It may be what you’ve always dreamed of, chatted excitedly about with mum, nattered nonchalantly about over coffee with friends, but however you imagined it, it’s happened, you’re engaged! But now what? Here’s a just-engaged, wedding checklist to get you on your way to organising the day of your dreams, and completely stress-free.
The most important thing to acknowledge right now is that this is an exciting and wonderful celebration and the planning process is to be enjoyed, not stressed about, so if at any moment stress attempts to ween its way in to overwhelm you, take a moment to kick it out and get back to the fun.
2. Share the news!
First thing’s first – have you told your mum, dad, best friend, grandma, auntie, auntie’s cat? Because this is a momentous occasion in your life and it’s ok to scream about it from the roof tops, plus everyone loves to send a congratulations card. Parents love a spontaneous pop-in for tea, especially if it involves a ring and an engagement story! Then you can Snapchat and WhatsApp to your heart’s content with everyone you know.
3. A perfect reason to celebrate
You are engaged! So, get everyone together, whether it’s a big party, a homemade dinner or an evening of nibbles and bubbly, engagements are a reason to celebrate and come together with friends and family, so make it happen.
4. Time for an inspiration-spree
Now the real fun starts. You may already have a few ideas saved on Instagram or a hidden board on Pinterest (don’t worry we all have one) but now it’s real-life, you’re actually engaged, so un-hide that board, download the app to your phone and get pinning!
There will be plenty of time for the official wedding checklists, now is the time not to be super organised. Now is the time to enjoy the mad excitement of buying bridal magazines, pinning everything you see on Pinterest and making a beautiful mood board, if you like getting crafty.
5. Now you can get organised…
Once the just-engaged frenzy is over you can reorganize those chaotic but beautiful Pinterest boards and look a little closer at the details.
You’ll probably see patterns emerging amongst the images you’ve pinned and saved and start to see a theme coming together; certain colours and styles will have caught your eye. Now you can create several separate boards for different areas of your wedding planning, i.e. decorations, wedding dresses and flowers. Still not sure? What about a theme inspired by the proposal? Did he get down on one knee whilst on a beautiful walk in the forest in autumn? Perhaps you wish to choose autumnal tones and a venue in the forest?
6. Remember you are Head Chef!
Some like to get everyone involved in the planning but for others this can be stressful. The truth of the matter is that when it comes to weddings everyone has advice or even expectations of what your wedding should be like. So, if you do involve mum, dad or your mother-in-law-to-be in the planning, keep it organised but light-hearted and make it fun. The famous old saying of “too many cooks” has never been so true, but you can change that by employing some supportive ‘sous chefs’ (friends or bridesmaids) who know what you want or when you need to get together for a glass of wine!
7. The key details will make all the difference
This is the time to start that official wedding checklist and start outlining the finer details, because once you’ve settled on a few key elements, everything else can follow.
You may have chatted loosely about ideas for your wedding since getting engaged but have you talked dates and style of wedding? Plan a dinner with your fiancé to discuss everything; go through possible dates, seasons, whether you would like a civil (non-religious) or a traditional church ceremony. Discuss your budget and whether you want to have a big wedding with everyone you know or keep it intimate with family and close friends only.
Once you have both shared your opinions and own expectations for the day, you will both feel happier and more confident about making the bigger decisions.
8. Draw up a rough guestlist
This is quite a task and you don’t need to have a final list, but it is extremely helpful to the rest of your planning if at this stage you have even a rough idea of numbers because this will affect your budget, the venue you choose and what style of catering you’re thinking of.
9. Start the venue search
Now that you know when you would like to get married and what kind of wedding you would like, you can start to look for a venue. This can be overwhelming as there are endless options, so try to whittle it down by answering some key questions first; do you dream of a traditional wedding at manor house hotel or a unique outdoor wedding? Do you wish to get married close to home or are you happy to travel if it’s the perfect one?
Venues can book years in advance so take that into consideration along with your expectations of when and where you would like to get married.
This is a great time to gather the troops and go visit some unique and traditional venues – make an afternoon of it, wander around and enjoy a cup of tea.
If you’re unsure what you want, that’s ok too, visit a few different venues and you will soon realise what you do and don’t want from a venue. If it doesn’t feel right, strike it off the wedding checklist list and move on.
Once you do have a list of possible venues you’d like to see, find out if they have any wedding open days coming up and put them all in your calendar. This is a great opportunity to see a venue in all its glory whilst also having an opportunity to meet suppliers, talk to photographers and view sample dresses from bridal boutiques.
10. Find your photographer
Like venues, photographers are booked well in advance so if during an open day or fayre you see a photographer you like, snap them up.
Instagram is also a great tool for looking at a photographer’s work before confidently booking your first meeting.
Many couples book an engagement shoot with their photographer. This is a great way to build a relationship with them; you can learn how they work and they’ll learn what angles suit you, so on the big day you’re feeling your most relaxed knowing they know what you want.
You may have some ideas of what style of dress you would like but often you’ll end up loving a dress you would never have expected to. Book a couple of appointments at bridal boutiques near you and just go with the flow. The chances of you finding the dress at your first appointment is slim, so don’t put any pressure on yourself, just have fun and try a mixture of styles – they always look different on!
Boutiques offer a wonderfully personal service and it’s a special occasion that most mums love to share; take her along, even your bridesmaids with you, sip some bubbly, take some photos and have fun!
12. The honeymoon
Always dreamed of sipping cocktails in the Maldives or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef? Start thinking about your honeymoon now and make your dream happen. Lots of cohabiting couples request contributions towards the honeymoon instead of the more traditional gifts, so whether you choose to create a ‘wedding’ website which allows people to contribute online or to pop a message in your invitations, make that dream honeymoon a reality.
13. Save the date
Now that you know where and when, you can finish off that guestlist and send out save the dates cards. Get crafty and make them yourself (and if you have the time to), design them online or find a designer to create them for you then post or email them to your guests. They’re not obligatory but they’re a great way of sharing your theme and getting your special day in everyone’s calendars as early as possible, because for many once wedding season arrives, they could be booked up every other weekend.
Once the save-the-date cards are sent you can relax knowing that the big wedding checklist is done. Now, depending on how long you have before the big day, you can enjoy a little respite before moving onto the next checklist and the planning of specific details like decorations, flowers, the groom’s suit, your shoes and accessories, and book your hair and make-up trial. But for now, relax and breathe, you’ve done it. You’ve gone from being just-engaged and unsure of what to do next to becoming a zilla-free, bride-to-be and wedding planning extraordinaire. Congratulations!
Our dedicated wedding co-ordinator Françoise Gysemans has over 16 years of experience and is on hand to ensure your day is planned to the final details. Get in touch to book a walk around today.