The wedding venue hunt is on!! Or for all you Valentine’s engagements.. almost on!

So you either became engaged a couple days before the holidays as your spouse to be wanted to throw you off , or you found the sparkler under the tree

Or perhaps you are sneaking around the apartment or car glove compartment hoping to find the sparkler before Valentine’s Day. Regardless – if it is sparkling on your finger or will be by Valentine’s Day,  let us be the 100th (after all your friends and family) to say Congratulations!

Now that everyone has had the chance to ogle and google over the ring.  What is truly the next step.

First off put the pretty ring box in your closet and get to your nearest computer.

Run do not walk to the following websites., or

Each website is national and has a budget and planning tools.

Use the tools, review the estimates of costs.  These sites have pretty much mastered the markets and truly do have an understanding of the costs by areas of the country.  These are general rules of thumb and will at least give you a starting point.

Review what is written and then have the pow wow with the spouse to be and important family members (i.e. those that are helping with the cost of a wedding) to get together and hash out first off the the dreaded guest list.

This is one area that always is difficult as most couples don’t want to deal with the stress of who is going to be invited with their parents.  I will tell you right now, if you know the number of guests you are working with, your venue choices will be easier and you will have a firm idea of your biggest expense out of the gate.   I know how difficult this piece of the equation is for a couple.  Especially those that have the “a” and “b” lists.

Get the commitment.  When I say that I mean – get the commitment from the parents or guardians of what area they plan on financially handling or working on with you in order to get all those lovely bills paid.

Once you have the number of guests and a general budget of total dollars available, then you can start looking at specific venues in your budget range.  Take the budget guides shown on the websites we suggested above, and  you back out of the total sum an estimate of what the other elements of your wedding will cost ( i.e. flowers, invitations, DJ) etc.

Remember during the wedding planning process, be sure to keep your sense of humor, keep check lists,  and be sure to keep all receipts of deposits and attach them to any contracts.

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