Ah, the beginning of the year. The time of newly engaged couples going 'Ahh I'm getting married THIS YEAR... I should probably start wedding planning! Umm... but how?'
This isn't a comprehensive guide by any means, but a few helpful pointers I've picked up over the past few years that I am passing on for anyone feeling completely lost, though obviously you should consult a wedding planner for the very best advice.
First: What is your budget? The average cost of a wedding in DC over the past few years or so has held at roughly $30,000. (I found that on the internet.) If you were originally thinking your budget was going to be much lower than that, be prepared to make some sacrifices (like a smaller guest list) and shop for deals. It's okay to mention your budget to vendors.
Second: Where to even begin looking for information on venues, catering, dresses, photographers, florists, traditions, timelines, officiants, legalities, and trends??
There are a several local wedding blogs you can peruse to get ideas about venues and local vendors.
I like to think these sorts of blogs are there simply to help jumpstart the planning process. After a while you may feel bogged down by so many amazing, beautiful ideas, so you may not want to spend too much time ogling all that loveliness. Pinterest can help you organize ideas if you are overwhelmed (but remember they are just ideas! Your own wedding will be different than anything you pin).
Third: Skim through Offbeat Bride. Mostly because it will make you feel like you can have whatever wedding you want. Don't feel held back for fear of making a decision your guests will label "tacky." Have the wedding at home (like Michelle and Josh, pictured below, did!), wear a purple dress, skip bouquet tossing, do what you want!
Fourth: Get your partner involved. I realize this is just my personal opinion, but... Our society and the wedding industry seem to have this inside joke that, in weddings with a bride and a groom, the groom is not expected to help with any planning, which I despise for several reasons.
It assumes that a bride and groom are not 'in this together.'
It assumes that the bride will care more about and be inherently better at wedding planning. But what if she's not? Why should the bride have to shoulder the responsibility of the planning just because she's the bride? Why should the groom get to duck out just because he's the groom?
It assumes that whatever the groom thinks is overridden by what the bride thinks. Some grooms don't even get asked their opinion on anything. Grooms are allowed to care about their own wedding if they want to, ffs.
People - guests and vendors alike - can get confused when a same-sex wedding happens. Who is the 'bride' and who is the 'groom?' people wonder. Which is unfair, but if our societal gender norms continue to be appropriated, this sort of mindset will unfortunately continue. (Slightly off-topic, but also slightly on-topic, sooo it goes here.)
How to combat this? You and your partner should sit down and outline your wedding priorities and discuss them. Note where there is conflict and try to compromise. If one of you really doesn't care about anything to do with the wedding planning, then figure that out.
I hope this may help someone out there. Happy wedding planning!