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Party Time!

The last few months have been a whirlwind of booking our venue (!), buying my dress (!!) and not one, but two engagement parties! Both parties were incredible for such different reasons. It’s so nice to have an excuse to get all your favorite people together with some tasty food and lots of beer and wine. Without further ado, our Portland Parisian boho chic party, hosted by my amazing friend, Alyssa!


What Not to Do: Site Tours

As I move along through my wedding planning blunders, I thought a blog segment lovingly called “What Not to Do” was particularly appropriate. I hope you can all find enlightenment through my misfortunes. 

This past Saturday, my fiancé and I finally made it to our first site tour at the McMenamin’s Grand Lodge. The property is a sort of laid-back resort filled with McMenamin’s flair (if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know what I mean). It seemed like a viable location for many reasons: Lodging for out-of-town guests? Check. Options for everyone to dine and be all together during the weekend? Check. Within our small budget? Check. Spa and mineral bath? Okay maybe that wasn’t on the list, but it certainly sweetened the deal!

Not the Grand Lodge (keep reading for why I have no appropriate photos), but I thought The Breakers was an adequate substitute. © Elaina Methot

However, the site tour also opened my eyes to the world of reality vs. the information you can find on websites. For example, they do not provide outdoor chairs, tables, a dance floor or tent. Meaning to fit an event over 100 people, you have to rent all these items. Suddenly the venue with the “no site fee” is actually more comparable to a site that charges $2000+ to rent their space and chairs. But enough ranting, here’s the list of what I wish we would have done:

  1. Take pictures! Even with your camera phone. Every site will look completely different in person compared to the stylized images you find online. A picture taken from your perspective, no matter how crappy it is, will help you remember how you saw the event space.
  2. Bring a notepad and a pen. Yes, this should be a no brainer (I have even made my own planning binder, but alas, I was running from work and forgot to bring anything!). The (very nice) tour lady was spitting out random fees and numbers that I wish I could remember. Important things like an 18% gratuity and a $3000 food & beverage minimum for ‘this space on a Saturday night in July’. It is much easier to decide if the venue will fit within your budget if you have all the costs in front of you to compare.
  3. Bring your list of questions. For me, this was if they would allow our flower pug, Chloe, on the premises, which would of course be a blatant violation of the ‘no dogs’ sign that you pass on the way in. I remembered to ask this question… on the drive home.
  4. Make your list of ‘must haves’ and don’t be romanticized. The first one on the list should be your budget! This is often the first venue that couples book, so it’s important you don’t blow your budget in the beginning then have no flowers to dress it up later. Also, booking a venue that fits with your vision and fulfills your needs (for us: nearby hotel rooms, affordable food options) can often help you save money in the end.

But I must say, it was kinda fun throwing caution to the wind and finally enjoying being “engaged” with my fiancé. And that’s the most important part of this whole planning thing, right?

So… When can I start planning?

This is the exact question I posed to my fiancé for which I got a giant eyeroll. The reality is I have been subconsciously planning my wedding for the last year or so but refused to let myself get too serious about it until I was actually engaged. Well, it’s TIME!! The strange part is that I’m not entirely sure where to start. You get so overwhelmed with the excitement and want to start doing everything at once!

So here is my crash course for the newly engaged on what to do first.

1.Relax and enjoy! You only get to be “newly engaged” once in life (hopefully) and it flies by so fast! It’s easy to get caught up in all the planning drama and questions like “so have you set a date?”. Remember, this is about you and your fiancé. Set aside time to be with each other and adjust to your new status.

2. Think about having an engagement party or sending out formal announcements. My mom and I are already having too much fun putting together a small gathering for our family & close friends. We love any excuse to throw a party! I’m not as familiar with engagement parties, so we are drawing on inspiration from everything, including the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (anyone remember the camel greeting guests at Pandora’s engagement party??). It’s been a great way to ease into the flow of planning without the pressure of planning the-only-wedding-you-will-ever-have.

Photo from The Real Housewise of Beverly Hills: Otherwise Engaged

3. Read this article. There are so many great articles on this site, but this one helped me focus. It even helped calm the nerves of my fiancé (after much prodding to get him to read it) to understand that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING right away. But we do need to start some stuff 🙂

4. Build your vision. Once again, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. I recommend using sites like Pinterest or the recently launched to gather pictures of things you like (post in the comments if you need an invite!). Then see if you can spot any trends (i.e. colors, overall feel, location). See also: Inspiration Gods at the right.

It has been such an exciting transition to become a bride-to-be myself, I’m so thankful I know so much already! Now I just have to get my guy excited that we’re not just planning a wedding, but our married life together!