Now That You are Engaged, What is Next?

It is a known and proven fact that more Engagements occur between Christmas and Valentines day than any other time of the year. If you are one of those couples, then without a doubt, it probably means a wedding is in your life in a few short months. This can be one of the most exciting times of a couples life as well as one of the most confusing one at the same time.

The task of planning everything from soup to nuts, flowers to dresses, tuxes to garter will seem simple enough, but the countless mistakes and frustrations are about to begin and in order to help couples get started, let’s examine where to begin so you start off on the right foot for your wedding day!

One of the very first things a bride wants to do is start shopping for her dress. I call this “Mistake #1”. If you are wanting an outdoor wedding on the beach, and just have to have that long train, flowing bodice complete with beads and lace, then perhaps you should either rethink your venue or rethink your dress. The point is, most brides think backwards as to what to do first. And you can bet that the groom and groomsmen will absolutely hate you if you demand full tuxes with vests for that 3 pm beach or outdoor wedding in the middle of June in Florida.

So what is the first thing you need to do? Determine your VENUE before you start shopping for anything else. Yes, go ahead and book it. Make sure your date is available or an alternate date is available and put down the deposit to hold it. Most of the venues that are being used for weddings will be fully booked as much as a year in advance. Don’t expect that the venue will be available if you are wanting something inside of 3 months. It’s not going to happen as many couples find out fast. Start looking NOW and forget your clothing selections for just a bit until you know that you have a place for your wedding to occur.

So now that you have your venue and date secured, you can go shopping, right? Wrong, if you want to avoid a couple of more planning mistakes.

Top quality wedding photographers are also booked nine months to a year in advance. So start looking for your photographer NOW, before you so much have even stepped foot in a Bridal store. The really good photographers usually limit the number of weddings they do simply because of the time needed for the quality work they provide. It takes time to fully deliver quality images that provide you a lifetime of memories. Unless that is NOT important to you, then you will be forced to “settle” for one of the “Fraudographers” who could care less about quality and offers “dirt cheap wedding photography” that frankly, is not much better than an amateur could provide. I see countless couples who feel that a $500 wedding photography “package” is outrageous, and discover that what was outrageous was the low quality images they received 3-4 weeks after their wedding.

As a Wedding Photographer, I see couples almost weekly that “wish they had better wedding photographs”. One of the reasons is that they hired that “bargain” photographer and found out the hard way that “cheap” does not usually translate to quality.

When I photography an 8 hour wedding, I will take between 800-1000 photographs. Each of those undergoes a process to “weed out” the ones that aren’t good (yes, even Pros take photographs that aren’t acceptable quality. It’s why we take a LOT of photographs!), process and edit those remaining photographs, and present you images of top quality that actually make it difficult for you to choose what you want in print.

When you hire a professional photographer, bear in mind that we deal with a LOT of things that you may not understand or even care about, but we have to in order to provide quality images. Poor lighting, sunset or evening weddings, fast moving events on your wedding day, and details you may not even be aware of until you see your photographs. Without the experience needed to handle each of these things, and many many more, you will find your “fraudographer” will provided few acceptable photographs that you expected. Rarely do they use Pro level equipment and even more rarely do they even know how to use what they do have to produce professional level photographs (a true professional CAN!).

If I could offer ONE piece of advise from personal experience, it would be to spend 2-3 times more than you plan to hire that Professional Photographer to capture your Wedding Day memories. This is one “regret” you don’t have to experience and one you WILL be glad you made in 20 years. I have yet to have a couple tell me that they regretted hiring a true professional to do their wedding day photography, but sure have heard what happens when they “settle” for that “low price photographer” that seemed right at the time.

If your venue is not offering food service, then you will need to consider a caterer to feed your guests. Again, many catering services book weddings far in advance, so consider this before you select your dress as well. I doubt you want a fully served, sit down dinner for an outdoor wedding and reception, so think about your venue when choosing your catering company. And you might also find that if your venue offers food service, that you can save considerably by taking advantage of their offerings as well.

You might want to also consider speaking with a Wedding Planner as well. Often times, they can steer you in a direction that actually is less expensive than attempting to cover the cost of every detail by yourself.  Sometimes their most expensive “package” for everything is less than what you would spend if you did it all yourself and hired each vendor separately. Not to mention, rarely does a mistake happen from a Wedding planner since this is what they do. They use vendors they trust to deliver perfect results and know each personally. They often negotiate better pricing for you and still provide a wedding day experience that is one you will never forget.

So now that you have the 3 Top Tips that you need, and one “extra” thrown in just in case, I do hope your wedding day planning begins on the “right foot” and that everything you planned for is perfect in every way. Follow these guidelines and I can assure you, the “biggy” things are out of the way and you can spend a lot more time with the little details that will make your wedding day memorable and unforgettable.


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