July 6, 2011

Where to Start?

It's happened. You've got a gleaming rock of awesomeness on your left ring finger.  After the shock and excitement wear off and the daunting task you have ahead of you starts to set in, you wonder, "now what?" Good question. Here's some advice that I've learned (sometimes the hard way) about where to start planning for the big day.

1. Start a wedding binder. Yes, you can go to Barnes & Noble and pick one up for $40. They are all decked out and ready for you to start filling in information and clipping pictures for your big day. The most helpful ones have a ton of information about how to figure out the budget, proper etiquette, how to address invitations, etc. OR you can go to Walmart, buy a cheap binder, some page protectors, and get creative. Either way works. Trust me, having a place to keep all your ideas is a MUST. You don't want to forget about that awesome picture you found of a black lab as the ring bearer, right?

2. Set your budget. I know this is pretty common advice, but come on, it's crucial! Especially if you are paying for all, or some of your wedding. You will find really quickly that meeting your budget won't be easy. Things for weddings are over-priced and add up very quickly. Start with a number, and don't go over it!

3. Start looking for venues. The location for you ceremony and reception set the tone for the entire wedding. You can't plan any details without knowing the type of venue you will be in. I mean, what if you start planning for a vintage-themed wedding, but end up falling in love with a super-contemporary art museum as the locale? Then you have to scratch your original idea and start over. You want everything to feel cohesive. Pick the venue, and everything else will fall into place.

4. Don't be afraid to accept help. The second you get engaged, your friends and family are going to be chomping at the bit to help you get rolling with the plans. This can either be a good thing, or a horrible, awful, I-want-to-stab-myself-in-the-foot thing. The difference between these two is determined by your ability to delegate and lead, not give full reign to whatever your crazy Aunt Mildred wants. People want to help, and you should let them, but it's your wedding. You will feel better if you give your loved ones jobs to do (that will take the load off of your shoulders), but with instruction that shows them what YOU want. Find a happy medium.

5. Don't be a Bridezilla. Please, for the love of God, no. The second you start freaking out about how your mother-in-law bought cream napkins instead of ivory or that your soon-to-be-hubby wants to wear a bow tie because he thinks he'll look like James Bond, you'll lose all the help you so desperately need. Nobody wants to help someone that wants to control everything. You have to realize that not everything can or will be perfect. You'll be much happier with your friend's and family's support, even if the napkins don't match.

6. Last, but certainly not least, look for ways to save money. Yes, it can be done. There are so many options out there for DIY projects ranging from invitations, to party favors, to the actual wedding cake. You can do it. And if you can't, well, there's certainly someone in your family who can. Also, use your connections. Does your best friend know a photographer? Is your co-worker's wife friends with a man who's uncle knows a guy who's a chef? Perfect!

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