Whoa now – we’ve been engaged for just over three months now, and it literally feels like yesterday that J got down on one knee. Everyone always says “your engagement will fly by – enjoy every moment!” and, just like in life, they were right and time flew by. I promised you a FRIDAY BRIDEDAY, and that’s exactly what you’re getting (alternating with NYNB and some other things just because). As of today, we’ve gotten quite a few of the biggies out of the way. And we think we’ve figured out 7 first steps that are pretty key in those baby step stages of wedding planning. Here’s what we did so far and what we learned along the way.
This was our biggest concern from the get go. Luckily, J and I are from nearish hometowns and have roots in similar places, meaning it wouldn’t be either party traveling eons to get to a wedding. Other family tensions aside, we wanted final decision on location to be our decision. Bride’s hometown? Where we live now? A tropical island? We were pretty open minded about it, but ultimately chose my hometown.
WHAT WE LEARNED: While still keeping travel times and logistics in the back of your head, make sure your final decision is yours (and your fiance’s).
Enter Concern #2. Obviously venue ties right in there with location, and we had a few ideas in mind when coming to bat. J and I figured a more unique, artsier setting would be most “us”; we wanted something unexpected and relaxed that still screamed classy and elegant. J and I settled on a factory-gone-art gallery/loft as our reception space – it was honestly love at first sight. It was the second place we had toured together, and one of three total, but the experience there was just top notch. We knew we’d be in good hands if we went there. Which brings me to a tip…
WHAT WE LEARNED: When the hotel event coordinator shows up to your meeting 45 minutes late, rushing around and word vomiting about how she breast-fed while drinking gin because she loves gin that much…head for the hills.
TIP for Event Coordinators: We’re looking to throw a wedding – not a rave. Just because we’re young and wildly energetic doesn’t mean we want a wild shindig with an ice luge for shrimp. Since that was thrown out there, too.
We got majorly lucky: our venue works closely with one of my personal favorite restaurants in town for a full catering and alcohol package. #score They were there to greet us when we toured the venue, with a personalized folder in hand. I was already hooked; I think I would’ve signed on the dotted line on the spot had they brought some bruschetta or something. It worked out that exactly what we envisioned was available at our price point, and the team was just fantastic. Done deal!
WHAT WE LEARNED: Watch out for “premium” options if you’re food-shopping on a budget. And just like when grocery shopping, don’t do it hungry. We were handed a book-like packet with our options – I’d say way more than any human being could possibly need, but then you see things like My Super Sweet 16. But for every course, there was a basic set of options followed by premium. Each premium option was anywhere from $2-8 extra per person. Invite 150 guests, and you’ve got $300-1200 more to pay to have fancy crostinis instead of basic crostinis. But like, crostinis are crostinis, and as long as it’s good bread paired with good wine, I’ll take that $1200 straight to Target. Or my savings accounts, but we all know how that ends up.
Once we had a venue and caterer of choice, we chose a date that we loved that was also available for them. We’re not getting hitched until fall 2016, so most of the calendar was free for our choosing.
WHAT WE LEARNED: Don’t put so much pressure on it! My best friend and I both chose our dates by saying to our fiancés, “well that sounds good, doesn’t it?” While personal significance can be a great thing, don’t stress if your choice parties involved can’t make it work. You’re still getting married to the love of your life – being reasonably flexible with the date might mean you get your dream venue, too!
It was my hometown church from the start, so we just needed a date before booking that, too.
TIP: Know what you want before signing a check. If a soloist and music is all included in your price for holding the chapel, but you’ve got a musical friend that might be doing the prelude, say that up front and see if the final price can be negotiated once you’ve got more definite plans. You might save yourself a few hundred bucks!
Turns out, our photographer did my headshots for a pageant/event I did my senior year of high school – small world! This is where I stress bridal expositions. I went to one bridal expo with my mom and another with my mom and fiancé. We saw Marty at both, and his pitch was on point. Better yet? We got a free photobooth for our reception since we booked with him on the spot. That on-the-spot decision was easy the second time around since we’d already heard his schpeal, checked out his work, heard all of his package information and had him in our consideration set.
TIP: Don’t just get to know your photog’s talent . Get to know him/her – and know if he’ll want to get to know you, too. What really drew us in to Marty was his desire to get to know us as a couple before shooting any pictures. Whether you don’t want kissy shots or you have a secret handshake, a good wedding photographer will know that ahead of time and really bring it out (or keep it in) for the big day.
TIP Part 2: GO. TO. EXPOS. While it’s not 100% booked yet, our DJ, cake and chair situations are all in the works because of the same second exposition. At any bridal expo, a bunch of local vendors for everything from music and videography to bridal registries and teeth whiteners are all set up science-fair-style for your browsing. This makes it easy to do some comparison shopping while making connections across the board.
Alright guys, confession time. I found my dress two months before getting engaged. (You won’t be seeing a photo of that before the big day, since the fiancé is known to frequent these parts of the web.) While my mom didn’t actually buy it until after I said, “absolutely,” it was on hold and the deed was basically done. What can I say? I got excited. But in my defense, while I’ve always had a really diverse taste in fashion, I have a super strict taste in wedding gowns. Too much Say Yes to the Dress? I think not. But while on the phone with my ma one night, I somehow stumbled upon this amazing dress online. Compelled (or maybe possessed?) to find it, I searched the designer’s website for retail locations nearby, and when only the last place on my list had a sample in stock, I thought it might be fate. I booked an appointment, and my mom and I went wedding dress shopping before I was engaged. I was trying to come up with a godo reason to tell the girls about why I didn’t have a ring on, but at the end of the day, I just went with, “I think we’re getting engaged really soon, but either way I know I’m going to be with him.” Glad I have that off my chest.
What tips would you give for this bride-to-be? What would you like to see next for a Friday Brideday?
We’re off to the rents house for this holy weekend.