Congratulations on your engagement! Whether the proposal was a total surprise to you or something you and your fiance had talked about, getting engaged is so exciting! When you're ready to start thinking about your wedding, all of the options can be a little intimidating. Between choosing the Bridal Party, finalizing the guest list, setting a budget, finding a venue and all of your vendors, and trying to enjoy this fun season of life, wedding planning can be stressful! It's hard to know where to begin the planning process - after all, most Brides have never planned a wedding before! If you are recently engaged or have been putting wedding planning off because you just don't know where to start, this post is for you!
The first few things to consider are a budget, a date, a guest list, and your Bridal Party. The average cost of a Columbus, Ohio wedding is anywhere in the range of $20,000-$35,000. Does that mean you have to spend that much? Of course not! But, it does help you understand prices as you begin researching a venue and vendors. If your budget is under (even way under) the average, that's ok. There are plenty of ways to save money on your wedding - including, keeping your guest list small, having your wedding at the house or property of a family member or friend, having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday, becoming a Do-It-Yourself Bride, and much more. In fact, I wrote a post on tips to save money on your wedding, which you can read here.
Another surprising way to save money on you wedding is by hiring a Wedding Planner! While you may think a Planner is not in your budget, Wedding Planners come with a huge list of resources and a network of professionals they trust and like to work with. I tell each of my Brides that I truly hope to save them what they spent on me! Having worked in the industry for some time and having planned many local weddings, I (and most Planners) know the market well and know which vendors are in budget. While you could research vendors yourself, some vendors that fit in your budget aren't easy to find. Budget or low-cost vendors typically aren't paying for advertising, so you won't find them by googling 'Columbus Wedding Photographer', or searching on popular wedding sites like, The Knot. Aside from the monetary savings of working with a Planner, the stress taken off of you is invaluable. Whether you want to be involved in every aspect of wedding planning, having a Wedding Planner on your side makes every decision so much easier. Whatever you're wondering during the process, from 'What's the average cost for a DJ' to 'Am I suppose to buy the Bridesmaid dresses' to 'What questions should I ask my Photographer' - a Wedding Planner is only a call, text, or email away to answer your questions and ease your concerns.
If you're in the process of researching wedding vendors (or, when you are), read this post on things to consider when selecting vendors.
After your budget is determined, choose a date (or approximate date). It's best to have about a year to plan your wedding, but that isn't always an option. Know that if you have less than a year to plan your wedding, you will need to begin the planning process as soon as possible, and many venues and vendors may be booked. As much as possible, keep your date flexible until you've secured a venue. While a date may be meaningful to you, if all venues are booked, it just isn't an option. It's best to have a "ball park" date, like a season you'd prefer, and then go from there as you research. You should start by booking a venue, as they typically book faster than vendors, and they are one thing that you absolutely have to have. When you reach out to a venue, give them some dates that are options for you and ask them for availability and pricing. Remember, a Friday or Sunday (or even an afternoon) wedding typically saves you a couple thousand dollars, if budget is a concern.
Next to determine are a guest list and a Bridal Party. With each, it can be hard to choose who to invite and who to leave out. Your guest list should be determined first by your budget - remember that a great way to keep costs low is by having a small guest list. If you have a large family or friend group to celebrate with, it is always an option to have a potluck engagement party or celebration before or after the actual wedding. There are plenty of charts and lists on the internet that can guide you on narrowing down a guest list and a Bridal Party, but it all comes down to who will make your day more enjoyable and who means the most to you and your fiance. Maybe you decide not to invite anyone you both don't know, or anyone you haven't spent time with in the last year. While in a perfect world, it might be nice to have everyone you've interacted with since childhood, it usually isn't possible or practical for your wedding. After all, your wedding is about you two and the love you share, not who is there to witness it.
Choosing the Bridal Party works the same way - who will make your engagement and wedding more enjoyable, and who means so much to you that you can't imagine standing at the altar without them? If you want the same number of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, sit down with your fiance and discuss who you both have in mind. If he has 4 in mind and you have 6, you might want to meet in the middle at 5 each, or reconsider some of your choices.
While this is a lot to take in, I hope it has given you some perspective on where to begin the planning process. Your wedding day is one of the best days of your life - it should be everything you envisioned and dreamed of!
If you are in the Columbus area and considering working with a Planner or Day-Of Coordinator, I am more than happy to meet you for coffee and chat about your options. Happy Planning!