Where to Start and How to Focus
First - celebrate! Life brings a lot of ups and downs. This is one of life’s ups; people are uniquely happy for you. They give you well wishes and share bottles of champagne with you...it's awesome. You are at the center of a celebratory vortex; enjoy it!
Now, once you’ve properly celebrated and you’re ready to get to planning...
The misconception about wedding planning is it's all about napkin colors, favors, and drink stirrers. That stuff can be fun (or not) but the really cool part of wedding planning is it can encourage you and your fiancée to do a number of things that are really about establishing your life together. Wedding planning - especially in the beginning - presents an opportunity to talk about the future, work through tough topics, communicate, plan, and support one another. These first steps in the planning process set an important foundation for your life ahead.
Where to start?
1. Discuss your non-wedding priorities
Over a weekend breakfast, dinner out, or bottle of wine, make time to talk. A wedding may not be the most important thing to you. Maybe it’s buying a house, traveling the world, or starting a business. If that’s the case you need to know that before you dive into wedding planning. Here are some questions you may want to ask each other (we suggest starting with individual time to reflect, then sharing with each another):
- What is important to us now (as individuals, as a couple)?
- Where do we see ourselves in 3-5 years (professionally, as individuals, as a couple)?
- When we think of how we spend our time in five years, what does it look like?
- How do we start working towards that vision now?
- Will it cost money to fulfill that vision?
2. Set your wedding vision
Now, discuss your wedding (don’t consider money at this point in the conversation):
- What is our vision for our wedding? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
- Who is there? Who is not there?
- What have you experienced at other people’s weddings that you would like to bring to your own? That you want to make sure doesn’t happen at yours?
3. Set your wedding budget
Get down with the (sometimes harsh) reality of the money available to fund your wedding. Do you have savings? Will you be able to save? Is anyone else contributing financially to your wedding? Now, remember that conversation you had about your non-wedding priorities (above)? Do you need to fund those things as well? If so, how much does that leave you with for your wedding? At the bottom of this post we have a couple of additional resources offering wedding and non-wedding budget setting.
A note about the emotional side of this...because it can bring up a lot. I have a tendency to dream bigger than my pocket book and have a lot of experience of being brought down to earth by the reality of my finances. If you can relate, my advice is to let yourself have that disappointment – though not the most tragic story (this is the part where you keep perspective) - you're bummed you can’t have the wedding of your dreams. Give yourself the moment to be bummed, but don’t stay there. Eventually you need to pull yourself out of that mode to gain perspective and recalibrate. Maybe you can’t fund your wedding of your dreams because instead you’re fulfilling another exciting life goal. Also, not having your ideal wedding doesn’t change anything about the reality that you have a life partner you are about to commit to! What a gift. Wedding planning can be an emotional roller coaster. The more you can let yourself go through the tough moments, then move forward with perspective the more you will enjoy it overall.
These first steps in wedding planning are deep. I’ve been married five years now. When I was getting married, we didn’t do all of the above perfectly but we did our best at the time. In retrospect it set us up to start important conversations about our visions for the future and finances that we still revisit all the time. So, though not the easiest, have as much fun with it as you can and enjoy the journey.
WANT MORE WEDDING TOOLS, SUPPORT, AND GUIDANCE? Check out our ‘The Master Planner Package’ and other wedding tools, resources, and guidance.
Other resources we love: