You're Engaged! Now what? Top 10 Priorities for the Recently Engaged

Congratulations! You just got engaged! We are so thrilled for you and your partner to start the amazing journey of planning your wedding and dreaming of your life together. You’ve popped some bubbly, told your friends, family and loved ones, but now what? We hope that these top 10  priorities for getting started with wedding planning make the whole process a little less cloudy and a lot more fun!

1.First things first: wedding planning is not an emergency. Enjoy it. Your family may be pushing you to set a date and hammer down all of the details three days after your engagement, but I promise you, you can take a deep breath and take time with each decision. This is you and your partner’s special day. And while your family is deeply a part of your journey, at the end of the day the wedding is meant to be a reflection of the two of you.

2. You’re calm, cool and collected and ready to start planning. Sit down with your partner and pick a general timeframe. Do you have a season you like best? Any major holidays, birthdays, busy times of year to avoid? How long do you want your engagement to last? Write down all of the dates within that timeframe that are unavailable, then you are left with a list of viable dates. Voila!

3. Pick a general location. Do you want to get married in your hometown? Have a destination wedding? Get married in the city where you met? It’s great to start with a general area and time of year before you delve into the venue search. This way you aren’t lost in the sea of options out there and have a little clarity about what it is you are really looking for.

4. Discover your wedding style. Talk with your partner about what kind of wedding the two of you really want. Do you want something intimate and cozy or a huge party? Do you want to be outside on the beach or in a gorgeous ballroom? There are endless options, so getting clear on what you really want deep down before you hit Google will help keep you in alignment with the rest of your decisions to come. Check out magazines like The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, etc. for a little inspiration if you need it.

5. Set your budget. This is the trickiest piece of the puzzle, but one of the most important. If you are lucky enough to have family members that will contribute to your big day, sit down with them and discuss their contribution. Sometimes family members have specific items that they are interested in contributing to, so being transparent up front is always a good policy. Once you have a general budget in place, you will be able to have much clearer conversations with your vendors and give them realistic numbers to base their proposals off of. This will save you a lot of time and headache down the line! There are plenty of wedding budget tools online to get an idea of what items tend to cost, but if you have a wedding planner they can take care of that for you!

6. Draft your guest list. Tied directly into your budget is your guest list. It is no surprise that the more guests you have, the more money you will need to spend. More bodies = more chairs, more meals, more drinks, more place settings, etc. A good way to start is to make a list of everyone in a dream world you would invite and then divide that into must invite and a “B-List”. Then you have a range of the size of venue you need to find and have a good idea of what your budget needs to accommodate. This part is never easy, so it’s good to get it out of the way at the beginning!

A few tips on your guest list:

  • Want to invite some coworkers, but not all coworkers to your wedding? Send the invitations to their homes, not to their office to avoid hurt feelings. You do not have to invite your boss, but if you have a close relationship it is a nice gesture.
  • Approximately 10-20% of your guest will send regrets. Calculate this into your original list, and you should end up at the number you want!
  • Make sure to include your families in the drafting of the guest list. It is best to get any conflicts about the size of the list out of the way up front before you are locked into a venue that cannot accommodate your needs!

7. Select your wedding party! Get on the same page about how many people will be standing up in your wedding and what their roles will be. Then, have fun inviting them to be a part of your day! Send them a little gift in the mail, have a night out where you ask them over cocktails, or spend some quality one on one time dreaming of your wedding together. Standing up in a wedding is a big and often expensive responsibility, so make sure you treat your friends and family well! Also, if you have a dream flower girl or ring bearer, it’s best to ask their parents up front so that they know to be mindful of your wedding date to be set soon!

8. Book a venue/Pick a date.  Now that you know your ideal guest count and budget, you can look at several options and find something perfect and realistic for your special day. Unless you are absolutely locked into one perfect date, it is nice to go into a venue search with options available. If that ideal venue turns out to only have one date left in the season of your choice, then you have the flexibility to go for it!

Some things to look out for:

  • If your ceremony or reception site is outside, what is the rain plan?
  • Does the venue have a preferred vendor list that you have to stick to? If you have your sights set on a specific caterer that the venue doesn’t allow, this could be a deal breaker.
  • What comes with the venue, and what do you have to source yourself? It’s nice to know what rental items the venue already comes with: chairs, tables, sound system, etc. so you have an idea of how much you need to reserve for items not included.

9. Hire your vendors. Once you have a date, you can start hiring all of your other vendors! Certain vendors, such as photographers, tend to book quickly, so once you have a date make a few appointments with businesses you are interested in and make your selections. This would also be a good time (if you haven’t done it already) to book a wedding planner or a month-of-coordinator. We may be slightly biased over here, but we also know from personal experience that having a wedding planner at your wedding takes all of the stress away so you can enjoy your day to it’s fullest.

10. Get Organized. Get yourself a planner and a binder and organize all of those contracts, lists and inspiration images! It will make your life so much easier to keep everything in one place so you can take it with you to all of your vendor meetings and have a quick reference guide to keep you organized and on track. Make the organizing fun (if this isn’t your jam like it is ours) by heading to a coffee shop with your partner, getting cozy with a hot beverage, and throwing all of your important deadlines on the calendar so you both are on the same page!

Now that all of the initial legwork is out of the way, you get to do all of the fun stuff, like go shopping for your dress or suit, pick wedding music, decide who will officiate your ceremony and choose heartfelt readings and pick gorgeous invitations! Make sure to enjoy every moment. Take deep breaths, go on weekly date nights where no wedding chatter is allowed, and remember that this is supposed to be fun!

Have any questions or comments? We would love to hear them below! Is this list helpful for you? Do you wish you had a guide when planning your wedding? Make sure to share with any of your recently engaged friends or family to give them a head start on crafting the perfect wedding!

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