Category Archives: wedding planning first step

winter wedding venue feature wall with beads and uplighting

9 Questions to Ask After the Engagement

After the “engagement glow” wears off, it’s best to sit down and have an honest discussion about your wedding—even if you don’t plan on getting married right away. Here’s what you should ask during your discussion, and what you should do with the answers.

When do we want to get married? Is there a date we want to set?

Even if you’re not in hurry to get married, it’s a good idea to discuss your future plans. Even if your special day is years away, the best wedding venue calendars fill up quickly. Plus, having a set date or year gives you a goal if you need to save up for your special day. (Use these tips for saving for your wedding.)

Couples can set a wedding date by contacting their favorite venue and asking for available dates or by choosing a special date. (Use one of these ways to choose the perfect wedding date.) Couples can choose a date based on a relationship milestone (i.e. day of engagement, first date, etc.), opt for a special family date (i.e. grandparent wedding date, birthday, etc.), or choose a favorite season.

Where do we want to get married? Is there a ceremony site or venue where we want to get married?

What city do you want to get married in? Where would you like to hold your ceremony in that city? Your reception? It’s okay if you don’t have any answers right away, but it is a good idea to start the discussion. (Use these tips for choosing the right wedding venue and narrowing down your options.) If you do have a top choice, contact the venue right away so you can make your vision a reality. (You can also hold your ceremony and reception at the same location so you don’t have to worry about transportation.)

Do we want to plan the wedding ourselves? What is our wedding style?

Some couples want to plan every minute of their wedding day, while others opt to hire a wedding planner to handle all or some of the details. (Read more about the pros and cons of hiring a wedding planner.) This is your chance to discuss how much of the planning you want to take on, and if you have the time to take on a long wedding planning checklist. (Some wedding venues have on-staff planners that can help with some or all of the planning.)

This is also your opportunity to discuss your wedding style, which can help you choose the right venue, menu, and wedding décor. Do you want an elegant affair? A modern wedding in the city? A casual wedding? An outdoor ceremony and/or reception?

Is there a vendor we really want to hire for our wedding?

Just like wedding venues, many wedding vendors’ calendars fill up quickly. If you have a wedding photographer, videographer, or caterer, now is the time to contact them. But before you do, make sure they are allowed in your wedding venue. (Some wedding venues require you to use an in-house caterer or other vendor.) If you do want to use a favorite caterer or photographer, ask prospective venues if they have an open vendor policy (along with these other wedding venue questions).

How are we going to pay for the wedding? Do we want a big wedding or smaller, more intimate gathering?

These two questions should be asked together because they are usually connected. While some couples want a smaller wedding regardless of the budget, others opt for a more intimate gathering because of costs. (Use these wedding budget tips as you plan after the engagement.) If you have family members or friends that have expressed an interest in helping financially, now is the time to discuss that too.

A conversation about your budget should also include information about your finances; this is your chance to get on the same page about how you’re going to save for your big day and turn your ideas into a beautiful wedding day.

newlyweds cutting white wedding cake at wedding venue with blooms

Quick Guide to Planning a Wedding in 6 Months

Throw that two-year wedding planning checklist out the window. These wedding planning tips are for couples who want to get married in six months (or less!)—and are ready to plan and enjoy their dreaming wedding day (soon)!

Nail down most of the big details with your fiancé.

The best way to start wedding planning—before calling wedding venues or heading to the store—is to have a talk with your new fiancé. This discussion is an opportunity to get on the same page about important wedding planning details. It’s a time to start asking:

  • Where do we want to get married? (Discuss the city, ceremony site, any special venues you have in mind.)
  • When do we want to get married? (If you don’t have a set date, it’s okay to decide on a month.)
  • How big of a wedding do we want? (You don’t have to set a guest list but you should have a general guest count in mind.)
  • What is our budget? Where are the funds coming from? (This is the time to be honest about finances and discuss any friends or family that have expressed an interest in helping.)
  • What is the one thing you’ve always wanted on your wedding day? (The answer to this question may surprise you!)
  • How much time do we have for wedding planning? (Be honest! If you need some help, add “wedding planning services” to your wedding venue checklist.)
  • What is our style? What style or wedding theme reflects us as a couple?

Start contacting wedding venues.

One of the most important details to confirm is the site of your nuptials. After all, you need to know the location before you set a wedding day timeline or drafting invitations. This is the time to start researching wedding venues and prepping your wedding venue questions.

If you have a set wedding date, this is your chance to narrow your choices of wedding venues. Make a list of potential wedding venues that are within your preferred location, can accommodate your approximate guest count, and fit with your style. When you contact the wedding venue, your first wedding venue question, “Are you available on our wedding date?” can tell you if that venue is worth a visit or should be crossed off the list.

For couples without a set date, ask potential wedding venues for open dates during you and your fiance’s preferred month or season. If the venue is incredibly popular, be open to alternate wedding days (instead of a Saturday) that may be open. As an added benefit, alternate wedding dates (such as on a Friday or Sunday) may be less expensive than a Saturday.     

Make wedding planning an organized effort.

Planning a wedding in six months is an expedited process—and one that can go a lot smoother if it is organized (especially with these tips for organizing wedding planning). Start with a paper wedding planning checklist or a good wedding planning app that helps you check items off the list. Never start wedding planning without an excellent wedding budget worksheet (and good budgeting advice) that keeps your expenses within the amount set by you and your fiancé.

Remember, if you want to bring in a team of friends and family to help, great—but be careful! Even the most well-intentioned volunteers can miss deadlines or overstep their bounds.

Vet vendors carefully and quickly.

Remember, while you have to move down your wedding planning checklist quickly, never overlook one of the most important steps: vetting wedding vendors. Just one misstep can lead to an unscrupulous vendor who leaves you high and dry on your wedding day—and adds to what can already be a stressful time.

When looking for vendors, such as your caterer, photographer, entertainer, or videographer, always research each vendor carefully. In addition to checking out their website and social media sites, carefully look through reviews (especially on third-party websites like the Knot, Wedding Wire, or Yelp) to see what other couples have felt about their experience.

Be wary of amateurs recommended by friends (“oh my cousin can totally help!” or “I have a friend who does this on the side”)—especially if you and your friends have never seen them in action. Unfortunately, if an amateur shuts down or takes an extremely large down payment, you may not have many options to recover your lost funds.  

Don’t just be careful about vendors. If you have any items that need to be ordered, always ask about the expected delivery date. Never order any items that may not make it in until the last minute.

Take breaks.

Wedding planning can feel overwhelming and even stressful—especially when you’re on a tight timeline! Even though you feel like you have to get everything done, plan periodic date nights where you can enjoy being together. There are a lot of great ways to de-stress in Milwaukee! (Plus you can turn some of them into a de-stressing double-duty date that you can use for wedding planning!)

Wedding Planning Guide: What is the first step in planning a wedding?

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planningYour significant other popped the question! Congrats! Once the glow of the proposal has worn off, it’s time to face the enormous task of wedding planning. While this wedding planning checklist from Real Simple can get you through the next few months (or years), we’ve given you a wedding planning guide that can get you started with the first step, talking to your partner, and can take you step-by-step from there.

Before you shop for wedding dresses or decide on flowers, sit down and talk to your future husband or wife (then follow the next steps in our wedding planning guide). A simple conversation now can give your wedding planning direction and guide you as select and finalize all the wedding day details.

Location

Where would you like to get married? Decide together whether your home town, current city, lake home, alma mater, or favorite vacation spot is your ideal place to get married. Once you’ve narrowed down the city, state, and country, start thinking about what you want and need in your wedding venue.

Next wedding planning step: Use this list of criteria to narrow down your choices for wedding venue; the next step is to contact potential wedding venues and ask them these important questions.

Date

You don’t have to select the exact wedding date, but it is helpful to narrow down your options to a month or season. If there is some flexibility on date but not on budget, ask the wedding venue for an evening weekday or Sunday morning (for brunch!); many venues give discounted rates for off-peak days.

Next wedding planning step: Use this guide to decide on a wedding date you both are excited about. Contact wedding venues and ask if the date is available. If there is some flexibility on date, ask the wedding venue for open dates during the desired season or month.

Guest List

You and your spouse-to-be don’t have to come up with an exact wedding list, but start talking about whether you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate affair. An idea of the guest count is also helpful when choosing the right wedding venue, which shouldn’t be too big or too small.

Next wedding planning step: Use these steps to set a wedding guest list. A final guest list can give you general numbers to give to the caterer and vendors for linen rental and centerpieces.

Budget

This is a very important part of the initial wedding planning conversation. Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding day, and where the funds are coming from.

Next wedding planning step: Contact any friends or family members that have expressed an interest in helping pay for the wedding day. Make sure you get a clear answer (not just “we can cover dinner”) to minimize any disagreements later.

Style

Every couple has their own style and vision for the wedding day. Do you want a formal, elegant wedding day? Or a day with a historic style? Is a rustic wedding more your style? As you discuss the big picture, be sure to ask if there is anything really important that either of you really want on their big day. Your spouse-to-be’s answer may surprise you.

Next wedding planning step: Take your desired style and run with it as you coordinate the details of your desire wedding atmosphere. Use the style to find wedding venues and attire, and to set a delicious wedding menu.

Time

Wedding planning can be a monumental task. Discuss the amount of time you both have to allocate to planning your special day. Be realistic; a good wedding planner can be a huge help when your time is small.

Next wedding planning step: If you need a wedding planner, get recommendations from friends or add it to your list of wedding venue criteria. Many venues have a wedding planner on staff who is intimately familiar with the site and local vendors. If DIY wedding planning is the choice, ask friends or family for their help; give them specific tasks and deadlines to eliminate any misunderstandings later.