Your partner popped the question, you said yes, and now you’re engaged. CONGRATULATIONS! Pop the bubbly! Celebrate with your closest loved ones! It’s a big moment, and you’re kicking off a totally special time in your lives. But what should you do after you get engaged? The first steps you take after your engagement will really set you up for a successful wedding planning process! So here is my recommendation for the top five things to do after getting engaged:
Set a budget.
Your first step after all of the celebrations have passed, is to sit down with those who are going to be contributing to your budget and have a candid conversation about what the overall wedding budget is going to look like. Then, you need to decide who is going to make the final decisions. Sometimes mom and dad are paying for it, but allowing you to make all the decisions. And other times they want to make the final decisions. Go ahead and have this conversation now so expectations are set.
I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with potential and new couples about their budgets. Many times, they don’t know how much a wedding truly costs, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking to have these conversations. But you need to have the conversations. Don’t book a single thing before you know how much you’ll have to spend on your wedding. Talk to your parents about what they might be comfortable contributing, and start setting aside savings if you’ll be paying for the event yourselves.
Create your guest list.
Almost every single aspect of your wedding hinges on the number of guests who attend. It’s almost next to impossible to begin the wedding planning process without having an idea of how many people you want to invite. My best advice is to just start here. Don’t worry about collecting the addresses yet (although, when you’re ready, I highly recommend using Postable to collect your guest addresses!), but just write down all the names of those who must be in attendance on your special day!
Set a Date and/or Choose a Venue.
I put these two together because it really depends on which one is more important to you. If the date is inflexible, then go ahead and set a date in stone and start searching for a venue that is available on that date. If the date is flexible, then go ahead and start visiting the venues you are most interested in, see when they are available, and then choose a date based on the venue’s availability.
Before you tour venues or interview majors vendors (like your photographer or wedding planner) though, you’ll want to have at least a range of dates in mind. Think about what you’re envisioning for your celebration, from a garden wedding in the spring to a snowy mountaintop fête, then look to your calendars to see when you’re both free. (Don’t forget to check in with your VIPs to make sure they’re available, too!)
And in the end, I typically find that most people have a gut feeling when they find their perfect venue.
Book Your Photographer!
But seriously though, one of the biggest mistakes couples can make is to poorly choose a photographer for their wedding day. Your photographer is going to be the person with you from start to finish (along with the wedding planner, of course!) and will be capturing your special moments to cherish long past your wedding day.
Photographers often book up very quickly and if you have your heart set on someone special–you’ll need to get in touch as soon as you determine a date! I suggest booking your photographer at least a year in advance, but sometimes I will have availability about seven months ahead of time. I even have some couples come to me with multiple dates to see which ones I have open in addition to the venue’s availability!
Write down your priorities.
Before you get too deep into wedding planning, make sure you sit down and have a conversation about what is most important to you and your future spouse in your wedding. This can sometimes be the most challenging thing when it comes to planning your wedding, but it’s critical before you start making decisions. Before you start speaking with prospective wedding professionals, figure out what is most important to you as a couple, and don’t be afraid of communicating this to your vendors when you interview them.
Invest in the things that matter and make those decisions first.