Congratulations on your engagement! This next season of life is going to be one of the best, and we’re so excited to help you through every step of your wedding planning! We totally understand that, once the high of the actual engagement starts to wear off, the reality of planning a wedding sets in…and it can be overwhelming! So, we’ve pulled together our top 7 tips for newly-engaged couples to help you navigate those first steps — and the planning process in general. Grab a glass of wine, take a deep breath, and let’s dig in. You’ve totally got this!
1. Get the big conversations out of the way up front.
Budget. Wedding size. Location. Those are the big three conversations you should have soon after you get engaged, and before you start planning anything else. Don’t put these off! Sure, the budget and the wedding size might not be the most fun things to talk about (unless you’re financial wizards who love spreadsheets, in which case, rock on!) but they are the foundation of your wedding planning.
The good news is these conversations don’t need to be hard! We’ve developed a handy wedding budget tool and practical tips for ways to save money. We also have a great guest list spreadsheet in this post and have put together tips for narrowing down your guest list.
2. Don’t assume you know what the other person wants.
One wedding myth we’re tired of hearing is that men don’t care about wedding planning and women have everything planned before they even get engaged! That’s simply not true. This is a big day for both of you, and you both should have a stake in the outcome. A good way to start is to make separate lists of your personal priorities and vision for the day. Then sit down, exchange your lists, and explain your perspectives.
It’s very likely you both won’t be able to get exactly what you want — especially if you both care deeply about one part of the day but have different visions — but now you’ll be able to come to a compromise. Or, you’ll find out that you both care about different aspects of the day and you both can get what you want! Either way, you both should come away from the conversation feeling heard and understood.
3. Everything is expensive.
The earlier you embrace this fact, the easier it will be to accept it. That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to save money, and you should absolutely stick to the budget you set at the beginning. But most wedding-related goods and services are expensive because they can be. (It’s super unfortunate, but it is the reality we live in.) There are a few things that are absolutely worth the cost though: your photographer, your videographer, and your wedding planner. Those three vendors will be some of the best investments you’ll make for your wedding! So, if you need a place to start when setting budget priorities, start with those three vendors.
4. You don’t have to take — or ask for — everyone’s opinions.
There’s nothing like a wedding to get everyone you talk to fired up with opinions and advice. Sometimes, it’ll be totally valid and helpful! Other times, it’ll be unsolicited and awkward. The good news? You have full control over what opinions or advice you choose to entertain. If you have expert event planners in your circle, they’ll probably have some great tips you might want to implement. If you have a relative who thinks your wedding is somehow their chance for a do-over for their own wedding, simply smile and say thank you…then let it roll right off your back. This is YOUR day! You don’t need to take anyone’s opinions into account (unless it feels right), and you don’t even need to ask anyone’s opinions at all (unless you want to).
5. Engagement photos are a must.
There are very few things we’ll tell you are “musts” when it comes to wedding planning. (Because we firmly believe you should do what you want!) But, taking engagement photos is one of those things we think every couple should do! For one thing, you’re getting married!! You should take every opportunity to celebrate, and an engagement session is a fun, informal way to celebrate just the two of you! It also will give you the opportunity to bond with your wedding photographer before the big day. You’ll get to work out all the quirks, get comfortable in front of the camera, and get to know the only other person you will spend your entire wedding day with. Trust us, it’s an all-around good idea and, in 50 years, your married selves will be so happy to have your engagement season documented!
6. Involve your wedding planner as early as possible.
If you decide to hire a wedding planner, we highly recommend they are one of the first vendors you hire and that you involve them in every decision from the get-go. That way they know your vision, your budget, and your style, and they can help keep all your ideas organized. Not only are wedding planners great for design, logistics, and execution, but they are fountains of knowledge when it comes to reliable vendors, legal matters, and so much more. If you start planning thinking that you don’t want a planner and then decide you do want one, that’s totally okay, as well! Just make sure to loop them in on every decision you’ve made and be flexible when she/he starts to give expert advice.
7. Don’t spend every minute planning.
Your engagement season only happens once, and it’s absolutely magical. So don’t let it be consumed with stress! First and foremost, you’re preparing for marriage. You’re not just planning a party. Your engagement should be about being in love, soaking up the excitement, and getting ready to start a brand new journey together. We highly recommend you set aside at least one day every week for a date night that doesn’t include any wedding talk. Try new restaurants, go do a fun activity outside, read relationship advice books together, or simply put on your PJs and hunker down for a movie night. The only rule should be that you focus on your relationship, not the wedding. You’ll have plenty of time to plan, and you’ll reduce the risk of getting burned out before the wedding day.