In this, our debut episode of "Let's Talk Weddings" we are talking about what to do first after getting engaged. In this episode titled "You're Engaged! Now What?", Alicia from A Day in May Events walks through the very first steps of how to get your wedding planning off on the right foot with 4 core "pillars" or cornerstones of wedding planning.  

Check out our conversation with Alicia below who spoke with Josh and John from our team.


John: “Well Lish thanks for being here with us today. I've been looking forward to talking with you… so thank you.”

Alicia: “Me too! It's so great to see you guys… and also have a chance just to sit down instead of running around an event together.  I'm looking forward to chatting and talking shop!”

John: “And I'm excited because this session is going to be one of those sessions that anyone planning a wedding (at any stage)… you pretty much have to go through (or would recommend going through) the steps you're going to talk about… is that correct would you say?”

Alicia: “Absolutely! Being engaged is about enjoying your engagement, not just planning the wedding. So we want to give them some tools to get there.”

John: “What are the things you should do when you're starting?”

Alicia: “So, at A Day in May Events, we start with four topics, and these become the cornerstones.  Just like building a house, right? You can't build a foundation unless you have four corners to build upon.”

  1. So we start with our guest count
  2. We start with the date, or approximate idea of what that date might be
  3. Your location or venue, where you want to host the celebration
  4. And then your budget, or your overall investment commitment.

Alicia: “And what do those look like? This is our four cornerstones we start with.”

Josh: “So let's unpack those a little bit. When you start with your guest count, do you invite everybody? Or how do you stop?”

Alicia: “That's a really great question Josh. Well, you also want to set some parameters, right? … on your in-laws… or your family for who they might want to invite… but that's a great question.”

“We always say to start big!  Make a guest list and think about everybody who's been a part of your life, and don't hesitate to include them on that list. Chances are you're going to end up with a number that maybe is a little bit bigger than you wanted to, but we build everything in an Excel document for a reason… and that's because you can sort it, and you can also prioritize.”

“So start with yourself or your fiancé… make a list of those people from your family, friends, college roommates, co-workers… put everybody on that list to start. Then think about whether or not you're going to extend [to] family members,  (either your future in-laws, or your own family) whether you're going to extend potential guests invites to them as well. As I said, I think you'll find that that number is going to increase pretty quickly, but it's always better to have a list of that, and plus you've got a Christmas card list [started], if you can't invite everybody.”

“Start with putting everybody down first. And then I think that kind of has a natural segment into what is the reality that you actually want to have, right? So from your guest list, (depending on your location), where are your guests travelling to? Where do you want to host your day? That's also going to be a factor that you want to take into consideration about what your physical venue can allow. What is the maximum occupancy you can have. Or, if you're having a wedding at home, how big is the land that you can put a tent on or how many people do you want to celebrate with? [That is] another way to look at it too.”

John: “And how do you go about picking a date or time or season? Is there a formula that you [use]? How do you help people through that?”

Alicia: “Yeah, that's such a great question John. We find that a lot of our couples come to us and they have this… [well…] they already had this vision… and it's typically tied to that location that they want to get married in. And so, since we're in Northern Michigan right now, many people like to come here when it's 75 and Sunny… and that perfect “up north day”. Well, there's only so many of them. So as we look at our seasonality, if they want to come [and] have their wedding in the summer, that does kind of limit us obviously to the number of weekends that are available.”

“When we start to couple that with how do we pick then, maybe what date works best… we recommend to our couples to be flexible. If you don't have the availability to have your wedding at home… where you can choose any day, time of the week, or month that you want to have your celebration… you're often limited [by] those other couples who've already made those choices and maybe [have] occupied that venue at a certain time. So I recommend for them to stay optimistic, right? Keep their options open in terms of what works best for your work schedule.”

“[For example], if you really want to have a Saturday wedding because maybe most of your guests are traveling and it might be difficult for them to take a Friday off, then [mindful] of that. Or, maybe you really want to have a Friday wedding so that way you can enjoy the rest of your weekend with your guests. So I think keeping a little bit of your options open [will] give yourself an opportunity to be set up for success, versus being disappointed if a date isn't available is always a good thing.”

Josh: “So once you do have a venue booked you kind of have to go back into that guest count, and that I'm sure helps you whittle it down a little bit right?”

Alicia: “You're totally right Josh. We call that “reverse engineering” in wedding planning. So maybe you have your heart set on this amazing venue… you find out it's available, but the guest count is a maximum 150. And you know that guest list I told you to build? … and then your future in-laws have added to… and your families added to… and now you're at 300? Well, guess what? You've got to whittle that guest list down a little bit.”

“So when we also think about the limitations of maybe what that looks like in terms of having to make sacrifices, think about it now is an opportunity to really focus on who you want it your special celebration. There's always time to connect with friends, whether it's picking up the phone or sending a happy birthday message. Don't feel like because you had a connection maybe six, seven, eight years ago that you need to bring that relationship now back to the forefront. It's okay for people to kind of ‘come and go’ into your life. So think about now in the present moment, who’s going to be a really good guest for you and your fiancé to have as you make that commitment of your life together.. and moving forward to who might be a part of your future life as you guys start your new journey.”

John: “And then that all ties into budget I'm assuming right? You want to talk about that? That was the fourth pillar…”

Alicia: “Yeah… budget is my favorite conversation. *laughs* We often use the expression “your investment commitment”. That's another, maybe a little bit softer terminology when you're thinking about that scary “B” or that ‘budget’ word. It's a very codependent relationship between those four things. So between your guest count, your date, your location, and your budget… they all are playing into this algorithm as you go through the planning process.”

“Josh, like you just mentioned this ‘reverse engineering’… those factors come into playing a game of catch together. So when you think you might have your guest count nailed down, you actually might decide that there's a very important piece of that overall “investment commitment” that you want to spend more on because you might really have this amazing videographer that you want to bring on, *everyone laughs* but you need to free up a little bit more monies from some other place because you want to add another resource for a memory that you have. So now you might decide to shave down some of those guests, or you might decide to not necessarily book a certain a-la-carte option with your venue because you want to free up those other resources.”

“Again, planning a wedding is dynamic, right? So it's always changing… every new conversation you have with a vendor about a service that they offer, or maybe a new type of flower that just came on the market that you're in love with… or you just have to have those diamond-encrusted earrings because they go so perfectly with your dress. It's okay to have those feelings of desires that you want to include them.  But take a minute to just re-evaluate what's most important, and make certain to keep your partner in mind throughout all these decisions. I think that's one really important point John when we talk about a budget, is that you're going through this process… this planning process together with your partner… and it's your partner and you that are making those decisions.”

“So being honest, and upfront, and being real is incredibly important. So when you have that venue… and you find the place of your dreams… and they can only accommodate (like I said) that certain number of guests… don't look at that as a limitation. Look at that as an opportunity to be more connected. And now you've set a pillar!  At this point you've set part of that cornerstone in place, and you know that it's not movable. And you can rest assured that now, ‘I've made it through that first step and now I can move on to the next’.”

John: “Wow, we've covered a lot so far… but would you stick around for a ‘part two’ with us?”

Alicia: “I'd love to! It's fun to see you guys, love to talk more.”

John: “And if people want to get a hold of you how best should they do that?”

Alicia: “You can visit our website which is and also we have a contact form there, or feel free to reach us on our office line, which is also there as well.”

John: “Awesome and thanks for tuning in today and be sure to check back as we do part 2 with Alicia at A Day in May Events… and be sure to like, share, and subscribe and thanks for joining us today on Let's Talk Weddings.”

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