I am based out of Chattanooga, TN, but travel worldwide for weddings, engagements, and brand-specific editorials. I love working hand-in-hand with people to ensure we get the best, most heart-warming, memory-invoking imagery.
You’ve just walked into this new, exciting (a bit overwhelming!) season of life we call engagement! Once the proposal dust has settled, the hurricane of wedding planning TAKES OVER!
(…See what I did there…)
A few of the questions swirling in your mind may be….
– How do I find a venue, and how quickly should I book this?
– When do I get married? Do we want a short or a long engagement?
– Should I hire a wedding planner? Where do I look to find one?
Below I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips, ideas, and places to start. Let’s get your engagement & wedding planning off to the perfect start!
01. The First Questions to Address
When you begin this process, it’s important to nail down your key aspects of your wedding & your engagement. In order to do so, you’ll need to answer these questions.
01 – What kind of wedding do we want?
Classic/Timeless, Contemporary/Modern, Rustic/Vintage, etc.
02 – In what season do you want your wedding to take place?
Fall weddings are perfect for warm, deep colors & sweaters. Summer weddings are usually booked quickly – and feature looks of florals & sunny days (be sure to book summer weddings ASAP!). Winter weddings are perfect for cozy nights, indoor fireplace weddings, and snowy weddings. And spring weddings are perfect for newly grown florals & a few “good-luck” rain showers!
03 – How long do you want your engagement to be?
As much as you may prefer a fall wedding, you may also be looking to have a shorter engagement. Depending upon the creative direction of your wedding, you may want to consider how long of an engagement you want. A typical engagement lasts for about 8 – 18 months.
04 – What’s our budget?
Your approximate budget will help determine what sort of vendors, locations, etc. that you and your fiancé can afford. Once you’ve decided upon a set budget, it’s wise to make a decision about what your top 3 priorities are. Most top priorities include venue, photographer, & planner, although these differ among couples.
05 – Who is our planner?
If you choose to hire a planner and/or a wedding stylist, search for this during the first 1-2 weeks of your engagement. This planner will help you delegate your budget well & find other fantastic vendors in your area.
If you’re looking for a wedding planner in your area, consider looking both through Google searches, Instagram hashtag searches (i.e. #nashvilleweddingplanner), and messaging other friends & family who have had recent weddings. If you have decided to hire a stylist as well, ensure that your have a similar creative taste and/or that your stylist can envision the direction you want for your big day.
02. Finding Your Vendors
After you’ve decided on the above, you can begin to narrow down which vendors will make your day unique to you and your (almost) husband! Here are a few examples of different vendor styles.
01 – Venue
– When deciding on your venue, ensure that, if outdoors, your venue has a backup rain plan.
– It’s ideal to book your wedding venue at least 8+ months before your wedding. If you want a short engagement (i.e. anything less than about 7-8 months), make venue-choosing your first priority.
02 – Photographer
When choosing your photographer, consider the following options & questions:
– What style do you want? This could include classic/timeless, moody/dark, posed vs. candid, etc.
– Make sure that you work well with your photographer! Find someone who cares about you & your fiancé, and will work hard to get the best images possible.
03 – Stylist / Coordinator / Planner
Will you be hiring a planner and/or a coordinator? Will you want someone along the way from beginning to end, or will you just want someone beside you the day of your wedding?
Stylist – Your stylist will guide you through each creative decision, especially within the realm of stylistic choices. During the day, stylists typically work directly with the photographer to ensure that each image represents the overall feel & mood of your wedding.
Coordinator – Primarily “day-of” coordinating, ensuring that your day runs smoothly, but doesn’t have an extensive hand in planning your entire wedding.
Planner – This is typically the “all-in” package. From the beginning of planning through the wedding day, your planner will walk with you, helping you make the best decisions in vendors, locations, schedules, and more.
* Pro Tip – Make sure you discuss your expectations with each of your vendors, especially your planner, photographer, & videographer, prior to booking. It’s important for vendors to know what you are looking for, and decide if you’ll make a good fit!
03. Communication, Communication, Communication
As you begin this process of planning, it’s important to communicate well with your fiancé, your friends/family, and each of your vendors. Here are a few common things you should ensure you’ve communicated well.
01 – Your Bridal Party
After you’ve chosen a date & a venue, you can begin the process of picking your bridesmaids / groomsmen! Having great communication is super important from the get-go. Make sure you’ve told your maid-of-honor (MOH) what you’d like her to help with, & make sure you remind the bridal party of when they need to get dresses/suits by, etc.
02 – Your Family
Having your family by your side is so important, & while we can’t always be on the same page as our parents, or meet every expectation, it’s helpful to communicate about the hopes you have for your wedding day ahead of time. This could include guest count, preferred venues/locations, and letting your family know how long they will have for any family pictures.
03 – Your (UH-MAZING) Groom
You got the ring.
You’re ready to plan.
As exciting as this time is, and as much as you want your wedding to fit inside your perfect vision, ensure that you include your groom in major decisions. Even if he seems to lack an opinion (let’s be real, sometimes this happens…), it’s still important to make decisions as a team, & make sure that he knows his opinion is valued.
04. Get Out Those PLANNERS!
I’m a bit of a planning nerd, & I have to say that the wedding planning, as hectic as it can be, can become a planner’s heaven.
As a wedding gift to yourself (& your future self!), go ahead and invest in a planner to keep track of budgets, vendor names, dates, etc.
Here are a few of my recommendations…
And for your groom…
And GET EXCITED!
Take this time to be with your future husband, your friends, & your family to celebrate this thrilling, new time in your lives!
Looking for a few more wedding-day tips?
Check out this post!