Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Where Do I Start??

One of my faithful readers wrote to ask where to start. She has eight months to plan her wedding and there is TOO MUCH information out there.
SO I dug this out of my archives for her. It was originally published in the Nashville Scene last year.

Where Do I Start?

Byline: Christine Boulton

Your engaged. If you are like most people, you are completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with joy, of course, because you are marrying the man of your dreams.

But also, that deer in the headlights overwhelmed by all you have to do. Where do you even begin to plan something this big?

To borrow a line from a TV commercial, you need to start with a ‘quiet conversation’. Sit down as a couple and talk about what the wedding means to you. Do you see it as a solemn ceremony with great meaning in all the traditions, an excuse to party until dawn, an intimate destination affair or a family reunion? Do you see it as large or small, formal or laid back, rustic or chic? To save your sanity-have this conversation before you do anything else. That way your vision won’t be nearly as clouded by all the possibilities available for today’s bride. And remember to write it down. If your wedding plans start to run away the a mind of their own, refer back to your original ‘mission statement’ to reign them back in. That mission statement can also come in handy when friends and relatives give just a little too much input. “Sorry Aunt Sally, but that doesn’t mesh with our plan”.

The next step is to decide on some numbers. You need to consider both your budget and the size of your guest list. I mention them both in one sentence because they are so closely related. The fewer guests you have, the farther your budget will go. This early, it is not necessary to have anything more then a rudimentary idea of your guest list, but you need something to work with. Likewise, you only need a rough idea of your budget. The hard number crunching will come soon enough!

Now that you have some idea of where this whole wedding thing is going, you can start making decisions. First pick a season, then narrow it down to a 2 or 3-week period. You want to be a little flexible here, especially if you’re planning period is short. The best and most interesting venues book up as much as a year in advance. That flexibility might be the difference between the site of your dreams and a poor second. Armed with a basic idea of your wedding style, your date, the size of your guest list and your budget, it’s time to start shopping! Use local magazine (like this one), personal referrals and the Internet to come up with a broad list of sites you might like. Don’t just look at the obvious spots like country clubs and hotels. There are amazing sites to find if you look off the beaten path. You might consider museums and art galleries. Even some office buildings have beautiful public spaces that are available for parties on the weekend. Once you have a list of available options do site visits and look at how each site works in terms of contracts, who can cater, and price. Does the space fit your vision? Look over the contract carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Now that your wedding has a home, it’s time to really have fun with all those pictures you have been collecting. Come on, you know you have. Sort through them and see what fits with the location and the vision and toss what doesn’t. At this point using a binder with clear sheet protector and an index is a handy way to get organized. If you do all your organizing on your computer, be sure and print hard copies of vital lists, like the vendor contacts and guest list. Better safe then sorry.

A lot of today’s brides are so busy with school and a career that hiring a wedding planner is the way to go. If you think you may end up hiring a professional planner, the earlier in the process you do it, the better. A good planner hired early on can save you both time and money. If however you wait until late in the process, their input, and therefore help will be limited.

There are still a lot of details left to sort out as you move forward in your planning. But you now have a good solid foundation on which to plan. Have fun with it; this should be a fabulous time in your life, not a sentence to a work camp. And remember, there are cake and a honeymoon at the end.


Additional info.

Getting Organized

3 ring binder

Get a heavy duty one with at least a 2”spine.

Heavy-duty sheet protectors

Box of 50

Tabbed index.

2 packs of sturdy grade plastic.

This is an easy and inexpensive way to get organized.

I recommend using heavy-duty materials because this little book is going to get a lot of abuse over the course of your planning.

Make an index page for every category of product or service you will be using. You can get an idea of what you will need to put on the index tabs on most any wedding website. You will also want an archive section.

Use the sheet protectors to store all your notes, pictures, prices sheets, fabric swatches and contracts. Use a separate one for each vendor. For instance, use a separate one for each venue you visit. Once you have made a decision, move all but the one you picked to the archive section.

Now everything is quick to find in a custom tailored planner

You'll need it for your storyboard. ;-o

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