I said...YES! Now what??

 

You should definitely take your time celebrating your engagement—but when you're ready to officially start planning, here's how to dive in.

The minute you get engaged, everyone will be asking for your wedding date. But in reality, you won't be able to set an exact date until other major decisions—like choosing and booking your venue. So first, focus on determining a range of dates that'll work for you. The average engagement lasts 12 - 15 months, but also think about what season you'd prefer, any major holidays or family events you'd like to avoid conflicting with, and how long you predict you'll need to plan.

 

Your Wedding Style

 Before you try on a single gown, book a band or sample a bite of cake, look at the big picture and imagine what kind of style and vibe you want to set for your wedding—and where you want to hold it. Close your eyes and picture your fantasy wedding. What do you see? Is it a candlelit ceremony in a mansion? Are you walking barefoot on a beach? While you're picturing your perfect wedding, here are some key questions to consider: Big (everyone you know) or small (just close friends and family)? Outdoors or in? Home (one of your hometowns or your current city) or away (a destination wedding)? Modern, classic, romantic, vintage, rustic or all-out glam? Fancy, casual or somewhere in between?

 

For the LOVE….Set Your Budget!

Sit down with your families and figure out who is contributing and how much. This number will affect every decision and purchase you make. It can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it's better to get it out of the way now so you have a realistic picture about what you can spend. 

Draft a guest list - As you begin to build your guest list, you'll need to consider a number of factors. If you have a particular ceremony or reception site in mind, for instance, you're going to be limited by how many people it can accommodate (you can't squeeze 300 people into a lighthouse). Would you rather have quality one-on-one time with each guest or throw a once-in-a-lifetime party for all your friends and family? If mom and dad won't budge about inviting throngs of friends and family, you'll have to hear them out—especially if they're footing a major part of the bill. Keep in mind that more guests means higher prices, as catering costs are generally calculated on a per-head basis. So, in addition to location, your budget will have a big influence on the size of your guest list.

 

Choose Your Wedding Party

Now it's your turn to propose to your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Remember, the earlier you ask, the sooner you can ask for their help. Keep in mind that your wedding party is agreeing to spend their money and donate their time—be considerate and kind by informing everyone about all your plans (including costs for attire, bachelor and bachelorette parties and more), showing them a good time and making sure they know how much you appreciate them. 

Hire Priority Vendors

If you just can't imagine getting married without a certain local DJ playing at the reception or a photographer whose work you love, you better act fast. Many top wedding photographers, planners and other in-demand vendors are hired more than a year in advance, and once they're booked, they're gone. Figure out what your highest wedding priorities are, whether it's amazing catering or exquisite flowers, and snatch up the vendors whose work you love.

Shop Dresses & Say “YES” To The Dress!

Begin your search by browsing wedding dresses online and in magazines.  Be sure you are saving your favorites—you'll want to take them with you to your appointments. Then, learn the lingo before setting foot in a wedding dress boutique. Understand silhouettes, necklines, trains and hues that might flatter you. The season will also affect your choice. Getting married in the sweltering summer? Go with lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, linen or organza. Having a winter wedding? Brocade, faux fur and velvet will keep you warm. Satin, shantung, silk and tulle are perfect year-round.

Celebrating my 7 wonderful years!

After 16 years, it’s a wonderful thing to say I have loved every moment of being a wedding and event planner. That’s not to say that I’ve been in love with every moment. There have been times when I’ve wanted to walk away and take a break. And there are moments I love LBD so much it can literally bring me to tears.

There have been moments that make me angry, or even sad. Moments that make me question whether having this company is worth it. For me, in those moments - I had two choices:

1) Work past it and be the strong, confident business owner that I am

OR

2) Sit back and allow myself to think that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’ve gone to both places and I’ll tell you, the first one has been my lifeline.

There are many things that I have learned in the past 16 years of working in the event industry, and in the past 7 years of running my own business. I would say the biggest ones are not taking things too personal, trusting people, getting the respect I deserve and learning its important to have someone to lean on. 

To be frank - I’ve been talked about and stolen from, and it sucks. There’s absolutely nothing about it that feels good. I’ve also had vendors, brides, parents, and clients not treat me all that well and trust me, no part of that feels good either. The hard truth is if someone wants to take something from you, they will and if someone wants to backstab you, they will. But you know what?  I have always had a choice. I  can get over it, take the higher ground, and handle it with grace. Or I can just keep adding to the negative. I love my business way more than I dislike what these people do.

There was a time when I burnt bridges too but what’s most important is, I also went back and repaired them. You see, no one is perfect and by accepting my fault it made me a better person and a better business owner.

One thing I love in all of this is that I found business besties. That’s right. I also refer to them as “my tribe.” They are some of the best people that have ever happened to me and LBD (aside from starting it and succeeding — cause that’s definitely pretty cool!). They are all small business owners (just like me) and sometimes I just need someone to talk to, someone that I can just vent to and say “I’m stressed,” or “I got an amazing client today.” I need my business besties because they get me, they can relate to me, they encourage me, and most importantly they talk me out of any type of “self pitty” I have ever managed to talk myself into. Because, lets face it, somedays rejection is harder than others. It never gets easy when people tell me no, when they hire someone else instead of me, or if they say that my prices are ridiculous. I’m a believer in “you get what you pay for” and I know 100% that my prices fall fairly in line with the market I am in.

I no longer allow anyone to demean what I do. I have zero problems gracefully correcting someone if they are unkind or unsupportive. I can honestly say that I built Little Black Dress from scratch and that I make good money doing what I love. I’m proud of what I’ve built, and what I’m still building. It really doesn’t matter if people don’t get it. The proof is in the pudding which is enough comfort and encouragement for me.

Being an event planner is not easy. I love it though and I’m definitely sticking around. I hope I have Little Black Dress for another 7 years, and then, who knows?  For right now I am committed to learning new things, loving my new projects and making sure I am never really 100% content. I’m never going to allow myself to stop moving or growing. I figure if I do I will either start hating it, getting bored, or burn out. And God help me if it were to be all three. It’s important to me that I am always looking at better ways to do my work, better ways to be a better boss/leader, and better ways to run LBD.

There is so much beauty in what I do each day! I get to choose. I get to decide each day what my work will look like, how I will make it happen, the time I want to put into it and most importantly for me, the people I want to surround myself with.

I’m proud of what I have – big or small. Every year is a learning experience and every client is a choice for me now. I have made amazing relationships with some of the families and clients I have had the privilege of working for and for that, I am thankful. They are my cheerleaders, and they are the ones who have helped me build the fantastic reputation I have in the state of West Virginia and Ohio.

Happy 7 years to Little Black Dress and this quote puts into words how I feel about my journey. “ Instead of wishing you were someone else, be proud of who you are. You never know who was looking at you wishing they were you.”

OxOx,

Misti