You're engaged! Congratulations!
Once you've taken the time to share the news, drink plenty of champagne, call each other "fiance," it's time to start making plans for your wedding.
But where do you start?
It can be overwhelming to start, so I've put together my list of the first things that should be on your to-do list. Here are the 10 things you can do to kickstart your wedding planning process.
1. Agree on the basics
You don't need to pick a color scheme yet, but before you make any significant decisions, take time to discuss your ideas for your wedding with your partner.
Do you want a small wedding or a big one? Formal, casual, or somewhere in between? Are you dreaming of a Christmas wedding or a warm summer ceremony? Discuss your expectations and what's most important to each of you, so you're on the same page from the start.
2. Choose a location
It's helpful to agree on a location for your wedding early on. Maybe you want a backyard wedding in your home town or the city where you live. Or you're dreaming of a destination wedding somewhere exotic. Start by narrowing down your ideas to at least a country, state, or region.
3. Choose a date range
Choosing an exact date depends on your venue and other vendors you hire. But, it's a good idea to settle on a month or at least a season early on so you can begin narrowing down your options.
The most popular wedding dates and venues can get booked as far as two years in advance, so it's essential to start deciding on dates now. Find out what works for your families and ask if there are any potential conflicts.
Picking a date range for your wedding also means you'll have a ready answer when people ask when the big day is (and they will!).
4. Set a budget
Money talks, but unfortunately, no one likes to talk about money. Creating a budget can be difficult, but it affects all the rest of your wedding planning decisions.
Have a budget discussion with you and your spouse, or you, your spouse, and your parents. Sit down with all involved parties and come up with a number you're all comfortable with. It's also a good time to agree on who will pay for what. Then, once you know what you can afford to spend, you can use a spreadsheet to track your spending.
5. Draft your guest list
Once you've determined your budget, it's time to figure out who you're going to invite to the wedding. Start jotting down your 'must-have' guests and use this as a starting headcount. It's also a good idea to ask your families for input, especially if they're paying or helping to pay for the wedding. They may have a longer list than you expect!
6. Select your big-day style
Settling on a style means combining your tastes and envisioning how your ideal day plays out. The best reference is your day-to-day life. For example, if you're a couple that enjoys laid-back wine nights or casual Sunday brunches, don't feel pressure to host a formal event. Your big day doesn't need to be black-tie to be meaningful!
7. Book the venue
With an estimated guest count, style, and budget, you can start researching and visiting venues.
Where you choose to say "I do" plays a significant role in the style of your wedding. Venue availability may also dictate the wedding date. So, be sure to confirm your booking and pay the deposit before you start shopping for decor or sending out those Save the Dates!
8. Find a wedding planner
If you're a super-busy couple or have big dreams for your wedding weekend, then you should hire a wedding planner to help. Another option is a day-of wedding coordinator, who will make sure everything goes smoothly on your wedding day.
Having a wedding planner will help ease the burden of planning. You'll get their expert advice to prepare your entire event, from the engagement party to the honeymoon. They will also be able to refer you to their network of trusted vendors and save you a lot of time and research for your big day.
9. Hire your priority wedding vendors
Maybe you have your heart set on a particular musician or florist. Or there might be a top photographer whose work you've been following on Instagram.
Many top vendors get booked in advance, so if you know who you want to work with, contact them early.
10. Register (Before Your Engagement Party)
If you're worried that you'll look gift-grabby by registering early, don't.
With all the parties, showers, and well-wishing relatives in your future, everyone will appreciate it. After all, planning a wedding includes gifting.
And although gifts are optional for engagement parties, some of your guests may want to give you something to commemorate the occasion, so register for at least a few items beforehand, so they don't have to ask or guess.
One important note: Don't include registry information in your engagement party invitations or any other formal manner. Stick to using word of mouth.
Now that you have the most important wedding planning decisions in place, the rest of the process will flow more easily. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy your engagement!