Erin McLean Events is a boutique wedding planning + design team specializing in elevated design and exceptional service. Based in North Carolina, We create Southern couture events for the fanciful at heart. Our team of creatives orchestrate seamless and lovely occasions that are true to our clients.


Newly Engaged!!?!?
Let me be the first to congratulate you! This starts such an exciting time in your life! It also can be super stressful, which is why I am here! One of my favorite bloggers: Lauren Grove with Every Last Detail wrote this fantastic post on what to do next, besides call a planner (of course!)

Okay, so I have a confession to make. I love the holidays… but not because of the holidays. Because of all of the engagements that happen! (Okay, okay I love the holidays because of the holidays too.) So of course we all know that Thanksgiving is what “kicks off” the engagement holiday season, and let me tell you- my Facebook friends can attest! I saw relationship status changes and blingy ring photos all weekend! So if you’ve recently gotten engaged…. CONGRATS!!!

Photo by ELV photographer, Ashley Daniell Photography

Now with that said, I have another confession to make. It takes everything I have when a friend/acquaintance of mine gets engaged to NOT send them a message/email listing what they should do first, give them a full timeline of when to do everything, warn them about what not to do, and tell them to hire a planner. There- I said it. I have wedding-planning-advice-logorrhea. But what can I say? I eat, breathe and sleep weddings, and I want EVERYONE to have amazing weddings. But alas, I just tell the newly engaged friends congrats and move on. In most cases they have no idea what I *actually* do for a living anyways- they just know I post links to things about weddings all the time. 😉

Anyways, my point with all of these “confessions” is this: How do you really know what to start with when you first get engaged? I myself- yep you guessed it… I had NO clue. You do what you think you’re supposed to do, right? Right away, you buy a wedding magazine or two or five. You look at their outdated planning checklists and inaccurate budget recommendations, and immediately develop the feeling that you need to get everything done right away. In some cases, this would be necessary- like if you decided you wanted to get married in less than 4 months. But in most situations, wedding planning happens kind of like a roller coaster. You do stuff for a few weeks, and then you have a break. A  few weeks/months (depending on how long you have until your wedding) later, you have more things to check off your list, and then you have another break. And there you have it- a really fun, pretty, and happy roller coaster ride known as planning your wedding. 😉

Photo by ELV photographer, Melissa Biador Photography

So back to that question of what you *actually* need to do first when you get engaged. In the past few years of working in the wedding industry, I’ve developed my own realistic and honest take on what needs to be done first- as soon as you get the ring. First and foremost, ENJOY being engaged! Revel in the feeling for a little while- it’s so fun! You’ll never be “newly engaged” again! 😉 But once you’ve gone through all your congratulations and made all of your phone calls, people will start asking you all about what you’re planning. And that’s where our little question of where to start comes up!

I was chatting with my friend Laura of Ashton Events a few days ago, and we got on this very topic of what needs to be done first when someone gets engaged. And so, I thought I would share what we came up with! Essentially you can’t really get anything else done without doing these things first, and they do in fact all pretty much happen at once. Heck, you could even sit down for a few hours and have just about all of these things done!

 

 1: Set a budget

You really shouldn’t do anything before deciding on your budget. I know it’s a tough conversation, but it needs to be discussed and decided on before anything else. Figure out who is contributing, how much they can contribute, and what your total budget will be. Then you can move on to…

 2: Choose 2-3 possible dates

Yep, to be safe, choose 2-3 possible dates to have your wedding. Think of what time of year you like, the weather, work schedules/vacation time, holidays, and yes, even football (or whatever sport your fiance is crazy about) schedules. Then choose your #1 preferred date, and have a #2 and #3 available in case your preferred date isn’t available. Because I’m going to be honest- venues don’t wait around for you to get engaged and decide on your perfect wedding date. Some venues even book up to a year and half in advance!

 3: Start your guest list

This is another toughie because yes, of course you want to invite everyone and their uncles to your wedding. I’m warning you. You’re going to list everyone you know, friends you haven’t seen in years but still “know” thanks to Facebook, coworkers you don’t even like, and I’m sure your mom will want her friend Sue to be on the list too. But in reality, the more people you have, the more you have to spend. This is why you do your budget first.

Example: You want to have 200 guests. Your budget is $20,000. This means that you will have $100 per guest. Well, that really ritzy hotel you love? Yeah they’re not even going to be close to $100 per person- and that’s not including flowers, dress, and all your other vendors.

So starting your guest list and knowing your estimated count early on is imperative. And keep in mind- nothing is set in stone. Guest counts normally go down by the time the wedding day comes around anyways- and believe me… it’ll get reeeeeally easy to cut those people you haven’t talked to in forever. But it’s crucial to have an estimation of how many people you’re planning on so you can make some decisions! 🙂

 4: Decide on your wedding’s style

Ah, there I go again on wedding styles. If you’re new here, you’ll find out that I’m HUGE on knowing what style of wedding you want. Vintage, modern, classic, eclectic, punk, rustic… there are SO many styles. Most styles also coincide with decor and details too. But none of that has to be decided on right away. Just know the general “gist” of the style of how you want your wedding to be. Once you know that, it’ll be easier to decide on your venue. Which brings us to…

 5: Decide on your venue

So all of the previous 4 steps, like I said earlier, can essentially be done all in one sitting. Pretty cool, right? Once you’ve laid the “foundation” for your wedding, you can start researching and touring venues. When you’re researching and you’ve found one you like, I recommend emailing or calling and asking if they have any of your possible dates available. If they do, then go ahead and schedule a meeting to tour the venue! Give yourself a few (1 to 3 max) weeks to tour all of your possibilities (depending on how long you have before your wedding date of course), crunch numbers, envision and dream of your wedding, and then pull the trigger on your venue! Once you have your venue booked (meaning deposit made) and your date secured… well woo hoo! You are getting MARRIED! 😉

 

Okay, so once you’ve completed all of these, you’re good to go for a few weeks! Now you can tell everyone about the wedding date and start researching for your next steps! My quick suggestions of what’s next: planner and photographer!

If you’ve already done all of this and are on to the next steps, you can find more in the Just Engaged section of ELD Wedding 101! And remember- if you have any questions, I’m here to answer them for you! Feel free to ask here in the comments, submit them to the Q&A page, or email me! 🙂

So brides, raise your hand (aka comment) if you’re newly engaged!! And if you’re not, where are you in your wedding planning “roller coaster”? 🙂