The Big Fake Wedding Raleigh is only a couple days away! In preparation, we’d like to take a minute to introduce you to Meagan, our day-of coordinator for our event this Thursday! Meagan is on the blog today to share some of her wisdom on next steps after the ring. So grab a cup of coffee and prepare to be inspired!

As someone who just recently planned her own wedding, I’m all too familiar with that feeling of panic that starts to set in after you’ve gotten a fresh manicure, ordered yourself some “Feyonce” swag, and realized that you’ve got no idea what to do next. Here are some of my tried and true insider tips to get you started.

Set a budget

I know, this is no fun, but it is SO important to establish sooner rather than later. Talk to your parents, his parents, & each other to determine who will pay for what. Gone are the days when you can just expect your parents to foot the bill, so you need to know what you’re working with before you blow your budget on 3K worth of peonies.

Pick Your Priorities

I always tell my couples to rate their top 3 priorities before they spend any money. Are you determined to get married on Saturday May 19th, because it’s the anniversary of your first date? Do you follow a planner or photographer on Instagram that you low key want to be besties with and they just have to help plan your big day? Rate those top 3 priorities, and when things like wedding favors, photo booths, and all of those other expenses pop up, it helps you to remember what is most important to you as a couple.

Prepare for the Pinterest Letdown

Ladies, I love Pinterest as much as the next gal, but believe me when I tell you that those fully draped chandelier tents and farm tables filled with gorgeous china and colored glassware probably isn’t going to fit into a budget of less than $20K. That’s not to say that beautiful details like that can’t be integrated into your day if you have a smaller budget, but you just may not be able to have ALL of the details that you have pinned to your board currently. Pinterest can however, be an awesome visual aid for your florist, planner, and rental company when you’re trying to bring your design ideas to life.

Start the Guest List Conversation

Before booking your venue, you need to know how many guests that you are trying to accommodate. If your dream venue holds less than 100, & your mom hopes to to invite everyone from your book club & your Pre-K teacher, you’ll probably need to re-evaluate. If the bride & groom are paying for the wedding themselves, they will have more of a say in who is cut from the list, but it’s still an important conversation to have.

Learn the Lingo (or hire someone who does)

One of the biggest mistakes I see couples make is signing contracts & assuming that they’re getting services that they aren’t. For example, some DJ’s list that they will ‘coordinate your reception’. That means that they will be the MC for the night, not that they will decorate, check in with your photographer, & help clean up at the end of the night. So when your venue tells you that you need a day of coordinator, it’s easy to assume that your DJ would be handling these things when they aren’t. This is nothing against DJ’s, it’s just that different wedding vendors use similar lingo for different things! If it’s not in your budget to hire a full-service planner, I always recommend that couples at least select a coordination package that includes a contract review service, so your planner can ensure that you’ll be fully covered for the big day.

There is always a seemingly endless to do list when you get engaged, and it is so easy to get overwhelmed. The most important thing to remember is that this process is supposed to be fun, and that there are people out there who are more than willing to help throughout the planning process to make things easier on you. At the end of the day, don’t forget to stay focused on the reason you’re planning all of this, and that your wedding day isn’t the finish line, but the first day of your happily ever after.

Meagan is the owner of Magnolia Grove Weddings & Events, and has been planning weddings for the past 7 years. In addition to coordination services, Magnolia Grove offers baking, calligraphy, decor rentals, and bartending services. When she’s not planning weddings, you can find Meagan shopping online, binge watching Netflix, and cuddling puppies. She met her cute husband on Tinder as the result of a dare, and occasionally he can be found bartending weddings with the Magnolia Grove staff.

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Photos by Kelly, Hillary Jaworski, J Parker Photography, Tiffany Johnson, Vesic Photo

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