For many couples, the decision to marry is the easy part.
Once the excitement of the proposal wears off, panic often sets in.
There's a wedding to plan, and you don't have a clue where to start.
What's a newly engaged couple to do?
Head to a bridal show.
“Bridal shows are really helpful for collecting inspiration at the beginning of your engagement,” says Omaha wedding planner Candace Kalasky. “See what you're gravitating toward, and then find the common thread among all the things you're attracted to.”
But be selective about who you invite to join you.
“Don't take everybody,” cautions Kalasky. “Take people who understand you and can help you sort out your overall vision for your wedding. Getting everybody's opinion can be overwhelming.”
Bridal couples typically have one or two people as their support crew — that's who you want by your side as you browse exhibits and meet bridal professionals.
With December being the most popular month for engagements, hundreds of area brides are expected Sunday at the Omaha World-Herald's Wedding Essentials Bridal University at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. More than 75 area wedding pros will be on hand to introduce themselves and their products and services. In addition, the latest bridal wear will be showcased in First-Look Runway shows throughout the day.
Before entering full wedding planning mode, Kalasky encourages couples to answer one basic question: “What is this day about?”
The next step is to figure out how much you're willing and able to spend, and who will pay for what. These can be hard conversations, but the answers are key to minimizing stress and tension.
Once spending limits are established, the guest list should be addressed. But that's no easy task, either.
“Most of the time that's the biggest stressor,” Kalasky says. “It's a painful exercise for most couples because you have to make discriminating choices.”
Disagreements about numbers and who to include on the list are common among the engaged couples that Bill Rucker sees as a marriage and family therapist with Family Enrichment Inc. “How big a wedding will be and who will pay for what” are common points of contention.
What's the big deal? The number of invitees factors into almost every consideration after the wedding date, including the venue, invitation design, reception menu, etc.
Your best cost-saving strategy is to control the number of people you invite. CostOfWedding.com estimates that each guest adds $124 to $152 to the overall cost of a wedding.
Lynne Rustad of Ellynne Bridal in Lincoln is an advocate of holding the guest list to “the huggables” — people the bridal couple knows well enough to greet with a hug.
“Be honest with those who don't receive an invitation,” advises Theresa Farrage, event coordinator for the Scoular Ballroom in Omaha. “If they ask, politely respond that you wanted to invite them, but you couldn't due to budget and space constraints.”
Rucker says his job often boils down to helping couples focus on what's important. And it's not the trappings of the day. “Fantasy sometimes gets in the way of reality,” he says.
And every family has differences. “Give a little, and don't try to win arguments that nobody is going to win.”
Beware of nightmares, Kalasky warns. “That's your first sign of subliminal stress.”
In fact, it's not uncommon for a wedding vendor to tell brides, “If you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something, email me.”
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THE BASICS OF THE BUDGET
According to recent research by CostOfWedding.com, couples who live in or travel to Douglas County in Nebraska spend between $17,732 and $29,553 on average for their wedding. That compares with a national average of $25,000 to $26,000, according to The Wedding Report, the Tucson, Ariz.-based wedding market research company.
Couples can spare themselves a good deal of stress simply by setting a spending limit early in their planning process, and then sticking with it.
To establish your magic number, look at your designated savings, contributions from parents or other relatives and what of your regular income you can devote toward the wedding without sabotaging your day-to-day budget.
When you've come up with a number, plug it in a budget formula to see how much you have to spend in each area of your wedding. Follow these estimates to get started. Remember, the figures are just estimates, so adjust as necessary to fit your wedding's needs:
» Reception – 50 percent
» Music – 10 percent
» Flowers – 10 percent
» Wedding attire – 10 percent
» Photo/video – 10 percent
» Stationery – 5 percent
» Miscellaneous – 5 percent
Source: CTW Features
Correction: An earlier version of this story attributed research to an incorrect source. CostOfWedding.com was the correct source.