Recently engaged? Before you send out those save-the-dates or go shopping for your dream dress, you're going to need to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. You may know each other pretty well (you agreed to forever, after all), but when it comes to your wedding, you may have completely different visions. Here are 7 questions to ask your partner before you start planning your wedding.
1. What kind of wedding do you want?
This is probably one of the most important questions to sort through before you do anything else. So after all the excitement settles from your engagement news, sit down just the two of you and talk about what you want the day to look like. While you may be dreaming of a backyard wedding at your childhood home, your partner may be thinking about a black tie affair. Do you want to have a ceremony in a house of worship or at the same location as your reception? If you’re not on the same page about your big day from the very start, you could be in for some unnecessarily stressful conversations.
2. When do you want to get married?
Even if you have your heart set on an October wedding, you might want to double check with your significant other to make sure he/she is on board. If your fiancé loves watching football, a fall wedding might cause a conflict with a big game. Consider when work is busiest (if your partner is a teacher, summer might be a less busy time for him/her), any weather trends (hurricane season will definitely put a damper on your outdoor wedding), holiday weekends (Fourth of July might mean higher hotel rates), and what time sunrise and sunset will fall (this is especially important if you’re planning to have a Jewish ceremony on a Saturday night).
3. Who is going to pay for this?
Some couples are really adamant that they be the ones to pay for their own wedding, while others are fortunate enough to have at least one set of parents that are willing to foot the bill. Either way, you need to figure that major detail out before you start spending money. Even if your parents have offered to help, if you need to go over the budget they give you (by a little or a lot), will they cover the additional expenses? Or will you and your fiancé have to jump in and pay? Also, if your parents are paying for the wedding, will they want to make the final decisions on some or all aspects of the day, will they plan by committee, or will they let you take the reigns regardless of who’s writing the checks? It’s important to know how much money will be coming in, and from where, before you make any big decisions.
4. Are there any specific dates we should avoid?
As you move ahead with looking at venues and booking vendors, keep any important family anniversaries and celebrations in mind. Would your soon-to-be brother-in-law be upset if you hosted your nuptials on his birthday weekend? Do you want to honor your late grandparents by having the same anniversary date? Maybe you have a lucky number or your partner is superstitious about the number 5. Your wedding date is going to stick with you “until death do you part,” so make sure you like the one you pick!
5. Where do you want to host the big day?
If you haven’t decided the where of your wedding, back up and weigh your options. Do you want to keep your nuptials close by to make for easy planning? Have you dreamt about tying the knot in your hometown? Do you want to host a destination wedding? Take all of the possibilities into consideration and be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Think about where your families (both immediate and extended) live when you’re picking the place and try to make sure your nuptials are convenient for your nearest and dearest if you want them all to attend.
6. How many people do you want to invite?
Talking about the guest list early (and often) is oh-so-important part of planning a successful wedding. Ask both sets of parents to make a list of their A-list invites and then sit down with your fiancé to come up with your own list as well. Once you’ve compiled the complete list in one spot, see if it feels right. Are there other people you would like to invite? Is it too big? You’ll need to get a pretty solid idea of your headcount as the size of your guest list impacts the size of your venue as well as the overall cost of the wedding. Assume that about 15-20% of your guests will have to decline the invitation.
7. What’s most important to you when it comes to the little details?
As you start to dive into wedding planning, talk about what elements are on your must-have list and what things you can live without. If your partner just has to have a band or a cigar bar, factor that in your budget. If you have a handicapped family member who needs to be accommodated, pick a venue that meets all your accessibility needs. Make sure you nail these little things down as early as possible so that you can plan accordingly.