As we sail through what is affectionately known in the wedding industry as “engagement season,” there is one tip that I would like to offer to all new brides-to-be: Don’t buy the dress first!

The first three months of your engagement should be a blissful and magical time where you are allowed to obsessively day dream about your vows & music selections, and exhaust yourself (and your fiancé) surfing the web for inspiration. It is one of the few acceptable times when debating the shade of chartreuse isn’t silly, and discussing the importance of tradition takes on new life. It is also a time when solidifying your wedding date, and choosing your venue are the two most important tasks. The biggest mistake that you can make is to rush out, slip on a gown, and fall in love with your mirrored reflection without knowing the rest of the details.

As a future family heirloom, your dress is one of the most important purchases you will make, but it isn’t necessarily a time sensitive purchase. Having planned countless weddings before becoming a venue owner, I have watched over zealous brides rush out time and time again buying dresses that leave them with buyer’s remorse a year later.

Ladies, (and Gents) the two most important action items to check off your list, are (1) solidifying your date and (2) booking your venue. Purchasing your “dream dress” only to find out that your “dream venue” is booked solid for 2 years, can be heart wrenching. Reserved for an "old world venue," that once perfect, medieval fairy tale gown complete with cathedral veil isn't nearly as flattering when worn self-consciously under the bright lights of a modern art museum venue.

As an event planner, and venue owner here in the Alleghany Highlands, I can assure you that locking in your date and reserving your venue should be your first priority. The Farm at Glen Haven, is a newer wedding venue and we are actively receiving 2018 & 2019 requests, but there are some venues currently booking three years out in advance.

Even after you have booked your venue, remember that there is still a lot that can happen in the 8 months to a year that you will spend engaged. Your style preferences may change, you may gain or lose weight, or you may change your decorative theme mid-process. Most wedding gowns are non-refundable, non-exchangeable investments that range from $1,200-$15,000+, so be sure to budget accordingly, and gift yourself patience.

Planning a wedding can be a joyful, creative and fulfilling process as long as you allow yourself ample time for the changes that you will inevitably want to make. Be sure to knock out the most time sensitive priorities first and then have fun!  Choose your date, choose your venue, choose your theme, and then choose your dress!

Cheers & Happy Engagement!