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Those first days and weeks of engagement are sure to keep you and your fiance in a dizzying state of excitement and love.  You have hired a wedding planner, and are about to meet for your first consultation.  It is finally time to design your day.

Where to begin…

First, you and your fiance need to decide on the type of wedding you want.  Walk through your senses.  What do you want it to feel like?  When you look back on your wedding, what memories do you want to have?  Do you envision a grand affair, complete with black tie tuxedos, champagne, and an orchestra?  Or do you dream of something more intimate, where you are surrounded only by your closest family and friends?  This is the time to let your mind wander. Don’t limit yourself to one conversation or idea.  Consider all of your options, and be prepared to bring your top ideas with you to your first planning session.

Daydreaming and designing is the fun part.  Financing the event, that’s the practical side of planning.  Even if you have been together for years, you still need to have an open and honest conversation about how much money you will be able to invest in your wedding.

This is also the time to discuss your vision and the budget with your families.  Tell them what you are thinking , and give them an opportunity to share their ideas as well.  Yes, your wedding is about the two of you, but it is also a public declaration of your love, and the joining of two families.  Each set of parents brings with them their own unique ideas and hopes for your wedding.  By giving them the opportunity to discuss their feelings now, without judgement, you will save yourself an immeasurable amount of heartache later.  This is also a time to discuss whether or not either side will be contributing financially.  Do your best not to bring any expectations with you to this conversation, and remember that a financial contribution (or lack thereof) is not a reflection of love or support. Be gracious, no matter what the outcome.

And, lastly, in order to start planning your wedding, you need to have a working idea of how many guests you will be hosting.  Using your original vision and budget, begin drafting a list of guests whom you would like to invite.  Ask each family to do the same, and edit accordingly.  On average, 10% – 20% of your guests will send their regrets, but you need to plan as if each person you invite will be joining you at both the ceremony and reception.  This number will impact everything from your venue search to your menu planning.  Expect to make adjustments as you go, but aim to develop a solid, working list.

Weddings are living, breathing organisms that change and grow as time goes on.  Expect to make adjustments and changes, and then more changes, as you refine your ideas and make decisions along the way.  But by arming your wedding planner with an overall vision, a budget, and a guest list, you provide your design team with all of the things they need to bring your vision to fruition!

Happy Planning!