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Wedding Advice for Newly Engaged Couples in 2024

January 5, 2022



A stunning black bride in a white gown rests her head on her tux-wearing fiance's shoulder as they sit in front of a dark green door

Did you start the year adding the title FEYONCÉ to your bio?

If so, congratulations to you and your partner on your engagement! I’m sure everyone is already asking you a million questions about the wedding, and you both may be wondering where to start. This blog post is filled with ideas to help newly engaged couples get started!

This wedding advice is based on my experience as a bride, my five years as a professional wedding photographer, and feedback from my couples! I hope these suggestions help you to feel empowered to create the wedding experience you and your partner envision together.

Do what brings you and your partner JOY on your wedding day. As much as people will tell you that you HAVE to book this or that, or you NEED to spend this much, all your really need is to exchange vows with your beloved. The rest is entirely up to you! 

A couple runs together through the fall leaves

Where do we even start with wedding planning?

First, enjoy the engagement!!! I know, everyone has already asked you a million questions and you may even have a Pinterest board that you have been DYING to show your partner. What people don’t tell you is…as soon as wedding planning mode starts, it can become a part-time job! And as many people do tell you, it can be stressful.

So truly, enjoy the feeling of being engaged and sharing the proposal story with everyone. The giddy feeling when you stand on the left side for pictures so you can see the ring. The excitement to continue on this beautiful journey with the love of your life.

When you’re actually ready to plan, here’s where to start:

Ask your partner: What matters most about our wedding to you?

Before you even choose a date, and especially before everyone submits their ideas for your wedding, have an open conversation with your partner about what is most important to each of you. Big or small? Local or destination? A huge full-day celebration or something short and sweet?

Create boundaries and intentions around the planning itself

This is advice you probably don’t hear often, but is SO helpful to prevent wedding planning from taking over your entire life. Decide how you and your partner will handle wedding finances, if you want to limit the wedding-planning talk to certain days of the week, if you will both find vendors together or divide and conquer, etc. Having this talk at the beginning of the process and checking in throughout will help you handle this like a team and prevent unnecessary stress.

Two engaged men sit on a hotel staircase and look lovingly into each other's eyes

We’re ready to set the date: How long does it take to plan a wedding?

It depends. If you’re planning to elope or wanting something very simple, you could plan everything in a matter of weeks. Even smaller weddings with mostly local guests can be put together in a few months. Most couples who want to plan out a big celebration and work with specific vendors (many of whom may already be booked for 2024) need at least a year. The bigger the celebration, the more time you need to plan. If you’re set on getting married in a particular month or working with a certain photographer, venue, caterer, etc., then you will definitely want to plan farther out.

When you’re ready to set the date, pick the season or month you want to get married. Your wedding location or venue availability will likely be what determines the date. Fall and spring are the busiest times of year for Kentucky weddings, so many vendors may already be booked for Saturdays in 2024. Flexibility is key if you’re set on a particular venue or date!

How do we determine our wedding budget?

First, keep in mind that a budget is a starting point. Unfortunately, many sites like the Knot are notorious for including low estimates and couples are later shell-shocked when they reach out to vendors. Zola shared that in 2024, couples can expect to spend $30,000 or more for a traditional wedding.

Don’t lose heart – most couples plan weddings a year or so in advance, which gives you time to save and make payments. Many vendors accept payment plans with an initial retainer or deposit, which helps you to divide the cost over time. Gifts from your guests will also help you to recoup some of the costs later on.

Weddings can be expensive if you want to have an experience that requires more vendors, and the more guests you have will add to the cost. If you have family that is contributing to your wedding fund, ask up front how much their contribution might be. What would be a monthly amount that you and your partner are willing to put towards your wedding over the course of a year?

A good general recommendation is to pick 3 vendors that you want to “splurge” on for the majority of your budget, and see if you can find ways to save on the rest. NerdWallet has a great wedding budget calculator to help you tally up the costs.

Wedding vendors seem to be so booked up already…how can we work with our dream vendors???

Reach out to your dream vendors first and ask about their remaining dates for 2024, or non-Saturday availability. You’ll have much better luck if you have the flexibility to get married on a day that’s not a Saturday. You can also consider pushing your wedding to 2025 or getting married in a less-crowded season, like winter.

What are some practical ways we can save, without trying to nickel-and-dime our vendors or sacrificing quality?

  • Hire a planner/event coordinator: Planners and event coordinators have connections with so many vendors. They can help you find the right vendors within your budget, or may know ways to cut costs that you hadn’t thought of previously. 
  • Cut the guest list. Are there people on it that you feel obligated to invite? Will you be giving plus-ones out to everyone? Are there people you haven’t spoken to (online or in person) in over two years? Is everyone on the guest list someone you and your partner both consider a person who has supported you in your relationship? Someone told me, If you’re not willing to spend $125 to take this person out to dinner, don’t invite them to your wedding.
  • Get married in the “off season”: Winter to early spring nuptials tend to be more affordable because not as many people are requesting those dates. This can help you save big on your venue or with certain vendors who would love to have additional clients during that time!
  • Get married on a weekday: If many of your guests are local, consider getting married on a weekday. You’ll find more dates available and you may find venues and other vendors willing to cut you a deal.
  • Elope. Seriously, if you do have a tight budget, then go somewhere magical and say your vows there! You can still invite a few guests, or you can invite everyone to a local restaurant or bar when you come back to have a party in your wedding attire. You can hire some amazing vendors to make even a simple elopement magical, without sacrificing quality and you’ll save a good amount of money. Here are the top 7 reasons you should elope!

When should we take our engagement photos?

If you’re getting married in less than a year: You’ll want to get your engagement photos done as soon as possible, so that you can send out save the dates or and share your news with friends and family. I highly recommend finding your wedding photographer and having them take your engagement photos, because this will give you a chance to connect in person and see what their photos look like before wedding day.

Some people use the engagement photos on their wedding websites or for save the dates – it will take a few weeks for your photographer to edit the images and time to select photos and order your save the dates.

If your wedding is more than a year out: You’ve got time! Pick your favorite season, or the time of year where the location(s) you choose for photos are going to be the most beautiful. Spring, summer, and fall are the most popular times of year for engagement sessions, but they are also photographer’s most busy seasons. Discuss with your photographer and plan ahead to make sure you can have your photos done and delivered in time for you to use them on your save the dates or the wedding website. 

Speaking of wedding photographers….how do I pick from all the options???

Choose a photographer whose work you LOVE. It’s tempting to use price as a comparison tool, but your wedding photos are the only tangible memories you’ll have once your wedding is over. I would argue that your wedding photographer is THE most important vendor you will hire. Wedding photographers work with clients for over a year, starting from the initial inquiry until after we’re done making your wedding albums. I’ve also gotten to photograph many of my clients’ maternity and family photos years after their wedding days. DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER! 

Make sure you love the photographer’s artistic style AND their edits; some couples just hire a cheap photographer, who ends up being inexperienced, and are unhappy with the results. Look at their website, reviews, social media, ask to see full galleries and look for consistency in their edits. If you love what you see, then they may be your dream photographer!

Does their personality and values match with yours? As a wedding photographer, I am present for intimate moments you, your family, and guests share. It’s important that everyone feels comfortable around all your vendors so that you can be fully yourselves on your wedding day.

I highly recommend that you have a video consult call with your vendors and follow them if they’re active on social media to see if their values and personality are a good fit for you.

Do they have a legitimate business, website, contract, business insurance, and payment system for clients? Any of your vendors should have all of these set up. Make sure they have all of these, especially the contract, in order to protect your investment. Working with a cheap vendor who is not insured or doesn’t have a legitimate contract can end up costing you in the long run.

Photography gear… Your photographer should use a full-frame camera (or two), shoot on dual memory cards, and have a solid back-up process for storing your images. This is so important because you can’t go back and recreate these memories if they’re lost!!! Put your wedding day in the hands of a professional who has a system in place to protect your images.

Pricing and packages: This is the LAST item on the list, because all of the other factors are important to know before even asking about pricing. If your photographer has a style you love, you can vibe with them before even meeting, and they have established professional systems to protect you and give you an amazing client experience, THROW YOUR MONEY AT THEM BOO!

Like I mentioned, your photographer is going to have a relationship with you for over a year. We will be communicating with you, editing thousands of engagement and wedding photos that takes countless hours, and putting together your wedding gallery and album for you and your guests to look back on for years to come. Most photographers offer payment plans so you can make a quality investment over several months. Wedding photography may be expensive, but the value of what you will get out of a professional experience with someone who cares is priceless.

Visit my website and learn more about the wedding photography experience with me!

Final wedding planning advice

Ultimately, the decisions are for you and your partner to make together. Don’t book anyone because you feel pressured or rushed – if it’s stressful or takes away joy, really reflect on what you and your partner value and go from there. Have more questions about the wedding photography process? I’d love for you to fill out a contact form below and set up a call!

I hope this blog post helped give you helpful wedding advice to plan an intentional, unforgettable celebration.

A photo of Johanna (owner of Frames and Letters Photography)

Johanna Hribal is a wedding photographer based in Louisville, Kentucky. She enjoys traveling to other states and countries for weddings and elopements whenever possible! People love her colorful and vibrant edits and the way she captures their love in a natural and non-intrusive way. Click here to visit her website to learn more about current wedding collections.

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