You're Engaged! Now what?
It's that time of year where our social media feeds are filled with proposal photos and diamond rings -- engagement season is upon us! Maybe you're the new bride or groom-to-be, or your bestie just got engaged, or you'll be welcoming a new son or daughter into the family - regardless, congratulations!! After you've taken the time to soak it all in, celebrate over the holidays, and take a dozen ring selfies holding your morning coffee (#DoesThisRingMakeMeLookEngaged?) , it's time to crack down and get planning. So, where do you begin? Of course, our first suggestion would to be to hire a wedding planner who will guide you through all the steps from beginning to end ;) But if you want to take a stab at this yourself, we'd like to offer some words of wisdom on how to get started.
Budget & Guest Count
We suggest starting here, as it truly determines what direction you'll be taking for the rest of the planning process. Budget is SO important. Going in blind can cause you go to go "venue poor", because you spent way to much money on just the venue/food itself (if the venue includes food and alcohol, or if it has a exclusive caterer list)... but totally didn't know how much to allocate to the rest of the wedding (music, florals, photography, transportation, the DRESS, etc., etc).
So, First Step - where is your money coming from? Going traditional and having just the bride's side pay? Or is this a joint effort from both families? Or are you and your spouse-to-be paying for it on your own? In today's wedding world, all of these are the norm. Always keep in mind, if your families are heavily contributing, you might have to be open to mom and dad's preferences, as they are helping to make this happen.
With the overall budget, it's important to allocate a 5-10% cushion -- because things happen, such as, you REALLY HAD to have the chiavari chair upgrade. Once you've set your total budget, a loose rule of thumb is that your venue/food/beverage should be about 50-55% of your budget. The remaining 45 - 50% goes towards the rest of the wedding elements, e.g. ceremony, photography, videography, music, decor & floral, attire, plus the 999 little details... the list goes ON AND ON!
Another big step you'll want to determine with all the family is guest count. Once you have a list of all those you'll want to invite, you can factor that 10-15% of that total will not be able to attend. This anticipated number of guests will help you roughly gage how much you'll be spending on food & beverage. In downtown Chicago, we're typically seeing $180 and up per person (not including tax and service charge!!) for food & beverage. Take your expected guest count, times it by cost per person, add an additional 10.25% tax for food & beverage, and 18-22% for service, plus add on any additional venue rental/room fee, and you'll have your rough estimate of that 50-55% budget mark. Ooph -- and this is why we suggest having a wedding planner from the beginning :)
Stay tuned for Priorities, Style, and Formality, and selecting a Ceremony and Reception Venue!!