Newly Engaged? Start Here
Getting engaged is one of the most surreal moments in life. The person you love most wants to spend their forever with you - is there anything better?! If you want to truly enjoy your engagement (and wedding planning process), read our tips + tricks below about our top tasks when you’re newly engaged.
You’ve got this, girl - and if you need some backup, we are always here for you.
1 . Enjoy the moment
Your engagement should be a season of celebration. You should spend it planning, dreaming, and preparing for the day you get to marry your best friend - not being stressed out or overwhelmed. The biggest piece of advice I can offer newly engaged couples is to always take time away from the planning process to date and remember why you fell in love. Make sure the wedding isn’t the topic of these dates either - focus on continuing to build your relationship with the man who will be your husband sooner than you can imagine! Engagement flies by - the steps below will help you make the most of every second.
2 . work out your budget
Okay, granted, this isn’t exactly the most fun way to start your wedding planning. But, if you get this out of the way early, you’ll save yourself so much worry + disappointment down the line. Your budget is the key component of every choice you’ll make about the big day. Take time at the beginning of the process to sit down and discuss how much family will be able to contribute, and what you can afford as a couple to supplement the rest if needed. Remember not to fall into the trap of putting yourself in a financial bind to afford the wedding - your future marriage will be much more enjoyable without paying off unnecessary debt. If you need help brainstorming a reasonable budget range based on your specific needs, our bridal consulting services are always a great option. We will sit down and walk you through your goals, wants, and needs to determine the best way to achieve them!
3 . Narrow down potential dates
The next step to tackle is choosing your preferred wedding dates. A few components to look at while brainstorming the final choice include past weather trends in that season (especially if you want an outdoor ceremony), as well as the availability of your must-have guests (close family, bridal party, etc). Having a few dates in mind when you begin booking vendors and touring venues is essential to make sure they are available to be a part of the celebration!
4 . Hire a planner or consultant
Once you’ve set a tentative budget and found potential dates, take the time to consider whether you would like to hire a wedding planner or a day-of coordinator. If you are already feeling overwhelmed, you might benefit from the guidance from a wedding planner. They will walk alongside you as you tour venues, book vendors, and design your dream day. If you feel comfortable with the planning process, a coordinator is often the perfect choice. They will work with you the month of your wedding to establish timelines, connect with vendors, and ensure your wedding day is flawless. And, if down the line you start to feel like you need more help, you can always upgrade to planning services at a discounted rate. I honestly believe that hiring a day-of coordinator at minimum is one of the most important investments you can make for your wedding day. And you definitely don’t need to take my word for it - reach out to friends and family and ask them about their experiences with or without a dedicated coordinator on-site for their wedding day. It is so helpful to get opinions from those who have done this crazy ride before that you know + trust.
5 . Think about your guest list
Now is a great time to begin a rough draft of your guest list. The number of friends + family that you invite to your wedding plays a big role in many of your next steps - like choosing a venue that’s the correct size, and finding a caterer who can work with your budget to feed each guest. I always recommend starting by sitting down with your fiance and writing down every name you can think of. Family, friends, co-workers - anyone that you would enjoy having with you to celebrate you. Your parents are a great resource to check in with as well about which extended relatives you could be forgetting. Once you have your number, you can start to cut back based on your budget. For example, maybe you only want to spend $6000 on food. If your first list has 300 guests, that limits you to $20 per person for meals - which may not be practical. However, if you can narrow your count in half, you free up $40 per person to be spent on dining. It can be hard to exclude guests from your invite list, but a great rule of thumb is to think about your relationship with each guest + prioritize accordingly - base your list on who loves, supports, and is present in your lives.
6 . visit your fave venues
Here comes the fun part - touring the venues you love! Everything you have checked off your to-do list above will help you in your search for the perfect venue. When you come into a venue knowing what you can spend, the date that needs to be available, and how many guests need to fit into the space, it makes the entire process much easier. Your planner or coordinator that you hired above will also be helpful to bring along for the fun - she can help you imagine layouts, look for potential problems, and ensure that each venue would check all the boxes needed to be your final choice.
7 . Book your key vendors
You’ve got your date, the venue is booked, and the guest list is ready! Now’s the time to start reserving the key vendors that will be providing services on your big day. Photographers, caterers, bakers, florists, and other like services book one to two years in advance for prime dates. Even if it feels early to be talking about your dream bouquet or dessert choices, you want to give yourself the best chance of working with your 1st choice for each vendor needed. It is so important to build a team you can trust to achieve their designated tasks on one of the most important days of your life. Your coordinator or planner will also be able to provide you with a preferred list of vendors that they have worked with + love. Paying deposits, monitoring your budget, and getting your wedding on vendor calendars is hugely important (and can be so much fun when done early to limit stress). This is also a great time to start searching for your perfect dress! Bridal gowns can often take much longer than anticipated to be ordered or altered. And, wedding gown shopping is one of the best things about engagement! Who doesn’t love a shopping date with their family + best friends trying on the most beautiful dresses they can find?
8. Plan your wedding party
If you haven’t already started to consider who you + your fiance want standing by your sides for the big day, this a great time to brainstorm. The size of your wedding party plays a role in your budget (there’s a big difference in costs for bouquets, gifts, etc if you have 3 bridesmaids than a party of 10). But more importantly, take time to really consider who you feel has played a role in who you are + who you want to become. You can also ask your ring bearers, flower girls, officiants, and the like to officially be a part of the festivities - this helps them to schedule flights, hotels, and responsibilities accordingly.
9 . find ways to Stay organized
The biggest way to stay stress-free during this season of planning the biggest party you may ever throw is to find an organizational system that works for you. Your coordinator or planner will be providing you with resources, tips, and advice to make the most of your engagement. Even though the details like budget tracking, scheduling, and contract signing are mundane, tackling them on time will make a big difference in how you feel. If you are not working with a wedding planner, reach out to a bridal consultant or trusted friend to help you find the best organization plan for you. Never be afraid to ask for help.
10. Remember the final goal
Here’s the deal - wedding planning becomes 1,000 times less scary when you remember that your future does not ride on one perfect day. The entire purpose of your engagement is to prepare for your upcoming marriage. Even though your dream wedding is an amazing part of that journey, it is not the end goal. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, step back and remember this: if something goes differently than you thought on your wedding day, you are still going to leave married to your new husband. You get to love with, laugh with, and cry with your best friend for the rest of your days - keep that at the forefront of your wedding day goals list, and everything else will fall into place. Promise.
Feel free to send this list to your newly engaged friends! And if you have questions, need advice, or want to book a consultation with me to chat about your big day + how I can help, just click here.
Thanks so much for reading - and congratulations on such a huge milestone in your life!