10 Things to Do When You Get Engaged | Alison Plueckhahn Photography

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March 10, 2019

10 Things to Do When You Get Engaged

The day after Hudson and I got engaged, I drove to Barnes & Noble and bought alllllll the wedding magazines I could find!! I couldn’t wait to get started on planning the best day ever! But let’s be real, planning a wedding is a TON of work and can be really overwhelming at times!

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. Rather than letting that overwhelmed feeling distract you from the JOY of being engaged from your favorite person ever, take a deep breath and handle everything one task at a time!

Here are 10 things you should do shortly after getting engaged to get you started!

1. Determine your budget

This definitely isn’t the fun part of wedding planning, but it’s best to get this out of the way as soon as possible! Talk to everyone who may be contributing to your wedding budget and figure out what they’re able to pay. Once you get all those numbers, figure out how much you’d ideally like to spend on your wedding.

I would also suggest determining what the absolute highest amount you’re willing to spend is. Something I quickly learned while planning my own wedding is that sometimes you waaaay underbudget for things that are essential parts of your wedding. You may even think of something you didn’t initially budget for that you definitely want for your wedding, and those things are all going to add up. Knowing what your absolute highest possible number you’re willing to spend will help you when it comes time to make those hard cuts!

From there, you can break down your total budget into how much you’ll spend on each category of your wedding. There are lots of tools out there (Wedding Wire has a great one!) that can help you do this! Most wedding planners offer this service as well which may be something to look into (more on that later).

2. Choose your colors and theme

Now we’re getting into the fun stuff! Keep in mind the season you’re getting married in since that may affect what colors you choose. For me, choosing my colors was easy because my absolute favorite colors are neutrals & French blue! Here’s a great article with some more tips on choosing your colors!

3. Start an inspiration board

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a Pinterest board for your wedding for years now. But when it actually came time to plan my wedding for real, I noticed that many of the things on my wedding board weren’t really my style anymore!

I recommend starting a brand new Pinterest board for your wedding with only things that you really want to incorporate on your wedding day. I love that Pinterest now has the option to create different sections within a board which has been really helpful for me!

On my wedding board, I have the following sections:

  • Ceremony
  • Reception
  • Color Palette
  • Invitations
  • Florals
  • Bridesmaids
  • Bride
  • Groom

I also have a section called “Brighton” since my dog will 100% be at my wedding, but I doubt that applies to everyone’s big day 😂

Go through and add things that fit with your colors and theme to each section of your board. Many vendors will ask you to send them a link to your board so they can get an idea of what your vision is!

4. Start a preliminary guest list

Starting your guest list early is helpful for a couple of reasons!

  1. It’s hard to remember everyone you want at your wedding off the top of your head! It took me about 3 months before I was positive I had everyone on my list who I wanted to send an invitation to. Be sure to give your parents and your future spouse’s parents plenty of time to get their list of people to you as well!
  2. Many things are affected by the number of people you plan on inviting to your wedding. The size of your venue, the cost for catering, the number of invitations you have to order, etc. are all influenced by how many guests you have! Keep in mind that not everyone you invite will actually be able to come (about 20% won’t make it!).

5. Research and book your venue

Choosing your venue is so much fun! Start researching venues in the area you want to get married as soon as you can so you can get an idea of what’s out there. You also need to figure out what you have in mind for your ceremony and reception locations. If you want to have the ceremony in your home church, look for reception venues that are close by. If you want an indoor ceremony and reception at the same venue, make sure your venue has options for that.

Once you get an idea of what you’re looking for, save your favorites (I made an account on The Knot and saved my favorite venues on there!). Once you narrow it down, begin inquiring with each venue and arrange a time to visit! Many venues book up really quickly and far in advance, so this is definitely a top priority!

6. Choose your photographer and schedule engagement photos

Photographers, like wedding venues, fill up really quickly and early, so it’s important to contract your photographer as soon as possible! Additionally, many people will use photos from their engagement session on the Save the Date or incorporate them into the wedding decor, so you’ll want to get that on the schedule early.

I’m probably going to write another post on this topic soon, but I totally get how hard it can be to find a photographer! I recommend first determining what style of photography you prefer (light & airy, dark & moody, earthy, artificial lighting, etc.).

If you don’t have anyone specific in mind yet, you can do a quick search on Google for wedding photographers in your area (if you’re in a small town, try searching for the closest big city!).

Another great way to find photographers is to search location-specific Instagram hashtags! For example, if you’re getting married in Dallas, try searching #dallasweddingphotographer or #dfwweddings!

If you inquire with a photographer that you love but they are already booked up on your date, ask them to send you recommendations for other photographers with a similar style that may be available instead.

And if you’re looking for a photographer, I may know a gal 😉

7. Choose the wedding party

Planning is way more fun with your bffs by your side! Choose your bridesmaids and groomsmen, then decide if you want to have ushers and a house party.

This can be a tough thing to navigate sometimes, but remember that you can do it however you want. My two best friends and I have been friends for over 8 years, and there was just no way I could choose only one of them as my maid-of-honor. So instead, I decided to do two maids-of-honor, and that’s 100% okay. You do you!!!

I’m honestly super proud of the gifts I made when I asked my girls to be my bridesmaids, so I’ll share photos & a more in-depth description of that in another post soon! 🙂

8. Hire a wedding planner/day-of coordinator

Okay, it’s totally up to you if you want a wedding planner or not. BUT, I honestly think hiring a day-of coordinator is ESSENTIAL. Like just as important as getting a caterer or a photographer or a venue.

The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is worrying about your timeline, setting up decorations, or making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be. Hiring someone to take all that stress away from you so you can enjoy your big day is worth every penny.

I also chose to hire a wedding planner! In addition to day-of coordination, I chose to hire a partial-planner. Since I had already figured out my theme, colors, and just generally enjoy wedding planning, I personally didn’t need a planner for everything! But since I currently live two hours away from where we’re getting married, I’m a full-time student, and I’m running my business, not hiring a planner just wasn’t an option!

So far my planner has helped us with figuring out our budget, arranging guest transportation and hotel blocks, and recommending trustworthy vendors she’s worked with in the past! That plus the day-of coordination has made it totally worth the investment in my opinion.

9. Build your wedding website

There are lots of options when it comes to building a wedding website! Some wedding-specific website builders are The Knot, Wedding Wire, Minted, and Zola. I chose to build ours on Zola because I liked how many theme options there are and that there’s an online registry page built in (so we can have all the items we’ve registered for from every store all in one place!).

I then bought a domain name on GoDaddy and directed it to site on Zola so that it would be easier for our guests to find & it would look better on our invitations!

10. Research other vendors

Here’s a list of some other vendors you’ll want to start researching! Vendors tend to book up pretty far in advance, so it’s never too early to start searching for people you’ll want to work with!

  • Videographer
  • Florist
  • Bridal Shop (your wedding dress & the bridesmaid dresses!)
  • Pastor / Officiant
  • Rehearsal dinner venue
  • Caterer
  • Bakery
  • Premarital counseling programs
  • Stationery shops
  • Ceremony entertainment (DJ or band)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are the things Hudson and I have considered and/or booked so far!

I hope that’s helpful for all you recently engaged gals (or guys)!! If you love checklists like me, feel free to download the free checklist version of this post!

Happy wedding planning!! 🙂

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