Wedding Series Intro + Planning 101
I have been meaning to start working on a mini wedding series for a while now but I guess now would be the right time to do so. I have to admit, I was a little wary about doing this series mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable delving into my private life. One of the hardest things I’ve experienced as a blogger is finding where to draw the line between sharing too much personal information with my readers and sharing necessary personal information. A lot of people my age are or will be getting married soon and planning a wedding can be such an exciting yet daunting task. I hope that by sharing my experiences and planning process with you guys, I’ll be able to help another clueless bride-to-be along the way.
In February, Kevin and I celebrated our 2 year marriage anniversary. We have been together for 7 years and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. We decided to get married at the courthouse; we were literary engaged for 2 weeks :-). If you are African or Caribbean, you know that African and Caribbean parents will force you to have a big celebration whether you like it or not. Anyways, Kev and I really wanted to take our time to plan the wedding (by ‘we’ I mean me) so we can have the wedding that we really want.
Planning 101 Set a Budget
The foremost important thing before you start making any preparations for your wedding is to sit down with your partner and agree on how much money you would like to spend on your wedding. You have to do this first because it will serve as a guide for every decision that you make thereafter from venue selection, photographers, DJ, florists, etc. Most couples are quick to go into debt in order to have the wedding of their dreams but that’s not a good way to start a marriage. Our goal from the very start was for us to have the entire wedding completely paid off by the time the wedding date comes around.
Deciding who will be paying for the wedding can be a little tricky when you have two different cultures coming together. In Zambia (where I’m from and majority of Africa), the wedding is almost entirely paid for by the groom’s family, who also have to pay dowry on top of that (I'm anti the groom paying dowry for his bride because I feel like the bride is being bought but that's a discussion for another day). In America, the bride’s family pays for the wedding. To make it easy for all the parties involved, Kevin and I will be paying for our own wedding. It only makes sense since we are the ones getting married right? Besides, when you are paying for your own wedding, you can make all the important decisions yourself.
Should you hire a wedding planner? I’m a planner and I enjoy planning my own stuff so hiring a wedding planner was not an option for me. I did not want to relinquish control to a complete stranger. However, I do understand that there are brides that get overwhelmed by the idea of having to plan the entire wedding on their own or they have no idea where to begin. Hiring a wedding planner has a lot of perks to it as it relieves a lot of the stress that comes with planning a wedding. They can help you stay organized and they are also familiar with a lot of vendors so they can get you discounted rates on some of the vendors that they work with. You may elect to hire a wedding planner to plan your entire wedding from beginning to end or you can hire a planner for the week before the wedding to review contracts and make sure everything is all set or you can elect to hire a wedding coordinator for just the day of the wedding. Some venues like the one I booked actually provide a day of coordinator for free.
With today's technology and tremendous amount of information on the Internet, there are plenty of sites where you can get planning advice without having to spend money on a professional planner. Keep in mind that planning a very important event in your life, especially a wedding, is not easy and if you find yourself getting overwhelmed and stressed out way before your wedding day, then planning your own wedding may not be such a good idea. You may end up losing all your hair before the actual day :-).
I may not be hiring a wedding planner but I do have help with the planning process, it’s called The Knot and The WeddingWire. This is a bride’s best friend. It has really helped me to stay organized and provided me with so much information as far as staying within the budget, adhering to the timeline of what needs to get done by when and a list of all the local vendors in my area from venues, bridal salons, florists, etc. You’d have to take a look at both of them and see which one you like better. They both have a budgeting tool that lists all the different expense items that you need to account for. I highly recommend using these websites as a starting point for your planning process. I went ahead and purchased a physical copy of The Knot's Organizer and I absolutely love it. If you are newly engaged, here's another useful link that you can check out here .
In my next post in this series, I'll be sharing my venue selection process with you guys. Stay tuned!