Engagement is a time to celebrate. The hugging! The kissing! Sometimes there are tears of joy and happiness all at the same time. It’s a unique moment in your life. But, soon you’ll realize that you have a wedding to plan, and that, my dears, can be quite an overwhelming thought.

Here are my 5 Top Tips for kicking-off your wedding planning journey. With a little forethought, research, the right questions and a ton of patience, everything will fall right into place.

#1 – Choose Your Date – Once you’ve announced your engagement, everyone immediately wants to know when. If you’re thinking about a date during the popular months from June through September, be sure to send out “Save the Date” cards – quickly.

Remember: During the most popular wedding months, venues, photographers, DJs, hair, and makeup professionals tend to book a whole year in advance.

sparrows_and_arrows-save_the_date_magnets-sarah_hawkins_designs-storm-grayPhoto: Wedding Paper Divas

#2 – Choose Your Venue – Many brides-to-be have thought about their dream wedding for years, and they have a pretty good idea of what they want it to look like. Start with your aesthetic: do you want an urban industrial look, a romantic, whimsical garden feel, or a rustic chic barn wedding? Or something else? Your chosen aesthetic will guide your choice of venue.

Bond_Benton_Tuscania_Events_Foto066_lowPhoto: Tuscania Events Foto

#3 Go Vendor Shopping – People always ask me, “Aida, in what order should I book my vendors?” The answer is not the same for everyone, but my best advice is to prioritize. Once you have your date and location secured, then you can move forward with other vendors. Think about what’s most important to you. If excellent photos are high on the list, then finding and booking the right photographer should be your next step. But maybe finding the right professional wedding planner is number one for you, because she can save you a lot of planning time and stress: then start there. Is there a particular vendor you want to use who’s in high demand? Then book that one first.

Remember: Check out our Vendor Guide and download our complete, 12-month planning guide, TWWP Timeline.

TWWP-TIMELINE-4Photo: TWWP

#4 Make a Budget – This is not optional. Before you make any final decisions about venues and vendors, figure out what you can spend and whether your families will contribute to the event – or not. Make sure you and your fiance are in agreement about your basic vision before consulting with parents about budget and logistics. Pricing out a venue, dress, a planner and a photographer will get the budget ball rolling. Set reasonable expectations, and prioritize.

Remember: Vendor and venue prices vary greatly by geographical location. Here’s a handy online Wedding Budget Calculator that can clue you into what things cost in your zip code.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 6.27.42 AMPhoto: Cost of Wedding

#5 Register. Now. – Many modern couples have been living together before getting married, and may already be pretty settled into their own homes. Maybe you don’t want any more stuff! But wait: think about big ticket items you will need, start a GoFundMe page or use Honeyfund to ask for contributions to your honeymoon expenses. Or you can set up a way for guests to give to your selected charities. No matter what you decide, it’s crucial to register: guests want to offer something to you, and it’s best to register at least three places to give them options for doing so. And don’t register only online: older relatives often still like to choose something for you at a brick and mortar store.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 6.15.22 AMPhoto: Honeyfund

 

 

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