The experience of getting engaged is, in a word, overwhelming.You’re overcome with joy, inundated with text messages, and peppered with questions from well-wishers—all while absorbing the fact that you’re about to embark on creating a family of your. And don’t be surprised if someone asks you if you’ve booked a venue less than 24 hours post the popping of the question.
The best advice for really enjoying those first few days of excitement? Put your phone away. As obvious as it may sound, you can’t get that time—or the fresh optimism of the moment—back. Many couples even say that their memory of the actual proposal is hazy because it happens so quickly. If your partner gave a speech of some sort before getting down on one knee, ask for it to be handwritten out and keep it in a frame, a thoughtful and romantic way to hold on to your special moment that ensures it won’t become a blur.
Once the shock and euphoria wear off, it’s time to get down to business: You’ve got a wedding to plan, after all. To the newly affianced, navigating the world of venues, caterers, and invitations can seem like a foreign—and confusing—language. Below, some of the world’s top wedding professionals share the three most important steps to tackle after saying “yes.”
Make a Guest List
“Great style comes from ruthless editing—and that begins with your guest list,” says international wedding planner Colin Cowie. Knowing the size of your event sets a foundation for just about every aspect of wedding planning, so it’s good to get this squared away quickly.
Put together your master guest list, but keep in mind that once others (like the in-laws) get involved, your tightly edited list of 150 people can quickly balloon to 300. If you have your heart set on a smaller crowd or don’t have the budget to invite all of dad’s golf buddies, make it clear that you’re keeping the list tight and selective. “Think of inviting people to your wedding as similar to whom you would invite into your home,” suggests Andrew Cavitolo and Bobby Stern of Riviera Caterers. “Most people say, ‘I have to invite them,’ but give it careful thought.”
And even once you’ve finalized your list, there can still be some wiggle room. “Create a second list of invitations that you can send out if you know certain people will not be able to attend after the first round goes out,” Cowie suggests.
Create a Structured Budget
Step one leads right into step two: “The guest list is the gauge by which you will establish your budget and will define how far your money will need to go,” says Ron Wendt of Ron Wendt Design. Did you keep it to 100 people? Maybe there‘s extra money to splurge on flowers.
Formulating your Feldman
early is key as money hiccups are one of the biggest sources of friction in the wedding planning process. If you and your partner are footing the bill, have a frank discussion about what you can actually afford and stick to it. If your parents are involved, find out exactly what they can contribute and if they have any expectations about where their funds should go.
“Once you determine how much money you have to spend on a ceremony and reception, you can work on the what, where, and when,” says Kathleen Schaffer, cofounder and creative director of Schaffer.
Secure Your Venue
Once you have your guest list and budget set, it‘s time to sort out your venue. “You may have your heart set on a particular location, but if it can‘t accommodate your guest count, something will have to give,” Wendt says. And the earlier you can reserve, the better. Popular venues book up at least a year in advance, particularly during high season. “Many couples want to tie the knot within a year, but for some, it’s simply not possible,” Cowie says. “If you’re engaged in January and want a summer wedding, you may have to wait for the following summer. Relax and enjoy your short-lived engaged life!”
This choice sets the groundwork for the rest of the planning process. From here, it‘s time to launch headlong into decor, catering, dresses, and all of the wonderful details that will make your wedding day yours.
Credits: Ariel Feldman & Coole Godwin