Sunday, November 29, 2015

So You're Engaged, Now What?

You'd be surprised at how many people ask advice of their wedding DJ about all aspects of the wedding.  Brides and grooms know that an experienced DJ has witnessed hundreds of wedding ceremonies and receptions, so we should have some value to provide, right?

So many newly engaged couples tell us that they don't know where to begin.  In other words, they don't even know how to start thinking about their wedding day.  That's the goal of this blog post, to help you develop a strategy for how to think about your wedding.  And, the best part of this suggestion is that it involves going out on a date!

If you're newly engaged, you've probably been dating for a while now.. So, going on a date to develop a strategy for wedding planning should be easy for you and even fun.  Your very first task is to develop a value structure for your wedding day.  I don't mean value in the sense of money, although it will ultimately help determine your budget.  I mean, value as in priorities.

Plan a date for just you and your fiancé.  No one else is permitted at this point to join you in your discussion.  Ideally, plan a date where you and your fiance can have a relatively uninterrupted, focused discussion about your wedding day, dinner at your favorite restaurant, a walk in the park or something like that.  The goal of your discussion is to prioritize the elements of your wedding day experience.  When you think about your wedding day, what's most important to you?  Is the setting most important because you desire a rustic outdoor experience?  Or, is the food most important?  What about entertainment? Try to have agreement between the two of you as to the top three or four priorities.  Here are a some questions in no particular order to help you get there:

  • Is it important to you to have your wedding during a particular season (for those who live in areas that enjoy seasonal changes). Do you envision a spring wedding or a fall wedding?
  • Do you prefer a small gathering or a large gathering?
  • What words would you use to describe the type of experience you want to have?  Describe your wedding in just one or two words, for example - elegant, festive, informal, casual, traditional or other such description.
  • Is it important to you to be married in a church or will you want a secular ceremony elsewhere?
  • Is the venue or physical setting important to you?  For example, do you want an indoor experience or an outdoor experience?
  • When thinking about what you want guests to remember most about your wedding day, what are they? Delicious food?  Great entertainment? Beautiful floral arrangements?

There are many more questions along these lines, of course, but you see where we're going here.  By the time your date is over, you should have an agreed consensus about the top three or four priorities for your wedding day.  It should be such that if you can guarantee that these top priorities are fulfilled, you will enjoy the wedding of your dreams and everything else is really secondary.

Why is this exercise important for you to do?
  • It will give you and your fiancé a shared idea for what you want to happen.  You'll both be on the same page for the most important decisions that are yet to come.
  • Others will give you a ton of unsolicited advice that will throw you off your game if you don't have your top priorities already lined up.  Now you'll be able to reply to well intentioned advisors by simply saying, thanks for your ideas but we've already discussed it and we're going with an outdoor wedding.
  • Your priority list will help you figure out your budget.  Be willing to pay a little more for those things that you've given top priority and be ok with spending less on low priority items.
  • You'll be better able to describe to your hired wedding vendors and professionals exactly the type of experience you want them to help you create. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and candor.
  • Knowing your top priorities will help you put together a step by step action plan.  What to put in place first, who to call and when, etc. 
After your date, you should have a wedding day priority statement that summarizes your vision for the perfect wedding day.  Here are a few examples:
  • We want our wedding day to be a casual gathering of a small group of family and friends to happen on an early fall day at a rustic venue.  It's important that the food be out of this world!  We'll have a DJ play background music but if no one dances, that's ok because we're not really about the dancing anyway.
  • We want our wedding day to be an elegant gathering of about 300 guests in an urban setting overlooking the skyline of the city.  Music and dancing is key to our celebration!  We'll have a florist provide minimal decor to add to the venue's charm.
  • We want our wedding day to be a festive gathering of about 150 guests to happen on an early summer day at an outdoor venue under a tent.  Great food is a must!  Amazing floral arrangements will highlight the garden feel of the venue.  We'll have a small jazz band play background music during the reception.
This exercise will only work if you both understand that your initial goal is NOT to plan every detail of your wedding day in one sitting.  It just isn't a realistic goal and you'll both end up very frustrated if you try to do it.  The goal of your date is simply to agree on the top three or four wedding day priorities.  Once you have your agreed priorities in place, you can then bring trusted friends and advisors into the discussion to help with the details.  You'll find that if you begin your wedding planning activities by identifying top priorities first, everything else will fall into place pretty nicely.

I hope you found this wedding planning tip helpful.  Enjoy your date and please leave comments or suggestions for others in the comment section.  Best wishes!

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