It’s a big deal. The biggest deal and event in your life so far. Of course you’re a little stressed! And that’s OK. You will remember this date your whole life and you want it to be perfect. And the secret to making it perfect is to have your priorities straight, so that the most important things to you and your spouse-to-be are taken care of, and then the rest of the details will fall into place without so much worry.
- FIRST THINGS FIRST – Remember, and place foremost in your mind that this is the day when you will begin your life together as husband and wife. This, obviously, is what it’s all about. Grooms tend to have an easier time focusing on this than brides, who are more often taking care of every little last detail. And that’s fine, just don’t let the details obscure the view of the thing we will all be helping you celebrate. Someone said this and I can’t remember who, “THE MAIN THING IS TO KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING.” So there you have it, look at that ring on your finger and remember why it’s there.
- PICK THREE – Panera has you pick-2 but wedding experts say make it 3: Each of you should decide on what the 3 most important things are for your vision of the day. Is the ceremony music? the vows? the views? the food? the photographs? Pick three each and you will have an easier time with all those other budget decisions of things that just are not that important compared with the big 3 (OK 3 each so that makes 6, but you get the idea).
- THAT NUMBER 3 is going to appear again because that is the NUMBER OF QUOTES/ESTIMATES/PRICES you should get to make sure you are getting the best value for your money for whatever it is you are shopping for. This will help you stay within your BUDGET, which is a very good place to be. It would be nice not to start out in debt before you’ve even begun as husband and wife (althought 74% of couples of go over budget!). Ask 10 people what they remember most about their wedding and it won’t be the expensive guest favors, the elaborate cake topper or the center pieces with rare peacock feathers. It will be the first look, the kiss, the dance, the radiant bride, the smiles and the special little things that usually aren’t even planned for. So enjoy this full day you have worked so hard to organize, but the things you may cherish most will often be the sweet unplanned moments that just seem to happen.
Excitement. Giddy excitement in fact. Possibly accompanied by tears of joy, merriment, and glee, soon to be followed by questions, lists, spreadsheets, and lots and lots of decisions. So run the emotions and tasks you find yourself immersed in now that you are engaged. It is such a joyful time of your life, but also filled with what can seem like an immense undertaking. Where to start? Well just as Julie Andrews sang in “the Sound of Music”,… “let’s start at the beginning, it’s a very good place to start…”
Now given the title of this piece, you are expecting me to say “START WITH THE VENUE! But that would be wrong. You need to start with the marriage. Shocking I know. And maybe you have already done this. Maybe you have discussed your goals, aspirations, plans, wishes, dreams, and what is important to both of you for your life together. But then maybe you haven’t.
After that, the details of the wedding can be tackled. The style, theme, setting… in a word, the VENUE. The venue sets the tone and the stage for your special day, how it reflects what is important to you, and the memories it will hold for you. It is also what needs to be booked well ahead of time, hence its need to be at the top of your decision list. Here are 7 important questions to consider when choosing a venue:
- Type of Venue: What is your style? Formal, rustic, relaxed, modern? Country Club? Art Center? Rustic Inn? Barn? Are you wanting an outside ceremony? Does your venue offer a plan B for inclement weather? (people in Ohio know what I’m talking about…)
- Size? Can the venue accommodate your guest list? If it too big for your guest list you may feel like you’re lost in an ocean.
- Is it available? If you have a firm date your choices may be more limited.
- Is it convenient for your guests? Is there parking nearby? Can your elderly relatives get there and be comfortable?
- Can it accommodate the things that are important to the two of you: live music? Gardens? Gorgeous outside pictures?
- Lodging? Is there lodging available nearby for your guests? Remember to check on other events in the area that might take up reserved blocks of rooms at certain times of year.
- Is it full service or do you have choices on all services? In some ways, a full service venue is easier – fewer decisions, but other times you can be paying more for things that you don’t necessarily want.
The VENUE is big on priority for timing and also cost… which leads the other top billing item on your decision list, the BUDGET. Some will rightfully argue that should be on the top your list. Only you know how fluid your budget can be, who else can help you with costs, etc. Your budget will drive your decisions like no other, and will help you prioritize. You will need to be detailed oriented with the budget, clearly understanding all costs, seen and unseen, including taxes, add-ons, gratuities, minimums, deliveries (Don’t forget the honeymoon either). Now all this information is not meant to overwhelm you but to prepare and empower you. Be a good steward of you budget and you will not be sorry, but instead you will be in charge.
One last piece of advice: through all the decisions you make, remember to keep THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING, and you will enjoy your wedding day with all the bliss and giddy excitement you felt when you first said yes.