Woohoo! Congratulations! You just got engaged! Now, what the heck comes next???
1. Take time to relax and enjoy being engaged
I know, I know. This sounds silly. "I looked up what to do once I'm engaged, and the first thing you're going to tell me is not to do anything?!" Yes. That's exactly what I'm telling you. Believe me, as a wedding photographer, I'm SO excited to see the inquiries rolling in after engagement season wraps up, but once you start planning your wedding, you will. not. stop! Post all your cute, excited pictures on Instagram, throw an engagement party, share the news with all your family and friends, and have fun just knowing you're engaged. You're going to get married!!!!
2. Choose a wedding date
It's pretty hard to plan a wedding without having a wedding date, and popular dates (fall dates, dates with cool numbers like 10-10-2020) fill up quickly. Don't worry--picking a date doesn't mean you have to start planning everything right away, but it'll give you a better idea of when you do need to start planning everything else. Do you want to get married in the upcoming season? Maybe a spring wedding? Wait a few years? Now is the right time to talk about it!
3. Schedule your engagement pictures!!!!
Woohoo! You chose a date, budget, and now you get to choose a photographer. The good thing about this step is that you can actually do it before you have a wedding date in mind--some photographers, like myself, schedule engagement sessions separately from wedding collections, so you don't actually have to have everything planned out before getting some cute pictures to share. Maybe you want to get engagement pictures taken first, then once you have a date, you have pictures ready to go for mailing out save the date cards.
One reason it might be helpful to have a wedding date in mind (even if it isn't finalized) is so you can choose what season and location you want to have for your engagement pictures.
Maybe you want a fall wedding and something different for engagement pictures. Do you have time to wait until next spring, or do you have to do it in a few weeks to get the cherry blossoms? You can also consider if you want to do sunset or sunrise engagement pictures!
Tip: leave plenty of time for yourself when planning so you don't get stressed out!
Inevitably, you will get stressed at some point, but minimize it with a generous timeline. Considering hiring a wedding planner, and ask all your amazing vendors for their advice, tips, and help! You hire us, and we work for you!
4. Set a budget and decide who pays for what
Wedding planning is stressful. I'm not going to pretend it isn't. Hiring a wedding planner can help, and getting insurance is a really good idea (you don't want to deal with a Noah's Event Venue situation and be out of a venue and your money just weeks before your wedding).
If you haven't discussed your wedding budget at this point, take the time to sit down with your partner and families and talk budget. What can you afford? Where do you want to spend most of the money? Are you two paying for everything? Are your families helping? Can you ask for monetary donations towards a photographer or the honeymoon instead of typical wedding gifts? Is someone gifting a vendor to you? How important is having your "Dream wedding" versus being practical and saving more money? Do you need to push the wedding date back in order to save more money?
5. Hire all the big vendors
It's no surprise that the most important vendors book up first (as do the most talented and well known ones). Here's who you need to hire first: venue, wedding photographer/videographer, dj, and *caterer. These also take a little longer to book--make sure you find someone who you really vibe with and love their personal style. If you like the same music, like the same things about the photos as the photographer themself, and love the way the videographer films, you won't have to stress about making sure they end up doing what you want. You just have to trust them.
*Caterers are important to look at early when you start budgeting, but often times, venues have recommendations or restrictions.
6. Continue planning, planning, planning, and enjoy the big day!
From here on out, you'll keep planning...planning some more...then planning some more. You get to pick colors, your wedding dress, suit, jewelry, shoes, flowers, music, dessert, and so much more. If you're feeling overwhelmed, remember two things:
1. This is a choice. You don't have to do all this. You get to do all this. You get to plan a fun wedding. You get to choose a wedding photographer who is perfect for you. It's a choice!
2. If you're reading this post, you probably just got engaged (or aren't too far into planning yet) and still have time to rest and relax! That's exactly why I put it as step number one. Make the process fun--every cake tasting, photo shoot, and planning day can be turned into a date, or a road trip and mini-weekend getaway like Aarti and Bob did.
Take the time to plan everything thoroughly, and make sure you get what you want (and are happy with your compromises for each other). You don't want to regret anything when the day is over.