1. Freaked the heck out!
In a good way, of course. For those of you who don't know our backstory, Matt and I have been together for nearly six years. We met in college, and I'm sure I speak for both of us when I say that we never really would have guessed that we'd be here today! (Do you all want the whole "how we met" thing? Is that too boring or self-serving?) We'd been talking about getting engaged for maybe a year, or a little less. We'd been talking about going ring shopping for about a month or two. So there was a lot of buildup. I've known in my head that I was going to marry Matt for the last few years, so transitioning from "someday we'll get married" to "we're getting married!" was a weird and surreal step, in the absolute best way possible. (Case in point: I already had a pretty comprehensive wedding board on Pinterest. I've since streamlined it, broken it into categories and deleted pins I won't actually use. But I've been pinning to it for years, haha.) So yes, lots of happy freakout moments happened first.
2. Told everyone we know.
3. Emailed a photographer.
I will be the first to tell you that I did things a little out of order. The day after Matt proposed, I emailed a photographer. Now, wedding magazines usually have a timeline for you, and the first ones typically include make a guest list, set a budget, pick a time of year, and find a venue. In that order. (I know because I used to work for Columbus Bride, and I still write for it every issue.) But I've known since I started at said magazine that I wanted a certain photographer to shoot our wedding, and when I realized his prices would compatible with what I knew would be a low budget, I contacted him right away. We set up a meeting for about a month from that day, to give us time to figure out a date, etc. (It's Julian Allen Photography, if you're curious, and I can't stop gushing about how much I love his work. He's phenomenal and so, so nice.)
4. Figured out a guest list and budget.
Matt and I have big families. No, really big families. Together, our families account for nearly 200 people, with dates and kids and everything factored in. And that's just going to first cousins and their kids, and not including any friends-of-our-parents. So yeah, whittling the guest list down to 250 with our friends included was pretty challenging. And all those people means the food and alcohol costs will be big, so our budget had to be a little bigger than we originally planned. But we're cutting corners in other places (Hello, DIY fabric flowers instead of live ones!) and overall, our budget is still lower than the national average. Bam!
5. Set a date and tour venues.
This part was harder than I thought it would be. Our dating anniversary isn't a solid date; we typically attribute it to the last weekend of April. So we thought April 25, 2015, would be the perfect wedding date. Originally the photographer had it open, but another bride sneaked in at the last second and got her deposit for that date in just days before us. I'm not going to lie. I was a little bit devastated. I may or may not have locked myself in a conference room at work and cried a lot. But Matt pointed out the obvious: When we get married doesn't matter. What matters is that we're getting married! Whatever date we chose would become special to us. So we landed on a new date: May 9, 2015. (Yes, it's Mother's Day weekend. Unfortunately between the photographer and our top-choice venue, it was one of the few dates left that worked for us. Fortunately, we both have awesome moms who are not even phased by the date choice.)
The venue tours actually were pretty easy. Budget and size constraints knocked out a vast majority of Columbus's 200+ venues. And geography narrowed the rest down to fewer than half a dozen options. (We wanted a downtown venue with easy access to hotels, to avoid the drinking and driving conundrum.) Matt and I both fell in love with the very first venue we toured, which is called The Vault. It's a gorgeous 100-year-old former bank, and the actual bank vault is still intact (hence the name). But we didn't want to sign with the very first venue we looked at, so we toured a couple other places. Nothing even compared, in our heads. So now we come to the photo portion of this post!
The main space. We'll get married right in front of the vault at the back there. The uplighting (which can be any color/colors we choose), rope lights and topiaries are all included, which means our décor costs will be next to nothing! (Just the centerpieces, really. Maybe some candles above the vault, on that shelf by the clock.)
Gorgeous chandelier, of course.
(Click the image to see it bigger.)
6. Research caterers and other vendors.
The Vault doesn't have in-house catering, so right now we're researching various caterers. Once again, budget knocked down the list of options considerably, but we have about four companies on our list. They all get pretty awesome reviews on various wedding websites, and they all are something we can afford. I'm requesting proposals and quotes now, to try to narrow down to two or three options, and then it's on to tastings! I'm also booking a DJ and photobooth. Now, this is actually wayyyy early for those bookings, but I went to a bridal show at the beginning of January, where I got a coupon for $100 a combo DJ/photobooth package. Again, the company has great online reviews, and the combo package saves us literally HUNDREDS of dollars over hiring a DJ and photobooth separately. (We've been to a few weddings with photobooths, and they're always a blast. Plus, they serve double-duty as both favors for guests AND a guest book/scrapbook for us!)
7. Ask friends to be in the bridal party.
I had my bridesmaids picked and confirmed within two days of being engaged. Matt's taking a little longer :) We also asked his brother-in-law to officiate our ceremony, and are in the process of asking friends and family members to do readings.
8. Gather a billion ideas.
The rest of what we're doing is little more than daydreaming. Thinking about bridesmaid and groomsmen dresses/suits, figuring out how to make and arrange faux flowers, sending cake photos to a bridesmaid who helped her mom make wedding cakes in the family bakery growing up, thinking about readings and song choices, and of COURSE scouring photos of wedding gowns...This is the part where I say Pinterest is my savior and I'll never, ever understand how anyone planned a wedding before that godsend of a social media site :)