What to do before you get engaged seems like an odd question for a wedding planning podcast, but we're kicking off Season 2 of the podcast with this exact question! I know many of you reading this blog or listening to the podcast are in this exact position because when I sent you my welcome message you said, “Thank you so much! We're actually not yet engaged but I think it's happening soon, so I'm starting to do some research.”
Fantastic! Don't feel embarrassed! This is a safe space for people that like to plan ahead! I'm a wedding planner first and foremost, so being prepared is always accepted here.
Today's blog post is an accompaniment to Episode 36 of the podcast, which you'll find below. (I also give you all a preview of what to expect in Season 2, so make sure you listen to the podcast episode linked below!)
Prior to getting into the topic, below are a few announcements for Season 2!
Please review the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave your Instagram handle!
- When you leave a review, let me know what topics you want me to cover for Season 2, guests I should interview, and how you'd like to get more support (Instagram Lives, Voxer, a private Zoom, whatever!)
- Let me know how long you like the episodes to be. Some episodes are closer to the 30-40 minute mark, others with guests are closer to the 60-minute mark. What do you like?
- I'm recording a mini-series on different topics, like questions to ask specific vendors, design, etc. so listen to the episode to hear what's coming up and give feedback on what you want more of!
In February I'm interviewing real couples!
- Let me know what kinds of couples you want to hear on the podcast! Do you want to hear from couples currently planning their wedding, couples that are finished, couples that planned a backyard wedding, couples that planned a high-end wedding. What do you want to know?!
Listener Questions & Wedding Planner Hotline
- Do you want episodes where I'm answering only listener questions?
- I can set up a phone number or read your email and then answer your questions live on the show.
- Don't forget our Wedding Planning Templates Shop!
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LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW
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EPISODE 36 HIGHLIGHTS: What to do Before You Get Engaged
- Think about your guest list [13:25]
- Put together a budget range that you’re comfortable spending on the wedding. [16:52]
- Decide a part of the country or state where you want to get married.[17:57]
- Research and reach out to wedding planners. [19:54]
- Look at wedding venues. [25:21]
- Save inspiration to a Pinterest board. [27:02]
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- The Ultimate Wedding Planning checklist
- @AskthePlannerPodcast on Instagram
- Book a 90-minute Clarity Call to get wedding planning help specific to your unique situation
Thank you to our podcast sponsors!
- LoveStream – Get 10% off ANY virtual wedding package with my code Ask10!
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If you prefer to read, here's the text . . .What to do Before You Get Engaged
NO, I do NOT think you’re crazy. My now-husband and I TOTALLY talked about some of our wedding ideas before we got engaged. We had fun fantasizing and dreaming!
So what should you do now? Below are the five things to do before you get engaged.
1. Think about your guest list before you get engaged
Your guest list and your wedding venue are two of the biggest cost-drivers for your wedding. I talked about this in-depth in Episode 21: The 5 Main Factors that Drive Your Wedding Budget.
To be direct, your wedding budget multiplies with each guest.
Each guest needs the following:
- Food and alcohol, which is usually one of the biggest costs in your wedding budget
- China, flatware, glassware, and napkins
- A chair if you’re renting them for either the ceremony, reception, or both (and no, you don’t want to use the same chairs for the ceremony and reception because it takes a lot of people to re-set all those chairs)
- Gifts or favors
- Dessert such as wedding cake or a dessert display
There are also other things directly related to the guest count but are not as obvious, such as:
- How many tables and tablecloths will you need for dinner
- The number of centerpieces, candles, and votives will you need for each table
- How many staff and bartenders does the caterer to hire to serve all the guests
So as you think about your wedding day, think about your guest list and how many people you really want there. This includes both you and your partner and also some people your parents will want to invite, too.
I don’t like putting a number on each guest’s head ask asking, “Is this person worth $250?” But the costs quickly add up so it’s something to think about.
2. Before you get engaged, consider your finances
This leads me to the next thing to do before you get engaged, which is to consider your finances. As a wedding planner, it’s very important that I know what my couple’s true budget is when it comes to planning their wedding.
It helps me have an idea of how to allocate their finances based on their priorities knowing how much different vendors typically cost. I firmly believe that couples should never go into debt for their wedding. So transparency is a big deal when it comes to how much you’re willing and able to spend.
How much are you comfortable spending of your own money towards this milestone event? Are your parents able and willing to contribute to it? Discussing money is taboo in our society, but it's important to have a threshold in the beginning so you can tailor your expenses around what's a must-have versus what's a nice-to-have.
3. Before you get engaged, think about the location
As a wedding planner, I LOVE when couples get married at a place that holds sentimental meaning for one or both of them.
I grew up in Virginia and, when we got married, I wanted everyone to see the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of my home (even though we lived in D.C. and most of our guests lived in New York).
For one of my couples, both grew up on the water. The bride spent her summers on the lake and the groom grew up fishing in the lakes of Michigan, so they got married on the water in the Finger Lakes in New York.
Another one of my couples met in college and they wanted their guests to experience the beauty of the small New York towns that you both loved exploring when they dated.
There are many reasons why you'll choose a place for your wedding, but if you choose a place that’s connected to your story, it will mean so much more to you if you do.
4. Start researching wedding planners
Guys, I can’t stress this enough. Get a wedding planner. Especially if you’re listening to this in 2021, 2022, or even 2023. Every vendor in the industry will tell you how crucial it is to have the help of a good, professional wedding planner (like me!)
There are a LOT of couples getting married, so there’s more competition for a limited number of resources. Also, there are supply chain issues still happening. The mills can't produce the same number of tablecloths as they used to. That means there arenn't just more people that want the same number of stuff, but there’s actually LESS STUFF to have.
The reason I tell you this is not to scare you, but to make you aware of what’s happening right now.
A GOOD, PROFESSIONAL wedding planner will help you navigate these shortages and issues. They’ll help you find stuff if it’s possible or help you brainstorm alternatives if something just can’t happen. They’ll also save you a BOATLOAD in avoiding unnecessary costs and prevent you from making costly mistakes.
And on the day of the wedding, it’s their job to make sure everything goes smoothly in case there are issues that still come up. (For example, the tablecloths you ordered months ago don't arrive and you have to find something else 4 days before your wedding. Yes, that happened to me this summer.)
And you don’t have to hire a full-service wedding planner like me. There are wedding planners for different styles, budgets, and needs. So look around and see what’s out there.
5. Before you get engaged, start looking at wedding venues
I know. You’re probably surprised that I’m telling you to look at wedding venues after you’ve talked to a wedding planner. But this is why: Wedding planners work at a lot of wedding venues. So wedding planners KNOW a lot of wedding venues. And even if they haven’t had a wedding there, they’ve probably visited it, talked to the owners, or at least know of many more than you will.
A wedding planner will help you narrow the field more efficiently and help you locate the perfect venue for you based on your style and budget much faster than you can if you scrolled through listings on Google, The Knot, and Instagram.
Plus, the wedding planner, if it’s in her scope of work like with my full-service clients, can look over that wedding venue contract to make sure it doesn’t take advantage of you, has a fair cancellation clause, or at least makes you aware of anything one-sided, and can go to bat for you if they feel like there are unfair requirements in the contract.
6. Make a Pinterest Board – You can make it secret
Yes. Now it’s time to start indulging in your curiosity and desire to look at all the pretty wedding inspiration out there – and there's a lot!.
Poke around on Pinterest. Make a wedding board – yes, you can make it secret so no one gets tipped off that you’re already planning your wedding.
Rather than making multiple boards for your wedding, just make one secret board and break it up into different sections so it’s easier to organize your inspiration.
You can look at dresses, venues, wedding planners, photographers, florists, anything! There’s so much inspiration on Pinterest. I'm very active on Pinterest, so make sure you follow my Pinterest account here!
Yes, you will go down some rabbit holes. It’s okay though (for now). Sometimes one rabbit hole can lead to another and another and you'll stumble upon inspiring stuff that you might never have found if you hadn’t gone down the first rabbit hole.
Conclusion: 6 Things to do Before You Get Engaged
The anticipation for the proposal is a super exciting time but it can also leave you with a lot of questions. I fully support couples that want to do some of the legwork now so that the engagement experience can be even more smooth and enjoyable. Here's a summary of what you can work on now before you get engaged.
- Put together your guest list and know how many people you want to invite.
- Discuss a budget range that you’re comfortable spending on the wedding. If your parents or someone else is helping you pay for it, you need to nail them down. I know it’s an awkward conversation to have, but it’s much better having some parameters so you don’t go over budget.
- Decide a part of the country or state where you want to get married. Pick somewhere sentimental!
- Research and reach out to wedding planners – I’m based in New York but I also plan destination weddings, so if you like me, reach out! I’d love to work with you!
- Begin looking at wedding venues (but don’t forget that the wedding planner can help you with this too!)
- Check out and save inspiration to a Pinterest board. Follow me on Pinterest here!
Get In Touch
If you have questions about any of this, I would love to know. I can even do a deep-dive into one of these topics if you think it’s helpful.
Please review the podcast on Apple Podcasts and write your questions in the review and I’ll incorporate them into a future episode. If there are specific guests you want me to interview or topics you want me to cover in a future episode, let me know who that is in your review, too!
If you want even more help with your wedding planning, I’m only a phone call away, and you can schedule a 90-minute clarity call with me where we’ll talk through a specific issue or question you have.
For those of you that are excited to plan your wedding on your own, check out my Ultimate Wedding Planning checklist in the Wedding Planning Templates Shop. It’s one of my most popular items and for a good reason!
If there’s something that you’re looking for that’s not in the shop. Please let me know. I want to create resources that you want and that will help you!
In Episode 37 I’m diving into the next step in the journey, which is what the heck do you do after you get engaged!
Thanks so much for joining me today and I’ll talk to you soon!
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