Wedding Bells: Engaged & Inspired

Wedding Bells: Engaged & Inspired

Hi everyone, it’s Alex. As promised, I am kicking off our new Wedding Bells series this month. Not too long ago I got engaged and I am currently in the throws of planning my own wedding. There have been ups, downs, and an endless list of lessons learned and I am excited to share it all with you as I prepare for my August nuptials. Today’s topic: What to do when you first get engaged. Enjoy!

Preparing for a wedding is like a full time job, even with a planner. While I’d love to say that it’s all cake tastings and clinking champagne glasses—in reality it’s a lot of planning, budgeting, along with a few headaches. That’s not to say it’s a terrible process (because it IS fun!), there are just a lot of details (maybe too many) to deal with and it’s important to keep your wits about you or else you could end up on MTV’s True Life: I Am Bridezilla. Nevertheless no planning process is perfect and there will always be mini catastrophes along the way…

Minor Headache Exhibit A: Tablecloths look lovely, however they will inevitably have ugly creases in them when you have a limited amount of time to set up…which is the case with most venues.

Minor Headache Exhibit B: You want to get married in a vineyard but they will not allow a full bar…and one of the groom’s only requirements is a full bar.

Minor Headache Exhibit C: You want to have an evening wedding and your dream venue has a ridiculously early curfew or 8pm sound restriction.

As you can imagine, there is a seemingly endless list of things to decide on and deal with—from linens to lighting to remembering to buy a pretty hanger for that inevitable ghostly hanging wedding gown photo (You know you’ve seen it on Pinterest). But before you so much as spend a dime on your big day (or pin too many images), I learned there is a list of things you must do before the actual wedding planning can commence… So what’s a girl to do when she finds herself sporting a newly acquired sparkler?

My 5 Must-Dos Before You Plan Your I-Dos

  1. Make sure your ring is insured. If not, get it insured—stat!
  2. Set a timeline. The second I got engaged everyone kept asking me if had I set a date yet… This question is inescapable so be sure to have an idea as to when you would like to tie the knot. I suggest picking your favorite season or time of year since you may have to be flexible in case your venue is booked on the exact date you were imagining.
  3. Get inspired! Decide on your style, ideal location, and overall aesthetic. Do you prefer modern, rustic, or uber traditional? I used sites like Pinterest to put together visuals of what I wanted my day to look like. (You can take a peek at my wedding board here.) My favorite websites to browse for inspiration are 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, and Ruffled. Just be forewarned that you can get sucked into these websites for hours on end. There are so many creative ideas out there! Even if you’re not planning a wedding, there are lots of cute décor ideas you can incorporate into your home or even your next birthday party.
  4. Set a budget. Figure out who is contributing to your wedding and how much they can give. This is crucial since it will affect every single decision thereafter. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but you have to get it out of the way as soon as you can so you can get to the fun part—planning!
  5. Draft a guest list. It may seem premature but you need to get a good idea of how many people you will be inviting. This number should be dictated by your budget, first and foremost, and it will affect a number of factors including your venue. It’s also helpful to know that most venues have restrictions on how many guests they can accommodate. For example, my venue only accommodates 200 people so I had to make sure our guest list did not exceed that limit.

Once you’ve checked the above off your list, you’re ready to get started on planning your big day!

As for me, I am getting married in August and am in the midst of planning my wedding with the help of an out-of-this-world-amazing planner, Ashley Bryant of Mein Schatz. From venue scouting to hair trials and everything in between, I’ll be sharing lessons learned, helpful resources, tips, timelines, and updates all along the way in this Wedding Bells series. Plus, if you have any questions, just ask! I’ll be looking forward to helping you solve all of your bridal woes and burning etiquette questions, too.

Whether you’re a bride-to-be, a bridesmaid, or a guest, I’ll do my best to ensure we’re wedding pros by the time I walk down the aisle in August.

In a couple weeks  I’ll share my wedding planning timeline along with a few insider tips on major wedding myths that are completely false.

Are you married? Engaged? In a wedding? Attending a wedding? Tell me in the comments below along with your most pressing questions. Anything goes!

Xx Alex
Team LC

Photo: The Long Haul
Categories: Alex Gariano, Celebrate, Wedding
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  • Sarah Heckle

    My husband and I got married in October of 2011. It was the best day! Looking back, I do wish I would have made everything more simple: less guests, less fuss, and less money! The little details you stress out about before the big day always seem so trivial once you’re a Mrs! Have fun wedding planning!

    Sarah – macarons & outfit :)

  • Amanda Heinz

    I am really looking forward to this series as I am also getting married in August! :)

  • Melissa Panici

    Thanks for these tips! I am not married or engaged yet so this is going to really help me when we do decide to tie the know! Thanks so much Alex!

  • Melissa Panici

    I meant tie the “”Knot””. It’s Monday:/

  • Kaitlyn Lammers

    I am a June 1st bride. I am wondering the correct etiquette on this, so far I’ve just kept my mouth shut but its going to come up sooner or later. My fianc

  • Leanne

    Such a great post. I love wedding ideas!

    Love from South Africa

  • Jordan Weaver

    love this, what an exciting time! congratulations! i got married last spring and have been able to detail some of the ins and outs of wedding planning on my blog Nourish. One of my most practical posts was about choosing your wedding venue. It really helps to get all of the pieces of the puzzle to fit together perfectly. Enjoy!

  • Jesy

    I was married last May. All I can say is shop local!

    You will get the best deals if you are having your wedding locally. I was able to trade some work (I am a graphic designer and seamstress) with small local businesses and get exactly what I wanted while building my local economy.

    I was able to hire a local seamstress to make my dress. It was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t need anything super fancy and was able to have it fit perfect the first time, and she altered it a few days before the wedding for free since I lost 3 inches! and it was exactly what I wanted a unique and beautifully made dress.

    Local florist that didn’t specialize in wedding flowers turned out to be the best decision. We paid $650 instead of $1500 by checking out a small local florist after the first few I checked out couldn’t “”make my budget work””

    All in all I spent way less (5K wedding with 130 people), and didn’t have any real issues once I started shopping locally. Everyone was excited about a wedding and was able to knock a few $$ off items or I ended up doing some mending/alterations or graphic design work for them in trade!

    Don’t underestimate your small businesses and the power of asking nicely.

    Good luck! And remember it’s a day of joy, and your planning should be happy! Don’t freak out, good things come to those who are willing to budge a little and who smile and say Thank You! :)

  • hooleywithaz

    congrats! i got married on june 1 of last year, and we had the time of our lives! we were only engaged for about 7 months, but the short engagement was more than perfect. i agree with you on your first tip: get that ring insured! i was playing with mine during a play, and it flung off right as the lights went down! we found it later, but i would have been even more scared if it hadn’t been insured.

  • Paulina Mo

    Great tips! Something i will def consult when the time comes (and there’s a ring on it 😉 ).

    my style blog:

  • Megan Stites

    Congratulations on your wedding. I’m an October 4th bride myself and can hardly wait. I’m so excited to read this segment and that it’s going on while I’m engaged as well.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Sara

    Hi check this pinterest board out .. Full of ideas for weddings and other events

    Check out my blog

  • Rachel Trampel

    My sister just got engaged in November and she’s made me her personal assistant to all things wedding planning! I’m excited to read more of these posts to help out because honestly I don’t know where to start! She has the venue booked and her colors chosen and my boyfriend (who is also a photographer) took their engagement photos!

    She doens’t have Pinterest, so I have been pinning on a board for her all things wedding related haha

  • torreypines

    I’m getting married around Milwaukee area, possibly Madison WI area. Does anyone know of any creative venues around there? That is the one big thing I can NOT find.

  • Hilary

    I’m very excited for this series. I got engaged in November 2012. I’m planning for my wedding for December 2014. Can’t wait to get lots of tips and tricks :)

    xox Hilary

  • Stacie

    My little sister is getting married soonish, and wants to have a sort-of recommitment ceremony in about two years that everyone can come to (the actual wedding will be small and somehow scheduled around her boyfriend’s basic training and career schooling for the air force). Since we have so much time to plan for the second ceremony, I’m hoping this will be a piece of cake! Can’t wait for more helpful tips. I told my sister the first thing I want to see is a guest list, then we’ll try to pick venues.

  • Shivani Kapoor

    Congratulations, Alex! My mom and I just started a new wedding blog recently…
    You and any other bride-to-be’s should check it out for some different inspiration!

  • summer huffman

    I got engaged last spring (3-30-12) and we plan on getting married in the fall of this year 10-26-13. We are planning a wedding in Gatlinburg,TN, I’m so excited to have my fall wedding it’s nuts!

  • Ashley Ward

    Omg, never would have thought about table wrinkles so far in advance! Thank you!!

  • Ashley Rizzardo

    I remember being a flower girl in my aunt and uncle’s wedding. I don’t even remember everything that went into it. They made it look so easy. Now I see that it probably wasn’t as easy as they made it seem.

  • Rachel

    I am very excited for this series as well!! I just got engaged this past August, and I’m planning a wedding for October 2014! I have already come across some issues!! But I have a HUGE question! Is it too early to buy your wedding dress? AND it’s only online is it too risky?? … Ps it’s only $200….
    Thanks!!! :)

  • Kaitlyn Lammers

    I don’t think it’s ever too early to look for your wedding dress! Most important dress you’ll ever wear! I ordered mine last July for my June 1st wedding and it still has not arrived. But personally, I would be worried about buying a wedding dress oine that you’ve never tried on. It may not fit your body type correctly, or you may decide you liked it better in the picture than you do on you. I speak from experience on that. I had THE dress picked out, went to the bridal boutique to try it on and ended up walking out with a dress with a completely different look. Also, is be skeptical of the quality a wedding dress that’s $200. Wouldn’t want it to fall apart while you’re walking down the aisle! Talk about a disaster!

  • Jennifer Knapp

    Congrats on your engagement! I too am in the middle of planning my wedding (May 24, 2013). I am hoping this might help me sift thru all of the small and minor details still left to address. One thing I wanted to throw out there to all of the brides-to-be regards the dress shopping… The bridal dress market is quite misleading! Don’t panic or have a melt down the first time you put on a wedding dress! They do NOT run true to size and can leave even the thinnest or most fit bride-to-be feeling suddenly a bit self conscious. Embrace your individual beauty and don’t let the dress size dress bring you down (after all it is just a number)! Good luck beautiful brides-to-be! Happy planning and have fun!

  • adrianne

    I am engaged, to be married this October 2013 in Cambria, CA. I am a little bit ahead of the “”normal”” planning schedule and am very thankful for it. If you’re interested, check out our wedding website: (password is rogerthat)


  • My Style Diary

    I am knowhere near getting engaged but I still loved reading this post :)

  • Hannah Miller

    This series has got me super excited! I’m getting married May 24, 2014 and we are paying & planning ourselves! If you have any money saving tips, that would be awesome! :)

  • merc

    I am the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding. Her mother is planning the shower – picking the venue and decor, etc. She is now asking the bridal party for a monetary contribution. What is the proper etiquette in this situation? xo

  • Laura White

    Thanks for the awesome tips! I’ve getting married in September and originally thought that I would purchase my invitations online because I didn’t want to go through the headache BUT… it turns out that I have been busy and will have plenty of time to make my own invitations if I want. I’ve found some GREAT free templates online. My struggle is about where to get good card stock and the printing process. Is an at-home printer good enough? If not, will the printer print on card stock I bring them that is already cut? And, when I get them printed, how should I put them together? Is the three-fold pocket too much for a simple girl? Thanks!!!!

  • polegirl

    wedding planning seems like a huge waste of money. why go to such great lengths to prove to everyone that you love someone? why does anyone else need to be involved if your marriage is between you and your man? i just don’t get it. totally cheesy.

  • Mrs.K

    I am getting married June 1st, 2013 and here are my major problems:

    1.) People saying nasty comments about my fiance’s and my choices. Example, people have said to my face that are wedding colors suck. We chose blue, his favorite color, and yellow which is mine. My guy loves the colors and so do I but everyone just has to tell us their opinion. I just feel it’s other issues under it all. I mean really, are wedding color choices shouldn’t bother you that much.

    2.) People assume either they are invited to the wedding or that they are a part of the ceremony. I just don’t know why people do this, I understand that they are excited and what to be a part of the big day but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Just don’t assume.

    3.) The “”stink face””. The stink face comes out right when either he or I mention an idea about the wedding. After the stink face comes the “”oh no, no.”” Remember it’s not your wedding, so be careful with your reactions and comments.

  • Brittany Ann Kilpatrick

    I’m engaged, but our wedding won’t be happening for a few years so that we can get our finances together and finish college. Are there any things I can do now to plan and think about for my wedding even with it being a few years away?

  • Deanne Castro

    Great ideas!

    For more beauty and fashion inspiration, check out my blog: Today’s post: Neutral Hues Can Be Exciting Too…

    Follow My Fash Avenue on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter: @MyFashAvenue


  • Franci Gire

    Good luck with everything! I’m married and my advice is just to have fun with it, don’t take everything seriously or try too hard. People will have more fun at your wedding if you are having fun :)


  • Julia S

    I am a bridesmaid/maid of honor in 4 weddings this summer!!! (MOH in 2 and bridesmaid in 2.) So far, most of the brides have been chill, but the bride who has a wedding last in the summer is being a bridezilla. She keeps making me feel like I am not helping much (I am MOH in this one too) and I kindly keep reminding her that I have 3 more weddings before her, I go to grad school part time, and work part time, but she is being incredibly controlling. I drove an hour to her wedding location during a snow storm because she was complaining about me not helping and only spent 20 minutes looking around, then drove an hour back in the snow storm. Also, she wants to get her bridesmaid dresses from a location that’s 3 hours away, so we will all have to drive back up to pick up the dresses/get alterations.
    I understand that it is her special day, but is she being unreasonable or am I being too sensitive? Any advice on being an MOH and dealing with the bridezilla without her getting even more psycho? Thanks!

  • Stacie

    @merc – did the mother of the bride talk to any of you about a budget for the shower before she started planning? If not, she CANNOT ask you to contribute. She has no idea what your financial situation is, and to simply assume that you’re okay with her de

  • Stephanie Riondet

    I just have a small question why did you call your pinterest board “”never after””?

  • Victoria Budosh

    Hi Alex! Congratulations! What an exciting time! I am wondering if you can provide advice for girls like me who are “”waiting for the ring.””

    I have been in a serious relationship with my boyfriend of 2 years and we have plans to get married in the near future. We are both 26, have great jobs, and have the stars aligned for us. BUT, I’m just chomping at the bit (not to him of course) in my head waiting for my day to come! What advice can you offer to girls like me so I don’t drive myself insane?!

    Thank you so much! Happy planning!

    xo, Victoria

  • marija jurlina

    I got married 3 months ago; so i still remeber how many time and patience is needed to organize one wedding, so my advice are: stay calm no matter what, organize how you really wanted, sate the date and number of the guests.

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    Hi there!
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  • MichelleBellyDancer

    I got engaged a while ago and we started planning our wedding. Unfortunately, with the place we decided to have it, we can only invite a certain number of people. At first I thought it would be fine but it turned out not to be such a big number and I won’t be able to invite all the people I want to invite.

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  • Kimmysaurus

    It’s never too early to get your dress… I had mine for over a year before I got married, and also bought my dress on my first shopping trip. For $250. (it was marked down to half price since it was from the previous season) I would caution more against buying a dress sight unseen (like on the Internet) than I would against a good bargain… of course, if you can find a way to try on a similar dress in real life, then go for it. As long as you’re happy with the outcome, that’s what really counts. One word of advice I would give is to keep the feelings of those closest to you in mind as you plan. It’s inevitable that there will be differences of opinion on the details of the wedding, but how you handle the conflicts is what matters the most. And try to involve your families (especially the in-laws) as much as you can, or as much as you feel comfortable. You may not think that you’re excluding them by not asking for input or advice, but they may see it differently. Above all else, enjoy yourself!

  • Lena

    Wonderful post! It’s throes, not throws.

  • Jo Mil

    Definitely excited to follow along with this series. I am going to be the Maid of Honor for a wedding in September.

    I’m interested in a timeline. For example, what should I be worrying about at this point in time? What should I be helping the bride with and what should be done already?

  • Kateee

    Just got engaged Christmas Eve! The tips are great! We’ve been repeatedly discussing insuring my ring but still haven’t made a decision. Also we’ve been completely lost on when to go about making a registry! Do we make one for the engagement party? Some more tips would be appreciated! :)

  • Diana Geist

    I am also going to get married in August and am really excited. My fianc

  • Jelena Sheller

    Actually just yesterday we set up a date for our wedding, and it is also going to be in August

  • xomrsamazinggxo

    I’m in the process of finally planning our wedding as well. We’ve been engaged for almost 3 years and are just now started to really plan our wedding. We’re going to look at 2 venues over the next 2 weeks and decide everything else from there. I’ll definitely be following along on this series.

  • yamine malacon

    I got engaged past december, and I already have done the things that you mentioned. It really was so stressful for me because I like to have all perfect. My boyfriend is helping me a lot with the planning and one tip that’s been helpful is that we talk about all the thing we like, that we can pay and the things we don’t like and split tasks.

  • Cotterpin

    I’m not engaged yet but my boyfriend and I have looked at rings and talked about it. We are non-religious living in the South. Any suggestions for finding a secular officiant for our non-religious ceremony?

  • Stefi Stefka

    To Cotterpin: have you ever thought of having a close relative or mutual friend become certified to marry you, they can do that online. I think (religious or non) it is important to have an officiant who knows you well- it helps add that unique and customized touch we all want in a wedding.

    I’m also getting married in August (yay!) my first piece of advice and most important is for every bride to open a free wedding email account. it helps keep info organized and is an account where your fiance can log in to help when he can, and keeps wedding spam mail and vendor info exclusive. This helps ensure work and personal emails stay clean. Plus, all brides need a bream here and there, a wedding email helps you keep wedding issues in a special place so you can deal with it when you have the time and energy.

  • Ashley

    Great tips! Check out my blog! This month’s posts are all about love and some on weddings and marriages too!

  • Natasha Hussain

    So excited for this series! I am recently engaged and will start planning my wedding later on this year. We are shooting for a date around this time next year. Can’t wait to see all your updates, good luck on the planning!

  • chelsey anderson


    I am in the middle of planning our wedding in rustic West Yellowstone, Montana. Country chic with Mountaineer flair! Anyhow I’m having a difficult time finding ideas for a rustic groom look that isn’t the typical suit and tie or cowboy boots/hat. Any ideas/resources?

  • Hasel B Designs

    Great Tips! You can also visit our blog for additional tips! ….

  • Alex taylor

    Just enjoy being engaged : )

  • Alex taylor

    Definitely! If I were you I’d head to a local stationary store like Paper Source for some pointers and pretty paper: Hope that help! Xx

  • Alex taylor

    Hey Hannah! Here’s a few money saving tips:

    1. Opt for a small wedding cake that you can use for the cake cutting ceremony and then serve a sheet cake to guests. It cuts down the cost tremendously!
    2. Instead of hiring a DJ, enlist a music savvy friend to put together a great playlist. This can save you over $5K!
    3. Handwrite the addresses on your save the dates so you don’t have to hire a calligrapher. This way you can splurge a bit more on your actual wedding invitations. Better yet, you can make your own save the dates and wedding invites too. There are so many amazing resources such as Paper Source, Michael’s, and other local craft or stationary stores!

    Hope those help!

    Xx Alex

  • Alex taylor

    Great tip! Xx

  • Alex taylor

    It’s never too early–especially if it’s only $200!! Congrats!

  • Alex taylor

    Lovely website! Thanks for sharing. Xx

  • Alex taylor

    Take a peek at the credits at the bottom…these weddings are stunning and they’re in WI:
    Good luck on your venue search!
    Xx Alex

  • Alex taylor

    Oh my goodness! You might want to think about doing your rehearsal dinner the day before (2 days before your wedding). More and more couples are doing this (in fact, we are! this way we can actually enjoy the rehearsal and the night before the wedding I can relax with my friends and go to bed extra early). It might be worth considering since you will want your family there for the special dinner : ) Hope that helps! Xx

  • Talnisha

    I am recently engaged and I am enjoying your Wedding tips and ideas! Thanks :)

  • Sofia

    I got engaged last Thanksgiving and have enjoyed reading your posts. :) Keep them coming! I’ve already had two lessons learned that every newly engaged bride should be mindful of!

    1)I thought I had THE perfect venue, even before we were engaged! Naturally after he put the ring on my finger, I called up the venue and put in my deposit. Big mistake, huge! I had allowed myself to be blinded by this “”okay”” location with a beautiful garden, that I didn’t do research and find this even MORE beautiful garden (estate, mind you) with a GREAT location! It was half the price of my original “”find”” and a way better deal all over. My fiance and I ended up losing our deposit at the first venue because we decided the new place is better all over. Be sure of what kind of setting you envision yourself walking down the aisle on before you can pay a deposit!

    2)My friend wore the beautiful dress for her wedding last October. When I got engaged in November she told me she had bought her dress for $50 (!!!!) on eBay brand new. Of course, I didn’t take into consideration that she’s extremely petite all over, so I decided on looking for, bidding on, and eventually purchasing my own wedding dress for $50! (I was taking too much pride on being a thrifty bride!) I loved it when I got it in the mail, but it wasn’t THE dress… you all know what I mean! So I ended up buying my DRESS dress a few weeks ago. I mean, the original dress WAS $50, but still. Don’t be impulsive on buying what you can then and there, rather take some time to really think about it and wait a week to get whatever it is you just NEEDED earlier.

    Happy Wedding Planning, ladies! Best of luck to you all XOXO

  • katysaidso

    definitely check out! That style of wedding is actually pretty popular and I’ve seen tons of inspiring photosets similar to the style of wedding you’re aiming towards.

  • Noelle

    I’m engaged and a little clueless how this all works so thank you for your tips. It’s guiding me in the right direction. Thanks again :)

  • erin

    i’m the bride!!! my wedding is next june of 2014. i agree with all details you mentioned. i’m looking forward to see what actually happens on my wedding day as oppose as what i imagined.

  • Audrey Fleeman

    I am a new bride! How can I go about having a vintage 1920’s feel the big day without it feeling like a costume party?

  • kelakelakela

    I’m getting married in June 2014 too! Yay!

  • sabrina
  • Ashley

    I am a maid-of-honor for my best friend from high school! Do you have any advice about putting together a bouquet? I know how, but I didn’t know if you had any advice or tips as to put together a lovely one. Thanks! :)
    And congrats to you! I’ve been waiting since The Hills for you to find a good guy!!
    Looking forward to all of your wedding posts :)

  • Allie Harlow

    Hi Lauren,
    I am currently planning a destination wedding in Punta Cana in April 2015. How far in advance do you think its appropriate to send guests invitations to a destination wedding? Congratulations to you and your love and I hope you’re enjoying wedding planning as much as I am!

    • Kristen

      I’m doing a destination wedding too, etiquette is typically 8-14 months in advance, the sooner the better so that they can prepare 😉

  • Halloween Treats

    A girl’s engagement day is one of the most important day of her life and should be treasured in her mind forever. Getting engaged is an exciting time, and your friend will need your support as they prepare for their wedding. you can make her engagement memorable with give her a gorgeous Gifts Baskets.

  • fefesmom

    I just got engaged about 2 weeks ago. My fiance and I really want to get married next October but my step brother is getting married next September. We are fully paying for the wedding ourselves Noone has to pay for anything but yet my mother tells me we should wait until 2016 but that’s when we are building our house. It will be to hard for us to do both in one year. Do I just stick with the October wedding? I thought getting married was the bride and grooms decision. Help!!!!!

  • Stephanie

    Great advice… picking a season helps narrow down so much of the planning. I also just recently learned vineyards/wineries do limit what you an serve which might be a slight problem! Thank you!

    x Stephanie

  • Krista Marie

    Hey Alex! I’m 6 months out from the big day (yikes!) and there has really only been one thing that has stumped me. What’s your take on wedding favors? Are they necessary and what would you recommend that is functional or meaningful but won’t break the bank? xo Krista



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