First of all – after you get engaged and finish your happy dance, take a breath.
And before you do ANYTHING ELSE, take your partner on a date.
This is a key step. DON’T SKIP IT.
You see, most people after they get engaged jump right into planning a beautiful, big wedding. And that’s cool. That’s the right move for some people.
But I cannot tell you how many people I’ve worked with who say “we started planning a big wedding. Felt stressed out and like it wasn’t ‘us’ and are walking away from our deposits to plan something much smaller.”
So before you start making guest lists and booking all the things, you need to figure out exactly how YOU BOTH want to celebrate your marriage.
Maybe it’s a big wedding with allll the traditional things.
Or maybe a “just us” experience feels right.
Or maybe you want a luxury micro wedding at a high-end estate.
Perhaps a low-key backyard potluck at your aunt and uncle’s property is the right move.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but you do need to figure it out first.
I’ve detailed all of this in another blog post titled: How to Know if You Should Elope or Have a Wedding. That’s a great place to start.
Or you can take my quiz — just for fun.
Besides your guest count, your budget for your wedding will dictate everything else on this list. Keep in mind – weddings are a lot more expensive than you probably think they will be. On average people spend between 20-40,000 on their wedding. Most of my clients planning a small wedding are in the 15-20k mark. My clients planning a big wedding often spend 50-70,000.
To get you started, I have a free Wedding Budget Calculator for you.
Trying to figure out how much to budget for each category? Check out this article from The Knot
Finding the perfect venue or Airbnb/VRBO for you smaller wedding folks can be both stressful and fun. If you’re looking in the Roanoke area check out this blog: The Best Roanoke, Virginia Wedding Venues. If you’re looking in Charlottesville check out this one: the Best Intimate Wedding Venues in Charlottesville. If you are having a small wedding then here is a round up of the Best VRBO Wedding Venues in Virginia.
Then set up site visits. Make a day out of it! Pack a picnic – enjoy the process :).
If you’re having a big wedding, I highly recommend a full-service planner. Going the DIY route might save you a little bit of money but it can be hugely stressful. A planner helps you find vendors, figures out your timeline, helps you source all of the things you don’t know you needed – in short they help you have a wedding and enjoy it too!
If you need wedding planner recommendations, just reach out. I’m happy to share a few of my favorites with you!
If you’re having a small wedding, then the next step is going to be booking a photographer. A photographer who specializes in small weddings is not just going to be documenting your day, but is often a resource for you. When people book their small wedding with me, for instance, I send pre-elopement guides and help them find and Airbnb.I give them feedback on their outfits and make suggestions for the best ceremony spots for their group. I’m not a planner, but I do a lot of guidance!
Start looking into other vendors. Your planner and photographer likely have a ton of recommendations for you, so if you need help finding anything, just reach out to them for their referral lists!
And enjoy the process! If at any point you aren’t enjoying yourself, then take a beat and make sure this is exactly what you want. It shouldn’t be stressful! If it is, it might be the universe’s way of telling you to change course a bit – make it smaller, do fewer details, hire help.
Before you go – I’m currently running an Engagement Session Giveaway! Don’t miss out on incredible images that you could have…for free.
The Ultimate Small Wedding Planning Guide and Checklist