Are you a new newly engaged? Are you starting to plan your upcoming wedding and not sure where to start? As a past bride and wedding photographer- I’m here for you. I can definitely offer some advice and a lot of insight when it comes to weddings. I love weddings and I thought it would be fun to write a weekly post about weddings every Wednesday. So here you have it: Wedding Wednesdays (Cheesy?! Maybe. I looooove cheese!) I’m going to write about all sorts of different wedding topics and hopefully offer you some help. If you have questions or would like me to write about something specific, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post or email me. I thought it would be appropriate to start the first post by talking about engagements, since they come before the wedding!
That’s me below at a wedding this summer. Sometimes I get really enthusiastic about weddings. Thank you to my lovely assistant Jen for this photo from a wedding in Vancouver. Sometimes we get fun shots like this when we test the light…
If you recently got engaged you are probably feeling a rush of so many emotions. I remember when I first got engaged back in 2009. It was early in the morning on September 8th. Matt and I were in Maui, Hawaii on vacation. We had planned to visit the Haleakala Crater to watch the sunrise and that’s where the proposal took place. We had rolled out of bed at some awful hour in the middle of the night to drive up that mountain. I kept thinking to myself: “this sunrise better be good if I’m awake at this time!”. You wouldn’t think of Hawaii as a cold place, but let me tell you it was freezing up there. I was told it would be chilly and I brought the quilt off the hotel bed (let’s face it I didn’t bring a warm jacket because it’s Hawaii). I had crazy bed head hair, barely any makeup and I was basically wearing a quilt. If any of you have seen me in the morning you know this would be quite the sight. We walked slowly and carefully as the elevation was quite high and there was a lot less oxygen than we were used to. We both felt a bit loopy, but we were happy to be there and experience such a beautiful place. As the sun came up Matt proposed. It was surreal. As I looked at Matt, I knew this would be the beginning of an incredible journey together. I looked down at my finger and there it was. The past, present, and future engagement ring I had been eyeing up on our walks through the mall. (Three is my favourite number and that’s also the number of diamonds in my engagement ring). We drove down the long windy road back to Kihei. We then called our families to chat about the good news and then made the announcement on social media (good old social media…). We returned home later that week we were immediately swarmed with well wishes and lots of questions from everyone we knew. While I was appreciative and thankful- I was also very overwhelmed. “When’s the date? Where are you getting married? Can I come to your wedding? Have you picked out the flowers?”. Reality began to set in that we had to start planning one of the biggest days of our life and we had no idea where to begin. I had never planned a wedding before. None of my friends had gotten married at that point. The whole thing seemed pretty daunting.
*That’s me below. I don’t normally post pics of myself like this… but that’s real life right there so there you go. Please note the photo in the bottom right hand corner. I’m basically a blurry burrito… Burritos are good. The sunrise also ended up being pretty spectacular, not that we really ended up paying a whole lot of attention as the proposal kind of took over centre stage.
If you are recently engaged here are a helpful tips to get you going in the right direction:
1. Enjoy being engaged for a little while before you start the planning. The second you get a ring on your finger, you will more than likely be bombarded with questions from excited friends and family. Don’t fret! It’s okay not to have all of the answers right away. Just enjoy calling each other “Fiancé(e)” for the first while. Take some time to brainstorm together and visualize what you want your wedding to be like. I had more than one vision about what type of wedding I wanted. In fact we booked a venue and then completely changed our minds… I’ll save that for another blog post.
2. Create a realistic budget. It’s very easy to log onto Pinterest these days and plan the most amazing wedding. When you start crunching numbers you may realize you’ve planned a $500,000 wedding instead of a $30,000 wedding. According to Weddingbells magazine in 2013 the average wedding in Canada cost $32,358 (if you include the rings and a honeymoon). You might be sticker shocked, but that’s reality. Maybe yours will cost a lot more or a lot less. Figure out what aspects of the day are most important and how much money you would like to spend on each item. You may find that some items cost more than expected. Avoid going into debt while planning your wedding. Starting out a new marriage with a ton of debt is not a good idea. If you must have certain pricy items, you may decide to choose a longer engagement in order to have everything on your list. Your wedding will end up being amazing no matter how much you decide to spend. The most beautiful weddings I witness are the ones filled with the most love. Money can’t buy that.
3. Consider hiring a wedding planner to help you out. Many people feel instantly overwhelmed when they start planning their wedding. So much to do! Where to start? Some couples don’t want to spend the extra money and think they can tackle it themselves. Planning a wedding and pulling it off is a massive job. If I could do it all over again I would 100% hire a planner. These people are worth their weight in GOLD. Anytime I book a wedding and I am told the couple has a planner- I breathe a sigh of relief. If you cannot afford a planner for the entire process, then I recommend hiring a “Day Of Coordinator”. Having someone to tackle all the day of tasks will make your day run much smoother. DIY weddings can be a lot of fun, but you must be extremely organized, detail oriented and have a lot of trustworthy people willing to help pull the day together. Wedding planning tends to be quite stressful for most people. Issues can arise prior or even the day of. Having a seasoned professional by your side will allow you to relax and enjoy your day. Hiring a planner is also another way to help ensure you stay on budget.
4. Decide on how many guests you want at your wedding. Are you thinking about having an intimate gathering of 50 people or a large ballroom soiree with a few hundred guests? Figuring out approximately how many guests will be attending is important. Your guest list will affect your budget and possibly your venue options. Most venues have a minimum/maximum capacity. The guest list can add up really fast. It’s important to discuss guest the guest list with both families to make sure everyone is on the same page.
5. Book your venue/Set a wedding date. This is one of the crucial steps to start planning your wedding. Everything else will follow. Many vendors will not enter into a contract with you until you have a set date and chosen your venue. You may have to decide what is more important to you: A specific date? Or having your dream venue? Or both? Some venues book up a year or more in advance, so if you have a venue in mind it’s best to book as soon as you can. Choosing to have your wedding on a weekday or in the off season may give you more venue options.
There are many more steps that follow those listed above. These are just a few to get you started. Happy planning!