Just Engaged? Congratulations!
When you start planning your wedding depends on a number of things. At the beginning of your engagement, it’s very tempting to get planning right away as people are asking all kinds of questions, especially: When’s the wedding? Now you may have been anticipating this day for awhile so have a date in mind. But if you were caught unaware (how romantic), then you probably have no clue as to what date you will choose.
Before you go any further, please take this piece of advice: Wait! Pause! Breathe! Repeat! Why you ask? Because I want you to enjoy this time of being engaged. You won’t get it again. Once you start the planning process, there’s no going back to this time. Allow your partner and yourself the opportunity to relish this ‘just engaged’ feeling before reality sets in.
After the original giddiness of the engagement starts to wean a little, it’s time to have a serious conversation with your soon to be better-half. Do you want a long or short engagement? There are advantages to both depending on your circumstances from financial to practicality.
You don’t have to commit to anything just yet but having a general time frame is a good start. That allows you to work on a timeline of when things need to be done. Do you need to get things done quickly or can you slow down and book things at a more leisurely pace?
Whether your engagement period is long or short, the time will go by quickly. Moments like this in our lives have a tendency to fly by and we can’t always remember what took place. This is a real good time to get yourself a nice journal and start recording or making notes on the journey to your wedding day.
Writing down how your proposal happened is a good place to start. Include how you felt that day and the days to follow. Why not add in the planning stages and how they went. All this will make a great memory book to read after your wedding day. Plus, it could also act as a centering point when you are overwhelmed or feeling a bit frustrated by things that are happening around you.
Most engagements, under normal circumstances, run about 12 – 14 months. I have seen some go as long as 2 years and some as short as 6 months or less. I’m going to touch the most common ones of more than 18 months, 1 year and less than a year.
A longer engagement time allows you to bask in the glow and relax a bit more before you start the planning process. As well, you can take your time in booking your vendors and not be pressured into making hasty or costly decisions.
Most vendors won’t talk to you before a year anyway, except your venue, especially if it’s a very popular spot. The biggest advantage of a longer engagement is that it allows you to have more time to save up and not go into debt. (add blog on debt-free wedding)
Planning your wedding with a 12 – 13 month timeline should give you ample time to get everything done and still keep your sanity. An engagement period of 2 – 3 weeks lets you take a breather before you start planning in earnest.
The year will go by quickly, so having a good step by step plan at the beginning is the key to getting through this. Setting your budget, an estimated guest count and possible venues would be the first steps to put in place.
If you’re planning your wedding with less than a year to do it, your engagement celebration time will be limited to a week or two. Use that time to not only enjoy being engaged but to prepare your mindset for the rush that’s about to come. Weddings can be planned in a manner of weeks but the more you are focused, the easier it will be.
As I have mentioned earlier, a good step by step plan can be your saving grace during this time. (HINT: as a Virtual Wedding Planner, I can help you with that). Organization is the key to moving through this and reducing your stress levels. Get yourself either an online tool/app(s) like Wedding Wire or a downloadable pdf from Truly Engaging. Help yourself to my Time line schedule to guide your through what you should be doing and when.
Spreadsheets are great for things like your guest count, budget, and vendor contact list.
Speaking of budgets, this is an essential item that has to be done sooner rather than later. Here you have some homework to do. Take my Wedding Budget Planner and start filling it out with what you think things will cost. Then do some research to get a more specific cost. Keep in mind, that your reception is 50% of your total budget so the more guests you have the higher your wedding will cost.
It’s important to note that most wedding vendors are grouped into two major categories: those who can do more than one wedding per day (i.e. cake designers, florists, officiants – though timing may be limited ), and those who can't (i.e. wedding planner, venue, caterer, musicians and photographers and or videographers.
The guideline I gave you is for a wedding timeline of more that a year and can be adjusted based on your shorter or longer wedding timeline. As well, depending on where you live and the availability of resources, you will have to adjust your booking schedule accordingly.
If you plan to marry on a Saturday or the Sunday before a long weekend, you should start looking at vendors earlier. If you are getting married on the most popular dates during the year, start your work even earlier and add a few months to the timeline. Having your wedding on Friday or Sunday will give you more flexibility, options and possibly save you some money.
While most couples usually work in the framework of a year or so, there’s no reason why you can’t think about your style, budget, and guest list before then if you’re planning a longer engagement. And of course, it’s never too early to start saving up!
Enjoy being engaged. Kiss each other hundreds of times, take pictures of your ring, tell your story and think of all the wonderful things to come. Make your engagement time as special as you can before you start the wedding planning journey.
I hope this has been helpful to you if you have recently become engaged and are wondering when to start the planning process!
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