Thursday, January 14, 2010

Advice for the Newly Engaged

My approach to wedding planning somewhat unusual.  I started researching budget, venue and sustainable ring options a year before we got engaged, and so I'd already dismissed much of the wedding porn and mainstream to-do lists before the nitty-gritty planning questions ever became an issue.  I had a year to sift through 80 different venue lists, cry out my frustration about prices, and shield Jason from the major stresses I went through upfront.

So I don't know how other people handle engagement and then immediately jumping into wedding planning.  To me, that idea sounds downright horrifying, and I'd be having a very different wedding today if I hadn't done a lot of pre-thinking first: my parents would probably be paying a good portion and therefore controlling more decisions, it would therefore be a lot more traditional and filled with their social obligations (Mom was pushing for a wedding at our Temple or a reception hall and initially hated all my "alternative" outdoor ideas), and I think I'd have been sucked into more of the must-have expectations based solely on stress, lack of time, lack of pre-saved budget, and overwhelming pressure.  We also might have started with discussions of budget and logistics without taking time to think about our big-picture values, just due to the where-do-I-start panic with it all.  I'm much happier with where we are today and the wedding we're actually planning, and I credit much of it to my upfront, unpressured(ish) research and daydreaming.    

As my closest girlfriend in the world is finally starting to talk about an in-the-near-future engagement (YAY!!!), I've been trying to think about the most and least helpful aspects of wedding planning, to help shield her from some of the upfront cr*p. I want to think about what sort of contextual advice I can give her as she starts her NYC-based wedding and marriage planning journey.  I use blogs to keep me sane, of course, but I think they're less helpful for initial context.  I don't feel like I can email her the Wedding Graduate series from A Practical Wedding and have it make as much sense in the beginning.  I don't feel like sending her a link to Offbeat Bride will help at first because the women may just seem visually interesting but not relevant to her, and the images will distract her from being inspired to do things her own way.  I feel like these are the first sanity-saving resources I discovered post-Knot/Project Wedding/Weddingbee freakouts that helped calm me down by showing me women whose perspectives I finally related to.  But, on any given day, they don't necessarily provide up-front context on how to think about the wedding overall.  Or on how to start thinking about planning.  Or on how I don't think it's a good idea to start venue research at all until you and your partner have had a few big-picture conversations first.

I've grappled with some of these questions before, as Jason and I started to talk about things together, and ended up writing three posts that really tried to get at context-setting: Why Wedding Planning is Like Grocery Shopping, A Different Sort of Planning Checklist, and Back to Basics (when I overdosed on Once Wed one too many times.) However, I feel like there's more collective wisdom that I'm still missing.  And I wish I had a step-by-step guide of how to survive that first month of engagement and set the course for a meaningful and (slightly) more sane wedding and marriage planning process.  There's stuff I think I needed to learn on my own, via my own frustrations, but there's tons of "you must have favors" brainwashing that I wish I could (partially) save her from upfront.

So I want to open it up to you, who have all stumbled through this process in your own way.  How did you start with your planning?  Did you think it was useful?  What would you change now about your start, after having arrived here in your journey?  What were the best put-it-in-context resources you found or processes that worked for you?  What were the best event-planning resources you found along the way?  What are your favorite sanity-check processes or article bookmarks?  And what's the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out?

I'll start with mine, which are only reflective of my own experience, but may be relevant for someone out there.
  • How did you start?  For me, I started looking for affordable venues, since I figured that would set the budget and tone for the entire wedding. I started my research at the big mainstream sites like the Knot, Project Wedding and Here Comes the Guide, then moving onto the LA Conservancy List, LA Parks and Recreation options, LA County Parks, State Parks, other local City-owned resources (Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City), Yelp, and insane amounts of Googling. 
  • Did you think it was useful?  Yes and no.  My best wedding planning "ah ha" moment was finding A $10,000 Wedding via L.A. venue googling, and finally feeling like someone got it: the frustration, the budgetary limitations (and the pre-engaged research.  ahem.) But I don't think I'd have appreciated it without crying about Here Comes the Guide's idea of low-cost venue options first. 
  • What were the best put-it-in-context resources you found or processes that worked for you?  This one's tricky.  I think once I stopped reading Style Me Pretty, Once Wed and Green Wedding Shoes etc daily (or pretty much at all), I started feeling better about myself and creating my own context.  And at that point I already had A Practical Wedding, Offbeat Bride, and a number of other personal bloggers I adore.
  • What would you change now about your start, after having arrived here in your journey?  I would have changed my approach to my joint start with Jason, but nothing about my own foray into research.  I should have been more gentle with him, but after a year of inspiration boards and thinking about weddings I was bursting to share.  I tried to hold myself back, and I didn't show him any pretties, but our first sit-down conversation was a bit draining and horrid.  He had no context for the discussion and I had too much.
  • What were the best event-planning resources you found along the way?  After the tears... forums with other local brides at the Offbeat Bride Tribe and Indiebride's Kvetch.  I learned from others' experiences, got inspired to cut the things that didn't matter to me, and learned to think outside the box due to their creativity.  I haven't found one of my vendor options through mainstream wedding sources. As for event planning... I'm lucky. I did that professionally for a year-plus and knew a lot upfront. (which is partly why I'm putting the question out there to you ladies.  If you never planned an large event before, what finally worked for you from an event-planning perspective? I simply don't know)
  • What are your favorite sanity-check processes or article bookmarks?  Your Wedding is Not a ContestOn Money and Marriage, 2000 Dollar Wedding's Summary of her Wedding Planning, these two incredibly honest posts from Accordions and Lace I've been discussing with Jason lately, Your Wedding is Tacky, Your Wedding is Not a Photoshoot, and newly posted genius (as of yesterday) Fear Mongering and You'll Seeeee.  And I could easily direct her to any of my favorite bloggers' sites for a moment of fresh air.  Or to some of my favorite books (pretty much all listed on Meg's sidebar.) But I'm still not sure they give upfront context - they just saved me when the insanity threatened to take over.
  • What's the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out?  Figure out how you're going to announce the engagement, including a line that says "we haven't thought about the date or specifics yet, we want to take our time to get it right by starting to talk about the marriage."  It's so important to give yourself planning/talking/dreaming space before you give anyone specifics.  And I also think it's important to start by reading and thinking separately so you both feel sure in yourselves when you come together to negotiate wedding values, hopes, and budgets. 
And now, my amazing readers, what are your thoughts?  If your best friend told you she was talking with her partner about getting engaged soon, what would you say to help her?  Is there any upfront wisdom you wish you'd had, now that you've tackled/are knee deep in tackling the wedding beast? My questions above are just a way to think aloud towards some answers, but I'm curious to hear about the unique wisdom each of you have learned along the way.

22 comments:

  1. I started reading A Practical Wedding way before we were even thinking about marriage, so that was how my planning began. But honestly, I think this process might just be drastically different for everyone. If I had a friend get engaged right now, I'd direct her to my blogroll, where many fabulous and resourceful ladies are available to answer any and all questions she can think of!

    The other thing is to talk a bunch with her fiance about what they want from the wedding. The most important thing I've learned from all this is that my family is changing: He-Mouse and I dwell in one circle, my family in an circle outside that, and then friends, and then colleagues, etc. No crap from the outer circles is allowed to disturb the inner circles. And she has to learn this in order to say, "Thanks, Mom, but WE have decided not to wear tuxes," or "Dad, WE really appreciate the financial help, but WE can accept it only if it comes without strings and you can support the wedding WE want. WE want to hear your ideas, but Fiance and I will be making the decisions. I hope you'll love what we come up with."

    I also think following Bitter Wedding Photog on Twitter provides just the right amount of snark to keep from taking things too seriously.

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  2. My big piece of advice would be this: when you are ready to start planning, figure out your guest list early. The guest list is a PITA, and you don't have to set it in stone a year in advance, but knowing your approximate number makes things like budgeting and venue-hunting much easier, and it's easy to over- or under-estimate how many people you'd like to invite without an actual list. You don't want to find out that you booked a venue that's not big enough to hold all of the people you want at the wedding, that will make the guest list even more of a PITA.

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  3. This is really interesting to look back on it. I feel like I've learned so much and have so much context now, its hard to pass on that info to someone who doesn't have that context. Like your conversation with Jason, I occassionally have these bizarre conversations with my partner where he has no idea what I'm talking about.

    I too, did pre-engagement research, mostly about venues. We'd had some vague conversations about the kind of wedding we'd like, but nothing in detail, so I started by looking at regular venues and then rapidly started thinking outside the box. For a city wedding, I started thinking about building that I liked--did they have interesting spaces, did they have good views? When I went searching online, it was amazing how many of them allowed you to rent spaces. Like there's a Dance Centre in downtown Vancouver that has studios with great views and a huge deck and its not that expensive!! Who knew?? The other thing that worked was to google search without the word wedding. Like "reception venue" "event venue" or even "Party venue"

    The next thing I did was tried to choose a few key words that described my wedding. I started with "casual", "low-key" and did google searchs. My search terms changed as I saw new things, and learned more and was able to refine my ideas a bit more. I actually discovered "Indie Bride", and "A Practical Wedding" fairly early on in my searches. I found "This Young House" and "A Backyard Wedding" and that was my moment of "OK, I can do this!" Those two wedding are still my points of reference almost a year later. I wish I'd shown them to my partner as soon as I found them, but for some reason I was embarrassed that I was doing so much research so it became my guilty pleasure!

    Like you, I don't read the photo-heavy magazine blogs anymore. I guess maybe they had their place but I really don't know if I would recommend them to anyone. They frustrate me to no end by focussing on things that are so unimportant. I may possibly have a different perspective on what's important--I'm throwing out a ton of stuff that even pretty "Indie" brides still keep.

    I think the most important advice is that its going to an up-down (or around in circles, depending on the way you look at it!) kind of process. It would be great to save others some of that up-and-down and back-and-forth but I think that unless you already know what you're wedding is going to be, its inevitable. Its called the learning process and we go through it with anything. I started by wanting nothing extra--the simplest wedding ever, then I started adding all of this stuff--"Oh, I want this and this and this and this!" Then I got overwhelmed and said I didn't want any of it and got back to the very basics of what was important to me. Now I'm adding a few things back in but keeping it reasonable!

    Wow--sorry, this was a really LONG comment. But to sum up: overall vision, think outside the box for venues, choose description words, enjoy the ride!

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  4. I also started researching wedding stuff about a year before we got officially engaged. But most importantly, me and my boyfriend talked a fair bit about what kind of wedding we wanted which has definitely made the instant questions post-announcement easier and it is allowing us to stick to our ideas and plan for the day.

    I'd second the guest list tip, the size of wedding can have a big impact on the type of day you have. We also attended lots of weddings which helped with discussions about what we liked or didn't between ourselves.

    I would also stop reading the wedding magazines. They're expensive, depressing and compared to the blogs I read they feel so dated in terms of the advice and line they peddle. I've found the real wedding examples on lots of blogs useful for ideas even if some of them are never going to translate to my drizzly scotland location.

    Finally, bookmark or save things you like. Its much easier to convince people you don't want a castle wedding with tartan everywhere if you've got images to show them what you really want and I think if you're confident about what you want then people should/will step back and let you plan it.

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  5. I am already planning to hijack my friend that will be getting engaged soon, sit her down with some music and a new glass of wine and show her a typical wedding checklist. (I'll approach slowly, as to not freak her out...)

    Then I'll make her look through the list, highlight the "HAVE to do's" like "find something to wear" or "pick a place" and "get a marriage license. Then I'm making her go through the rest of the list and cross out what's stupid and make a note of why; and then circle details she likes and write down why. i.e. "wedding cake = stupid and usually tastes bad, find an alternative" and "Save the Dates = important, because Paper Source makes me swoon."

    And then I get a copy, (because I know she'll cheat and change her mind due to family pressure) and she gets a copy. And that's her initial list to go by.
    I would have loved to remember that I thought certain aspects weren't necessary when I started out, but then somehow along the way I became Rabid DIY Bride and HAD to make Tears of Joy packets.
    I'm not saying that I need to be all militant as I help her with the planning if things change, but I think the list will be a reminder of what she thought before she became a "Bride" in everyone's eyes.

    And then later, I'll send her to this post, because it's awesome and has great points. As always.

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  6. The number one thing I wish I had realized when I first starting planning is that Martha Stewart's timeline is a load of BS. I'm the kind of girl that needs structure and organization before I set out on a project. Thinking that the goddess herself would steer me in the right direction I panicked about getting things done on time. Turns out a lot of the things on her checklist could easily be erased altogether and some don't need to even be thought about until much farther down the road. I also got way to over-zealous about decor and wanting to have everything far in advance. But then after spending $$ on vintage "blank" or "blank" off of EBay I would change my mind about using them and then I just wasted money that could have gone somewhere else. SO my advice is to breath and don't rush into any decisions (financial or otherwise) until 6 months out. You are going to change your mind about a lot of things so don't waste energy and money. Weigh all your options and then finally make a purchase or decision when you are closer to the date.

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  7. I wish I would have read this blog or A Practical Wedding before getting engaged, but I read nothing. I was one of those totally unprepared newly engaged people, despite the fact that I knew a proposal was coming. I think I had an aversion to wedding planning, and in typical me-style, I procrastinated until I couldn't any longer. So I spent the first few months researching affordable venues and driving myself batty until I booked stuff. I also - and I'm ashamed to say this - went to the knot and let them freak me out with their strict guideline on when you have to book things. I'd get these emails that said, "you still have 50 items to check off your list this month," and I'd start to have trouble breathing. After I booked the venue, the photog and dj, I stopped going to the knot and haven't been on since, and I basically stopped planning and discovered blogs and enjoyed reading about other people's experiences.

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  8. Addendum: Keep off The Knot. You'll be better off. We promise.

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  9. Stay away from wedding magazines.

    I know no one actually listens to this advice, but it would have saved me a lot of hurt. Very few people can afford the goods they hawk.

    I only started thinking about what I wanted our wedding to look like when we started talking concretely about getting married, about a month before he proposed.

    I would say reading things like A Practical Wedding, $10,000 Wedding, OffBeat Bride, A $2000 wedding, etc, made me feel a lot better about our less-than-regal budget, because I only knew of expensive, mega weddings and I knew we couldn’t afford to pull that off.

    These sites also made me realize I didn’t have to do things by the book, i.e. the Knot, or the very traditional Catholic wedding our families were used to. We could have a piñata and a cake buffet and no colors because we wanted to, even if no one we knew had heard of those things before.

    There are actually no rules. It’s hard to remember there are no rules when everyone insists there are (ex: my older sister last week on my guy’s best friend serving as a groomslady, not a bridesmaid: “those are allowed?” Hell yeah. Anything you want is allowed.)

    I would also say don’t pay attention to average wedding costs. Just because the average dress costs between $1000 to $5000 doesn’t mean you have to spend that. I think I made the mistake of buying some items because they were cheaper than the average wedding costs when they were still more expensive than I would feel comfortable paying in any other circumstance. If you think spending more than $90 on shoes is crazy, then you don’t have to just because it’s your wedding. According to your beliefs, $200 shoes are not a steal, even if all the other girls seem to be buying $500 shoes.

    The final thing I would say is include you guy if you in a hetero couple. I hate, hate, hate this notion that men don’t care about weddings and you as the bride get to make all the decisions. They do care. A lot. My guy will randomly interrupt a conversation to share his wedding thoughts, just like I do.

    Don’t be a bitch and march forward planning the wedding of your dreams because it is your special day and ignore his feelings because he is just a guy. That guy will likely be the father of your children and the co-signer on your mortgage. Let him help with the wedding, damn it.

    Sorry to ramble, this is such a goooooooooooooood topic. You are amazing to think of it. I especially love the “Figure out how you're going to announce the engagement” bit because I immediately felt so pressured by people constantly asking me about the date and if I had purchased the dress. I wish people would have just let us enjoy being engaged for a while. In fact, maybe the best advice is to put off telling other people for a month or so, if you can contain your excitement for that long. I couldn’t, but the flip side is they quickly steal your excitement with those damn questions.

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  10. I sort of wrote a novel. Great questions!

    One of my good friends got engaged 2 months before us, so I've had the benefit of watching the process from the other side. The one thing I've learned, from watching/listening to her experiences vs mine is we all process things differently. And the very best thing any friend can do is be supportive. Things that I've found helpful/useful isn't necessarily things she'll be interested in (she is very much a traditional/theknot bride).

    On to your excellent questions!

    1)How did you start? Though I knew he was going to propose, I did 0 planning up front. I always thought I wanted a destination wedding, but after getting engaged realized I didn't. A good start, I think, is to honestly talk to your partner about each other's expectations. We had a lot of discussions about the big picture (big/small, outside/inside, here/there) that helped focus us going forward.

    2) Did you think it was useful? Yes! It immediately closed off options for us and we are options people. If we hadn't taken the time to figure out what we were searching for, we could have easily been overwhelmed with what was out there.

    3) What were the best put-it-in-context resources you found or processes that worked for you? I found My Wedding Workbook (free) and started entering in hypothetical numbers for our budget. I really thought we could pull of a 10k wedding because the Boy has a lot of contacts (read:free stuff) but boy was I mistaken! I also found all the pretty sites (SMP, GWS, etc) useful because we're both visual people. Early on I created a folder on my desktop and saved any and every photo I liked and bookmarked it on delicious. It was then easy for me to show the boy what I liked, and for him to go through my photo collection and pull out what he liked. Luckily, we have very similar tastes. I knew he wasn't going to spend hours pouring over SMP so this was very useful for us.

    4) What would you change now about your start, after having arrived here in your journey? At first I really wanted the boy to be as obsessed with the research as I was. Everyday I would bombard him with my what I found and it ended up leaving him overwhelmed and me dissapointed. I think we had to go through that to find our groove, but like you, I wish I could have been easier on him.

    5) What were the best event-planning resources you found along the way? Here again, like you, the boy has a background in event planning. I also, by coincendence, had started working with a wedding planner on redesigning her website two months before we got engaged. So I think we've been lucky in our know-how and the people surrounding us. Aside from that, Google is my best friend. My best advice for someone without the background is to ask around for advice (friends are invaluable resources), never mention to vendors you are planning a wedding until after you hear a quote, and know what you want going in. People seem to think they can bully brides around.

    6) What are your favorite sanity-check processes or article bookmarks? You bookmarked a lot of my faves.Also, the entire Wedding Graduate series has been so grounding for me.

    7) What's the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out? People seem to think that being engaged gives them free licence to spout off whatever nonesense they want at you. People are opinionated about weddings! My best advice? Don't take it too personally. They probably mean well. The ones who don't aren't worth listening to. Be mindful of others, yes, but don't feel like you need to justify things that are important to you. I do think it's a balance (or you fall into the it's my special day BS) that every bride has to find for herself.

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  11. Oh! And on a purely practical note, NEVER sign up for anything wedding related using your real email address. The amount of junk mail I get is ridiculous!

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  12. I'm not yet engaged and I've never been one of those people who has even given a thought to weddings. Until my sister announced her engagement and we started to plan her wedding together. I OD'd on bridal blogs and I wonder if that isn't a necessary part of the process. At this point, I feel like I've gone through wedding detail overload, where I can honestly say I'm fine with just chucking huge bits of the "standard" wedding out the window. But I'm not sure I would have gotten there without the massive overload. So I guess I don't have any advice. Accelerate the overload by forcing her to look at The Knot for several days straight? Probably not the best way to keep your friend, though.

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  13. love this post!

    As far as your questions:

    How did you start?
    Google followed by Once Wed and Style me Pretty

    Did you think it was useful?
    Yes, it was very useful in getting ideas. It wasn't so useful in small budget affairs.

    What were the best put-it-in-context resources you found or processes that worked for you?
    I got all of my practical advice from A Practical Wedding. My sister also found a great article on wedding budgeting that we went over together.

    What would you change now about your start, after having arrived here in your journey?
    I actually think we are in a really good place right now. I think picking the venue early is key. For us all the stress melted away after that. i also think starting a blog as soon as possible will help from going crazy. And with showing your family your ideas. Whenever I think of something and they are like "no, no, no" I then show them my blog or someone elses and they are like "oh, that looks really nice."

    What's the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out?
    One of my best girlfriends just got engaged (whoo hoo!) and the best piece of advice I could give her was:

    "DON'T TELL PEOPLE YOUR PLANNING JUST ENJOY BEING ENGAGED FOR A COUPLE WEEKS"

    It was so stressful having people ask us what our colors where, what was the date, what was the venue, literally the day we got engaged. How am I supposed to know this? Talk about the stress of an answer. I wish I didn't even tell them we were engaged. We didn't even enjoy being engaged until we had settled on a date, venue, and colors. That shit was annoying, seriously.

    So I told her to tell everyone that they don't know any specifics and haven't even thought of anything having to do with the wedding, but they will let them know when they do.

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  14. Pick a venue first and go from there. The venue is the most expensive thing, and once you find one of those within your budget, you can narrow down what you can spend on everything else. Thats just my opinion. I wouldn't pick the date first, because how will you know venues have it open? The other thing I would do is decide how few people you can invite. Make a list of who you think you'll invite and see if that is realistic. You might start out with a list of 150, and then realize you could cut that in half.

    My other bit of advice would to have as short an engagement as possible. "As possible" because there are sometimes other things going on in life that would make planning a PITA, i.e. school or a move. I wouldn't start planning in earnest untill about five months before. I had my venue booked seven months out, the photog at 5, but didn't really do much else until after that. Even then I got a bit sick of planning in the end.

    I also think that being engaged was a bit of a pass to be a wee bit in love with myself and feel really special. People get really excited for you for really no reason, and it was fun. HOWEVER, I had to really make an effort to remind myself not to get so wedding focused and to shut up about my wedding sometimes.

    Offbeat Bride, Indiebride, and APW were great resources, but I often had to turn to more, shall we say "traditional" wedding sites to find local info about my own area. Don't be afraid to go there, just take it with a grain of sal.

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  15. Also, i think it is okay to overload on Style Me Pretty and Once Wed for a few weeks, but when the real wedding planning starts it is better to turn to blogs like this one, practical wedding, a brides brain, shan and mike, and pink argyle to name a few.

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  16. My biggest words of wisdom - take your time making decisions. Don't feel like you have to rush into everything.

    Mr B & I made so many quick decisions at the start that we later wished we could change.

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  17. I don't think I'll answer all your specific questions but I can tell you that helping plan 3 friends weddings in the years leading up to my own engagement set the path for researching ideas, investigating vendors/venues and saving photos and magazine images. I already had a massive amount of info on my computer from helping throw my sis' big affair 3 years earlier. And whenever I was bored I would casually browse sites like the knot and project wedding to get ideas about vendors. Nailing down the venue and vendors was the biggest thing to me because it gave me freedom to not stress about 'missing out' on something.

    My biggest piece of advice is to take your time and go for a long engagement! You can truly work through everything, search, save and prepare without nearly as much stress.

    And finally, for whatever reason, I never picked up an etiquette book and when people told me what I *HAD* to do I just brushed it off politely and told myself that it is OUR wedding and I can do whatever I'd like regardless of expectations or demands. I think finding confidence in your own personality, decisions and style is the key to having a truly personal and wonderful event to start off your marriage.

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  18. First advice? TAKE A MONTH TO ENJOY YOUR ENGAGEMENT. No wedding planning in the first month, nada. Just, "Oh, well, we're trying to enjoy getting engaged, so we are too overwhelmed with joy to think about planning."

    Then, buy some books. Read some books. Then, have some conversations with your partner about what you both want. Then have some conversations with your family about what they want (in and ideal world).

    THEN, and only then, start poking around on the blogs, researching venues.

    And keep your engagement short. That's my biggest advice, as someone who did not do that herself. But more on that from me some other time :)

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  19. i began with a list of what i like and wanted, a realistic budget, and a vision to give guests a santa barbara experience. then researched venues that fit our finances and local vendors who worked with smaller budgets and were green. i also poured over dozens of sb photographers' websites/blogs, not in search of inspiration, but for sb locations and vendors used.

    the best advice would be to know what you want, stick with your gut, and be happy with your decisions.

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  20. B/C FH and i had/have a 23 month engagement, the time really helped me to not feel rushed or freaked out. It also gave me plenty of time to realize, i wasn't gonna have the conventional wedding. Like you, I looked at city parks and other such places. We finally found a city owned venue, but THEN we had to wait about 7 months to book it b/c of the 12 month min time constraint on their contract period. It was hard. And i used sites like 10,000 wedding and my coordinator was a god-sent as well. I also went through all the wedding porn and LOVED it, but it didn't reflect what we were going for... and the more i read through mags, the more i knew i had to pave my own way! :)

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  21. Ahh, I am sad I missed this discussion. I agree with most of these things. Especially Meg, it is most important to enjoy the high after the engagement before you get into planning!

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  22. I feel pretty lucky in this regard: my fiance & I had been together for years before we got engaged, so we knew that we didn't want to rush things! & we told people that.
    Maybe eight months later, we started talking about what we want [location, colors, attendants].

    Our timeline was pretty constrained by a family member's schedule, so once we picked a month, we let the venue's availability dictate the actual date.

    The long time of enjoying our engagement allowed me to not worry about traditional magazines or websites; some people pointed me to more indie sites!

    I think telling people that you want to just enjoy being engaged for awhile is a good tactic!

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