Just Got Engaged? The Ten Things You Need to Do First
Newly Engaged? Well…now what?
Guys. I’ve been there. I can still remember the moment that my husband proposed to me on a cold day in November. I was so excited, the ring was beautiful, and after I called all of my family and friends I thought: Crap! Well, now what?! For the love of all that is holy, do NOT go straight to Pinterest. Resist!
Instead, I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read just a few tips that this Knoxville Wedding Photographer wants to share with you. With hundreds weddings under my belt, I know a thing or two about the post-engagement phase of your life. I promise that these Ten Tips will help you figure out what to do after getting engaged. Promise.
1. Enjoy the Moment
If you have ever needed a reason to get a manicure this is the time. If you have ever needed a reason to take a selfie this is the time. The stage of life that you are in right now is so fleeting. It will literally be a blip on the radar of your entire life, but it demands importance. So, enjoy the time that you get to call your significant other your “fiance” (you can even say it snooty like the French), while also having nothing to do with wedding planning. Take a week or two to let the news really sink in. Flaunt that ring and just BE engaged.
2. Talk to Your Fiance’
When you are ready to start the wedding planning process, the first thing that you need to do is talk to your fiance’. Yeah, ya know, the person that you are going to be married to for the rest of your life. The best thing to do is to communicate with each other before discussing details with anyone else. Remember, there is a wedding AND there is a marriage. They are two very different things. If you take the time to chat now, you will save a lot of frustration down the road. You and your fiance’ need to be on the same page focusing on what really matters to both of you. Ask each other questions! When should we have the wedding? What are you thinking? Where will it be? Where do you envision the wedding? Do you want to keep it small? Do you want a big celebration? Heck, do you want to elope? This is the time to sit down and answer one big question: What do WE want?
3. Create a Budget
Now that you two are talking, let’s talk money. No one likes to talk about money. It can be, well, awkward. However, before you can really move forward with any of your wedding plans, this is a discussion that has to be had – whether it’s between you and your spouse, or you, your spouse, and the parents. This is where the reality of the situation lies. The answer to the budget question may determine so many factors you will have to consider for your wedding day: venue, guest list, length of engagement, bridal party size, wedding dress, etc.
4. Narrow Your Date or Season
If your budget allows for the flexibility of your wedding date, consider the seasons. Yes, we are talking spring, summer, fall, and winter. The seasons dictate a lot of your decisions. If your dream venue is outdoors during a rainy month, make sure there’s a rain plan. The season will determine which flowers you can and cannot use and will help narrow down a color palette. And yes, the season may determine the pricing of venues, coordinators, and photographers. Here in Knoxville, Tennessee, May, June, September, and October are very popular. You may be able to save a little on the budget if you chose a “non-prime” wedding month such as January or February or even August (all of those months will most likely require an in-door venue option).
5. Choose a Wedding Venue
Now, this is a big one. Your wedding venue is ground zero for a lot of your wedding decisions. Is it indoor or outdoor or both? How many people can it hold? Where is it located? Can Mamaw physically get up the aisle? These are all things to consider. Now that you have your budget figured out, you can start looking for a place that has all of your needs and hopefully all of your wants.
I would recommend starting a wedding venue spreadsheet that helps keep in mind all of the different options that venues can have. This spreadsheet will also help you figure out if you’re more of an all-inclusive couple or looking for a la carte options. Here are a number of things to consider when looking for a wedding venue, and certain things to add to that spreadsheet: Location, Capacity, Availability, Type, Layout, Rates, Restrictions, Parking/Transportation, Facility Extras, Catering, Bartending, and Rentals.
All of this talk feels very right brain. So, let’s touch on the left for a second. Does the venue fit your vibe? Do you have a gut feeling about it? Site visits are a great way for you to see the possibilities for your decor. Is the venue naturally beautiful and therefore, would require less decor? Or does it need some pizzazz and additional (costly) inspiration?
6. Gather Wedding Inspiration
Ok. I now allow you to get onto Pinterest. Envision the type of wedding you both want. This is where you and your fiance’ sit down, talk again, and even ask each other some more open-ended questions: What time of year do you love the most? What colors do you gravitate toward? Are you obsessed with a certain flower? Once you have a rough draft, get on Pinterest and start specific boards for all of your inspiration: wedding dresses, bouquets, aisle inspiration, tablescapes, and much more. You can put as much or as little in as you want!
7. Choose Your Bridal Party
From a professional photographer aspect, the selection of your bridal party has a big impact on your wedding day. I would recommend not reaching out to your bridal party immediately following your engagement. Take time to consider who will be up there with you. Because let’s be honest, weddings are stressful, and adding certain people into a stressful situation is like adding gasoline to a fire. We don’t need dumpster fires on your wedding day! Therefore, we recommend that you think twice about who you invite, set honest expectations with them, and if you can, include your family members. In regards to your Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, and Best Man make sure that you choose someone who is responsible. We don’t need anyone losing wedding rings.
Just a reminder, that more isn’t necessarily the merrier. If you want 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen at your wedding, then there needs to be a place or an opportunity for all of you to have your photo taken. Like, all in one spot. Is there space at your venue for this? Will this add time to your photography timeline? And, therefore, will it cost you more money in the long run? Can you afford 13 bouquets and 13 boutonnieres? Can you afford the stress of dealing with 24 people and all of their questions, comments, and personalities?
8. Draft Your Guest List
Your budget is going to dictate a lot of this part. If parents are financially helping with the wedding, I would make it a courtesy to ask them who they would like to include at your wedding. Better yet, even if you’re paying for the wedding yourselves, it’s a good idea to get the families together and talk about the guest list so there are no surprises. Traditionally, the couple splits the guest list with each getting half.
And then it’s time to crunch the numbers. It’s not glamorous, but there is a monetary figure you really can’t avoid. Each guest adds to the number of plates your caterer will prepare, favors, chair rentals, and how much cake you’ll need. We recommend choosing a number that’s smaller than your venue’s capacity. Later, if there’s room in the budget, you can add on at a later time (just don’t make it the day before the wedding).
A general rule to remember, about 20% of the guest list will decline to attend. This is either due to circumstances surrounding pregnancies, illness, or travel. And out of those who RSVP “yes!” about 5% will end up not showing up. It just happens.
9. Hire Your Professional Wedding Photographer
I can now finally talk about myself! Hi! I’m Erin Morrison and I am a professional wedding photographer in Knoxville. Nice to meet you, and congratulations on your upcoming marriage.
Now that I have met you, let’s talk about hiring your wedding photographer. Photographers, along with other major wedding players (band, DJ, coordinators, for example) get scooped up quickly. We can only take on one event per day, so it’s best to get your inquiries in as early as possible. This will give you time to browse portfolios and schedule meetings to help you find the best photographer fit for your day.
After you hire your photographer, you then get to partake in marriage counseling, er um, I mean engagement photos! Your engagement photo session allows you to learn more about yourself as a couple, interact with your wedding photographer, and give you the opportunity to showcase photos to friends and relatives.
One final reason to hire your wedding photographer early is to talk about a vital part of your wedding day: your timeline. Ok, ok…I know that this might sound insanely boring, but it’s pretty important. Whether you are having an intimate backyard wedding or a massive hoo-rah with 500 of your closest friends, you will need a timeline. This timeline sets the stage for hair and makeup, getting ready, ceremony, family photos, and reception. And your wedding photographer wants to help with this and provide advice on times to ensure that you get the best photos possible!
10. If All Else Fails, Hire a Coordinator
No, seriously. If the idea of planning a wedding makes you pick up a brown paper bag, then hire a wedding coordinator. Working with a wedding planner can keep things streamlined, stress-free, and even cost-effective. We have worked with countless professional coordinators and would love to help with a referral if you need one. Best wishes to you as you journey into this thing called marriage. It’s the craziest ride you will never want to get off! #muchlove