same-sex wedding checklist – 12+ months before…

ok, so you got engaged over the holidays!  yippee! you have your sparkly new ring, your handsome or beautiful fiance/e, you’ve purchased a practical wedding’s wedding book, now what?

well, you could register with the knot, go buy martha stewart’s wedding planning book, or another generic planning book with lists and lists of “things you must do before the wedding day”, but the problem with pretty much EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE, is that the checklists, while not only being geared towards the WIC (wedding industrial complex) earning money, they are also geared towards straight couples!  so, you could do what i did and substitute in your mind every word of groom or grooms-men for bride or bridesmaids (because you can’t edit the on-line checklists like that), but that gets exhausting… or… you could use my handy-dandy same sex wedding checklist! (*disclaimer – i am not a professional wedding planner and this list is one that i have put together based on my own experience with planning my wedding, reading wedding blogs, and helping my friends plan their weddings.)

this is the start of a series i am going to be posting on here – i’ll be walking through a time-line of recommended things to do prior to your wedding. OF COURSE you don’t have to do every thing on this checklist.  and you can even copy & paste this into your own word document and edit out those items that don’t apply to you.  but this is just a generic list to get you started…  the entire list will be posted in a tab once i’m done!

12+ months… (or, a few weeks after you’ve gotten engaged):

  • enjoy your engagement! spend some time just enjoying it!  admiring your ring – whatever style it is, basking in the glow of the newly engaged, showing it off to all of your friends! congrats! you’ve just been asked to spend your entire life with the person you love!
  • think about a 2nd engagement ring. ok, so, this brings up the fact that in many same-sex couples there is not usually one person who gets the “diamond”… sure, one of you may be the first to propose, but most likely both of you will end up with an engagement ring.  so, if you were the first to be proposed to, maybe you want to start thinking about how you’d like to “propose” to your fiance… personally, i love this aspect of gay marriages. two rings, two proposals! nothing says only one person gets to walk around for a year with people asking if they are engaged!  start thinking about what your partner may want in this situation – does he or she want a diamond too? do they just want a simple band? do they want something completely unique or different? or, do they really not want anything at all.  which is ok too – of course it is – it’s your engagement! do what you want!
  • announce your engagement! whether it’s through facebook (gotta love status changes!), your local newspaper (if you feel they will welcome your announcement – hey, if you’re gay, you’ve got a good shot at the new york times!), or through snail mail.
  • start a wedding binder or folder.  this doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  a three-ring notebook with plastic sleeves will work just fine.  but you should have something to store your inspiration ideas, fabric swatches, and most importantly, contracts. if you don’t have a wedding planner handling these things for you, it is absolutely crucial that you keep all of your contracts in one place.
  • start an on-line bookmark or favorites folder.  let’s be honest. it’s a lot of fun to look through wedding magazines and clip out ideas that get your creative juices flowing, but most likely you’ll be spending many more hours doing on-line browsing sites such as pinterest or other wedding blogs, than you will be spending $6.95 for a wedding magazine.  especially after you’ve picked out your dress (if you are wearing one), because wedding magazines are 80% pictures of wedding dresses anyway…
  • figure out your budget.  or at least have some idea. and plan for unexpected costs.  yes, it’s possible to throw a wedding for $5000.  it’s also ridiculously easy to let things get away from you and end up spending many more thousands.  but you need to sit down with your partner and maybe your parents and/or future in-laws and discuss the dirty details.  how much do you want to spend?  that will guide everything else.
  • start to think about the theme/style/colors.  do you want beachy? DIY? sleek and sophisticated or rustic and relaxed? outdoors? in your parent’s backyard?at a country club?
  • choose a date/time.  this goes along with the theme & the budget.  do you want a brunch? a friday evening affair? a late-night saturday dance party? think about the weather, the location, the color scheme, your budget, and maybe even the availability of your desired venue.  maybe you have out-of-town guests you need to take into consideration.  maybe you have a work schedule you can’t change.  regardless, think about what matters most to you and do what works best for you.  people will do what they can to attend.  and those that can’t, can’t.
  • start the guest list.  this will also affect your venue.  you want to think about the last 4 items before you go out searching for venues.  do you want a small intimate affair with 20 guests or a big blow-out of 300?  talk to your families and find out who are the “must invite”.  think about your budget in this because the number of guests you plan for is going to have an effect on the overall cost of your wedding.  once you have the list sketched out, start collecting addresses!  you might want to compile a database for items such as addresses, RSVP’s, gifts, invite sent or thank you note sent to use during the entire process.
  • start scouting out your venue.  these can book up quickly, so this is something that you will want to do early on in your planning process.  especially if you have a specific date in mind.  talk to the owner/coordinator and find out what items are included with the booking or if there are any required or recommended vendors.  this could effect your overall decision – do you want someplace that you can provide your own food or alcohol?  make sure that is allowed at the venue and even in your state (some states have a law that you must have a licensed bartender).  some venues require that you use certain vendors such as caterers, rental companies (for linens or dishes), or DJ’s.  you want to make sure you ask about everything because if you had a certain idea in mind (or just wanted to save money by using a friend, etc), you may find out later that you are restricted due to the limitations of your contract.  then, once you have found your perfect location & settled on all of the important details, get your contract started.  make sure you have your date reserved.  this is one you will add to your planning binder.
  • think about if you want to hire a wedding planner/coordinator.  this is something that you might want to do early-on in the process so that they can best assist you in planning your entire event.  even if you decide you only want a “day-of” coordinator, it’s a good idea to hire someone early so that they can be involved in knowing what will be expected of them on the “day of”.  we hired our wedding planner for the “day of” and she and I had many phone conversations through the months of planning so that she knew each vendor we were using and exactly what our plans were for the actual wedding day.  check out my vendors page for some suggested same-sex friendly wedding coordinators.

But, most importantly, remember that your engagement only lasts for a certain amount of time and you want to enjoy it to it’s very fullest, especially in those early days before all of the pressure starts building.  and congrats!  i’m so excited for you.  (and think about submitting your wedding to 4 real equality weddings!)