The holidays are THE most popular time of the year to get engaged. 40% of all engagements happen between November and February. So if you’ve been suspecting your significant other of hiding a ring…..get ready!
Becoming engaged to the love of your life is a fantastic feeling. So first of all, take a deep breath and make sure to enjoy this moment, because wedding planning can be STRESSFUL.
Hopefully, that’s where this post can come in handy. I am here to help you figure out what to do next in this crazy time of your life.
Figure Out Your Budget
First things first, you need to figure out how much you want to spend on your wedding. Knowing this will dictate your dress, vendors, venue, and all the little things that you will think about along the way. Choose a comfortable limit and stick to it!
A sweet, late day engagement along Portland’s Eastbank Esplanade.
Book your venue
Take your time and find you’re dream venue. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are some beautiful places. The venue will also help you dictate the date of your wedding. If you don’t have a specific, meaningful date, the availability of the site will help you narrow down your particular day.
If you do have a date that you need to be married on, get venue scouting immediately. Prime dates go fast, and sometimes years ahead of time. To make sure you get your dream venue, book that as soon as you know that it is the one.
A sweet engagement at Round Lake in Camas, WA. About 20 minutes later we had to hide under the trees as a HUGE thunderstorm came rolling through.
First things first, are you the type that loves planning everything? Or would you instead want a little help with the whole process?
If you’re up for planning the wedding by yourselves, I recommend picking up a paper wedding planner. They are made especially for your big day and will help you keep everything organized.
If you would like help outside of your family, I highly recommend booking a wedding planner. You can decide how much support and when they help depending on what your needs and your budget are. From planning the entire event to just being there on the day of the wedding to make sure everything goes smoothly, a planner is a good investment.
Book your photographer
Like the venues, photographers sometimes book years ahead of time.
I love to travel and capture couples in their most favorite places. Especially when those cities have amazing breweries as well!
Grab your family and friends and head to the bridal boutiques! Make sure to book an appointment and enjoy how fun it is to try on dresses and find the perfect dress to WOW your significant other when you walk down the aisle.
Dresses usually take about six months to order, and then there is custom tailoring like hemming that will need to be complete before your wedding. Talk with your dress shop and make sure you get all the details you will need for ordering. Also, be sure to schedule a final dress steaming a day or so before your wedding, that will make sure all the creases will be out and you’re dress will be perfect.
Kelsey’s dress on the balcony of her suite.
Catering and Other vendors
Now that we have some of the big stuff in line, time to get all the others queued up.
Favorite foods? There’s a caterer for that (I love taco bars and food trucks at weddings). Figure out if you want a four-course meal, a buffet, or just hors-d’oeuvres. Small catering companies usually only one wedding a day, so start researching the awesome ones in your community.
Cake! I have seen some simple to highly detailed cakes. Go with a theme or something you love! Super cute cake toppers, fresh flowers, no frosting, it’s all good! Also, pies, donuts, and candy work just as well. Talk with your local bakers to see what they can dream up to fit your wedding.
Details. What type of table decor do you want? Something simple like lanterns or candles, or a vast, ornate arrangement? I have had a few favorites that I have loved. One was a simple centerpiece but had childhood pictures of the couple on each of the tables. Another was put together by one of the bride’s friends. They are huge Disney nerds, so she created centerpieces that represented a different Disney film at each table. A spinning wheel and flowers for Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel’s tower, and of course the bridal table had a rose in a glass dome. Find tablecloths that compliment the colors of the wedding and go with the theme.
Find things that describe you as a couple and incorporate them into the venue. Even the smallest little touch will leave a tremendous little mark on you two.
Have a favorite spot you like to hike? Let’s do it! Melissa and Ethan packed in their clothes to Wahclella Falls for us to do a sweet shoot there.
Not only do you get some sweet images for your save the dates and invitations, but you also get to see how well you mesh with your photographer.
You and your photographer are going to spend a lot of time together on your wedding day. Seeing how your photographer works and how you communicate during your engagement session can tell you how comfortable you will be working with them. Not clicking with your photographer can leave you with stiff and awkward images. An engagement session is a perfect way to see if you’ll work well together.
A great session out with Lisa and Zanne at the Gorge Whitehouse. Wandering around the grounds with their delicious ciders on a summer day while I capture their images.
Invitations and Save the Dates
Now that you have your initial plans laid out, time to send out save the dates and invitations! Traditionally, save the dates get sent out 3-4 months before your date. The primary purpose of these is to give your guests a heads up on when the party is.
Invitations should be sent out 6-8 weeks before your wedding.
There are online services that help you design them like Basic Invite, printing services like Vistaprint, or local vendors that can create gorgeous designs and wording that fit your personality perfectly. Whatever you decide, I am sure it will be perfect.
Be sure to work in some of you’re favorite spots into your engagement session!
The most important thing in all of this is to have fun together, choose things that are meaningful together and make sure you shut off planning mode now and then and enjoy each other.