Wedding Diary Month 1: The Overwhelming Start

(Outfit photo taken while looking at a venue) Dress: Apricity (exact) / Cardigan: Thrifted / Belt: Modcloth  (exact) / Shoes: Amazon

Because I've had a surprising amount of people message me and say that they want to know every detail about my wedding planning, I've decided to start a little online diary here where I can check in with where I am in the planning.

As I've mentioned, I think weddings are fascinating, and I really want to be transparent about the process. I suddenly feel like I've finally been asked to join this club and now I get to look at every wedding website and detail without shame. In other words, I finally feel like I don't have to hide my Pinterest board. Well, it's still hidden to everyone but my bridesmaids. I don't want to give too much away.

As I'm writing this, it's been one month since we've been engaged, and I feel a little overwhelmed - in a good way! There's just SO much to look at. Because I'm such a planner, I started planning basically the day we got engaged. And by the day we got engaged, I mean that I started researching the week before because I knew it was coming. Jon knew what he was getting himself into. It's only a month in, and I've already done a lot. We're not in any rush, but I'd rather book things in advance and get the dates/vendors that we want rather than wait until the last minute. Plus, this is fun for me!

So here's what we've done so far:

Started a Google Doc and Pinterest board 
Well, yes, I already had a Pinterest board, but I cleaned it up. I removed things that I added years ago and don't really like anymore, and I organized everything into groups (Dresses, Decor, Cakes, Invites, etc.). I pretty much do everything out of Google Docs so I set up a spreadsheet to share with Jon and our families/wedding party. So far it has a handful of tabs for different parts of the planning, and I'm constantly adding new ones.

Decided on and asked our wedding party
I know that this didn't necessarily need to be right away, but for me, this felt like something I wanted to do really early. I already knew who I wanted my bridesmaids to be and I had already talked to pretty much all of them ahead of time, so it seemed silly to wait. I spent some time looking up little gifts, and what I found, for the most part, was a lot of cheesy wine labels and really expensive gift boxes by the time you multiply it by five. Luckily, I stumbled upon these pins from Lottie Shoppe on Etsy, and I couldn't believe how perfect they were. Not only were they adorable, but she offers bundles and they felt so perfectly my style and most of my bridesmaids'. I also got a pack of cards on sale from Rifle Paper Co. to give with them as well, and they all said yes. Phew.

Talked to our parents about money and set a budget
It's a daunting task for sure, but we wanted to get this out of the way. I started looking at stuff before this, and I realized that I was getting attached to ideas before knowing if they would even be possible. Case in point: two of the venues I became obsessed with ended up being way out of our price range. So, we realized we needed to have these talks early on before we looked any further. Jon and I can't put in as much as want, so we had to talk to our parents. As the only girl of my siblings and the last one to get married, my parents were prepared for this talk so it wasn't difficult to bring it up, and they're being extremely generous. Because weddings are ridiculous, we knew we would need to get help from Jon's parents as well. We were a little more nervous to talk to them, only because we didn't know if they would be expecting the bride's parents to pay for everything, but luckily they were incredibly generous as well. We're definitely doing things on the cheap for a Southern California wedding, but with their help, we're able to actually plan something we'll like.

For the budget, I'm using A Practical Wedding's template (that I imported into my Google Doc, duh), and it's been super helpful. The template has suggestions for how to weight each item, and that's been a lifesaver. Prior to this, I had NO idea how much things should cost, and well, there's still a lot of things that I'm not sure about. Having the budget tracker - and having a final total to work backward from - has made it a lot easier to have context for when things are affordable or way more expensive than necessary.

Fun fact: according to The Knot, the average wedding in the US costs about $35K and the average California wedding costs about $50K. Ours...will not cost that much.

Researched venues (and chose one!)
Actually, the very first thing I started doing was researching venues. I realized from the get-go that pretty much everything hinges on the venue, and we can't even set a date (or really plan anything) until we know where it will be, what the space will look like, what would come with the venue, and how much it will cost. I spent A LOT of time researching places and putting them into my Google Doc, and along the way, I, of course, fell in love with a lot. I thought a lot about location and vibe, and my vision kind of came together by seeing themes in places I saved. In the end, I put 36 down in my doc that I was interested in, narrowed it down to about 10 that seemed plausible, and scheduled tours with 4 of them. We toured two this past weekend, and by the time we saw the second one, we knew that was it. We ended up canceling the remaining two tours because we knew that one would probably be too pricey and the other was already our last choice of all of them. We picked out a date for next March and we should be signing the contract this week! We wanted to book something early, both so we could plan everything else and so we could have our pick of dates before things got booked up, but an added bonus of doing this in advance is that we're getting an early bird discount which is super helpful. We're going to have a lot of people coming from out of town, so I'm happy to be able to give them a date far in advance so they can start figuring out their travel plans.

I'm working on a post highlighting some of the venues I looked into, but I can't wait to share what we settled on!

Put Together a Rough Guest List
Here's one we weren't expecting to do so early on! I figured this would be something for a little down the road, but it quickly became apparent that we couldn't get accurate pricing for venues or set our budget before getting a sense of how many guests we'd have. We put together a quick list to get a sense of it, and then we started refining and getting our parents involved. We'll for sure keep changing it until the last minute when we send Save the Dates, but this might be the most difficult thing yet. I tend to want to include EVERYONE and keep feeling bad about leaving people out, but we also don't have unlimited funds to pay for a massive party. It's been hard to have to exclude some people and I won't stop feeling bad, but Jon has been great about reminding me that this is about us and we don't have to please everyone. It's one of the many reasons why I'm marrying him. 

What's Next...

1. Celebrate More! 
My parents are throwing us a little engagement party next weekend, and I can't wait to start getting a bunch of people we love all in one room.

2. Dress Shopping
This won't happen for a few months, but since my maid of honor, Jenn, lives in Iowa, I'm trying to plan dress shopping around when she can visit.

3. Vendor Research
We'll be booking the venue this week, and we were lucky to find one that comes with a lot, meaning that we won't have to worry about bouquets, DJ, cake, food, photo booth, etc. We definitely have time before booking the remaining things, but I'm getting a head start on researching so that way we can have an accurate budget. For instance, I originally had a lower number budgeted for a photographer, and after doing a lot of research, I realized that wasn't going to be enough for good photos. If there's one piece of advice that has been given to me over and over again, it's to not skimp on the photographer. 

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