Congrats on your engagement! Chances are you are here for some advice on the daunting task of wedding planning and what your next steps should be. I’ve heard countless couples talking about how knowing where to start is the hardest part so I’ve compiled a list of the first 5 things you should do now that you’re engaged! This list might not give you all the answers but will help answer some questions, and even give you some vendor ideas for the Grand Rapids area!
1: Set a budget!
This sets the tone for the rest of your planning and gives you an idea of what vendors you can work with in your budget! Consider guest count as a factor into that budget as well, but more on that in the next step. Budgets of course can be flexible but knowing a ballpark can ensure you don’t go broke all in the name of love. When thinking of budget it helps to break it down by vendor as well. What is most important to you? Would you like photos but no video? Fake DIY flowers as opposed to real from a florist? These factors can factor into a budget that is comprehensive and an easy reference point when reaching out to possible vendors.
Not all beautiful weddings are high budget! So don’t let a small budget discourage you, tons of couples pay for everything on their own and remember, a strong marriage is far more important than a perfect day! If you’re looking for some helpful advice on budgets consider looking on A Practical Wedding that gives some sample budgets and other great resources.
2: Figure out the size of your special day!
Small elopement sound more like your cup of tea? Maybe 20 guests will be the way to go. Want a party with everyone who helped you get to where you are now? Maybe 300 guests is more your taste. No matter what the guest count it will still be amazing, just remember this is a key part of planning. Venues range from elopement size only to huge oversized spaces. Getting a ballpark for your guest count will make venue hunting so much easier in the long run! You won’t waste time on a small venue if you decide you want 200 people. The guest count also varies on budget, so these two steps go hand in hand!
3: Pick some dates or time of year!
Yes I say dates! Many venues book over a year out and so having a time of year or multiple dates makes it easier to coordinate. If you’re planning a wedding in 6 months or less it might be a bit trickier but don’t let that discourage you! There are tons of great times of year to get married and all have a different feel. Another thing to consider is weather, holidays, and if people will have to travel far. These things can all factor into the perfect wedding date for you!
4: Visit and pick a venue!
Pick 3-4 venues to go and look at. I wouldn’t only see one or two and more than 4 can be hard to pick between. Looking at 3-4 gives you a variety without being overwhelming. Things to consider when visiting are parking, accessibility, limitations on catering or decor, length of rental, and size. These things can all make or break a venue. Also ask if day of coordination is included, if it isn’t that might be another cost to factor in. Try and visit the venues during the season of your future wedding, snow or heat can make or break a location. The venue is one of the key factors in a wedding so this step should be taken very seriously. If you are in the Greater Grand Rapids area here is a small sample of my favorite venues!
5: Pick your photographer!
Ok ok ok, I’ll be honest, I’d loveee for you to pick me as your photographer, but all that aside I know I’m not right for everyone, so let me break it down. Photography is the only thing that lasts after your big day, you do not want to skimp on hiring a professional photographer. Finding a family member or old friend might not be the right choice if they aren’t a professional, do not leave this huge responsibility to someone without experience. Think about your preferred style, do you want posed classic images? Bright and airy? Darker and Moody? Candid and authentic? some combination of all of those? Search on Instagram for local wedding photography hashtags to get a glimpse at some of the talent and an idea for preferred style. If you have an idea of some photographers you love reach out to them to ask about pricing and options. Average cost for a professional in Grand Rapids area is about $2,500. Also think about your venue and maybe find some photographers who have worked there before. If you are going to have a darker reception venue or late night reception make sure to see their work with flash and other lighting. Most photographers will send full wedding galleries if you ask!
Don’t be intimidated or scared! We are really nice and often have a ton of suggestions for the little things you’ve been worried about. If you need help with a timeline or searching for vendors ask your photographer! They will have lots of suggestions to help you put together the perfect day!
All in all wedding planning doesn’t have to be intimidating, follow these simple steps to get on the right track in the beginning and the rest will fall into place for you! Do your research, look on social media, and ask previous couples for advice. Remember that this is a special time and not a time to stress out! Talk with your partner and work together as a team, now is the time to get an idea of what you both are looking for out of the wedding day! So Congratulations again and I hope that this special time goes smoothly for you both! If you need any suggestions or any help feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment and I’ll gladly help any way I can!