Brittany McFeely might be a little ahead of the game when it comes to planning her wedding.
While celebrating their one year of dating on Jan. 18, she accepted Jason Ansley’s marriage proposal and immediately began making wedding plans.
This wedding will be special for McFeely not just because she is marrying the man she said she and best friend Robyn Kelley “prayed up,” but also because her wedding to her first husband was a tiny affair conducted in her aunt’s living room.
“I didn’t have it before. That’s why I want to have a big wedding this time,” she said.
Scarcely a month into her engagement, McFeely already has venues for the ceremony and the reception; her wedding dress; dresses for her five attendants chosen; and a photographer, caterer and a director booked.
The wedding is planned for Sept. 28.
Connie DeLoach, a wedding planner and co-owner of Cordially Invited, recommends taking a year to properly plan a wedding.
“So many of the venues book a year ahead,” she said.
Caterers usually accept no more than two bookings per day, and photographers typically book only one event per day.
“To get good vendors, you really need to go ahead and book ahead of time,” she said.
The first step is to figure out the kind of wedding you want and how much to spend, DeLoach said.
“So many brides don’t have a clue what a wedding costs,” she said.
To produce a wedding with 300 guests for $3,000 is unrealistic, she said.
Once a budget has been worked out, brides should book the venue, caterer and photographer, because those three areas often book up quickly.
Then find a dress.
Ideally, a bride should be dress shopping nine months before the wedding, said Jane ElLaissi, owner of Elegant Bridals on Washington Road.
“Narrow your day down, and your venue, then right away start with your apparel,” she said.
If a bride chooses to have bridal portraits at the reception or to use with her announcement in the newspaper, then her gown needs to be ready at least eight weeks before the wedding. It takes about six months to have a gown custom made.
Once the gown arrives at the bridal shop, it needs to be altered for a perfect fit. That process takes another four to six weeks.
Many stores have gowns in stock that can be purchased off-the-rack and altered, but the selection will be very limited.
Then there are the bridesmaids dresses.
Those take about 12-16 weeks to be ready. When choosing bridesmaids dresses, ElLaissi urges taking each girl’s figure into account.
“If you select a gown, someone who is a size 4 is going to look very different in that gown than somebody who’s a size 24,” she said. “It’s very unattractive when their gowns don’t fit well.”
McFeely said she wanted her bridesmaids to wear the same color, but she was not opposed to each girl wearing a style she was comfortable with.
“When we went, they all conversed amongst themselves. They found a dress that worked for everybody,” she said.
One reason she was able to plan so quickly is that her profession and outgoing nature put her in touch with a lot of people with different talents. Friends and family offered their services almost immediately upon hearing of her engagement.
McFeely, who works with Kelley, at Trendz Salon, said Kelley has been helping her stay organized. McFeely describes herself as nonconfrontational and said she often seeks Kelley’s advice when she has a big decision to make.
“The only thing I really wanted was to get married in the church, and have in the invitation or have somewhere in the wedding ‘I have found somebody that my soul loves.’ That perfectly describes how I feel about Jason,” she said.