You’re engaged – congratulations! This is such an exciting time, but I know it can also be a confusing one. Brides and grooms have so many questions buzzing around their heads and over the many years we’ve been planning beautiful weddings in Colorado, I think I’ve heard all of them! It’s no wonder – planning a wedding is a big deal, and one that you can’t really prepare for. (Another reason why it really helps to have a professional wedding planner on your side to guide you.) So to start off your engagement season armed with information, I thought I’d answer a few of the questions we often get asked.

Here are five of the big wedding planning questions, along with the answers you need to succeed without stress.

1. Who pays for the wedding?
Traditionally, it was the bride’s parents who paid for most of the wedding, while the groom’s parents often picked up the tab for expenses like the marriage license, DJ and liquor tab. However, these days, couples often choose to pay for some or all of their own wedding. And your wedding might not even have a bride; each family and financial situation is different. Sitting down with your partner and both families at the start of your planning process is an important step to clarify expectations. Who pays for the wedding is unique to you!

2. Where should we focus our budget?
The answer to this question is different for every couple, because everyone has different priorities. For some, the music makes or breaks the mood of a wedding day, while for others, fine dining is a must. Sit down together and discuss what a perfect wedding day would be for you as a couple. What experience do you want your guests to have? Rank the things that are most important to you both and prioritize those things when you assign your budget. One area you should never skimp on is photography – after all, your photos are the one thing you’ll have to keep forever! …and don’t forget to save room in the budget for your wedding planner too.

3. How do we find the perfect venue?
Once you’ve decided on the area and setting you imagine for your wedding (beach, mountain, winery, etc.), you can narrow down firstly based on logistics. For example, if you’re planning to get married in a specific church, your venue choices will be limited to those within a short driving distance. Then consider a rough estimate of the number of people who will be attending and start researching. It helps to have a wedding planner who can give expert advice on local venues and may know of options you haven’t considered. Reach out to venues for a quote and make appointments to see several of them in person (if possible). It really makes a difference! And if you’re planning a destination wedding, booking a scouting trip before signing the contract is always a good idea.

4. What should I book first?
Apart from a wedding planner, we usually advise couples to book their venue first as this key decision may affect many of your other choices. After that, start locking in contracts with some of the major players, including your photographer, videographer, florist, caterer and DJ. Think of a company and their wedding day staff. If a photographer is one person, they can’t take on multiple weddings in a day so book those services first to ensure your favorites have the availability you need. Whereas most cake companies can deliver multiple wedding cakes in a day so those are less urgent in the timeline.

5. Do I have to have a first look/wedding cake/garter toss/white wedding dress/etc.?
Many couples think they have to be restrained by tradition, but the truth is, your wedding should be exactly what you want it to be. If something doesn’t feel right, skip it or change it up to suit your personal style. After all, it’s YOUR day!

Photo by Rachel Havel Photography

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