It’s official: We have started planning for our wedding! As in booking venues, securing vendors and looking for wardrobe necessities. And since I love event planning almost as much as I love Jimmy, I’ve decided to create a “Wedding Bells” blog series that I will continually update throughout our engagement and wedding planning process. So for those of you who want to keep up with our planning journey, or are looking for tips on planning your own wedding, look no further! I’ll be sharing the juicy deets and highs and lows of it all: venue hunting, honeymoon ideas, color schemes, wedding dress shopping and more. Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and ideas along the way! (Oh, and if you want to be the first to know when I post about wedding plans, subscribe to my blog via email by entering your email address in the “Follow My Blog” bar to the right!)
As of today, Jimmy and I will be walking down the aisle in 289 days. Holy cow! Sounds like a lot of days, but I know it’s going to go by SO fast. It already is! We just so happened to pick one of the year’s post popular wedding dates, 12/13/14, so I knew we needed to act quickly if we wanted to get all of the vendors and venues we wanted. Fortunately, everything and everyone we were hoping to work with is available for us on that day – pretty sure it’s meant to be :). I’ve done a lot, but the list seems to be never-ending. It’s a good thing I like this stuff! And I must say, Jimmy has been incredibly helpful and (willingly) involved with most of this, which is making it even more fun.
First thing first. Before beginning anything, we took the advice of many friends and loved ones and each wrote down our top three priorities for the wedding. My three are a great photographer, an open bar, and transportation for our guests. Jimmy’s three are great entertainment, transportation for our guests, and good drinks (he’s kind of a beer and gin snob). These are things that you should make sure happen and you allow enough room in your budget to secure, and everything else follows behind. As you can see, we think a lot alike and want the same things for our wedding which makes this a lot easier!
The budget. The next important thing was to set a budget. This part was harder than I thought it was going to be! Because my parents are divorced, we all had to work together to see what we can afford (that’s not the hard part). Traditionally, the bride’s parents cover the majority of the weddings costs, which is what my parents agreed to do. I’m not going to disclose our budget or share numbers, but Mom and Dad, I do promise I’ll do my very best to be as cost-effective as possible! I am a DIYer and know how to find a good bargain, so hopefully I’ll succeed.
Getting organized. Because I am a planner myself and have always wanted to plan my own wedding from start to finish, we decided not to hire a wedding planner. Fortunately my mom is extremely creative and quite the planner herself, so she doubles as a wedding planner as well. Since I am not hiring a wedding planner, I decided to purchase a wedding planning book to stay organized. There are SO many books out there and I wanted to make sure I picked the best one, so I did some research on them all to get the opinions of other brides. I already have The Knot Book of Wedding Lists (thanks to my fabulous bridesmaid Amanda!), so I wanted something more for organization than for planning and to-do lists. After narrowing it down, I settled on A Bride’s Book: An Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake for the Year of the Wedding, and I love it! It has every category for planning your wedding sectioned off by tabs, places to fill in the information for practically everything (wedding party, parents, vendors, etc.), pockets for storing keepsakes, and subtle hints and ideas. If you’re looking for a complete wedding planning book, I wouldn’t suggest this one for you. But if you’re just looking to stay organized like I am, this one is great! P.s. I will be enlisting the help of my fabulous Aunt Pam for day-of coordinating so my mom and I won’t have to stress over all the little things. It comes natural to her, and I know she’ll enjoy it!
Wedding expo. Fortunately we got engaged at the peak of “engagement season,” which means everything and everyone is in wedding mode. There are lots of weddings contests going on (which I’ve entered … and want to enter more. Send them my way if you know of any!), and wedding/bridal shows are taking place practically every weekend. The Premier Wedding Expo happened to be in Jacksonville the weekend after we got engaged, so even though we weren’t ready to start planning just yet, we decided to go check it out. Jimmy, being the good sport he is, agreed to go with me (once he heard there were food and cake samples). We had absolutely no idea what to expect and we were completely blown away (and slightly overwhelmed) once we got there. Dozens of vendors, lots of music, ample food samples, and LOTS of bride-to-be’s! It was a lot of fun and very helpful, and I would highly recommend going to at least one when planning a wedding. Even if you think you have everything figured out and all of your vendors booked, it’s a great place to get ideas, get coupons for vendors, and enter to win great prizes. I went to another Premier Wedding Expo in Savannah the following weekend, and am going to Behind the Veil in Savannah this weekend.
Top priorities. So what’s next? I’m working on securing all of the important have-to-do-right-away items on my list so we can relax a bit over the summer before all the craziness kicks in. Right now, my planning list includes: Ceremony location (check!), reception location (check!), rehearsal dinner location, finalizing our guest list, host hotel (check!), photographer (check!), engagement pictures, save the dates, entertainment, caterer (check!), wedding dress (check!), and bridesmaid dresses.
Wish me luck! There’s lots to be done and fun to be had.