Recently engaged? Congratulations!!! YAY!
A lot of engagements will happen around the holidays, which is why I am discussing this topic in December. Family is in town, lights are twinkling, the year is ending, and love is spreading like the wildfire. Getting engaged is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated, but once the initial shock and excitement wears off and you realize how much planning you have ahead of you, what should you do first?
Here is my take.
The first thing you and your significant other should discuss before setting a date, booking a venue, setting a color scheme, or anything else is your BUDGET.
Yes, I know it is probably the least romantic thing you could do after getting engaged, but it is something you will thank yourself for later. It can be so exciting to go venue shopping with your soon to be husband/wife but until you know exactly how much you have to work with for the ENTIRE event you really shouldn't be shopping at all. Discussing budget will provide clarity on the entire event making venue and vendor shopping easier. Giving vendors a set budget for their category will make it easy for everyone to say yes or no when booking. A lot of couples get engaged and just start to plan thinking they can talk numbers later. This will create unnecessary stress on the entire planning process. You may find yourself committed to vendors you can't afford loosing deposits because we failed to look at the bottom line.
Talking about money can be hard, but consider this your first real financial talk in preparation for more financial talks later in your marriage. For example, this is great practice for those difficult conversations about the purchase of a home or car. Weddings can get expensive very quickly so it is best to start planning knowing you're on the same page about your all in budget, where the funds will come from, and what items on your wishlist are most important.
Which brings me to my next point. Where will the money will come from? Are you paying for it all yourself? Are parents helping? If there are members of your family offering financial support it is best to get a dollar amount before planning so you are able to add it to your overall budget. I know it seems tedious and it may be uncomfortable, but try to get as specific a number as possible. The common practice is to let someone be responsible for certain vendors and not discuss numbers. This can get messy very quickly so my suggestion would be to collect all donations, if any, ahead of time place them in the same bank account and pay all vendors from one place. This will simplify things making it clear how much money you actually have to work with during the booking process. There is no need to make things more complicated by planning your wedding with pending funds. Signing contracts and putting down deposits with money you do not have is dangerous.
Which brings me to my final point. Signing a contract is a lot like getting engaged. If you are going to propose you should be ready to get married the next day. Meaning to say if you sign a contract you should have the money to pay that vendor in full before committing.
I know talking about money can be hard especially when emotions are involved, but getting it out of the way at the start will make your engagement fun, less stressful, and the team of vendors that you assemble will be so happy to have you as client.