You just got engaged! How exciting! Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is date, and maybe the wedding party, then what you want your dress to look like and the perfect venue....Well WOAH! STOP! The first thing you need to figure out is your BUDGET, I don't care if you are not personally having to pay a dime or if you are having to pay for the whole thing yourself. Budget is the most important and the one topic that I seem to just overlook at the beginning. Like I've said previously, if you could have a trial run at wedding planning, then I think we all should because I had no clue what to do! (clearly!)
You should know going into it if any family will be contributing to the wedding budget but I would suggest the FIRST thing you do will be to sit down with the Bride's family first and decide exactly how much they will be able to contribute. Get that number in writing and a signature (I'm not joking, this will help a little with hurt feelings later on), then do the same with the Groom's family. I suggest to do it with the Groom's because you need to know if you will be paying for the rehearsal dinner, groom's presents, etc..Get the number in writing with a signature for his side, as well.
The main reason I wouldn't meet with both families at the same time is to get rid of the competition aspect of families and money. It's just not necessary.
Once you have the total of those two numbers, look at it and decide if that will suffice for your dream (but realistic!) wedding. If not, you need to decide right then exactly how much you and the Groom will need to contribute and add it in. Figure out how you will be contributing (from your paycheck, yard sale, selling blood, etc! ha!...but for real). You will see that everything works off of the budget: The Venue, The Dress, The Food, even the Date!
You will then have a complete and EXACT (it needs to be exact) total budget. Before you start planning from there, I would sit down again with the Groom and decide what things matter the most in the planning process so you will know exactly where the most money should be spent.
I would suggest doing a list starting with the most important thing at the top [BE VERY DETAILED!] and have the list go down, till the bottom is the least important. (Again, of course we did not do this which resulted in catastrophe! #learnfromus)
If we would have done one, it would have look like this:
- Decorations (You can make any place look amazing, if you have the money, tools and creative people)
- Guest List [We definitely wanted all the people we could get there, that was important to us.]
- Venue (Ceremony and Reception) [We had a big guest list so we needed a big space]
- Wedding Apparel (Bride's Dress, Groom's Tux, Etc)
- Rings (Groom's Band, Bride's Band)
- Wedding Gifts (Gifts for the Wedding Party, Parents, Grandparents, Special Guests)
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Beauty (Bridal Hair/Makeup)
- Wedding Party [Bridesmaids/Groomsmen]
- Sparklers (For leaving)
I definitely think this is what started our Wedding Planning Failure.
Next week, Venue/Decorations.