Okay, you are engaged, CONGRATULATIONS! Now the influx of wedding clutter, congratulations, unwanted advice, etc. But, here are three essentials for making the important first steps!
1. BUDGET? Determine what your wedding budget is. It’s hard to book a venue if you don’t know how much money you have to spend. Can you afford the amazing, castle-like venue that has a $5000 room rental fee? Is that luxurious hotel with the $25,000 food and beverage minimum realistic for your budget? Sit down, do the math, determine what you can spend on the entire event before you paint a bulls-eye on your ideal venue.
2. GUEST COUNT? I meet brides who say their guest list will be somewhere between 150 - 250. Again, it’s difficult to book a venue without a pretty good idea of your guest count. Some venues might be able to easily accommodate 150 guests, but may be unable to fit 250. Sit down with your significant other and maybe your parents to figure out how many guests will be on the list. Don’t forget to include spouses in the guest count and children, if you plan to include them. Also, be REALISTIC with your guest count. Don’t make the mistake of estimating that only 150 will come, even though your list consists of close to 300. That’s a wedding day nightmare waiting to happen.
3. HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER! Get pricing on all their packages and figure out if you want help developing the entire wedding or just need help with the rehearsal dinner and wedding day. You would be surprised by how much money you would actually save. Wedding consultants/planners have a special relationship with wedding vendors and can sometimes get discounts on pricing for products and services. They will usually pass the savings on to the bridal client, helping to save money in the long run. Plus, the stress level of the wedding day will be kept to a minimum with a wedding planner in control.
When Should I send out my Wedding Invitations?
An insight as to when and what to do about your “Save the Date”, Wedding Invitations, and Wedding Website
Let’s start with the ever popular “Save-the-Date” cards. If you plan to announce your wedding to all your friends and family, I would suggest sending these cards out approximately six months before the wedding date. If you plan to have a website, this can be included on your “Save-the-Date” cards. A simple “SusieandJack.com” is all you really need to get started. If you like, (or if you do not have a Save-the-Date), you can include the web address in the formal invitations with an insert – a small card that informs guests they can find more details online.
Wedding websites are a great way to tell the story of you, and a couple met, and what your wedding plans include. This personal website can introduce the couple, the wedding party, and intimate family members. It should also state the date and time of the ceremony and reception, along with the address of these venues, with a map. Responses can be done through the website if you feel comfortable with your guest’s computer abilities.
If going the traditional route, you should mail your invitations six to eight weeks before the wedding. This means that you need to order invitations approximately four to five months before the big day. Invitations are time consuming. So working on them a little at a time is ideal. Start addressing invitations at least three months out and give yourself at least a month to complete the task. Allow guests several weeks to make travel arrangements and ask for time off work. Therefore, you should ask that guests return the RSVP cards two to three weeks before your wedding, if you sent them out on time. Keep in mind you’ll need to get the responses back in advance so you can start labeling place cards and organizing your seating. Also make sure you ask your caterer when they’ll need final head counts (usually a week before).
For a destination wedding, it’s typical to send out the “Save the Date” cards about eight months before, which will give guests time to budget and get great travel deals. Invitations should be sent about eight weeks, a little earlier than normal. Because of this, and since these types of trips typically include more events than just the ceremony and reception, you’ll probably want to ask for the RSVP’s three to four weeks before the departure date. That way you’ll know how many welcome gifts to make, and how many surfing lessons and spa packages to book.
Another suggestion is to make an A and B guest list. Send your A list invitations out eight weeks in advance. As you start to get acceptances and declines, you can start inviting some of the people from your B guest list. Do this only if you are highly organized and have time to keep track of constant responses coming in.
Ever wonder how many people will attend your wedding after sending out your invitations? If you send your invitations our six to eight weeks in advance, the likelihood is that most of the will come. So estimate that 85% will attend. Don’t forget to account for plus ones, if you invited them. The out of town acceptance rate is around 85% for family and 40% for friends. For most couples, a safe estimate of acceptance rate for out-of-town guests is 55%.
For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some information gathered from weddings.about.com, theknot.com, and oncewed.com