Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: The First Steps

I am by no means a wedding planning expert. I had no idea what I was doing going into this and I hope it will be the only wedding I ever plan (for myself). This is just some of our experiences with planning.

Our First Steps:

1. Announce your Engagement!

Cody and I got engaged in Las Vegas. He had spoken to my parents and his mom in advance. So immediately after the actual proposal, we called them to confirm all went as planned. Next, I wanted to tell my sister, so we went to find her and I just waited to see how long it took her to notice my ring. So funny! I then started calling and texting some friends and we met up with others so I got to inform them in person. But we were also in the midst of celebrating so I know I didn't get to everyone I wanted to.

As I was about to leave Vegas to fly back to Minneapolis, Cody asked if he could put our engagement on Facebook and I told him to go ahead. Honestly, I wish I would have been a little more careful about making sure I told everyone. I know I like to hear from close friends personally. But it's really a small part of the process and I don't think anyone was seriously offended.

I also decided not to post a picture of my ring on Facebook. I think it's a little tacky. I do not judge people for doing it because I was obsessed with my ring, too. But it's just not what the proposal is all about.

Of course it said my maiden name back then.

2. Introduce Your Families

I know a lot of people have already done this by the time they are engaged, but we hadn't! Cody's mom and sisters came to the Cities and we all had lunch at my parents' house. It went great!

3. Set the Date

We met and got engaged on the same weekend one year apart. Therefore, we were immediately interested in getting married that weekend the next year. That happens to be a weekend that all teachers in Minnesota have two extra days off of school (thus why I was able to travel the same weekend, two years in a row) and it's my personal theory that many teachers want to get married that weekend (if not during the summer, duh), to take less time off of work. Everything was completely booked that weekend.

I teach during the summer so it isn't a much less busy time for me during the school year. Plus, Cody and I both hate being hot. We just never pictured getting married during the summer. So, if we wanted to get married before then it was going to be a quick engagement. We decided that fall of the next year seemed best.

Other than that, it was totally dependent on what was available for venues!

3. Start a Guest List

We created a Google Doc spreadsheet (more on this later, but Google Docs was incredible for wedding planning) and just started listing. We started with family and "must invite" people. We also opened it up to our parents who added a bunch of people. This was great because we later used it to gather addresses for Save the Dates and invitations, gifts we'd gotten, and checking off thanks you's sent.

It's a good idea to have a pretty firm number in mind so that you can find an appropriate venue. We had what people referred to as a small wedding. I thought it was funny because 120 people was definitely plenty for us. But, I know some people that have had well over 300 guests. We don't have very big families and having a "smallish" number kept a lot more options open for us.

4. Select a Venue

This needs to be done early, at least where we live because things book up FAST. We started out wedding planning with a small budget in mind. We started looking at some different venues that were very affordable. But after talking with my parents, we were able to set our sights a little higher.

Factors to consider:
- Do you want to get married in a church?  Nope. My dad was marrying us and is a judge.
- How many people do you need to fit? We estimated about 140
- On what day of the week do you want to be married? Saturdays book up the earliest, then Fridays.
We really wanted a Saturday since we had people traveling from out of town.
- Do you want to travel between the ceremony and reception venues or keep it all in one place?
I'm so glad we stayed in one place since we had a surprise snowstorm on our wedding day!
- Do you have a certain caterer that your heart is set on? Some venues have regulations about the caterers you can use.
- Does the venue allow you to stock your own bar? This is a HUGE money saver.
This is something we realized in hindsight :)

McNamara Alumni Center: University of Minnesota

The first venue we checked out was an alumni center where I went to graduate school. We'd get a small discount for my alumni status and the large reception area was incredible. However, because of our number of guests, this section was way too large, and the smaller reception area was totally boring.

Millennium Hotel: Downtown Minneapolis

I was really impressed by this venue. There ceremony would have been in the dome, as pictured below. Then there was also a large reception area behind this where all of the tables would be for dinner. Afterward, the dome area would be converted to the dance floor. When we went to look at this venue, they did an event where you could also sample food from their caterer. They also packaged everything (food, bar, venue) into one fee. And it was reasonable. We definitely almost got married here.

James J. Hill Reference Library: Saint Paul

Once we found the library and visited, there was no comparison. I'm so glad that we decided to go with this one because it was incredible.

Photos from our wedding

5. Attend a Wedding Fair

We went to the Unveiled Bridal Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. At that point we'd already made some decisions but it's a ton of fun to wander around and get ideas for decor, sip champagne, and sample food and desserts. I went with Cody and my Maid of Honor (my sister).

This bridal show gave you cute stickers to identify Bride, Groom, MOH, etc.

My very first link up!


  1. I LOVE your venue! Isn't it funny how people consider that to be a "small" wedding? Our wedding was considered small too and we invited 160. Only about half came because we had it in Charleston where we just moved, so every single person was from far away. Luckily that's what we anticipated- if everyone RSVP'd yes it wouldn't have worked!

    You should link up with today, it's where I link my wedding posts every Wednesday =)

  2. Great tips! All three of those venues look amazing!!

  3. Great list, thanks for linking up with me and Macy for Wedding Wednesday today. We did ours a little backwards and chose the venue first and date second, so we could have it where we wanted, but I love that you had such a special date to your!!

  4. I'm anticipating an engagement and have been kinda obsessed researching wedding things. Many times I've thought about how I will organize my guest list, addresses, and so on. Haha google docs is a good idea

  5. 120 people is small?? 😊 we had 66 !!

  6. Your venue is amazing! I wish we had a better idea at the "list". My husband asked his friends for addresses for invites before we even made a list :/ I definitely didn't invite a lot of people because of that. It would have been so out of hand. We invited 216, but had 150 come. Always expect 30% or so not to be able to come. And a few last minute cancellations due to illness. We had to bite that expense, but it happens!

  7. i totally agree about putting a picture of the ring on facebook. i'm australian, i was in the US when we got engaged, i called my mum immediately, told her not to tell anyone.. woke up to all my family congratulating me on FB and all my american friends and future in laws SUPER mad about it. sigh. oh well.
    i think 'smaller' weddings are definitely better ;) i had an excel spreadsheet for everything lol