Summer time is peak engagement season! Just yesterday, I saw two engagement announcements among my Facebook friends (Congratulations Jannette and Matt!). Looking back on when I first got engaged, after the whirlwind of excitement I said to my self, “Ok, now I have to plan a wedding…CRAP!”. Some brides-to-be easily jump into planning mode, while others get overwhelmed by the tulle and rose and have no clue where to start. True story, being the natural book-worm that I am, I went to Borders (RIP) and purchased The Everything Wedding Checklist Book. I didn’t have anyone to ask, and I would have been totally lost without it. So here are my tips to get you started! 1) Find your vision. You have to figure out your personality as a couple. Are you guys modern or traditional? Rustic or classic? Pinterest is a fabulous place to get some ideas of your style. Look around at what others have done and see what really speaks to you, then you can find a way to make it your own. 2) Have a game plan. I cannot stress this enough. With some many vendors and venues, especially in Chicago it’s so easy to get overwhelmed. Do your research and be decisive. It’s so much easier to select from 5 places you love rather than 20 places that you think are all ok. Narrow down your realistic contenders before you start making appointments. 3) Listen to your gut. Bottom line, at the end of the day, whats the most important is what you and your fiancé want. It’s your day! It should reflect you and what’s most important to you. If you know you don’t like something i.e. the color pink, hotel carpets, chicken, whatever it maybe, listen to your instincts. It may be difficult with every one wanting to toss in their two cents, but if you listen to your instincts 99.9% you’ll end up where you want to be. Wedding planning does involve some compromise here and there, but, the people who need to be the happiest is you two. When it comes to the wedding day, everyone will be happy that you’re happy. No one’s going to notice that you didn’t pick that vomit green linen that you secretly hated, trust me. 4) Prioritize. This is another big one, and it kind of goes hand in hand with budget, which we’ll get to. It’s super important to prioritize. It’s easy to get caught up in what you think you’re supposed to have at a wedding. But remember, everyone’s priorities are different. If you don’t care about the food and are more concerned with gorgeous flowers, that’s your prerogative. If you don’t care about a wedding cake, and would rather have an amazing bar, DO IT! As you plan, you always want to make sure that your priorities as a couple are being met because those are things you’ll look back on and remember most fondly 5) Budget, budget, budget. I truly believe that you can plan a fabulous wedding at practically any budget. Unless you work in the industry or know someone who does, most brides have no idea how much it costs to rent a venue, how much your average wedding dress costs, or the cost of catering. In Chicago, there are so much out there that it really varies. I think it helps to explore your options based on your tastes and see what’s the most feasible for you. It goes back to prioritizing. If venue and dress is most important, look for areas to minimize that may not be as important. The Knot has a great budgeting application that’ll give you a visual of the potential costs of the wedding that you can customize. I recently discovered that Microsoft Excel has a Wedding Budget template which is convenient is you’re using excel to organize some of your wedding details. I hope this has been a helpful list to get you started. If you’ve gotten to the end of this and you’re still scratching your head, feel free to email in, I’d love to answer your questions. Happy Planning!!