Wedding planning can wait: take some time to soak it up
First off, congratulations! It’s not every day you become someone’s fiancé, so celebrate!
Take some time to yourselves and enjoy the now. There will be plenty of time to plan (and dream) later on! If you want to celebrate with friends and family, do it. Wedding planning can be put on pause for the moment.
However you want to celebrate, the point is to enjoy this wonderstruck time in your relationship.
1. Pick a date for your wedding
I can see your sly smile through the screen here, but the reality is you’ll have to pick a date before you plan anything! This is probably the most painless thing you’ll have to do after getting engaged.
Some people like to pick an already-existing, unique date to them; others prefer to choose their date based on what their dream vendors have available. Whatever your fancy, you’ll need to pick a date to get the ball rolling with everything else.
One thing to think about is time, though. Ideally, you’ll want about 6-12 months before your big day to accurately get your ideas in order. Any longer and you’ll find yourself second-guessing choices you made six months in the past; any shorter and you may become overwhelmed.
2. Sit down and talk about the hardest topic on the wedding planning checklist: budget
Once you’ve chosen a date to tie the knot, it’s time to talk about money.
Money is always a tricky talking point, specifically for couples who haven’t had the experience of working together to create a budget for something specific yet. So, this isn’t any different when drafting your wedding planning checklist. Yet it’s, arguably, the most important discussion point, which means it should come first.
Now, I’m not here to tell you where to put the value in your budget, as I’m sure you’re aware there are a lot of different ways to spend money on a wedding – plus, weddings are expensive. There’s a reason they are, of course, but this means you should be deliberate on where and what you invest in.
Some people also like to create a wedding planning checklist, a document that tracks their estimated budget for items along with the actual amount spent on them. You can use this with your overall budget to make sure you’re investing your money into your real desires.
Help with wedding ideas is great, but it’s still your special day
Wedding planning is an art form, and unless it’s your job you probably don’t have a lot of experience executing your plan. That’s important to remember, too. You may have people, such as your parents, chipping in to help with your wedding budget and plans. This is great!
But, it is still your wedding.
This isn’t an invitation for them to start making decisions for you. I truly believe your wedding should be the stunning culmination of choices you and your partner made, and it’s ok to let your voice be heard in that matter. People will have their opinions on how to plan a wedding for you, but it should always be your final say on how the strings get sewn together for your wedding.
3. Pick a style of wedding that suits you
Maybe you’re thinking, “What do you mean, ‘wedding style’?” Well, there are a few different ways you can celebrate getting married! Maybe you prefer a destination wedding, maybe you want a big, all-inclusive event that anyone and everyone can attend, or maybe you’d like an intimate elopement in the mountains with just your families and closest friends. Your day will come together around this decision, so choose whatever is most your style. Where and how you’re getting married will go hand in hand with wedding planning, in Spokane or somewhere else in the world.
Regardless of the location, the most important thing is that you’ll be marrying the love of your life. Because of this, your day will be perfect.
4. Prioritize your vendors, and find what you value
Once you’ve settled on a comfortable wedding budget, it’s time to start the vendor search!
A lot of the time this is exciting; sometimes, it’s also daunting. There are so many different things for a wedding that you can invest in. Unfortunately, the reality is you may not be able to include every single detail you initially dreamt of in your wedding.
This is okay!
The gist of things is simple: you most likely won’t have unlimited funds. So, hiring the most important vendors to you should come first. I’ve had numerous clients say they regret spending so much on specific venues rather than investing that money into a phenomenal photographer, or a wondrous floral shop for all the arrangements.
If you want a quick way to figure out what’s most vital for each of you, both you and your spouse can write down your top 3 vendors, and then compare them. It’s a great exercise prior to marriage, too, as you’ll have to make compromises on what you want to include.
You won’t need to book all these vendors at once, but you’ll want to decide who to get in touch with sooner rather than later. Weddings are planned up two years in advance, and vendors get booked up! One small note: if you’re wanting to hire a wedding coordinator, make sure to place them at the top of your list of vendors. That’s their job, to help you plan, so having them around for the entire process is most beneficial for you.
Of course, if you’re unsure about where to start when searching for wedding vendors in Spokane or the surrounding areas, I have you covered.
Legitimate is the way to go
A word of caution: one thing to consider is confirming that any potential vendors you’re investigating are legal, tax-paying, insured businesses. The good news is that this is easy to deduce. I’m located in Spokane, WA, and looking up businesses in Washington is straightforward via the Department of Revenue. Other states have this functionality as well, so once you know where you’ll be hiring vendors from the process of searching is quick and easy.
The biggest reason you want to check this during wedding planning is for safety. There are scammers in the wedding world, as there’s a large market for it. So, protecting your investment, like you would a car, house, or something else, should be on your mind. You shouldn’t have anything to fear from a legitimate business, and chances are they’re going to be on your side throughout your wedding journey.
This won’t be the case for anyone posing to be a business.
Again, there’s only a small number of people looking to take advantage of you when wedding planning, but the risk is there. I, personally, place heavy value into places and people running a tight, professional ship, and you should too.
5. Schedule your engagement session
This, naturally, requires you to have hired your dream photographer, but once you’ve set them in stone scheduling your engagement session is a must-do.
“Why?”, you may ask. The short answer is you get beautiful keepsake photos. The long answer is that it prepares you and your fiancé for your wedding day. Ask yourself this question, “When was the last time we had photos taken together?” If you have an answer, congrats! That’s awesome.
The vast majority of couples, however, haven’t had pictures taken of them together. Maybe separately, sure, but the reality is it’s rare to schedule a photoshoot together.
So, your engagement session is an excuse for you and your fiancé to have some genuine fun together. Wedding days can be nerve-racking for everyone. Engagement sessions, on the other hand, are laid back and should be enjoyable. In fact, it’s not every day you get to trek around a unique location with your fiancé, having it documented the whole time.
6. Guest list ideas: the who, the how many, the why
This, like budgeting, is also a tricky topic for newly engaged couples as weddings are a big deal for numerous parties involved. You’re not just thinking about your own family and friends, you get to include someone else’s special people too!
Save the dates are important to send out promptly to let people know of your wedding date and location, and you want to make sure you’re inviting people to your special day for the right reasons.
Who you include guest-wise can get political, which isn’t the way it needs to be. You and your future spouse should figure out how many guests you’d like to invite, who you want to include, and the why behind inviting them. After all, these are the people that will be supporting you on a lifetime commitment, so you should have an idea of why you’d want to include someone. Getting this squared away before your knee-deep in wedding planning is smart because, inevitably, people will start to pester you about it; specifically if they weren’t invited.
Having the reasons and decisions, and being on the same page about it, for crafting your guest list will put these requests to rest sooner rather than later.
Your wedding party is important, too
This portion is far easier since there are fewer people to consider, but figuring out who you both want to include in your wedding party is a good wedding checklist point to shore up. If you’re going to include a Maid of Honor and Best Man you’ll want to ask them in advance. They can both aid you in small tasks of wedding planning, so having your backup ready to deploy is never a bad idea.
Wedding planning is an amazing time for any couple, so let it be
Getting engaged was just the tip of the iceberg. As you’ve probably realized, there’s quite a bit of stuff that comes with planning a wedding, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Again, that’s really okay and exactly why I’m here. Instead of spending hours scouring Pinterest, reach out if there’s anything at all I can do for you! I would love to hear everything you’re dreaming up and help it become reality. Whether it’s creating a custom timeline or finding other vendors that will go above and beyond for you, as a full-time wedding photographer I take care of it all!
Everything isn’t going to happen overnight and recognizing that when filling in your wedding planning checklist is a path to avoid getting discouraged! Remember to take it slow and enjoy being engaged. Everyone wants to focus on the wedding, but the engagement period is also something that will go by so quickly.
Whether you’re wedding planning in Spokane or for a beachside escape in Hawaii, remember that creating this event doesn’t have to be stressful. It should be the opposite – a thrilling time of making your dreams come true! I couldn’t be happier for you and I know that as long as your partner is by your side, it’ll be perfect!
I had the pleasure of working with Clara Jay this past weekend. As a Wedding Planner and we work very close with our photographers and Clara Jay was such a joy. She exudes professionalism with such calm. We call ourselves the Dream Team now. I can't wait to work with her again! She surprised me with a sneak peek gallery of our lovely couple! Only 3 days after their wedding! Something I have never received from other photographers in 10 years!!!! She Rocks!"
"the pictures are beyond my expectations!!! You definitely will love her! She is a must at your wedding...
Married at the Hagadone Event Center in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 2021
- McKenzie & Dan
Clara is absolutely amazing! Not only is her work phenomenal, but she goes above and beyond to help create something unbelievably special for you and the ones you love most. She shot my mini wedding during the pandemic and we plan to have her shoot our larger wedding celebration next year. Clara not only made us her #1 priority, but she was so flexible with our scheduling due to the pandemic and made our day simple, easy, and captured some truly beautiful memories for us."
"I can’t thank clara enough for everything! 10 out of 10 would recommend!
Married on August 21st, 2021
- Michelle & Aaron
Our session was a breeze from start to finish, and Clara was always so responsive to all of our questions. We got our sneak-peaks back the very same day of our session and I couldn't be any happier with them- they're phenomenal! If you're looking for a photographer in the Spokane area don't pass up Clara!"
"As newbies who had not done any photo sessions before, Clara helped us feel SO COMFORTABLE in front of the camera!