December 4

Making the Easy, Early Decisions

YES-NOCards by A Two Pipe Problem Letterpress

To my mind, there’s three distinct stages of wedding planning. This model is totally something I made up, but if it catches on, we’ll call it the Hen Wedding Planning Doctrine:

Pre-engagement

The decisions you’ve made about your wedding—together or separately—before ever becoming engaged. Maybe you decided as a young girl that you must have a fall wedding. Or it’s important to you and your family to have a traditional Catholic ceremony. Or perhaps you and your S.O. talked early on about what city you’d be married in. These are more like dreams than decisions, even though they might fall into place later.

Early decisions

The stuff you nail down right after getting engaged. Maybe it’s the location, if you didn’t tackle that pre-engagement, or it could be the ceremony venue, date, general budget or how big the guest list should be. These are the must-haves, must-bes, must-dos and must-spends. A couple in the Early Decisions probably hasn’t booked any vendors, but has a good idea of what some of their wedding will look like.

Everything else

After all the easy, instinctual, necessary, we-gotta-have-this choices comes everything else. This is where you actually commit to those early and pre-engagement decisions by booking vendors, then continue on with decisions like what to eat, or what the bridesmaids will wear, or where people are going to drop their cards when they enter the reception. The bulk of wedding planning falls into this stage, and it follows you all the way through to the wedding day and even after (Thank You cards, anyone?).

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Bunny Bear Press/Etsy

Mr. Rooster and I had four years together to work on the pre-engagement, plus a few days’ vacation in Disney World where he proposed to talk out a few other early decisions. So within a week of being engaged, we had a lot decided:

  • Atlanta: We met in Atlanta, we live in Atlanta. We love it here. No brainer. And while our families aren’t in Georgia, Atlanta is a natural midpoint between Roo’s hometown in Michigan and my family in Miami, Florida. We’re excited, too, to share our new hometown with our friends and family over the wedding weekend.
  • Secular Ceremony: Neither Roo or I are religious at all, nor were we raised in any religion by our families. So we’ll be having a secular ceremony that’s personal and focuses more about making a promise to each other rather than God.
  • A Tight Budget: We’re paying for most of the wedding by ourselves, and unless we get lucky in the lottery, that means working with a budget that’s sizably smaller than the average wedding in Georgia.
  • Less than 100 Guests: That budget decision helped us figure out that our attending guest count would have to be around 80 people, from an invite list of around 100 (since 15%-20% will RSVP “No”).

These were all easy or necessary choices for us, but everything else—the date, the venue, the colors, the theme—was up in the air. Having a short list of early decision must-haves leaves us a lot of freedom, but it also leaves us with lots of tough choices to make. I know indecisive me has her work cut out for her.

What choices were made easy and early for you? Do you think its better or more complicated to have more freedom in planning a wedding?

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