Tips for Newly Engaged Couples
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Holy moly, you have an engagement ring, and you’re getting married. It’s so surreal, yet happening, and like it or not, the hours, days, and weeks following that proposal are guaranteed to be a whirlwind.
There are so many things to think about, so many people to contact, and so much to get done. Don’t be overwhelmed. You have plenty of time to plan the rest of your lives, but if you’re like most newly engaged people, you’ll be itching to share the news with all your friends and dive into the actual wedding planning part headfirst.
In honour of the most popular month of the year to get engaged (woohoo, December!!), I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of a few helpful blog posts for the newly engaged I’ve written over the years.
I started writing blog posts for brides a few years ago when I decided I would always be a photographer who valued the experience my brides had just as much as the images they received. I know that if this was going to be my full-time job, I didn’t want just to show up and take photos — there was no value in that for me. It needed to be about something more profound.
Hooray, my friend! You’re getting married! You’ve made the announcement, you’ve posted a photo of your beautiful ring on Instagram, and you’re receiving hundreds of phone calls, texts and Facebook notifications with sweet messages from your family and friends congratulating you! And already a curious relative has asked you, “so, when’s the wedding?” Cue the planning anxiety.
To get you on the right track towards your big day, I have put together a short guide featuring the First
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Six Wedding Planning Steps
Six Wedding Planning Steps to begin your wedding planning journey. And, if you’re interested in tips and tricks for after you nail down these next six steps, read through to the bottom of the post for free access to another planning tool from AYE!
Congratulations on your engagement! This next season of life is going to be one of the best, and we’re so excited to help you through every step of your wedding planning! We totally understand that, once the high of the actual engagement starts to wear off, the reality of planning a wedding sets in…and it can be overwhelming! So, we’ve pulled together our top 7 tips for newly-engaged couples to help you navigate those first steps — and the planning process in general. Grab a glass of wine, take a deep breath, and let’s dig in. You’ve got this!
Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, blogs, dress shopping, venue hunting the list goes on and on. Years of watching wedding movies couldn’t have prepared you for what’s to come (trust us, it’s different). While the average engagement lasts a year to a year-and-a-half, there are certain things you’ll want to get done stat—no matter how long you plan on being a fiancé.
After all, I love this job. Not because I get to take photos of pretty things, or because I’ve gotten to travel all over the country, or even because I get to eat cake at the end of every workday!
Although those are great perks! 😉
No, I love this job because I get to serve the best couples in the world on one of the most important days of their lives. And, one of the most important ways I do this is surprisingly not by just taking great photos.
At AYE, my intention during a couple’s initial consultation is to start them off on the right foot necessarily, lay down a good foundation and, most importantly, prevent stress. Many of my brides tell me that the first thing they do after they get engaged is hopped onto wedding blogs, Google and Pinterest, beginning the endless search for venues, caterers, photographers, stationers, etc. And every one of them says that within a few days, they are entirely overwhelmed feeling pulled in many different directions. So when a bride books with me, my goal is to skip the overcome and get her on the right track towards a gorgeous wedding. Below is my guide to the First Six Wedding Planning Steps, outlining touch points I use during my initial consultations to help my couples start from scratch.
Get the significant conversations out of the way up front.
Budget. Wedding size. Location. Those are the significant three conversations you should have soon after you get engaged, and before you start planning anything else. Don’t put these off! Sure, the budget and the wedding size might not be the most fun things to talk about (unless you’re financial wizards who love spreadsheets, in which case, rock on!) but they are the foundation of your wedding planning.
The good news is these conversations don’t need to be hard! We’ve developed a handy wedding budget tool and practical tips for ways to save money. We also have a great guest list spreadsheet in this post and have put together tips for narrowing down your guest list.
If you’re looking for all our other planning tools, we’ve got them right here!
So where do you get started? There’s no strict order to follow as long as you tackle the immediate to-dos. Committing the rest of your life to the love of your life is scary and amazing and the best kind of stress, however, it’s a major, major milestone, and planning a wedding together is the icing on the cake—we promise.
Don’t get me wrong: great photos are the end goal. However, my overarching desire on top of that goal is to make my couples’ days EASY and STRESS-FREE. To encourage their marriage, calm their worries, and allow them to focus on the real purpose behind their day.
HAVE A LITTLE REVERIE
You’ve been dreaming about this day since you were seven, so don’t stop now! Have a little reverie about the aspects you hope to incorporate into your Wedding Day. Jot down these ideas and take a good look. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you will see the makings of a wedding style starting to form. Sailcloth tents, greenery covered chandeliers, wooden farm tables, large asymmetrical bouquets filled with florals and greens — you might be dreaming of a romantic garden-inspired tented wedding filled with so many personalized details! Bright florals, jewel-toned lounge furniture, macrame table runners, a VW photo booth bus — you’re on the boho-chic track. All white draping, crystal chandeliers, a plethora of white flowers, a statement gown and pops of black — you’re envisioning a luxe and glam black tie affair!
Don’t assume you know what the other person wants.
One wedding myth we’re tired of hearing is that men don’t care about wedding planning and women have everything planned before they even get engaged! That’s simply not true. This is a big day for both of you, and you both should have a stake in the outcome. An excellent way to start is to make separate lists of your priorities and vision for the day. Then sit down, exchange your files, and explain your perspectives. It’s very likely you both won’t be able to get precisely what you want — especially if you both care deeply about one part of the day but have different visions — but now you’ll be able to come to a compromise. Or, you’ll find out that you both care about various aspects of the day and you both can get what you want! Either way, you both should come away from the conversation feeling heard and understood.
And your siblings and BFFs, too (unless you are keeping your engagement under wraps for a while). The last place they should have to hear about your new status is on social media, so give them a ring personally and tell them the happy news. Chances are, mom and dad already know what’s up and have been waiting by the phone patiently for your call.
And a massive part of that starts before the wedding day, via this blog. So, all that to say, here are some of my most-read blog posts written directly for brides!
Looking for the Top Wedding Planner in Melbourne? Look no further and check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners here.
Wedding Day Timeline Tips
First up: wedding day timeline tips! Piecing together a whole wedding day probably sounds a bit overwhelming at this point. However, lucky for you, I’ve been to quite a few by now! 😉 In this post, I share top tips for planning the perfect timeline for your day from a photography perspective. When to start getting ready, how much time to allow for family formals, whether or not you need 2 hours for portraits while your guests all wait on you at the venue (Hint: NO WAY!), and more!
Do you have a general location in mind? Will you get married in your hometown? Or maybe your fiance’s hometown? What about where you spent the Summer as a child? Or are you dreaming about the jet setting for an intimate destination wedding in Bora Bora? You don’t have to pick your venue at this point correctly. Just hone in on your ideal location, and determine if this will be a location where your guests will be able to get to with ease or if all guests will be travelling, which would define your celebration as a destination wedding.
Tip: If you’re ultimately dreaming of a destination wedding (somewhere where almost all of your guests including yourself must travel to), keep in mind that you might want to consider hiring a planner to help you plan you’re from afar!
Everything is expensive.
The earlier you embrace this fact, the easier it will be to accept it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money, and you should stick to the budget you set at the beginning. But most wedding-related goods and services are expensive because they can be. (It’s super unfortunate, but it is the reality we live in.) There are a few things that are absolutely worth the cost though: your photographer, your videographer, and your wedding planner. Those three vendors will be some of the best investments you’ll make for your wedding! So, if you need a place to start when setting budget priorities, start with those three vendors.
Did you know that we have a curated list of the best wedding vendors from all over the world? No? Well, now would be a great time to take a look!
Your hands will be in the spotlight for the next couple of weeks, which means your manicure best be looking good. Or, if you’re going for the natural look, make sure your nails are clean and shaped. Otherwise, friends will be focusing more on your chipped nail polish than your gorgeous engagement ring. Not cool.
Exchanging Letters on Your Wedding Day
Another plus of taking the time to plan your wedding day: you can make sure to schedule a time for moments like this. One of my favourite wedding day traditions, this post details one terrific way to s-l-o-w down and savour the true meaning of your wedding day. Plus, I share a non-traditional approach to the letter exchange process, too. This is one of the best ways to re-centre yourself after a busy morning getting ready — I can’t recommend it enough!
DEFINE YOUR BUDGET
I know this is a scary conversation. But trust me, you want to do this now. This is going to allow you to set parameters, which, believe it or not, will make the journey easier and wedding-related decisions less daunting. If you haven’t already, speak with both sides of the family about whether or not they feel comfortable contributing to your Wedding Day budget. Then sit down together and come up with an estimated figure. Here is one of my favorite resources that will help you generate a budget:
You don’t have to take — or ask for — everyone’s opinions.
There’s nothing like a wedding to get everyone you talk to fired up with opinions and advice. Sometimes, it’ll be valid and helpful! Other times, it’ll be unsolicited and awkward. The good news? You have full control over what opinions or advice you choose to entertain. If you have expert event planners in your circle, they’ll probably have some great tips you might want to implement. If you have a relative who thinks your wedding is somehow their chance for a do-over for their own wedding, simply smile and say thank you…then let it roll right off your back. This is YOUR day! You don’t need to take anyone’s opinions into account (unless it feels right), and you don’t even need to ask anyone’s views at all (unless you want to).
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If you’re ready to share with the world that you’re engaged, open up that Instagram. Take a ring selfie or a sweet pic of you and your fiancé to share the love. Even better—if the actual proposal was caught on film, nothing is better than that look of surprise. And don’t forget to make it Facebook official.
This one isn’t a post of mine, but it’s GOLD, friends! My sweet friend Jess dishes out on three top reasons why hiring a day-of coordinator is quite possibly the best decision you could make! If you’re excited to plan your wedding and make the big decisions, but the thought of actually making them happen on your wedding day overwhelms you a day-of coordinator is perfect for you!
CREATE YOUR GUEST LIST
One of my most significant pieces of advice is starting your guest list early so that you can know precisely how many people you will be inviting. This is a crucial factor in staying on target with budget AND picking a venue that can accommodate your guest count beautifully. And while you might feel that this step is daunting, it truly isn’t if you work methodically. Create your list with your fiancé by working from the core outwards. Start in this order: immediate family, close relatives (first aunts, uncles and cousins), best friends, distant relatives, family friends, work friends and colleagues. You can refine later, but at this point, you will have a pretty good handle on your estimated guest count. Check out our Top Wedding Planners here to help make your special day as smooth as possible.
There are very few things we’ll tell you are “musts” when it comes to wedding planning. (Because we firmly believe you should do what you want!) But, taking engagement photos is one of those things we think every couple should do! For one thing, you’re getting married!! You should take every opportunity to celebrate, and an engagement session is a fun, informal way to celebrate just the two of you! It also will give you the chance to bond with your wedding photographer before the big day. You’ll get to work out all the quirks, get comfortable in front of the camera, and get to know the only other person you will spend your entire wedding day with. Trust us; it’s an all-around good idea and, in 50 years, your married selves will be so happy to have your engagement season documented!
Round up some of your best friends and family and go out for a celebratory drink, or have a special date night solo if that’s more your style. You’re engaged, and that’s worth toasting.
Why Renting an AirBnB for your Wedding Day Morning is the Best Idea Ever!!
While a lot of hotels and wedding venues are picking up on the desire for gorgeous getting ready spaces, some are still behind the times. This post shares one easy way to bypass starting your day in a dank church basement! Renting an Airbnb allows you to have a lot more control over your getting ready environment — something that can truly set the tone for the entire day. The only time I DON’T recommend this? When your venue already has a fantastic getting ready space!!!
Tip: When it comes to collecting guest addresses, rather than chasing all of your guests down, use Postable to streamline and collect addresses in a snap. This is one of my favourite tips and ensures my couples not only get all of the addresses they need, but they are all accurately housed in a beautiful and straightforward format that can easily be copy and pasted into any stationer’s addressing spreadsheet!
Involve your wedding planner as early as possible.
If you decide to hire a wedding planner, we highly recommend they are one of the first vendors you engage and that you involve them in every decision from the get-go. That way, they know your vision, your budget, and your style, and they can help keep all your ideas organized. Not only are wedding planners great for design, logistics, and execution, but they are fountains of knowledge when it comes to reliable vendors, legal matters, and so much more. If you start planning thinking that you don’t want a planner and then decide you do want one, that’s okay, as well! Just make sure to loop them in on every decision you’ve made and be flexible when she/he starts to give expert advice.
We know, we know—it’s not exactly the most romantic or exciting thing in the world, but it could wind up saving your butt in the long run. When added as an extension to your homeowner or renter’s insurance policy, it’s surprisingly inexpensive.
Three Tips for AMAZING Wedding Portraits
Believe it or not, EVERYONE feels uncomfortable in front of the camera at first. Seriously! All of my couples start their engagement session sharing about how awkward they think they are in photos or how they have no idea what they are doing…and by the end of our time together; they are thanking me for how EASY and comfortable I made them feel. This post shares three tips I always discuss during engagement sessions.
NARROW YOUR VENUE OPTIONS DOWN (THEN BOOK!)
Now take your dreams, general location, budget and guest count and do a little research. Go to review websites such as The Venue Report or The Knot and review venues in your ideal location that will work with your guest count and overall wedding vision. Call all of your venue options and set up a time to chat with your venue representative about potential dates. Set up site visits with each venue that has availability. And once you find one that you love, consider booking immediately, so the time you desire is 100% yours!
For a deeper dive into finding the perfect venue and more of my favourite places for scouting tips and tricks, head over to this blog post we shared two weeks ago!
Don’t spend every minute planning.
Your engagement season only happens once, and it’s magical. So don’t let it be consumed with stress! First and foremost, you’re preparing for marriage. You’re not just planning a party. Your engagement should be about being in love, soaking up the excitement, and getting ready to start a brand new journey together. We highly recommend you set aside at least one day every week for a date night that doesn’t include any wedding talk. Try new restaurants, go do a fun activity outside, read relationship advice books together, or simply put on your PJs and hunker down for a movie night. The only rule should be that you focus on your relationship, not the wedding. You’ll have plenty of time to plan, and you’ll reduce the risk of getting burned out before the wedding day.
Ready to start putting together your wedding vendor dream team? Head on over to our vendor directory to get started!
Don’t jump into wedding planning right away. Take a week or two to let the news sink in and just to savour the moment. Trust us, you’ll have enough stress over the next twelve (or so) months to last you a lifetime.
One Important Thing to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Indianapolis Wedding Venue
Want a light and airy wedding photo full of joy and love?! Well, why the photographer you book is the #1 impactor of your wedding day images …you’d be surprised how much this decision can change the vibe of your photos, too! Here are a few of my absolute favourite light and airy wedding venues in the greater Indianapolis area.
BOOK YOUR WEDDING PLANNER
This step can come before booking a venue OR after. Some couples book a wedding planner before reserving their site, therefore their wedding planner will be very actively venue scouting with them. When looking for a wedding planner, look for experience, great recommendations and take a gander at his or her portfolio. Most importantly try to find someone that you connect with immediately. A personal connection with your planner will make the experience that much more enjoyable!
If the ring fits, high, and if not, you’ll want to take it to your jeweller stat to get it sized—especially if it’s practically falling off your finger. After all, you’d hate to throw thousands of dollars down the drain mere moments after saying yes. Looking for the best Wedding Stylist in Melbourne? Look no further, Boutique events group has you covered.
Two Tips for Planning Your Engagement Session
Another decision that doesn’t need to be stressful: planning your engagement session! The process can be broken down into two more significant decisions: season and location. In this post, I share some insight behind all the options and provide examples, too!
And there you have it! AYE’s six next steps that will help you jumpstart the wedding planning journey and lay down a fantastic foundation for your big day. I hope you found this guide helpful, and I hope you feel more confident moving forward with this exhilarating experience!
The most desirable wedding dates and venues get booked far in advance, so if you’re hoping to get hitched in the next year or two, it’s a wise idea to start thinking about dates now. Find out what works for both your families and if there are any potential conflicts.
Wedding Day Details: A Photography Checklist
This is a quick fix to make the morning of your wedding a breeze! I love when my brides have all their wedding day details in one location for me to grab and get to work when I arrive. Not only does it let me maximize time, but it also means you don’t have to run around collecting things. Win-win!
Remember: You can’t book a date until you’ve nailed down your dream venue! Do some research online first, or maybe you already have a place in mind and can call to get more information on pricing and availability.