Whether you start planning your wedding the second you get engaged or opt to wait a few weeks as you practice introducing your boyfriend as your fiancé, there really is a right way to kick off the process—and it’s not by heading to the bridal salon to try on gowns! Instead, there are a few questions you’ll need to answer together before you get down to the wedding details that will help set you up for success. With more than a decade of weddings under her belt, Aimee Dominick, president of A. Dominick Events, has a set of five tried-and-true questions you’ll want to discuss ASAP that are guaranteed to make the whole wedding-planning process a little bit easier.
1. What is your budget?
“Whether or not you have a planner, you can’t make any decisions or hire any vendors without knowing what you want to spend,” says Dominick. Discuss what is realistic, based on what you’re able to contribute (as well as what any family members may be chipping in), and use that overall number to help guide you as you start to check off big-ticket items like venue rentals and catering.
2. What is your vision?
This is a fun one! “Compile images and inspiration that speak to the look you’re hoping to achieve,” Dominick suggests. These could be pictures from wedding websites, home-decor or fashion magazines, or destinations you really love. “We pride ourselves on creating an event that is authentic to the couple, so defining how you see your celebration early on will help dictate the details that are included throughout the planning process.”
3. What are your priorities?
In addition to how you want your wedding to look, you as a couple (and also as individuals within the couple) will have things you care about more than others. “Ask yourselves questions about what matters most, whether it’s a specific live band or photographer, as well as what matters less. Knowing where you’re comfortable spending less (such as choosing simple save-the-dates instead of an elaborate design) will allow you to budget more money for the things you really care about,” Dominick explains.
4. What are your family dynamics?
Though not directly related to the look of your wedding, having a grasp of your family dynamics will help you, your planner, and your vendors avoid causing any undue stress. For example, if your planner knows your parents are divorced and are not on good terms, she can make sure to seat them far enough apart, as well as help you figure out how to have planning conversations that won’t ruffle too many feathers.
5. Are you having a first look?
Discussing your first look before you start planning? Yup, it’s worth considering! “Knowing whether you’ll be taking photos before the ceremony or if you’re waiting to do them all once you’ve said ‘I do’ will impact the timing of your entire day,” says Dominick. It affects everything from how early your photographer should arrive to when your bouquet needs to be ready to when the first hair and makeup appointment should be scheduled. She makes a good point!