friends for help.  They will be excited and honor to help you plan the biggest day of your life!

Hopefully these steps will help Lauren and other overwhelmed engaged couples feel more at ease by giving you a starting point to begin the wedding planning process.  Be sure to visit “The Corner of Chestnut & Vine” over the next few months as I’ll take you through Steps 8 and beyond.  Happy Planning!