Everyone knows it and expects it: there are a lot of engagements that happen around Christmas and New Years! It is a super popular time for proposals, with all the holiday celebrating going on, and it is one of the busiest booking seasons for wedding photographers. I have seen them pop up all over my feed…and as a photographer, it is tricky because when I comment “congratulations!” on someone’s post, I think it can look like I am just wanting to remind them, “think about me as your photographer!”. But while I of course would love to chat with those couples about capturing their day, the truth is, I just am excited for my friends and LOVE love. That began way before the wedding photographer thing did, and will last long after- marriage just excites me!
But then shortly after the proposal announcement on social media, I soon see a little panic in the form of “what now?!”. It is so FUN but can be so overwhelming to be newly engaged, especially if you want to move on wedding planning right away- so today, I am sharing some tips for newly engaged couples on where to begin with the big questions! From the perspective of a wedding industry professional, this advice is a little different than what you might find at theknot.com (even though I think that’s an AMAZING resource for you)- so I hope taking it and combining it with your other sources can be so helpful!
5 steps for the newly engaged couple
1). Make sure to take some time- even just a couple days- to truly enjoy it all! As you begin telling your closest friends and family, clarify to them whether it is public knowledge yet- the last thing you want is for someone close to you to disclose that info on facebook and suddenly everyone knows before you got to all the people you wanted to tell in person! As people immediately begin asking when the date is and what you are planning, feel free to remind them that you just got engaged and are just enjoying that stage for a little while before you dive in. After all- the engagement is really about the marriage, not just the wedding!
2). Once it has settled a bit and you are ready, I think figuring out the general time you want to be married is the next step. As a photographer, I personally don’t recommend that you choose the EXACT date just yet, unless that is your number 1 priority…because as you start to look at venues and DJs and photographers, you may find that people that are really important to you aren’t available! Keep some flexibility if you can. Decide a season, and general time frame. For some, this is easy, based on weather or work (for us- it was both of those- we knew we wanted fall, and we were locked into one specific weekend at the beginning of our 2 week fall break). But if you want to remain flexible even within one weekend, remember that Friday and Sunday weddings ARE a possibility- and often carry financial benefits for you!
3). Next, you need to settle some financial pieces. This works differently for every couple. Some couples foot the bill entirely on their own, some have some help from one side of parents or both. Some know they will have to work for a couple of years before they get there. I personally don’t recommend going into any debt over your wedding, and believe extremely strongly that there are always ways to hold back in some areas of your wedding day in order to splurge on others. I also think that if you aren’t in a place where you can afford what you want yet, waiting a little bit to really save and get there isn’t a bad idea!
4). This is the most important one. You need to decide what your priorities are, and start THERE as you settle your date. For some, as mentioned above, it has to be the date. For some, it is the venue- the church you grew up at or the winery you have been dreaming of your whole life. For others, it is all about the DJ and the party. And for some, there might be a photographer or videographer that shot your friends wedding that you just loved and know you want to work with. Whatever it is for you, you want to start there! Check out the availability of that person first in comparison to your general date time. Because the truth is, once you get the TOP priority for you (which for us was the specific weekend, followed by a specific photographer we adored!), the rest of it truly matters so much less. The exact WHERE wasn’t nearly as important to us as making sure we had a week to travel and a week to settle in before work started, and making sure our day was captured by someone we LOVED and TRUSTED with our memories. We knew that our photographer was going to make anywhere look amazing! But it is tricky if you pick your date with your venue first (which is generally what the big magazines recommend) and had your heart set on someone else for another area that is then not available for you. Start with what matters most! Typically, florists, catering companies, and even some venues can take multiple weddings a day or weekend, so their schedules might be a little less tricky than your photographer, DJ, planner, or videographer.
5). If you feel very stuck on all of the above and just aren’t sure what you want, you might instead begin by thinking about how you want your day to look and feel. That might help guide you towards a specific season or venue to get you started. It can be very overwhelming and while pinterest is gloriously helpful and I definitely suggest using it, it can get overwhelming. Take time to think about what you really want for your day and what matters most to you both. What parts you know will stay in your heart, and what parts won’t be remembered by the next season. Start there, and you can’t go wrong!
Wedding planning is CHALLENGING, and I have SO many tips and tricks to send you, sweet bride! Join for instant access to the JGP newsletter community, and get help planning your day (from someone with over 70 weddings as inspiration!) straight to your inbox!
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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!).
As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids. I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!
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You're in the right place! As a past high school teacher, educating others is my life's work and a HUGE part of my business! I have been teaching moms and hobbyists how to use their camera from first purchasing it all the way to coaching them into businesses of their own, and I'd love to help you as well, wherever you are (and whatever camera you have!).
I'm so glad you are here! Teaching Photographers and other small business owners how to run more joyful, successful, and profitable businesses is one of my favorite parts of my business! I specialize in working with photographers to make their goals a reality (or figure out what their goals should be in the first place!).