now i'm trying to get started on the wedding, eek. ok, hit me with some prelim advice/words of wisdom! what was your best resource? budget advice? how long was your engagement? etc, etc. i'm all ears!
words of wisdom: planning for your wedding will be ridiculous, but once you're married it will be awesome because you'll never have to plan your wedding again; no regrets!; if time does not permit, throw it under the bus--that diy thing there 2 days before your wedding?--throw it under the bus! as cute as that diy thing is no one will really notice or care very much, so get a facial or massage or something to eat instead!
best resource: weddingbee hands down; magazines are fun, but you don't really get much information out of it; the knot is good if you need quick generic information--honestly, i think that you'll be looking at a lot of wedding related things just because they're pretty; the books out there get outdated pretty quickly too
budget (venue): in the NYC/North Jersey area, most places charge 200/pp if you're having it at a regular wedding hall on a saturday night. it usually includes open bar for a few hours, cocktail hour, a salad, chicken/beef/fish, and dessert table and wedding cake. we thought those places were cheesey so we looked at prices at restaurants. to buy out most restaurants to accommodate 150 people (usually the maximum) it was on average 50K. so we threw that under the bus.
jon and i would have paid for a small wedding ourselves with immediate family and friends at blue hill in the room that we had our rehearsal dinner, but our parents could not bear not inviting their coworkers or college friends who we've never met before, etc. so we decided to have a chinese banquet extravaganza. we could have made about 150 if we cut out "nonessential people," but we allowed for 250 guests, which was the minimum (or 25 tables) at Linden Place.
we looked at 9 places before Linden Place--3 others in Flushing, 3 in midtown, and 3 in Chinatown. they all except one in midtown that had the weirdest floorplan either did not give us the entire room or had filthy bathrooms or bad food reviews. so we went with Linden Place. jon and i paid for our immediate family and friends' tables. our parents paid each for their friends and extended family tables. we calculated it by a per person cost based on the tables/open bar/music/cake/favors/stationery, etc.--anything that was shared.
we made an excel sheet and coded the guests so we sort them by whose guests they were. so my parents because there were so many of their family and friends there paid the bulk, while jon's parents paid a smaller amount because they had less people, and jon and i paid the rest and the rehearsal dinner.
regarding budgeting for individual items: it's really a matter of how important something is to you. after you figure out your guest count and realistic budget, you might want to rank what is important to you:
(if you're paying for other people's attire)
website (if you're going to pay for your own domain/space)
engagement length: we were engaged from dec. 25, 2007 to jun. 27, 2009. it was LONG. and about 6 mos. before the wedding i was ready to throw the whole thing under the bus because it just seemed that jon stopped caring all together while i was caring more. i think a year or less is ideal, however, we did have a lot of time to get our act together which is nice.
choosing a date: if you think vendors and finding a perfect place for your date will be too difficult i'd give yourselves a long engagement to work out any kinks--but personally, i was ready to get married in august 2008 if need be. obviously, you want to factor in what time of year works best for your family/friends (consider med school/law school) and when you will have vacation time and when is the least busiest time of year in your work schedules, etc.!