With all of the engagements over the holidays, it’s been so much fun to see all the sparkling smiles (and sparkly left hands!) on social media lately! (Want to catch up on the fun? Check out hashtag #SLSouthernWeddings on Instagram!) Since so many of you are diving head first into wedding planning right now, we thought we’d offer a few of our best tips for the beginning of the process. It’s the advice I’d give to my own BFF, were she to ask. (She’s not engaged yet, but mercy you know I’m eagerly anticipating that phone call!)
1. Spread the news. Start with your parents, of course, then move out in concentric circles to siblings, best friends, and other close relatives (especially older ones who would appreciate hearing the news directly from you). If possible, deliver the news in person; if not, over the phone. Depending on your family dynamic, I think a group email to more distant relatives is perfectly acceptable.
2. If you haven’t done so already, start saving—and start the budget conversation. Like all expensive things, the sooner you start saving, the smaller the amount per month you need to save, and therefore the less painful it will be. In addition to tallying whatever you and your fiance will contribute, check in with both sets of parents (if they haven’t made the first move). I would recommend going into the conversation with a grateful heart and without expectations, and being thankful for any contribution they might want to make.
3. Dream a little. Yep, even before thinking about a guest list, I’d encourage you to dream a little. After all, if you and your fiance decide that the perfect wedding for you is a intimate destination luau, that will certainly affect your guest list! Some gals will know right out of the gate what type of wedding they want (or, let’s be honest, years before) — and some will have absolutely no idea. Either way, it’s okay! Hop on Pinterest or crack open your issue of Southern Weddings and start pulling images that appeal to you. Aside from individual details, I’d really encourage you to distill how you want your wedding to feel to just a few key phrases (maybe “classically elegant and intentional” or “rustic and warm”). The individual details will follow from there.
4. Draw up a guest count. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what sort of wedding you want, it’s time to start thinking about who might attend. Ask your parents for their ideal lists, and draw up one of your own. At this stage, all you need is a ballpark–whether you’re dealing with 50 people or 500.
5. Figure out where (in general) and when (in general) you want to get married. For some couples, the where might be a snap decision—maybe it’s the bride’s hometown, a family vacation spot, or the city where you both live now. For others, there might be a range of possibilities that need to be narrowed down. Same with the when. Being open-minded is great because it gives you more flexibility with venues, but it also leaves a lot of things in flux—namely, how much time you have to plan.
6. Book a venue, and start thinking about priority vendors. I would not recommend booking any other vendor (or even buying your dress) before you’ve confirmed a venue. However, if there’s one particular vendor you have your heart set on, reach out to him as you narrow down dates to make sure his schedule is clear. When you’re ready, search for the best Southern vendors in our handpicked gallery.
7. Insure your ring. Your jeweler will likely have provided an appraisal by a certified independent gemologist with your purchase; if not, make sure you get one. Many existing homeowner’s or renter’s policies allow you to add a jewelery rider, but there are also great options for a separate policy. Whichever you choose, find out if you’re covered if the ring is lost, stolen, or damaged, as well as how the replacement value is calculated.