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What to do before "I Do"

It’s official—you’re engaged! No amount of chick flicks or fantasies could prepare you for that moment your beloved got down on one knee. Your new bling has hundreds of “likes” on Facebook, and you can’t help but stare at it whenever the light catches it just right. As you scroll through Pinterest and bombard your wedding board with dozens of ideas, you think you have this planning game in the bag...until you realize you have no idea where to start. Don’t hit the panic button! We’ve got you covered.

[photography: Front Room Photography]

1. Know your finances: Before you dive in, lay out your budget.

2. Manage expectations: Sit down with your budget and discuss what areas are most important to each of you. From there, consult one another before any final decisions are made.

3. Who, when & where: Your guest list will be important in knowing what venues you can consider based on capacity size of the space. You don’t need an exact number, but know what your maximum head count will be so each location you visit can help decide if they can accommodate your needs.

4. Memory makers: When it comes to making memories, the caterer and entertainment set the mood for the evening and will be talked about for years to come, and the photographer/videogra- pher will be the ones capturing it all through their lens. Visit with at least three vendors in each of these areas so you can not only do a cost comparison, you also feel confident that whomever you hire doesn’t just fit your tastes but is someone you trust.

5. Décor & more: You likely already have a theme in mind for your wedding, but now is the time to plan out the finer details of how it will all come together through things like flowers, décor, centerpieces, color palettes, etc.

6. Bridal party attire: The gowns and tuxes should be planned out about 9 months in advance to allow enough time for ordering and alterations.

7. Invitations & registries: Once you have your guest list and date set, you can send out Save the Dates so your loved ones can plan ahead to celebrate with you. Actual invitations don’t need to go out until about 45-60 days prior to your date.

8. Day-of checklist: Plan as you may, there will be the inevitable surprise or two that comes up during the wed- ding day. However, you can help alleviate a lot of that unnecessary stress by creating a list of things to remember to bring with you on your wedding day, having an agenda printed for your bridal party, and noting any final payments or other vendor-related items that may require your attention. Having a bridal attendant in charge of keeping track of this list and your wedding day needs is a great way to incorporate an important member of your family or friend who couldn’t be a part of the bridal party while allowing you to relax more knowing someone there to help you through the day.

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