Getting engaged is such a beautiful feeling and time filled with love and excitement. But between all the happy tears and Pinterest browsing, make sure you set aside some time to talk to your partner about some important topics before diving into the fun and craziness of wedding planning.
LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT
It is important to ask your partner how involved they want to be in the wedding planning. Even if your assumption is, they want nothing to do with it, it is still good to ask so they feel included. Know that there are varying levels of involvement as well, check out my blog post on The Different Levels of Partner Involvement for Wedding Planning for more info!
Communication between the two of you is absolutely key in planning a successful low-stress wedding. It needs to be clear to both of you that it is imperative that you both openly and honestly speak your minds and voice your opinions. Now is not the time to be meek or passive aggressive. When your partner asks, “what do you think?” you need to be honest and direct in your thoughts. You obviously don’t want to come off dismissive or combative, but there is a way to speak up without giving off this impression. Neither of you should agree to something or give no opinion at all just to see it the day of the wedding and be frustrated you didn’t speak up.
TRADITION, RELIGION, & CEREMONY
This varies in relevance depending on the couple, but it is important to talk about. Are there certain personal or religious traditions that are important to either of you? You may be envisioning a ceremony on the beach while your partner is set on getting married in the same church as their parents. What does the ceremony look like based on your religions? For non-traditionalists, you likely do not plan on having a deeply religious ceremony outside of maybe a short bible verse. However, for some, you have to seriously discuss this. You may be Catholic expecting to be married by a priest, but if your partner is Islamic, their ceremony traditions and expectations are vastly different. Even if you both practice the same religion, you still need to find out if you have the same ceremony expectations. Your partner may want a very traditional religious ceremony while you would rather have an ordained friend provide a fun, loose ceremony.
Budget is of course a conversation that must be had and very early on. Your budget will determine almost every aspect of your wedding, from the attire to the vendors. A good budget should be broken down by vendors and various elements of a wedding, but if you are freshly engaged and just at the beginning stages of planning, just focus on deciding on an overall total budget. Check out my blog post on Wedding Budget Tips for more info!
Deciding on a wedding style will be a fun process. Make sure the wedding suits both of your styles, not just your own. If you are a girly girl marrying a blue-collar fellow, maybe don’t set on fairytale style with blush pink colors. Consider saving that for your bridal shower instead. If there is a style your heart is set on, maybe compromise on the colors to make it more representative of the both of you. Be sure when talking to your partner about style options that you show pictures of examples so that way they don’t swiftly agree or disagree without knowing for certain what it would potentially look like. Pinterest is a great reference and inspiration source for helping to decide your wedding style. However, too many couples decide on a wedding style because it is trending on Pinterest and Instagram and not because it is truly their taste. Just because burlap and lace is cute and trending across social media doesn’t mean that should be the style you choose for your wedding. When your guests step into your venue, they should see and feel immediately that this is your wedding.
It will of course take some time to decide on a venue, but you at least need to discuss location early on in terms of city, state, and sometimes even country. This will either be an extremely short conversation or an exceptionally long one. Don’t assume your partner wants to have the wedding in your local area. They may have always dreamt of a destination wedding abroad or they may prefer a wedding in their hometown.
TIME OF YEAR
Deciding your time of year piggybacks right off of the conversation of determining your general location. Where you choose to have your wedding will greatly affect your wedding date. Now, you don’t need to set a specific date now, just narrow it down to a month or season. If you are getting married in Arizona, you probably won’t want to have your wedding in the summer, just like if you are getting married in Michigan you might not want to choose a winter date. Also consider your wedding style and colors. If you are wanting darker colors like burgundy you may want to consider a fall wedding, whereas if you are going for a beach themed wedding you will likely want to opt for springtime. If there is a specific date that is important to both of you, like your engagement date, then now is the time to confirm with each other that that is the date you want, no question.
I recommend having a two-part conversation about your expected wedding size. During the first conversation, casually discuss what you envision. Do you want a large wedding with all your friends, family, and coworkers or a smaller wedding with just your closest loved ones? Make sure to define your definitions of “small” and “large” …100 people is a small wedding to some and a large wedding to others. After loosely deciding your wedding size and guest count, compile a list together of everyone you would invite. After finishing this list, you may find that you are a bit off on your estimations. Be sure to do this step early on before starting to meet with vendors. You will get quotes based on your expected guest count and if you turn out to be significantly off then your costs will adjust.
If you know you have parents or other family members who will want to be extremely involved in the wedding planning or have a lot of opinions, be sure to let your partner know. These can be tough situations because you will have to learn how and where to draw the line with your loved ones because at the end of the day this is about you and your partner. During this conversation you will also discuss any financial contributions your family has committed to.
It is very important to discuss what are non-negotiables for each of you. This could be a variety of things including the dress you want that you’ve dreamt of since you were little, the church you want for the ceremony, the first dance song, and so on. When laying these out for your partner, be sure to not come off as a dictator. Instead, accompany each non-negotiable element with a backstory of why it is so important to you. Most of the time there is an emotional or family connection to it and once your partner understands that, they will be quick to get on board.