I’ll never forget the night my husband asked me to be his forever – it’s a moment that will always be etched in my memory, especially the way I felt. If you just got engaged, my first recommendation is to take a deep breath and revel in your happiness with your partner. The next step is a pretty natural one – start the celebrations by sharing the good news with your families, friends, and then… all of social media. During the next few weeks, you may also choose to have an engagement party, get your ring sized and insured, and ask your besties to be in your wedding party.
Whether you decide to dive into wedding planning shortly after the proposal, or you choose to wait to plan the big day, these are the first three steps to follow once you’re ready to get started planning your dream wedding.
1. Figure Out the Numbers
I know, I know, not the most glam first step to planning the first day of the rest of your life, but these three numbers are going to greatly affect your wedding day.
What’s Our Budget?
Before you book a single vendor or dream of a steak dinner and open bar, you need to figure out your wedding budget. If you and your partner plan to pay for your wedding, you’ll want to discuss what you’re comfortable spending, and how you’ll save for it. This is also a good time to ask parents if they had considered helping with the wedding costs, and if there’s anything in particular they’d like to help with (such as paying for the caterer or buying the wedding dress). If your parents are planning to fully pay for your wedding, you’ll want to discuss in clear terms what they are willing to pay, and if there are any stipulations on what the money can be used for.
We recommend making your wedding budget as specific as possible, and we’d love to help you with this!
How Many Guests Are We Inviting?
Having an estimate of how many guests you’ll invite to your wedding is so important, because it greatly affects how far your budget will go, as well as the size of venue you’ll need. Take time to write down a list of the family members and friends you’ll each invite, as well as your mutual friends. We also recommend asking your parents if there is anyone they feel you should invite, especially if your parents are paying for all or part of the wedding. This doesn’t have to be the final guest list, but it will help you determine how much space you’ll need.
While you’re working on this list, you may want to consider reaching out to people for their addresses. Your moms might have a lot of the family addresses, but lets be real, our friends still move a ton.
How Long Do We Want to be Engaged?
You may have an exact wedding date in mind, a month or season, or you may want to be engaged for two years. However you come up with your general wedding date, you’ll want to think about how many months stand between now and that date. Do you feel comfortable planning a wedding in 6 months? Do you want to have 14 months to save up and plan? Most wedding planning timelines are set up based on how many months you are away from your wedding date, and you’ll be counting down the days anyway, so you’ll want to start with a number you’re happy with.
It’s so important to note that you don’t actually have a wedding date until you’ve booked a venue for your wedding – unless you’ve chosen a special date and will book your venue based on the date. We always recommend having a few dates in mind when you begin your venue tours, as venues often book more than a year out.
2. Gather Inspiration
Now that the numbers are out of the way, it’s time to get inspired. Chat with your partner about what your dream wedding looks and feels like. You may want to consider picking a theme to guide your aesthetic decisions and heading over to Pinterest to start or continue filling up your wedding boards. Are there colors and styles you both love? Do you want to plan a wedding that reflects your wedding date’s season? What are your favorite parts of your relationship that you can showcase in the design? You don’t need to dive into the details at this stage, but having a starting point for what you want your wedding to look like can really influence your venue choice.
You’ll also want to talk about what’s most important for each of you when it comes to the wedding. Do you prioritize having a great party and spending more on the DJ and bar? Are you a foodie who wants the best wedding dinner? Have you had your eye on a specific photographer with the perfect style? These kinds of questions will help you create a more specific budget, so once you’re ready to start booking vendors, you’ll know what you’re comfortable spending on each.
3. Book the First Few Vendors
Once you’ve checked off these first two steps, it’s time to book your first few vendors.
When it comes to looking for a venue, there are a few things you’ll really want to consider – does it have a good date available, can it hold your guest count, is it within your budget, and does it fit your wedding aesthetic?
If the idea of planning the rest of the wedding is stressing you out, you may want to consider hiring a wedding planner. A wedding planner can help guide you through the rest of the process, from creating a detailed budget and wedding planning timeline, to vendor selection, design, and more. If you’re only interested in hiring a wedding coordinator, you can wait ’til closer to your wedding date, but they will still often book popular dates a year in advance.
Voted most likely to be booked a year and a half out. If an awesome photographer is one of your high priorities, this should be one of the first vendors you look for, to make sure you get the perfect person to capture your day. You’ll also want to lock in your photographer early if you want your Save the Dates to have engagement photos!