First steps down the aisle

When my fiancé “popped the question” in August of 2017, the two most frequently asked questions were (1) how did he do it?!? and (2) when’s the wedding?

There are many smart-assy responses that came to mind, but none are really called for.  It makes sense: people are sharing in your excitement and they want to be part of your big day.

We settled on a wedding timeframe of late 2019, meaning our engagement would last more than two years.  I do have very mixed feelings about this decision.  My logical brain knows it is the right choice.  It gives ample time to plan, to save money, to pay off debts, and to organize out-of-town bridal party members and guests.

My emotional brain sometimes speaks up, though.  When it does, it usually says things like “two years is an awful long time!”  Which is true.  It is a long time, which is a double-edged sword for a maybe-a-little-bit-Type-A planner.  On the one hand, there’s plenty of time to research and get it right.  On the other, if you’re really looking forward to the wedding planning process (like I am), there’s only so much you can do this far in advance.

Most venues don’t start booking until around one year out.

Dress shopping can be fun, but if you’re planning to lose weight, you can’t necessarily order anything until you’ve got a better idea of your size come the actual wedding.

Catering, decor, exact dates, and nearly everything else is difficult to determine with any degree of certainty without having a venue.

From my own experience, there are things you can do 24+ months in advance.  And I’m more than happy to share them because, girl, I feel you!

Get inspired.  Pinterest.  Bridal magazines.  Wedding websites.  The day after getting engaged, my mother gave me three bridal magazines and said, “This was the best part about being newly engaged!”  Some things just surpass the generational divide.  With the World Wide Web, the options are bigger and more accessible than ever.  If you haven’t already, get a Pinterest account, set up a wedding board, and start exploring (if you already have a wedding board, no shame– I started mine in college).

Research venues.  The internet is a wonderful, wonderful place.  Many venues post pictures, price lists, and preferred vendors online.  Google the venue name and “wedding photographs.”  Many professional photographers have their own sites and blogs that can give you a more realistic view of what a venue will look like on the day of an event.  Google seasons, too!  If you’re planning for a specific season, it’s definitely worthwhile to get an idea of the foliage and natural surroundings during that time of year.

Take note.  If you’re in your 20s, chances are good that you’re attending at least one wedding per year.  Which means you’ll have about 2 weddings to attend before your own (if not more).  The advantage of this is that you get to observe the choices other people have made.  I recommend starting a note in your phone of things you like and things you don’t.  This isn’t to be mean or critical, but everyone has different taste when it comes to big events.  If you like a song, take note.  If someone has a great signature mixed drink, you’ll want to remember.  If someone tries serving a food that seems good in theory, but doesn’t work for large groups, take it down!  These types of things are easy to think about in the moment, and even easier to forget after a night of dancing and excitement.

Start thinking guest list and budget.  These don’t have to be exact, but it does help narrow down options as far as venue.  Not to mention, setting a budget upfront can save a lot of disagreement and heartache down the line.

Listen closely.  Again, with all the weddings that occur in your 20s and 30s, members of your bridal party will probably be in other weddings before yours rolls around.  Listen to them talk about their experiences.  It’ll give you some insight into their perspectives when it isn’t you in the bridal-seat.  Hear them out when it comes to excitements and frustrations.  They may not be quite as upfront when it’s your wedding.

Have fun!  The best part of having a long time to plan is that you don’t have to get serious too quickly.  Take advantage of this the to really enjoy and explore.  In theory, you’re only doing this once!

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