Summer is just around the corner and we know that there have been PLENTY of proposals that have occurred within the past few months! With that has come a slew of engaged friends who have asked the ever-so-popular question:

“I’m engaged!!!
…….Now what?”

After sharing my thoughts here, there and everywhere – I thought it would be a great idea to create an always-accessible, one-stop-shop for my top recommendations right here on the blog! Enjoy the read and, if you just so happen to BE a newly-engaged bride or groom, let me know if you’ve done any and/or all of the things listed. If so, YAY! You are on the right track and I can’t wait to hear what your next steps are!

Happy Hump Day, friends!

You just got engaged. YAY! Breathe it in with just the two of you for a moment. Only you can dictate how long that moment should last. A few hours, a day, a week…..whatever amount of time that you desire. But keep in mind that soon, everyone and then some will know and the wedding planning process may start before you’re even ready to begin (depending on your personality and the personality of your closest family and friends). They may want to jump into everything right away, while you may desire a few days to let it sink in. If you do – take that time and keep it private for a while. That’s OKAY!

However, for that girl who has dreamed of this moment her entire life, who has been waiting on her tippy toes for the man of her dreams to pop the question and already has the majority of her wedding planned already (she just needed the groom to get in formation) –В  share a few minutes with your soon-to-be-husband and go forth. Enjoy every second of it. Either way, don’t be pressured to share when you’re not quite ready yet because you feel as though you’re ‘supposed’ to. This is your experience – make it an enjoyable one.

No, I’m not just saying this because I’m a wedding planner. If you do not have it in your budget to hire a planner, I will not say that your wedding day is destined for disaster. The one true goal of any wedding is for two people to become married – plain and simple. You can honestly do that with no budget – just head to your nearest court house. However, if you are wanting to experience a wonderful, seamless wedding day that is sure to be packed with a lot of logistics, vendors, timeline restrictions and guest management and you want to GUARANTEE that things are executed with excellence and that your stress-levels are kept to an all-time low – I highly recommend budgeting to hire one.

A great wedding planner can help you with every single thing that is mentioned within this post. They will assist you in creating the perfect budget, vision, guest list and everything else. They will have answers to all of the questions that you most likely have and will put your mind at ease with their expertise throughout the planning process. They will also, more than likely, save you hundreds of dollars – not only by using and/or referring their vendor network, but also by preventing you from spending dollars in unnecessary places and keeping the budget in mind at all times (esp. when Pinterest has you feening to spend all of your money on EVERYTHING). Trust me on this one – hire a wedding planner. EARLY.

Note: I love my Wedding Day Execution brides and still do an excellent job of executing their logistics seamlessly, but these sorts of packages normally do not include budget & vision, vendor referrals & management services, etc. This means that when you hire a ‘Day-Of/Month-Of Planner’, don’t expect them to be able to prevent ANY/ALL disasters on your wedding day. They are only able to execute with excellence what they have been given to work with. If you have hired a crappy DJ, the planner cannot be held at fault when they butcher everyone’s name during introductions, plays all of the wrong songs and struggles to get everyone on the dance floor. This is why booking a package that involves a planner assisting you to create budgets, vendor teams, etc. is so crucial in the long run – we execute our services in a way that will achieve the ultimate goal – which is not only to execute a wedding day seamlessly, but to execute an AMAZING wedding day seamlessly.

You may be wondering why we recommend combining these two steps into one. After working with countless amounts of brides and grooms early on in their wedding planning journey, I have discovered that many have made the mistake of establishing a budget without doing much research on how realistic it is for both their desired logistics and overall vision for their day. We’re all for establishing a budget that is comfortable for all involved in covering the costs for the wedding, but if that number does is not realistic for the vision, it will either be setting you up for extreme budget creep (underestimating necessary expenditure to achieve the vision) OR unnecessary spending (overestimating and then feeling pressured to spend the money with no thought to whether it actually achieves the vision or not).

The goal is to create the vision and then do the research to determine the necessary and very realistic budget to achieve that vision. Your ‘vision’ should include your desired date, location, number of guests, style & decor (any details that you are favoring at this point), important factors (this determines where you will want to spend your money based on what matters most), etc. etc. Do you value good food and entertainment – then research reputable bands/DJ’s in your area and budget for somewhere in the average range. The same for all of the other categories.

Also, when creating your draft budget, be sure to research the different areas in which you’ll be spending money. You’d be surprised the categories that couples forget to include (wedding party gifts, undergarments, custom guestbook, etc.). Discuss and brainstorm these costs BEFORE finalizing your budget so that you will not be disappointed in the end by having to sacrifice something or purchase it and end up going WAY over budget.

What this will result in is both a realistic and achievable budget for the vision that you have in mind. Will there be sacrifices and/or compromises? More than likely. But this is what is involved in planning a wedding – the RIGHT way. You’re welcome.

I won’t go into too much detail on HOW to slay this step, well, because we already have. You can find it by clicking here! The ultimate step in finalizing the draft budget discussed above is to analyze it together with how many guests that you are desiring to invite. A quick way to do this is to divide your total ‘draft’ budget with the amount of guests that you are desiring toe invite. For example, if your total wedding budget for a D.C. wedding is $60,000 and you decide that you want to invite 200 guests, that equals up to about $300/person. That doesn’t seem too bad (for those outside of the wedding industry) until you review your vision and it includes getting married at a $10,000 venue (rental fee) and a food/beverage minimum of $30,000 for weekend weddings – leaving only $20,000 to invest in the rest of your wedding day details (which can add up VERY quickly with an experienced, reputable vendor team and minimal DIY).

However, if this is your DREAM venue and your heart is set on it, you could cut your guest list in half, cover the cost of the venue and still have a realistic amount of money left over after booking your venue to invest in planning services, attire, photography, videography, rentals & decor, stationery/paper goods, transportation, etc. Likewise, you could keep the amount of guests the same, but may need to rethink and/or compromise on your choice of venue and other categories.

The bottom line is – do the research. Set yourself up for success. Prevent being ran over by vendors charging over-the-top pricing for competitive services OR not being able to recognize extremely low-priced vendors and then discovering why on the day of your wedding. YIKES!

All of this planning that you’re about to jump into is EXHAUSTING. Even for those who have dreamed of this moment their entire lives. Planning a wedding is a lot of work and if you zoom through it without any breaks from start to finish – you will become overwhelmed and not be able to enjoy it. Be sure to take moments to just relax and remember that at the end of the day – you are going to be married to an amazing man. Try to plan your wedding day for at least a year in advance to allow yourself moments to simply take a break from it all for however much time you need. The lesser amount of time left to plan, the lesser amount of time to relax and enjoy the process. You’re engaged! Enjoy being a bride!

I hope you all enjoyed hearing our thoughts on what to do FIRST once you’ve become a BRIDE! Here’s to a wonderful, joy-filled and stress-free planning experience for all of the brides and grooms out there!

XO – Lacoya