You’re Engaged! Now What?

You found the love of your life, you got the ring of your dreams, and now the shock and surprise is starting to wear off and you’re wondering what to do next. As happy and excited you are, it can be really overwhelming to think, okay. This is it. I’m planning my wedding now.

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After I realized that my fiance, Westin, was The One, I started thinking about what my wedding day might look like. I had so many ideas and design elements that I loved, but when he actually popped the question, even I – a wedding planner! – was kind of left in a state of dreamy limbo, wondering how to move forward and narrow it all down. I’ve worked with clients from “will you?” to “I do” a million times, but it all seemed so new and different and overwhelming when it was actually my wedding I was planning!
So what did I do? I poured a glass of champagne (or two, or three…) and made a list, and then I started working down it, step by step. For any newly engaged couples out there, congratulations, and here’s my advice for how to start the craziest, most fun, most overwhelming, happiest process of your lives.

Step one: share the news with your loved ones – and not on social media!
When you get engaged, tell your closest family and friends personally, whether it’s in person or on FaceTime. Chances are they’ve seen this moment coming and they’re going to be overjoyed by hearing about it from you – not by seeing it on social media. You don’t want your sweet Aunt Karen finding out about your engagement the same way your 4th grade summer camp roomie does!

Step two: get your ring sized.
If the engagement was a surprise or if you hadn’t gone to try on rings with your SO, you’ll need to take your ring in to get it properly sized. You don’t want it flying off your hand every time you show it off – which is about to be all the time! And while you’re at the jeweler…

Step three: get your ring appraised and insured.
It’s not fun or glamorous, but you know what’s even worse? Losing it and not getting the money back to replace it! It’s easy to add your ring to whatever policy you already have for home, auto, renter’s, etc, but be sure and check with your insurance broker to find the best policy for you and to see what paperwork is required.

Step four: set a date – even if it’s not official.
Everyone is going to ask when the big day is, as if you’ve already planned the whole wedding prior to your engagement, so be ready with an answer – even a vague one! Westin and I took a solid month to officially pick a date based on availability of our venue but in the meantime our answer was, “spring of 2019.” That was a good enough answer to tide people over until we put our deposit down on the venue and set it in stone. And remember: your date isn’t official until your venue is booked!

Step five: be a responsible adult.
It’s definitely not fun, but you need to at least start talking about a workable budget and your priorities with your wedding – BEFORE you fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole! Figure out how much you can spend, who else is contributing, what your approximate guest count will be, and what aspects of the wedding you want to devote the most money to. Do you care a lot about flowers but not as much about your attire? Are you and your fiance big foodies but not big drinkers? Figure these things out so that you know what your price range is for each vendor and you don’t start out at the top of your budget for everything. That’s a sure way of disappointing yourself in the end!

Step six: hire a planner!
Not that I’m biased or anything, but having a planner from the get-go will start you off – and keep you – on the right track. Most couples realize late into the planning process that they’re going to need help, but when you have someone there from the beginning, you’ll have guidance on EVERYTHING. Someone firmly rooted in and knowledgeable about the wedding industry will be able to help you create a realistic and workable budget, advise you on things to look for in a venue (it’s not just about how pretty it is!), and help you narrow down vendors that fit your style and budget. While you’re enjoying the excitement and the fun of the planning process, your planner will be behind the scenes, working hard to make your day absolutely perfect.

Step seven: take a break!
You’re just about to start the wedding planning marathon, so even though you’re excited beyond words, take a few days to relax. Besides, you’ve already made some major progress! Go out on a date. Pop a bottle of champagne. Celebrate with your friends, post your ring selfies, and relax on the couch with some wedding magazines. Enjoy this calm before the (fun!) storm – there’ll be more than enough going on to keep you busy very, very soon!

Why Hire a Planner?

Here’s a little bit of insight into what planners do and how they can help to bring your event to life in a way that no one else can.

Over the course of my planning career, I’ve had to justify my work more times than I care to admit. A lot of people (mostly unmarried people or people who haven’t hosted an event, to be honest) question the necessity of having a planner. What does a planner do, anyway? Schedule some appointments, look at stationary, boss people around on the Big Day? Anyone can do that, right? Well, quite frankly, yes – but that doesn’t even begin to cover all that a planner really does. Here’s a little bit of insight into what planners do and how they can help to bring your event to life in a way that no one else can.

1.) Planning is stressful. It’s not all cake tastings and picking out flowers; it’s setting deadlines, researching vendors, making phone calls, reviewing contracts, and creating timelines. When you already have a busy schedule with work, social obligations, and whatever else you have going on, do you really want to devote multiple hours a week  for months to the planning process?

2.) Bringing your vision to life is hard. You may know what you want, but not how to get it. I did an event for SXSW where the client wanted a 15’x15′ fully-functioning Etch-A-Sketch. While he was asking, “Does that even exist?”, I was asking, “What color do you want it to be?” Planners have resources and contacts. We know where to go and who to talk to to get what you want. Nothing is impossible.

3.) A planner can complement your skills. Are you very creative but have a hard time with the contracts and timelines? Are you more detail-oriented and struggle with figuring out your overall vision? The right planner for you will handle the parts of the process that you have trouble with. Whether you want someone to take your plans and put them into action or someone to help you figure out your design and decor, you can find a planner that helps round out your team and make the whole process easier.

4.) It’s hard to narrow down vendors. Every cake looks delicious. Every DJ plays good music. Every photographer has a beautiful, artsy website. What you don’t see is the reputation, specialty, and personality of each vendor. Planners work with literally hundreds of other vendors and can figure out who will work best on your team.

5.) Planners know the right questions to ask. In the same vein, planners can figure out your needs for your event and make sure that the vendors you choose will deliver. I’ve had clients sign contracts that don’t promise what they want; for example, a recent bride hired a caterer solely to drop off their food and leave, then was confused as to why the caterer wasn’t staying to serve or clean up. Contracts are confusing, but planners know what to look for.

6.) Planners are intermediaries. It can be really awkward if you’re planning an event and your sweet best friend or family member is trying to take over. If they want red flowers and you want yellow, you might feel swayed to choose their idea for the sake of not hurting feelings. When you have a planner, you’re the client, and the planner will handle those awkward conversations to make sure that you get exactly what you want.

7.) A planner wants to help. Your bridesmaid won’t want to skip girl time on the morning of the wedding to set up the place settings. Your best friend won’t want to get to your fundraiser frazzled and already tired from driving all over town to pick up linens and flowers. Your mom won’t want to miss the first half of your birthday party because she’s on the phone with a vendor who’s running late. Your planner, on the other hand, is ready and willing to do what you don’t have time for. It’s in the job description.

8.) Sticking to a budget is hard. If your dream vendor is out of your price range, you may feel discouraged – or worse, you may be tempted to go overboard on spending. When you have a planner, he or she can figure out great ways to make your dream come true without breaking the bank. With a little bit of creativity and industry know-how, any event can look like it has a champagne budget, even if it doesn’t.

9.) Things go wrong at the last minute. A table setting may get lost in the mix. People may decline their RSVP but show up anyway. Transportation may get lost on the way to your venue. A bridesmaid’s gel bra may explode all over her dress ten minutes before the ceremony. I’ve dealt with all of these issues, and that’s kept the client from having to deal with them. Even if things are easy fixes – a call to a vendor, an extra chair placed here or there, a phone call to give step-by-step directions, a draped sash made out of a table runner – they would add to the client’s stress and make their day just a little bit less perfect.

10.) You should be able to enjoy the event. If you’re the one in charge of sticking to the timeline, coordinating vendor arrivals and departures, running the setup and breakdown, managing the flow of the event, keeping an eye on the food and drinks, adjusting the lighting, rounding people up for photos, and ensuring that everyone else is happy, your event will pass in the blink of an eye – and you won’t even know what happened. Your event, no matter how big or how small, is your day and your time to shine, so give yourself a chance to enjoy it. Be present. Let someone else handle the stress.

Copyright ® Julep Events 2017