Recently engaged? Here are the essentials to get planning!


Photo credit: RLR Studio, Framingham, MA

So exciting! You are engaged…now what!?!?  After a recent discussion with a newly engaged bride, it got me thinking about the burning question for all newly engaged couples, “What do I do first?”  This bride (who had only been engaged for less than a week) was asked by her fiancé to just enjoy being engaged before starting the planning.  This conversation brought me back to my own engagement nearly 20 years ago.  My husband, then fiancé, had one request…to enjoy being engaged for a month before starting the planning.  A month???  That just seemed like FOREVER!  If I am being honest, my mom and I began making a guest list, and thinking of all the places we could get married, right away.  So our non-planning lasted all of a week.

I get calls from people all the time (three in the past week) that have gone something like this: “I just got engaged a week ago…”,  “My daughter got engaged over the weekend…” and my favorite “I know my daughter will be engaged soon…” .  I get it!  It’s unbearably exciting but let’s just slow this all down a bit!  You don’t have a date and you are calling a day of coordinator?  Unfortunately, we need to know when you are getting married before telling you if we are available!

This short list isn’t meant to be a guideline from soup to nuts (trust me that would be much longer and more intricate list).  This is meant to help you get things started without reinventing the wheel.  So, consider the following:

  • Establish a budget – Everyone has a number in mind.  It’s a great starting point and will help you stay focused when it comes to the choices you make.  If a $10,000 band is unrealistic, perhaps a $3,000 DJ is a better choice. There is a lot you can do with that extra $7,000.  And, bottom line, the best way to get your budget down is to cut your list.
  • Create a guest list – This is absolutely necessary before you start looking a venues (unless you fall in love with a venue that is too small and you are willing to cut your list back to have your dream wedding).
  • Choose a date –  If you don’t have an actual date in mind, narrow it down to a month or a season. Also keep in mind what is happening that time of year, check the town / city you are getting married and keep in mind things like sporting events, concerts and holidays.
  • Begin your venue search – Don’t limit yourself, but no need to see 30 either. Narrow down your list based upon availability and capacity.  Weigh all your options and keep an open mind.  I suggest seeing a variety of types of venues, it helps make your choice that much clearer!
  • Shopping for your wedding dress  – This one may land 1/2 way down the list, but depending on when you get engaged and when your wedding is, this should be pretty high up on your list.  If your dress is being custom made, it can take up to 9 months!
  • Book Vendors – Music and hair and make up are first up because they are always the most demanding!  Then florist, transportation, cake, “day of” coordinator etc. Certainly do your due diligence, but also be respectful of vendors. Don’t spend a lot of their time looking for extensive quotes. If you book them, that will be part of the process. And, once you choose your vendors, be sure to let the others know.
  • Save The Dates –  If you have a lot of guests or your wedding is set on a holiday weekend,  I highly recommend a save the date be sent out at the 6 month mark.
  • Invitations – I would recommend starting this process around 6 months before your wedding.  This may seem like along time, but it gives you the opportunity to decide on the look and style of your invitation, without feeling pressure as well as understand all your options…letter press, handmade, engraved, contemporary… because let’s be honest, the options are endless! Therefore, it will likely take time for you to narrow your search and decision down.

Enjoy every moment and don’t lose sight of what you are doing, why and with who!  Stay focussed but have fun!  Make your wedding personal and don’t worry about what the trends and what every else is doing. Happy planning!


Caitlin + John- Private Residence, Hanover, MA

Caitlin and John were married at their very own home in Hanover, MA, which just happened to have the perfect spot for a tent, lawn ceremony and a horse barn turned bar and photo booth (yes horse stalls do indeed make for a perfect space for a photo booth).  And while getting married at home isn’t for everyone, it without a doubt was the right choice for this dynamically handy and creative couple.   Caitlin defines the term DIY and lets just say that John is a very handy guy to have around the house.  She is artistic, creative and has the most artful eye while John was able to build and construct all of Caitlin’s visions.  Put these two together and you have the most elegant, well thought out, rustic wedding with the personalized decor to go with it.

John and Caitlin decided on a first look followed by bridal party and family photos.  These all took place at their neighbors barn across the street. Once pre-ceremony photos were complete, the bridal party returned to their home, where Caitlin and John were married under a beautiful arbor (yes, this was handfully created by John under Caitlin’s direction and watchful eye).

Cocktail hour took place on the lawn and pool patio,  and the decor certainly not overlooked.  Drink and appetizer menus were displayed on large chalkboards (oh…and these weren’t store bought…they were legit barn wood, re-purposed signs), and seating assignments doubled as decor when hand hand calligraphed chalkboards signs were hung on the doors to the shed (Yup, why not? The shed was in the perfect spot and yes, it looked fabulous!).  Beside the shed was a welcome table which carried through their rustic flair with a metal C&J sign, as well as a vintage suitcase used to hold gifts.

The decor of the reception tent took after the rustic barn design, with homemade burlap table runners, hurricane candles, and rocks that were hand engraved into table numbers (Caitlin also has a stone engraving business), chalkboard menu signs (handwritten by Caitlin), and tons of lanterns…the tent looked amazing!

And because there was a tent, of course there was a rain and thunder storm!  But that didn’t stop their guests from having the most amazing, celebratory night. Surrounded by delicious dinner stations,  a multitude of desserts and fun dancing, we loved watching Caitlin and John make so many memories on their special night!  Oh…and if you happen to need any handmade signs or rock engravings, Caitlin is your girl!  Please look at her Facebook page. You won’t be disappointed!  O’Connor Custom Stone  Oh, and one last thing…Caitlin is sooooo lucky because not only did she married the man of her dreams but she didn’t have to go through all the hullabaloo to change everything since they have the Same. Last. Name. Love it!!!! Happy anniversary to the O’Connors!

(Unfortunately, the photographer for this wedding was unresponsive to my requests for photos of this insanely beautifully created DIY wedding (which us totally a shame).  Luckily, I was able to go back into the Facebook archives and retrieve this collage showcasing a snapshot of Caitlin’s beautiful work. The photos were taken with my iPhone. Unlucky for our readers is that you will have to try your best to visualize the rest.


Event Coordinator: The Day Of

Caterer: Family Crest

Hair: Zona Salon

Makeup: Kristen Paluzzi

Transportation: JB Livery

Officiant: Justice of the Peace Rob Purpura

Cake: Fratellis

Ceremony and Cocktail Music: 2nd Chance Band

Reception Music and Lighting: Epic Entertainment

Photographer: The Feds

Florist: Stems in Style

Rentals: Elegant Restrooms