Recently Engaged? Check These ‘To-Dos’ off Your List First

Once the initial shock of your engagement wears off, it’s time to dive into wedding planning. It can be extremely overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, but we’re here to help. Here are eight important things you should do first when starting the wedding planning process.

1. Pick dates.

Yes, dates, as in multiple. While you might have one ideal wedding date in mind, it all depends on the availability of the venue you choose. Choose a couple different dates that will work for you so when you go to book your desired venue, you have a few date options to work with.

2. Determine the style, theme and colors.

Imagine your dream wedding – is it a glamourous black tie event? A rustic barn wedding? A casual seaside celebration? Check out magazines and online sources for inspiration. Be sure to determine your wedding day vibe and matching colors early on since they will influence many decisions for your big day.

3. Set your budget.

Your budget is another thing that will affect the majority of your decisions for your wedding day. Sit down with your families and figure out how much everyone is contributing. While it might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it’s one that needs to happen so you have a realistic idea about what you can spend.

4. Prepare the guest list.

It might seem early to come up with a list of invitees, but a rough number of people will have an effect on the venue you choose since many have a capacity limit. Before searching for a venue, create a draft guest list (it doesn’t have to be the final one!) to get a general number of guests. Also consider budget when creating your list – more people = more money spent.

5. Book a venue and set a date in stone.

Most people book their wedding venue a year or more in advance, so don’t waste any time if you want a specific venue and date. Shop around for the look and price that you want, and once you find it, book it! Hopefully you’re able to score one of your preferred wedding dates, and if so, you officially have a date set!

6. Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

The sooner you ask your bridal party to be a part of your special day, the sooner they can help you in the planning process. Remember, your bridal party is agreeing to donate both their time and money to your wedding, so be considerate and keep them informed about your plans (attire, bachelor/bachelorette parties, accommodations and more).

7. Book priority vendors.

If there are certain vendors you just must use for your wedding – maybe that DJ your sister used, or the photographer that captured beautiful shots of your best friend – act fast! Again, many top wedding vendors are hired a year or more in advance, and once they’re booked for your date, they’re gone. Decide what your highest wedding priorities are and book those vendors ASAP.

8. Shop!

While the men can wait a little to rent or buy their tuxes, the women should start their dress search right away. Between alterations and ordering custom sizes and colors, dresses can take a few months to come in and be ready for the big day. The bride is first on the agenda, and once her dress is purchased, the bridesmaids are up next. For both the bride and bridesmaids’ gowns, it’s best to go into the bridal boutique with an idea of the style and colors you want and the amount you want to spend.