Your Day, Your Way: Five Things to Do When You Get Engaged

Having just gotten engaged a little over a week ago, I know firsthand how easy it is to immediately be overwhelmed. Even with wedding planning experience, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start when you have a million wedding-related thoughts running through your head (not to mention questions from family and friends).

Here are five things to do when you first get engaged. You will have plenty of time to figure out all the other details later!

1. Celebrate! It’s so exciting to get engaged. Take time to write down how you got engaged. You may want to use your story for a wedding website or as part of your ceremony. Tell your family and friends so they can share in the excitement with you.

2. Start a notebook or journal. As soon as you mention you’re engaged, people will start sharing all kinds of ideas and you’ll want to write them down. If you’re the journaling type, include moments that you won’t want to forget or times when you need to vent. If you prefer list-making, use the notebook to jot down ideas that you want to remember when you start planning the details.

3. Set the Budget. Before you decided on anything else, sit down and decide on your budget. There are several online budget worksheets available or you can create your own to help you stay organized and on track. If your parents or other people are contributing to the wedding, have a conversation about how much they would like to give or if there are specific things they would like to pay for. If you and your fiancée are paying for the wedding, look at how much you have saved or how much you want to save. Make sure you both agree on how much you are going to contribute up front so you aren’t arguing later.

4. Set the Date. It may seem early to narrow down the date right away, but you will need the date for almost all aspects of planning. When thinking about a date, discuss with your fiancée what is more important—a particular venue or a particular date. If you both have your hearts set on a certain venue, you may need to be flexible with the date. Popular venues often book events more than a year in advance. If you’ve picked a specific day or weekend, you will want to have several venue options in case your first or second choices aren’t available.

5. Set the Style. Even if you’re not sure of the venue or any other details, you and your fiancée should determine the type of event you want to have. Do you want it to be a formal wedding? Or perhaps you want it to be casual, outdoors or even themed. Also decide if you want to have a religious ceremony or have a justice of the peace. Your venue may set the tone, but if you’re particular about the style of the event, you may want to decide on it first and then look for venues that fit your preferences.

Bonus Tip: Consider a Consultant. With so many venues and caterers to research, resources to check out and details to plan, many brides and grooms opt to have help. Consider hiring a wedding planner or consultant. Not only can they save you time researching venues, caterers, florists, photographers and bands, but they can also offer support and alleviate stress on the actual wedding day. Most wedding planners offer a range of packages, from full wedding planning to day of help.