bride and groom exiting wedding with dried flower petals

October 24, 2023

Samantha Couick

The Ultimate Guide To Wedding Planning

Getting engaged is one of the most exhilarating and memorable moments in anyone’s life. It’s a time filled with excitement, joy, and the promise of a beautiful future together. I remember how excited I was when my husband popped the question in our future home. However, as the initial excitement settles, you might find yourself wondering, “What to do now that I’m engaged?” This blog post is your ultimate guide to wedding planning and what to do after you get engaged, helping you plan a wedding you will love! Use this wedding planning checklist to guide you from now to your “I do’s.”

proposal in downtown Charlotte, NC

Celebrate the Moment

Before diving into wedding planning, take some time to savor the joy of your engagement. Celebrate this significant milestone with family and friends. Host an engagement party or intimate dinner to share the good news with your loved ones. Cherish this time together, as the wedding planning process can become quite busy.

  • Share the News

Announce your engagement to the world! You can do this in several ways, including a traditional newspaper announcement, social media posts, or even a heartfelt letter to close family and friends. Sharing the news allows you to feel the love and excitement of those around you, which is a beautiful part of the engagement journey!

Set a Budget

One of the most crucial aspects of wedding planning is establishing a budget. Have an honest conversation with your partner and any contributing parties about how much you can afford to spend on your big day. Creating a budget early on will help you make informed decisions as you move forward with planning. Once you create a budget you can also figure out which vendors and parts of your day are most important to you. For example, I really wanted a good photographer, so most of our budget went to that.

Choose a Date

Selecting a wedding date is an essential decision. It influences the season, venue availability, and the overall theme of your wedding. Be mindful of important dates or events that may clash with your chosen date, and ensure it works for you, your partner, and your families.

engagement session at Rosies Wine Bar

Determine Your Wedding Guest List

Your guest list will significantly impact other aspects of your wedding planning, from the size of the venue to the cost of catering. Start by drafting a rough list of guests, and then refine it as you go along. Remember that a smaller guest list can lead to a more intimate and affordable wedding. Also keep in mind the vibes you want for your wedding day. Some people prefer a small Airbnb and a few family members…others prefer a large party at a huge venue! Talk with your fiance to decide what vibe fits you two the best!

Find the Perfect Wedding Venue

Choosing your wedding venue is a significant decision. Take your time to visit different locations, considering factors such as capacity, style, and location. Ensure that the venue aligns with your vision for the big day and that it is within your budget. The style of your venue will really influence the style of your photographs as well! So if you want something clean and minimal, then look for a venue like that. If you prefer Southern Goth and vintage vibes, then search for a venue that can fit that vibe.

Hire a Wedding Planner

While some couples prefer to plan their weddings entirely on their own, many find it beneficial to hire a wedding planner. A professional planner can help with the logistics, offer expert advice, and alleviate some of the stress associated with wedding planning. I highly recommend hiring a planner, or at the very least a day of coordinator. They are professionals there to help you solve problems, or take care of them before you even know. The amount of stress they take away is honestly amazing and completely worth the money. Becca from Wildflower Events and Whitney from The Gathering Co are two of my favorite planners to work with!

Set Your Priorities

Not everything in a wedding holds equal importance to every couple. Identify your priorities, whether it’s a specific photographer, catering, or entertainment, and allocate a larger portion of your budget to those areas. This will ensure that your most cherished aspects of the wedding receive the attention and resources they deserve.

Research Vendors

As you plan your wedding, you’ll need to work with various vendors, such as florists, photographers, caterers, and musicians. Take the time to research and interview potential vendors to ensure they align with your vision and budget.

Choose Your Wedding Party

Selecting your bridal party and groomsmen is an important step. Consider the people who have been with you through thick and thin, those who will support you on your special day. Remember that the size of your wedding party is entirely up to you, whether you have one close friend or a dozen. It’s also fun to use a creative way to ask your friends to be in your wedding party! Whether it’s a custom gift or a sweet letter!

wedding party smiling at Morning Glory Farms

Design Your Invitations

Start thinking about your wedding invitations. The design, wording, and style should reflect your personality and the overall theme of your wedding. Ensure you give guests enough time to RSVP and plan their attendance. Invitations can be as chill or extravagant as you like. Canva is a great place to create custom invites on a budget- but professional stationers can really bring some of your invitation dreams to life.

Begin Wedding Dress Shopping

The search for the perfect wedding attire is a thrilling part of wedding planning. Begin your dress shopping well in advance to allow time for alterations and any customizations you desire. Grooms should also begin shopping for their attire. Some dress shops encourage you to start the process at least a year before the wedding day so that you have time to find, customize and alter your dress. But if you are like me, I only had four months so I went to a wedding dress consignment store and found a beautiful dress for an amazing price!

Organize Transportation

Consider how you, your partner, and your guests will arrive at the wedding venue. Depending on your location and style, you might need to arrange transportation for guests or even a grand entrance in a vintage car.

Plan the Ceremony

Work with your officiant to plan the ceremony, including the choice of vows, readings, and any special rituals or customs you want to incorporate. Your ceremony should be a reflection of your love and values.

Register for Gifts

Create a wedding registry to make it easier for your guests to choose gifts for you. Consider items that will enhance your life together, whether it’s kitchen appliances, home d├ęcor, or contributions to your honeymoon.

Arrange Accommodations

If you have out-of-town guests attending your wedding, provide information about accommodation options in the area. Consider negotiating room blocks or discounts at local hotels for your guests’ convenience.

Red stone mansion in Burnsville, NC

Plan the Reception

The reception is often the highlight of the day. Select your menu, drinks, and entertainment carefully, ensuring that they match your style and preferences. Plan for any special moments, such as the first dance and toasts. As you are planning your reception, keep in mind that it is YOURS…which means if you don’t like a particular tradition, you don’t have to do it.

Get the Legal Stuff in Order

Don’t forget the legal requirements. Obtain your marriage license, and ensure you’ve met all the necessary legal prerequisites to tie the knot.

Confirm Details

As the big day approaches, double-check all the details with your vendors, wedding party, and any helpers. Make a timeline to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day of the wedding. Often your photographer will help with creating a timeline- so check in with them to work it all out! If you want some help with determining a good timeline, check out this blog post!

Enjoy Pre-Wedding Celebrations

Before the wedding, you can enjoy a range of pre-wedding celebrations, such as a bridal shower, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and a rehearsal dinner. These events provide a chance to spend quality time with friends and family and celebrate the upcoming nuptials. For destination weddings, welcome parties are very popular. It’s a great way to welcome your guests to the amazing location you’ve selected and begin the wedding weekend festivities!

Relax and Recharge

In the days leading up to the wedding, take some time for yourself and your partner. Pamper yourselves, get a massage, or simply enjoy each other’s company. Wedding planning can be overwhelming, so relaxation is essential. Be sure to also drink plenty of water in the days leading up! It will help you feel amazing on your wedding day and it even makes you look better for photos!

The Big Day

Finally, it’s your wedding day! Be present in the moment and savor every second of this special day. Let go of any worries and trust that all your planning will come together beautifully. Use every sense as you go throughout the day. Sight: Look around you when you’re at the altar and see who is there. Touch: Take in the way the weather feels, how your dress feels, the hugs, the first kiss, ALL of it. Taste: What are the tastes of the day? What does your wedding food taste like? Smell: Are there any smells sticking out to you? Do you have a special perfume or cologne? Hearing: What are the main things you hear around you?

bride and groom exiting wedding with dried flower petals

Getting engaged is the start of an incredible journey. It’s a time to celebrate your love and commitment to each other. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable transition from engagement to marriage. Remember that your wedding should be a reflection of you as a couple, so make choices that feel authentic and meaningful to both of you. Here’s to a lifetime of love, laughter, and cherished memories as you embark on this new chapter of your life together!

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