You're engaged, now what?
Congratulations on your engagement! No doubt you’re feeling on top of the world right now, so take the time to bask in this special moment. Like most newly engaged couples, you’ll be new to this wedding planning thing, so after you’ve spread the news and come up with a rough date, take a look at this list of important things to do as you start your journey towards married life…
Set your budget
Your budget will affect pretty much every decision you make when planning your wedding, so before you start placing orders and signing contracts, sit down with your fiancé/e and work out what you can afford.
Traditionally, parents contributed to the cost of the wedding, but these days many couples foot the bill themselves. If you don’t have a nest egg set aside, one way to come up with your wedding budget is to calculate your living costs versus your income to work out how much you can put aside each week during your engagement. Research how much things cost in your area – visit suppliers’ websites and send off for quotes, but remember to be specific as costs can vary depending on the time of year, level of service etc. Keep tabs on quotes and money spent with an expenses chart, which you can download here.
It’s really up to you how much you spend on the various aspects of your wedding day, and it is good to prioritise areas that are important to you, but as a guideline, the average budget is allocated as follows:
45-50% Reception (catering, venue hire, drinks and cake)
10-12% Wedding attire (gown, suits, hair and makeup)
3-5% Music and entertainment
10% Extras (stationery, transport, wedding bands, gifts, church/celebrant fees)
Discuss what your priorities are as a couple – maybe you’d like to spend more on food and cut back on flowers, or photography may be the most important aspect for you, so allocate more of your budget there.
Tap extra resources
With this issue of Bride & Groom magazine in your hands, you’ve already taken the first step towards planning your dream day – but there are more tricks to keep on top of your to-do list while getting loads of inspiration along the way. Follow Bride & Groom on Facebook and Instagram for regularly updated wedding ideas and competitions. Plus, download the free wedding planner from our website, which will help you out with everything from your expenses checklist to drinks calculator and invitation wording.
And, you won’t want to miss our huge Bride & Groom Show on Sunday 5 May – it’s a fun and glamorous day out that gives you the chance to chat to wedding specialists, see the latest wedding trends, check out bridal fashion on the catwalk, enter amazing competitions and much more.
Book a venue
Securing your ceremony and reception venue early on is important for a couple of reasons. First, sought-after venues are often booked up far in advance, especially in the peak season between December and March, so to get your dream venue, make it a priority. Second, your venue will likely influence many of your wedding decisions, such as your colour scheme, theme, catering, style of gown etc.
The type of ceremony you’d like to have – a religious ceremony in a church, synagogue or mosque, or a civil ceremony at a location of your choice – will play a part in your venue decision-making as well as your guest list, budget and wedding theme, so browse the venue listings from page 56, make a list of your favourites, and set up an appointment to check them out.
Decide on a theme
Vintage, modern, romantic, Kiwiana… the beauty of having a theme in mind when you start planning is that it will help you make decisions on almost every style element of your wedding, from the invitations to décor to food, and will make everything look and feel cohesive.
The theme for your wedding should reflect you as a couple, so start by thinking about your personal style. Are you relaxed, traditional, very modern, or talented DIYers? Draw inspiration from things such as your culture, hobbies, favourite books, movies, an era, the season or even your venue. Have fun getting creative!
Choose a photographer
Like wedding venues, some of the best photographers get booked up very quickly, so it’s important to start the selection process early. Ask for recommendations from friends and family.
Draw up a shortlist of photographers whose work and style you like and arrange to meet with them. Look over their portfolio of work, and ask to see actual wedding albums, not just a selection of great shots. Make sure you ‘click’ with them personality-wise. Discuss your ideas and ask about the different packages they offer, including time spent at your event, special effects and albums.
Once you think you’ve found the one, book an engagement photo shoot with them. You’ll not only get a keepsake of this special time in your life, but you’ll also have the chance to get to know your photographer and get a feel for being in front of the camera. You can use this as an opportunity to scout photo shoot locations and then use the pictures for your save-the-dates!
Save-the-dates are a great way to announce your wedding and get guests amped for the big day! In a practical sense, they let your guests know the date and location of your wedding so they can set aside time in their diary – a must if your wedding falls close to a major holiday, on a weekday, or if you’re planning a destination wedding.
Your save-the-dates are a good opportunity to set the tone of your wedding and introduce your theme, but they’re also a chance to have a little fun. Popular announcements include postcards, stickers, magnets, photo booth strips, engagement photos, luggage tags – choose something that suits your wedding and your personalities as a couple. Check out our Pinterest page for some creative ideas: pinterest.com/nzbrideandgroom
Remember to be clear about who’s invited, and add ‘Invitation to follow’.
Throw a party
An engagement party gives you the chance to celebrate your great news with the important people in your lives. They are usually informal and relaxed (but should include a speech or two), and are often hosted at home, a favourite local bar/restaurant, or at the spot where you got engaged. With a wedding to pay for, you won’t want to overspend, so consider a picnic lunch, afternoon tea, barbecue or drinks and canapés – whatever works for you.