Where do we start?
Trust me when I saw, I hear this question a lot! After the excitement of getting engaged has started to wear off a bit, it's now time to start planning your wedding day. As someone who is planning her own wedding, I decided to share a few of my tips that I found helpful and will reduce stress, because yes, planning a wedding can be stressful but you have help, you don't have to do it alone!
01: Pick your date
Before jumping full into the water with wedding planning, make sure you narrow down a date. Most couples I've photographed choose a date that has some significance to it. No matter what your date represents, this is the most important step. Why? Because this date will help all the other planning fall into place.
02: Find your photographer
Photographers book out a year or two in advance! Yes, you heard that right! Not only should booking your photographer be high on the priority list but also to find one that matches your style and personality. After I receive an inquiry from a bride, I follow up right away with a link to set up a phone chat. This 30-minute chat is so important for both the bride and I, sometimes the groom chimes in as well which I love because that tells me he's just as curious and into the planning of their day as the bride is. I ask what I call ice breaker questions. These are questions that get me to know a little more about who my potential clients are and what the most important captures are for their day. Being present and communicating on a regular basis shows you care and you're not just going to show up on the wedding day, take pictures and that's it. It you want video for your wedding, I would look for one at the same time. They book out just as fast, especially if it's a photo/video duo.
03: Find your venue
Ok, so you have your date picked and you've found a photographer. Now comes the fun part, choosing your venue. Venues will book out a year in advance so if you've had your heart set on one in particular, I would call and set up a tour appointment immediately! When I was looking at venues, I toured about seven. That may seem like a small number compared to other's but I would keep it at a low amount just so you don't get overwhelmed in choosing the right one. Take your own pictures while your there instead of relying on the website and social media photos only. Also, I would suggest creating a pros and cons list of each venue and ranking each one. In the end you should be left with two to three that you will choose. Just don't take too long, because the longer you decide, someone in the meantime can snag your date, trust me, it's happened to me. One more important thing to keep in mind. At this point you will probably not have a guest list started, so make sure you look at venues that can accommodate your projected guest count. Most venues in the Spokane and North Idaho areas can accommodate up to 200+ guests.
04: Reach out to vendors
This is where you and your partner make decisions together! Looking for a DJ, hair, makeup, catering, wedding planner, event rentals, florist, etc.
After booking with me, I provide my couples with recommended wedding vendors. Of course, these are all suggestions just to get you started. You can also reach out to friends, family or co-workers that may have vendors they used in their wedding that they know firsthand were a great fit! Not everyone uses a wedding planner, I don't have one and I've been to many weddings that didn't have one. Venue owners usually will be the day of coordinator and be there to help out. Also, you have awesome friends and family, I'm sure will be more than helpful in getting things organized for the day!
05: Find your dress
I actually did this right after getting engaged. I just was excited and couldn't wait. But if you can wait than this is the time. Depending on how far out your wedding is, I would call to book an appointment. Grab your mom and your besties to make a day of it. I have a great guide on my Instagram of local bridal shops I love. At this time, I would also book your bridesmaid dress appointment and mother of the bride as well.
06: Schedule your engagement photos
As a photographer I highly recommend having engagement photos taken. Of course, you don't have to, no pressure! But....having the opportunity to meet with your photographer and see how he/she works will calm those camera-shy nerves and to see how it will be for your wedding day. Also, if you're going to be creating a wedding website or send out save the dates, having adorable photos would be perfect, don't you think? I love meeting my couples, multiple times throughout the months or year leading up to the day!
07: Pick out your stationary
There are many online stationary businesses with hundreds of designs and colors to choose from, so be sure to narrow down. Also, Etsy is a fun place to find something a little different to send to your guests, rather than your typical invites! This is where you definitely need to have a firm guest count to order the right amount!
At this point you have pretty much finalized a lot of the planning for the day! The best thing to keep in mind is to plan out in advance. You don't want to rush this process. It will leave you stressed and unprepared. You will have final appointments in place to make sure everything is ready for the day. Always have a partner with you, whether that be your love, your mom, maid of honor or friend. Never feel like you have to do this alone. It's great to have a second set of eyes to see things through.
To sum this up! Congratulations on your engagement and getting married! I truly hope that by reading this, it has clarified some questions for you. As your photographer I am available to answer any questions you may have. I not only want to be your photographer, but I friend and also a resource.