You're Engaged! Now What?!

I can tell from my Facebook feed over the holidays that engagement season is finally upon us! If you are one of the lucky new brides or grooms-to-be, let me first say, "Congratulations on getting engaged!!" It is such an exciting & happy time and you just want to enjoy it all!! But once the ring goes on your finger, the questions start coming! When?? Where?? Am I invited? The beginning stages of planning your wedding can be overwhelming, but that's where I come in!

This post is all about the first 5 decisions you need to make when planning your wedding! I'm here to lay it all out for you so you can continue to bask in your post-engagement glow, while also beginning to get organized. Hopefully this will help you to figure out exactly what kind of wedding you want to have and give you some perspective on a few areas of the initial planning process!


First thing's first: Set your budget! The purse strings control most every decision that you will make regarding your wedding. Setting a firm budget now allows you to see the big picture and to control where you want to put your money. As soon as you know your total budget, enter that amount into a wedding budget calculator to give you an initial breakdown. Once you hire a planner, they can create a custom budget for your area (vendor prices vary upon where you live) and can put emphasis on the vendors that are most important to you. 


How many guests will you invite? Maybe a big party is exactly what you want, or perhaps a small, intimate affair is more your style. I would start by thinking of how many guests feels good to you. 50? 100? 150? 200+? Then make a list in Excel and see where you land! You can cut back from there! And of course, remember to get a list from your parents as well.  

My general rule is if you wouldn’t take that person out to a nice dinner and buy them appetizers, a meal, dessert, and drinks then you probably don’t need to invite them to your wedding.

The guest count affects what venues will work for you, as well as your variable costs. Whether you have a wedding for 50 or 250, your fixed costs such as a wedding gown, photographer, and a band will cost the same. But your variable costs will greatly affect the kind of wedding you can host with your budget. Variable costs to consider are catering (food, dessert, beverage & staffing), rentals (tables, chairs, linens & service ware), florals (centerpieces), transportation, and invitation costs. 

The Notorious B.I.G. tells us it's "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," but when planning your wedding, it's actually more people, more money.


Where do you want to get married? Start with the big picture and work your way down! In the US or a destination wedding (I hear Mexico is lovely!)? Maybe you are from two different states, but met and live in Seattle, so you want to stay local. Consider your wedding vision, planning logistics, and your traveling guests when weighing your options.

Once you have settled on the location, it is time to choose your venue! A venue can help shape the style & design of the wedding, the layout of where each piece of your wedding will take place and the number of guests you can invite. 

Often a venue will come with a required caterer and/or rentals. Your venue, food (including bar!), and rentals should be ~50% of your total budget so it is important to know the full scope of services a venue has and if it fits within your price range.


What time of year do you want to get married?  Consider the following:

-        Average weather and temperature – especially if you are wanting an outdoor event

-        What time the sun sets - do you have a full day of light or will it get dark at 4PM?

-        Holiday weekends – They may be dates to avoid because of airfare costs & other travel

-        School schedules for guests that will be traveling with kids  

If you have the flexibility to choose a season or a preferred month without having a specific date, your options open up when selecting a venue. Just make sure your immediate family & bridal party can attend the dates you are considering!

And make sure to note how long your engagement will be! Perhaps you want to get married in the summer, but July is only six months away from when you got engaged. Make sure you have enough time to plan your wedding and the venue you want is still available!  


What style of wedding do you want to have? Casual? Semi-formal? Formal or black tie? Having a strong sense of formality will help you determine the menu, an appropriate venue, and overall guest experience.

This is important when looking at your budget and your guest count. You can host a lot more guests if you are having a casual event, serving sliders and mac & cheese at a community center versus a formal wedding in a hotel ballroom, serving filet & salmon.


Remember that the most important thing about planning a wedding is the experience you want to have and the people that surround you!  Once you have the what, where, when, who, and how much answered, the rest of the decisions such as vendors, colors, menu, etc. will come much easier!! 

I hope this helps you get your bearings on planning your wedding and saves you some initial engagement stress!! Happy planning!! 


Bryn & Shafin's Gorgeous Wedding!

This fashion forward (+ insanely gorgeous) couple is Bryn & Shafin. As luck (or fate!) would have it, these two were paired up to complete a project together at work. When they were finished, Shafin worked up the nerve to ask Bryn out! I'd say he's pretty glad he did.

These two got lucky yet again when the weather was picture perfect on their wedding day, which was held in late December... in Seattle. I mean, come on... that never happens! 

They had their first look at the Four Seasons before heading to the ceremony, which was held at the Seattle Jamatkhana in Kirkland (Shafin's parents' mosque). Not the worst place for a photo shoot by the lovely and talented Laura Marchbanks. Check out that view!

The couple changed out of their traditional clothing after the ceremony and into more formal wear for their reception. And, man, they did not disappoint! Bryn's dress & jewelry were absolutely to die for! So many beautiful details that I couldn't stop staring at her. Plus, she's not bad to look at herself, am I right?!

Let's just say that Bryn has met her fashionista match in the very dashing Shafin. I mean, look at him! He wore a navy velvet tux jacket made by none other than Tom Ford. This has to be my absolute favorite groom's look of all time. Swoon!

Now that they were dressed for the part, it was time to party! Bryn and Shafin wanted to incorporate a lot of bright colors in this celebration, and a lot of gold! I think we accomplished this with our choice of gold chivari chairs and champagne shantung linens from Pedersens Rentals, and the beautiful custom stationary by Chic Ink and Red Sparrow Design throughout WithinSodo, their reception venue. We finished off this dreamy look with fern foliage table runners and a ton of candles.

Post cocktail hour, the couple participated in their final wedding tradition, the Clay Pot ceremony, before guests sat down to a delicious plated dinner from Duos Catering

For their first dance, Bryn and Shafin recruited a local street performer they had met at Pike's Place to serenade them for their first dance. Totally original, and Dre was a big hit! Then guests were invited to boogie down on the dance floor with DJ Kryspin, who turned the rest of the night into one big dance party.

For dessert, guests enjoyed some baklava- Brynn and Shafin's favorite! Yum!

Thank you Brynn and Shafin for letting me be a part of your big day! It was such a treat!

And thank you to all of the incredible vendors who participated in this beautiful day!

Venue- WithinSodo

Ceremony- Kirkland Jamatkhana

Caterer- Duos Catering

Photography- Laura Marchbanks

Florist- Metropolitan Market

Reception DJ- DJ Kryspin

Live Musician- Dre

Dessert- Time Out Restaurant

Rentals- Pedersen's RentalsMela Floral & Event Design

Photobooth- 321 FOTO

Hair & Makeup- Off White Makeup & Beauty