Wedding Planning Guide: I’m Engaged! Now what?
You’re engaged! First off, congratulations! If you’ve found yourself with a fancy new ring on your finger and are still adjusting to the sound of “fiancé,” then you’re in the right place. This phase of life is incredibly exciting, and truth be told, a bit overwhelming. After you’ve taken some time to soak it in and adjust to the new title, let us help guide you through your next steps!
First things first, set a time to sit down with your partner and discuss what you’re willing to spend in total. If you’re lucky enough to have your parents’ help, then you’ll need to rope them in too. This number will influence everything that follows—what time of year you get married, which venue you choose, how many guests you invite, etc. Before throwing out numbers, it’s especially important to communicate what your priorities are. Are you drawn to a simple ceremony, to be followed by an all-out party? Or do you see yourself having an ornate ceremony, with a cocktail hour to follow?
Now that we’re in a unprecedented pandemic era, there are new major considerations, such as specific gathering limits set by cities, and the willingness of guests to travel. Such factors and parameters will also affect your budget.
This blog post may help you figure out where to splurge and when to save.
Also, and possibly most importantly, we HIGHLY suggest hiring a wedding planner. Even if you’re just having a small backyard wedding, there are so many elements you haven’t even thought of that a planner can lead and execute for you. With pandemic-related concerns, we think a planner is more critical then ever, in order to help you navigate this new event-world we’re in. We have preferred planners we know and trust—please reach out and we can make a few recommendations based on what kind of wedding you’re envisioning!
Austin has no shortage of wedding venues. Want something modern in the heart of Downtown? You got it. Prefer a rustic setting in the hill country? No problem. If you plan to marry in Austin, local wedding mag favorite, Brides of Austin, has most of the leading venues listed, including links to their websites and portfolios. You’ll probably want to opt for a location with some outdoor space to make your guests feel as comfortable as possible. Just make sure to discuss capacity limits with the event manager. Also, these folks are the best to ask about covid-related safety precautions—both the steps they’re taking and also what they’ve been seeing couples do.
For those on-the-hunt for something out of the ordinary, and potentially more fitting for a much smaller guest count, we recommend searching Austin Venue Collective, a group that manages event bookings for top Austin bars and restaurants.
Finally, Airbnb is still the best place to find private residences if your own home or backyard isn’t ideal. Simply show more filters, then choose “Suitable for Events” under House Rules to find possibilities. Being open to more unique environment is the best way to save money on a wedding venue.
You can view our rentals in action at some of our favorite Austin wedding venues here.
The Pre-Wedding Events
Wedding planning involves more than the ceremony day! There’s also the…
• Engagement Party
• Wedding Shower
• Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
First off, remember that these events are supposed to be fun! If the thought of planning or attending any of these gatherings doesn’t appeal to you… skip it! Contrary to public opinion, there is no law that says you have to do it all. When we help plan or write about these type of events, we always focus on the celebratory elements (we can’t help ourselves, of course).
Secondly, we’d be amiss to not acknowledge that now is a strange time to have frequent gatherings. You don’ have to miss out on these milestone events, but until the pandemic is under control, but you should seriously consider alternative ways to celebrate.
Pandemic-Style Celebration Ideas include:
- If traveling and/or staying in a place together is in the cards, it is not unreasonable to ask your friends to make a a concerted effort to isolate as best as possible and get a test before coming. Of course these measures can’t guarantee that the risks are removed, but at least they are mitigated.
- Have a “shift” party. This is where your guest show up during pre-assigned time slots over the course of the day. This could be in small groups of 2-3 individuals, family groups or couples. Make this safer by having the event outdoors with socially distanced seating. This method works for particularly well for engagement parties or wedding showers. While this may seem boring initially, the silver lining is that you get real QT with each of your loved ones.
- For your bachelorette, you probably won’t get to paint the town red because most clubs, bars and restaurants are either closed or have limited capacity and require reservations. If renting an airbnb, consider bringing the party to you with a glamorous backyard party set up—see above photo of a low dining setup.
To find some inspiration from our archives, here’s how to choose the perfect engagement party rentals that are true to your style, and an example of a very ~Austin~ bridal shower! We’re here if you need help pulling all of the pieces together.
The Ceremony and Reception
Some pandemic-friendly things we’ve seen couples do include:
- Have a small and very intimate wedding—both ceremony and reception––and invest in a professional audio/visual team to set up a virtual event livestream. It might be hard to livestream the whole event, but this allows loved ones (think friends in far away places and grandparents) to witness the most important parts of your wedding day, like the ceremony, vows and speeches.
- Having various dining seating options that are better for smaller groups. This can look like a mix of cocktail tables, pub tables, and regular dining tables of various sizes (making sure not to squish guests together)
- Lounge pods. Creating a bunch of lounge areas for smaller groups of people to hang out is a good way to keep people from crowding together.
- Readily available hand sanitizer. We’ve designed and build these streamlined Health Stands that can be placed at various locations, as well as pretty tabletop hand sanitizer pumps.
- Risk-Tolerance Bracelet Systems. One of the more creative solutions we’ve seen, this “system” entails everyone getting a colored bracelet upon entering the wedding. The color you get is based on your comfort level/”risk tolerance” for being around other folks. Please note, if you have some seriously health-compromised loved ones in your life, please encourage them to stay home.
- Red = stay at least 6 ft away
- Yellow = happy to chat but don’t stay for too long
- Green = Let’s dance.
The ceremony is the time to focus on family and romance! We’ve outlined four categories when choosing rentals for your ceremony: chairs, rugs and accents, and arches. If these pieces are done right, your guests will be sure to notice.
We have pre-curated some rug and ceremony packages to make the decision process extra easy for you, including “Microwedding” options. Just because you’ve opted for a backyard wedding with a fraction of your original guest list doesn’t mean you can’t make it look like the wedding of your dreams. Important photo-worthy pieces like arches, nice chairs and rugs are worth the investment as they are the backdrop to the images that you’ll keep forever.
The sweetheart table, dining set-up, lounges, and other can’t-miss details (hello, bar and DJ booth!) are all key elements for the reception. If you’re having a wedding at a venue, they may provide some of these elements, but we suggest double-checking that you love the look they’re providing. This is your day and it shouldn’t be a carbon copy of anyone else’s! If you’d like a custom design-board for a particular venue, just ask!
We know that this seems like a lot of moving pieces to keep track of, but we promise that it can be done beautifully and on budget. We highly suggest hiring a wedding planner to save you time, money and stress along the way! Reach out to us for our vendor recommendations — we’d love to help you create the wedding of your dreams!