Monday, January 4, 2010

Guest Blogger: Marilyn Oliveira, Sr. Editor of Inside Weddings Magazine

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The First Three Steps for the Freshly Engaged
By Marilyn Oliveira

If you became betrothed over the holiday season, you are definitely not alone. More proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day than any other time of year -- so many, in fact, that the industry calls it “engagement season.” And now that the ring is on your finger and the congratulations have been accepted, the advice is going to pour in from every direction. Before you become inundated with outlines, timelines, traditions, and tips, here are the three initial steps I recommend you tackle before anything else.

1. Choose a wedding style. Deciding upon the type of wedding you want will lay the groundwork for the rest of your decision-making process. An intimate, outdoor ceremony in the spring will have completely different requirements than a formal winter wedding in a cathedral. Be forewarned: You may discover that you and your fiancé don’t share the same vision, opening the door wide for many an argument. Discuss expectations and negotiate the key points: geographical area; time of year; size; level of formality; and religious component(s) if any. Once the basics are in place, you can hammer out the rest of the details later.

2. Set a spending limit. When the general style of the wedding has been agreed upon, you’ll be in a better position to consider the overall expense. Set what you feel is a realistic spending limit for the size and scope of the event you want, and then begin allocating funds to different components of the wedding. When you start breaking things down, it will quickly become clear if your limit will need to be adjusted. When and if the ceiling of your spending can’t move any higher, rework the style of your wedding to accommodate it. Changing the day of the week and even the time of day of your wedding can affect the costs, but the easiest way to reduce your spending is to limit the number of guests you’re going to invite.

3. Make a guest list. Once your wedding style has been reconciled with your spending limit, you’ll have a clear idea of how many people you can invite. This information will be invaluable when navigating the arguments and drama that are likely to ensue as you attempt to create your guest list. When your mother wants to invite her third cousins twice removed, you can remind her of the guest limit. When your future father-in-law hands you a list of business associates he plans to invite, you (or better yet, your fiancé) can remind him of the guest limit. (You get the picture.) Even armed with a specific number of guests, the odds are very, very good that tears will be shed before the guest list is finalized; but having a solid number to which to refer based on style and financial considerations will help.

You may need to adjust the final number of guests in order to keep the peace, in which case amending your spending limit and/or altering the style of your wedding may be necessary. But once all three steps are completed, your planning will be focused and easier to handle, allowing you to enjoy one of the most exciting times of your life: your engagement season.

Special thanks to Marilyn Oliveira for a great blog. You can subscribe to her blog at Inside Weddings online.

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