Tis the season for holiday engagements! If you’re one of those lucky gals, congrats! I bet you’re on Cloud 9, elated to be marrying the love of your life, and a slightly distracted driver — How can you not be staring at your left hand on the steering wheel every chance you get?!
I remember so vividly the weekend Travis and I were engaged. I was ecstatic and caught up in a whirlwind of texts, phone calls, and celebrating the news. But a few days later, after the excitement had settled down, I was suddenly very overwhelmed. I had so much to do and only eight months to do it! Like many of you, I had never planned a wedding and I had no idea where to start.
Now, I am not a wedding planner by any stretch but if you know me at all, you know I am a planner at heart. I want to share some tips for what to do first in the grand scheme of wedding things and also nail down some nitty-gritty photography details that I get asked about ALL the time. So here we go!
- Set a tentative budget. I could honestly talk about this for hundreds of blog posts but in general, you’ll want to figure out who’s paying for what and how much you can allocate to each expense. I always recommend listing out your five top priorities and letting the rest go. Most brides can’t have everything they want so rather than focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what’s important to you!
- Make a guest list. Finding a venue and securing a date becomes moot when you don’t know how many guests you’ll be having! Sit down with your fiance (and both sets of parents if you want or if they’ll be footing the bill) and brainstorm a list. Most wedding experts say you can expect about ⅔ of your list to RSVP yes.
- Find a venue. Make sure there are hotel accommodations nearby for guests and if you have a lot of out-of-towners coming in, make sure it’s somewhat accessible from airports and public transportation.
- Book your vendors who can only be in one place at one time. This includes a wedding planner (unless it’s a large company with a lot of staff), your wedding photographer, a hair and makeup artist and a videographer. Some vendors, like florists and small caterers, might only take one wedding per day or weekend so check with them, too!
- Use a wedding planning timeline. I loved Martha Stewart’s wedding planning checklist. There are tons of these out there. I’d also check out The Knot and Real Simple. If you’re using a wedding planner, they will likely have one for you, too.
So by now, you’ve interviewed some photographers and picked the one who you are confident will help you through the wedding process and create beautiful storytelling images where you look and feel like yourself. Here are some important details to keep in mind:
- Your engagement session. If you’re planning to use a photo from your engagement session for a save-the-date, I recommend scheduling the session at least 7-8 months out from the wedding. This gives your photographer time to edit your images and send them to you, and it allows time for you to have your save-the-dates designed, printed, and addressed. If your engagement timeline is short, schedule it as soon as possible! If you’re not planning to use one on your save-the-date, do your session whenever! But make sure you do one if you can. Here’s why I highly recommend couples do an engagement session with their wedding photographer.
- Your bridal session. If you’re planning to do a bridal session, the ideal timeframe for scheduling would be 2-3 months before your wedding. By this time, typically your alterations are finished and you’ll have your accessories. This also gives your photographer time to edit and send you the photos, and it gives you time to place your print order for the reception.
- Boudoir session. Not every bride will want to do a boudoir session but if many want to give their grooms a few images or an album the day of the wedding as a gift. Again, why I love boudoir could be a whole other post (and it will be!) but if you want to do boudoir with your wedding photographer, you can do it at any time. I’d recommend at least a month or two before the wedding so you have time to receive your images and place your album or print order!
- Your wedding album. If you already know you want a wedding album, I would definitely let your photographer know! They can send you pricing and ordering information so you can budget that in. I like to wait until after couples receive their images to reach out about ordering a wedding album, It helps to have a little breathing room, emotionally and financially, after the wedding.
So those are the big ones! Did I forget anything? What other questions do you have about planning your wedding events?