Early Wedding Planning SoCal

It’s just shortly after the holidays– which means we are in engagement season! Woohoo!!! You probably can’t keep your eyes off that shiny ring even as you are reading this. 😉 When you first get engaged, wedding planning can seen overwhelming– and not wrongly, there is a LOT to do. One of the most important parts of wedding planning is prioritizing. What needs to be done right after you get engaged, what can you do later on, and what should you do closer to the date. Today, I’ll walk you through some of the earliest things to tackle in your SoCal early wedding planning.

early wedding planning

Announce Your Engagement

Your parents and siblings have diligently kept this secret for months, you’ve FaceTimed all your best friends to show them the ring… and now what!? There’s so many other people to tell! You can choose to go the more informal route, and simply put something on Facebook. Another fun (and a touch more formal) option is to send out engagement announcements. (And, an awesome way to show off your engagement pictures… which we’ll talk about later! ;)) Some of my favorite SoCal engagement picture locations are Balboa Park, Palm Springs, and Joshua Tree, just to name a few.

early wedding planning

Prioritize & Budget

I went ahead and put these two together. You and your fiancé need to sit down and decide what exactly is important to you. How much money are you able to put into a wedding? Maybe having a big wedding is really important to you. Maybe you’d prefer to have something smaller and more intimate, and putting some of the money saved from that toward the honeymoon. How important is you dress, food, venue, vendors, etc? Sit down, and decide what makes YOU as the couple getting married the most joy! This day is a celebration of YOU and YOUR LOVE! 🙂

Choose Your Wedding Date & Location

The moment you announce your engagement, people will start asking when and where your wedding is. Even when it seems simple, this can get complicated easily. When it comes to date, here are some things to take into account:

you & your fiancé’s work schedules: While in theory it shouldn’t be hard to get time off for your wedding (!!), it’s going to be harder than you think. A few days off for the wedding plus a week for the honeymoon can quickly become 2 weeks. Consider what times are more and less stressful to take off. For example, if you are in sales, taking two weeks off right before your quarterly deadlines could cause a lot of anxiety. When are times that are good and convenient for you?

season: Do you care what season your wedding is? How does money factor in your budget? Peak wedding season depends upon your location and obviously impacts price. California’s peak wedding season is early fall, with beautiful scenery and warm but not hot temperatures. Colorado’s peak season is considered June through October. Remember they are trade-offs! For example, a more expensive season may mean you need to dial back your DJ budget. Just make priorities of what is important to YOU!

guest dates & holidays: First and foremost, this is YOUR wedding. Choose a date you love. But, do consider who you want there. Additionally, putting your wedding over a holiday may make it easier for people to get off work, but venue prices will be higher!

early wedding planning

Choose Your Venue

Venues book– and fast! With many couples having longer and longer engagements, it may be tough to get the venue you want, so right after you’ve chosen the date, I’d encourage to choose a venue! Some things to consider:

guest list: how big of a space you will need– how private you want your wedding to be

out-of-town guests: If your list includes a lot of out-of-town guests, it is worth considering how they will get to and from the venue, as well as the venue’s proximity to hotels, restaurants, etc. If you choose a location that is located near the airport, chances are transportation, hotels, and food will be easy for your guests. But, if you are in an area farther from the airport, you may have to consider offering a “shuttle service” (recruit some friends!) from the airport or the additional expense of a rental car. (Again, this is YOUR wedding, so do not let your this control your planning!)

location: Would you prefer an indoor or outdoor ceremony? If you choose an outdoor ceremony, what is your contingency plan if it rains?

your budget

what is included: A complete venue will cost more up front, but may end up being significantly less and just be an easier experience than doing a cheaper venue and having to hire 5 other vendors just to decorate the space.

BE TRUE TO YOU! Choose something you and your fiancé absolutely LOVE!

early wedding planning

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix It Up! (Venue Part 2)

Post coming soon with some SoCal venue recommendations! In the meantime, I just want to encourage you to not feel confined to a “traditional” wedding venue. You DON’T have to do what everyone else does, and you can make a non-wedding venue look gorgeous if that’s what you want for your perfect day! (And that being said, if you want a traditional venue, go for it!) National Parks– like Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Sequoia— are some fun ideas. Another neat idea is renting out a cute AirBnB! This is an amazing way to save some money, and you have a lot of freedom to do what you want with the venue.

Choose Your Bridal Party

Go ahead & start thinking about who you want by your side on your big day! While you don’t need to have this 100% figured out off the bat, it’s a good idea to start deciding on your maid of honor, since she will help you with a lot of the other wedding planning aspects and can take a huge weight off your shoulders. Remember again– this is YOUR day! Choose people in your bridal party who you want to be there with you, not someone you feel obligated to have there.

early wedding planning

Choose Your Photographer 😉 Part 1: Style

Okay, so my personal favorite part! Your photographer is often one of the first vendors you choose, since many couples opt for professional engagement photos.

The first thing to decide on is STYLE! There are a lot of AMAZING photographers out there, but we all do have our own styles. If you love dark and moody and choose a photographer with a light and airy style, you will not end up with photos you like.

Another big aspect to consider is whether you will still like their photos in 50 years! While it’s cool to have some trendy photos now, you don’t want to look back on your photos and wonder “What was I thinking?” ha! Another thing to consider is asking to see a full gallery! Of course, we share our best work in our galleries and on Instagram, but how does your potential photographer capture the entire day? Can they shoot indoor and outdoor? Night? (Keep in mind when looking at full galleries that every wedding is different, and couples choose different places to invest! Look beyond the bride’s dress or the design choices, and just try and evaluate the photographer!)

early wedding planning

Choosing Your Photographer 😉 Part 2: Overall Experience

Next, reach out to them and check on their prices. One big thing to consider is what is included in their packages, as well as what their “add on” options are. I would also recommend meeting in person or hopping on a video call! Personal demeanor is a HUGE aspect of a photographer– after all, this person will be around you most of your wedding day– so you want someone you connect with, who you feel like is your cheerleader, and someone who loves your love story!

Your experience will be SO much better if you feel like you have a friend rather than a vendor showing up with a camera. Plus, they’ll be capturing some super intimate moments for you. You want someone you and your fiancé feel comfortable with! Finally, evaluate their “full experience.” Since photographers interact with a lot of other vendors, it’s likely your photographer would be able to help with the early wedding planning process, and may be able to assist in finding venue and vendors.

early wedding planning

More Info

I’m Karissa, a California & Colorado wedding photographer that is so obsessed with my job! I love all my couples to pieces and can’t believe I have the honor of capturing the best day of their lives! *pinching myself everyday* Besides delivering beautiful photos that are true to them, it’s most important to me that their day is so joyful & stress-free so that they can focus on what truly matters! I’m here to be your photographer + wedding bestie + would love to chat with you! CONTACT ME and let’s connect! 😉 And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram HERE!

Want to see some more of my work? Check out my recent Joshua Tree Elopement Shoot, SoCal Engagement Photos Balboa Park, or this Boulder Colorado Engagement Session! I have tons more resources on my blog for brides-to-be, including Getting a Marriage License in California, Styling for Your Session, and Do I Need a Second Shooter!

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