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Wedding planning: Phase one

December 8, 2011

I posted on this topic a couple of months ago but I thought it’d be helpful to reprise it a bit now that we’re in the middle of the holidays ENGAGEMENT season! First off, if you’re newly engaged, I send you my sincerest congratulations and excitement. You’re in for a wild, and utterly fabulous, ride. Our good friends got engaged last week and we celebrated with bourbon and cake {that’s right, I said bourbon and cake} last night. We’re so, so happy for them and can’t wait to see what they dream up for their wedding.

And speaking of the wedding, where in the world should you start planning?! Here are some initial steps for Phase One.

Plan the budget

Yes, this part does include asking your families how much they can contribute {and, yes, that part can be a bit awkward} but it has to be done, right? And it has to be done now. There’s no sense in planning anything before you know what you can afford. Setting your budget gives you guidelines for researching your vendors and selecting your overall style so it’s wise to do it first. I have a lot more to say about budgeting–read this post for more.

Discuss & select a few possible dates

Most couples think the number one task is finding a venue and although that’s probably number one when it comes to selecting the actual components of your wedding, you need to do some initial brainstorming before you head off on your search. So, discuss with your betrothed your ideal season for your nuptials and the ideal time frame for planning. Check with your families/wedding party for any major conflicts. Then choose a few dates to keep in mind when looking for a venue. Oftentimes {unless your engagement is well over a year}, your date will be determined according to what’s available at your site.

Gather the guests

To select the right venue, you need to know your budget, a few possible dates, and how many guests you’re planning on inviting. So, open up that Excel, start a new spreadsheet, and start typing away. Have your fiance/fiancée do the same. You may even need to include your families on this as well {in case they have people they must invite}. From this, you’ll gather a rough guest count but remember you can, and probably will, make some cuts.

Start the great venue search

This part can be a bit stressful but it should also be fun. Remember that. I know it feels like your ENTIRE wedding depends on WHERE you have it and, sure, location does matter. Location, location, location they say. But I promise you, you will find something. Start your search online. Get a feel for everything out there–ballrooms, clubhouses, lodges, barns, backyards–then start condensing. Make a list of places you like, jot down questions to ask, and call/email to see what dates are still available and whether you can make an appointment to visit. Then, visit away! But, hey, don’t visit too many–make sure you’re only looking at places you’re really serious about. Too many choices equals crazytown. Believe me.

Draft a timeline

You’ve already been thinking about how long you need to plan the wedding–that was one of the factors when you decided on possible dates. So now that you have a few dates to work with, go ahead and draft a timeline. You can search online for help with this but keep in mind that most of the timelines are about a year in length. Have no fear–if your engagement is shorter, simply condense the tasks. If it’s longer, stretch them out. If you hire a planner, this is something your planner can help you with {or just do for you}. Your timeline will probably change as you move forward but I think it helps to know what needs to be accomplished at the get-go.

Get inspired

This is the fun part. No, the REALLY fun part. Where you get to brainstorm ideas on style, theme, colors, dresses, flowers, food. Lucky for you, there are so many ways to find–and now collect–inspiration. Go for it. Go for it all. the. way. Start a Pinterest account, sign up for, search the new Colin Cowie Weddings. Read wedding blogs {check out my list of favorites to the right}, buy some wedding magazines, and dream, dream, dream away. Oh, and make sure you do this as a couple. I’m telling you, not only is it good practice for the future but it’s also really exciting, memorable, and FUN.


Again, many, many congratulations to those of you who are newly engaged–and especially to our dear friends, Brett & Christine. Enjoy the ride, my friends. Enjoy ALL of it.

PS. When you join Pinterest, look me up!


Pretty little church via Style Me Pretty

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2011 6:10 pm

    WHEEEE is all I can say to wedding planning!

  2. December 9, 2011 9:47 am

    I will be sure to keep all of this in mind when it’s my turn to hop on the ride!

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