Now what comes next? Here’s a brief rundown of some of the steps you may take before you walk down that aisle (or through that field, or across that stage).
Put a ring on it
You don’t need a ring to pop the question, but it helps! Consider your partner’s style, ask friends for suggestions, or get family involved with an heirloom piece — or pieces, for a meaningful custom creation. Commission or purchase wedding bands early enough to make fit adjustments before the ceremony.
Set a budget
Whether you want to keep it small and simple or big and lavish, it’s important to know how much you, your partner and families are comfortable spending. Your final numbers may not be exactly what you started with, but it’s good to set goals that are within your means. If your dreams include a must-have designer dress, top-tier caterer or extravagant venue, set priorities so you can save in other areas. When the time comes, make sure to have cash on hand for service or delivery tips.
Set a date
Have you always envisioned a sparkling winter wedding, or fields of wildflowers in full bloom? Is there a date that means a lot to you, or are you flexible? Other factors for consideration include holidays, family priorities and venue/vendor availability. Off-season dates may come with significant savings, too. The most popular months to marry in Vermont: June, July and August.
Pick your mates
Besides your spouse-to-be, who do you want to share your special day? Crafting the perfect guest list and attendant roster is a delicate art. Start with those most important to you, and build from there. Consider the total number of guests as you search for and secure your venue. It may be helpful to keep an organized list or spreadsheet with names, addresses, plus-ones and contact information that you can refer back to at multiple stages through the planning process.
Pick your place
Locking down your venue early in the planning process is essential. How many people will you invite? Will the ceremony and reception happen in the same place, or do you need a separate spot? Can you stay on site, or will you and your party need other lodging? Will you need to rent a tent, tables and chairs, portable restrooms or flooring? You’ve already got the who and the why; the venue is key for filling out the where, when and how.
Spread the word
Once you’ve got the key elements dialed in, it’s time to share the good news! You can send save-the-dates, but don’t send them to anyone who might not make the final cut. Wedding websites are a great way to share information, and there are many free or paid options available, with all kinds of linked services — registries, vendor reviews, planning tools and more. Your invitations and correspondence help set the tone for your wedding and let guests know what to expect. Other printed pieces you might want include welcome letters, ceremony programs, place cards or table numbers, thank-yous and custom signage.
Set the table
What’s for dinner? You may have a multi-course sit-down affair, buffet stations or appetizers. You can ask guests to indicate dietary restrictions or preferences, and/or work with your culinary team to craft a menu that has something for all tastes. Vermont is known for its amazing food and beverage scene, and it can be easy to create crowd-pleasing options that also happen to be gluten- or dairy-free, for example. Wow your guests and satisfy your cravings with award-winning local cheeses, farm-fresh veggies and meat, or some of the state’s famous brews. Hire a local baker to craft a spectacular cake, pile platters high with fresh doughnuts or surprise your crew with an ice-cream sundae cart — there’s no shortage of delicious treats in the Green Mountain State.
Set the scene
Lights. Camera. Action! Deck your space out with flowers, fabric, lighting, personal touches and more. Beyond the bouquets and boutonnieres, modern couples may choose to have attendants carry wreaths or floral rings, garlands or lanterns. Be sure to check with the venue on house rules for décor and lighting. To capture it all, book your photographer and videographer well in advance. And don’t forget the sound of music, whether it’s a solo ceremony guitar, a full jazz band or a DJ spinning the hits.
Dress to impress
Modern brides and grooms have so many styles to choose from, and whether your style is classic, boho, minimalistic or vintage, pick the dress, suit or outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks. If any part of your wedding is outside, consider skipping stilettos so you don’t sink into the ground. Leave plenty of time for fittings and alterations, and be sure to book hair and makeup artists or salon services well in advance.
Make it legal
You’ve booked all your vendors, your guests are ready to party, your dress is hemmed and your shoes are shined — it’s almost time for the big day! Make sure you’re on the same page with your officiant, who helps to make your union official.