March 12, 2024

Louisville Engaged Couple

Weddings 101: What To Do First When You Get Engaged


Louisville Engaged Couple

Top 10 Things to Do When You Get Engaged – In Order of Importance

So you just got engaged? Congratulations! But you may be thinking, now what?

Believe me, I’ve been there! I distinctly remember the moment my husband proposed to me back in December 2017. After getting over the massive surprise, crying lots of happy tears, and calling all my family and friends, I remember thinking what the heck do I do now?

My first recommendation is to avoid jumping on Pinterest right away to create a wedding board. I know, it’s tempting but trust me here! I’ve been a bride, a bridesmaid, or a vendor at almost 100 weddings! Now that you’re engaged – take some time to read these 10 tips from an experienced Louisville wedding photographer on where to start.

1. Celebrate!

It’s easy to get swept up in all the fun and want to jump into wedding planning right away. First, I urge you to take some time to soak up the fact that you’re ENGAGED. You just agreed to spend the rest of your life with your person. That is a huge deal. The next few months (or years) will be full of time to wedding plan but this phase is sweet and special. The wedding is just one day but marriage is forever. Take some time to let the realization of that sink in and enjoy celebrating with your future spouse! Show of your ring, let people congratulate you, and just take in the joy of it all. You’ll probably only be engaged once so soak it up!

2. Talk One-on-One

Now that you’re engaged, a lot of people in your life are going to have opinions on what your wedding day should look like. As well-intentioned as they may be, I want you to remember one important fact: your wedding day is YOUR day. Talking wedding plans with your mom or best friend is so much fun. But before you even start those conversations – take some time to sit down with your fiancé and establish boundaries. Talk about what the both of you want for your wedding day. Talk about what things are NON-NEGOTIABLE for you and write those down. Check back to this list throughout the planning process to make sure you are building a day that reflects what you and your future spouse want.

3. Establish a Budget

It’s never fun to talk about money but it’s inevitable. And now that you’re officially engaged, it’s time. The wedding industry has capitalized on the culture of extravagant weddings. Wedding planning is expensive. Believe me, even the most simple weddings can rack up a hefty price tag.

Before you research vendors and get your heart set on something, sit down and talk about a budget for your wedding day. Also talk about how you’re going to pay for it. If your parents or family members are going to help you financially, you may want to consider having them join this conversation. These may be stressful conversations but they’re important. Plus, they are great practice for having financial discussions with your spouse for the rest of your marriage! Starting this discourse while engaged can be a test run for the rest of your life!

4. Discuss Date and/or Season

The next step is to start narrowing down WHEN you want your wedding. This is important to discuss before talking about any other details or researching vendors. WHEN has a huge impact on every part of the planning process. First, consider how long of an engagement you want to have. You may not want to wait that long to actually get married but you have to keep all the logistics in mind. The length of your engagement is how much time you have to plan the wedding. Not to mention all the other festivities – engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, etc. This also determines how long you have to save money and pay for the wedding (as well as the honeymoon)!

After you’ve discussed the length of engagement, think about what season you want your wedding to be in, especially considering climate in your area! Here in Kentucky, we have all 4 seasons so it is an important consideration. Along with weather, you’ll want to think about your own schedule as well as your guests – Will this be a busy time at work or with other festivities (i.e. holidays)? Will you be able to take adequate time off work to enjoy your wedding and honeymoon? Will your guests that have to travel have difficult time finding flights or accommodations this time of year? All important things to consider before moving forward!

5. Create an Overall Vision for your Wedding

Now that you’re engaged, the next step is to brainstorm an overall vision for your wedding. I think it’s important to have a vision BEFORE you start looking at venues. This may be a bit unconventional because the venue has a huge impact on the overall vibe of your wedding. But researching venues can be very overwhelming. Narrowing down your vision first can help relieve some of the stress and eliminate options from the beginning!

Think about colors, architecture preferences, décor style, and location! If you want a barn wedding in a more rural area with rustic décor, you can immediately eliminate urban, industrial spaces from your search. This is where you can finally break out Pinterest and start creating a vision board. The more of a vision you have for your wedding, the easier time you will have when looking at venues and other vendors because you will be able to picture if that vendor fits into your overall vision for your big day!

6. Choose your Bridal Party

If you’re like me, you knew who was going to be in your bridal party before you got engaged (maybe before you even met your future spouse)! For some people this may not be as high up on the list, but I think it’s an important thing to discuss before you move to step 7. Think about how many people you want standing next to you on your wedding day. That is if you want any bridal party at all!

Talk about how important a symmetrical bridal party is to you. Do you want the same number of bridal party on each side? If so, do you each have enough people that you want to include. Your bridal party is with you throughout the day. Obviously, you want to include people who are closest to you. But you also want people who are going to be helpful and encouraging throughout your wedding day. I know there can be a lot of politics amongst your friends and deciding who to choose but in the end, choose people who will make your entire wedding day (and the planning process) easier and more enjoyable!

7. Draft a Guest List

Other than price and style, one of the biggest factors you will be searching for in a venue is capacity. How will you know what kind of capacity you need if you haven’t drafted a guest list? Take some time and do a rough draft of your guest list for your wedding. My tip is to create THREE separate categories for your guests.

Tier A is your ride or dies. This is your immediate family, bridal party (thus why I put step 6 ahead of this one), and close friends. These are people you would consider changing your wedding date for if they could not attend. Tier B are people you definitely want to see at your wedding. Extended family, friends, your favorite coworkers, and plus ones for your Tier A guests, if they didn’t make that list organically. These are people outside of your immediate circle that you want to be present at your wedding. Tier C are people on the periphery. These may be friends of your parents, old friends you may have lost touch with, work acquaintances, plus ones for Tier B, etc. These are people that you would invite if budget was not a consideration but may not make the cut if you have budgetary or capacity concerns.

The minimum capacity of the venues you look at should be able to accommodate Tier A + B. If it can accommodate more so you can include you Tier C guests, that’s incredible! Having the tiered list from the start allows you know that you have options in case you fall in love with a smaller venue or don’t have the budget to include all of your guest list. Having this list drafted, makes guest related decisions later in the process SO much easier.

8. Choose a Wedding Venue

Here we go – we finally get to start actually looking at vendors! Step 8 of engaged life and we’re finally getting to the juicy part. If you’re following my list, by now you have decided on a budget and a tentative date for your wedding. You have also discussed overall vision and drafted a guest list. These are the main things you need when starting the search for your venue. My advice is to decide which of these factors is the most important to you – price, date, aesthetic, or capacity. Be willing to be flexible on the others because the perfect wedding venue doesn’t exist!

In wedding search engines like The Knot or Wedding Wire, you can add filters in your search for venues within your budget and to accommodate your guest list. After looking at websites and finding some venues that fit into your vision, you can reach out to them to see if they have available dates in the season you chose.

  • Does this venue have in-house catering and/or bartending services?
  • Does this venue include set-up and tear-down services?
  • Does the venue include tables, chairs, linens, etc. in their rental packages?
  • Do they have an on-site coordinator?
  • Do they have an open vendor policy?

Ask ALL the questions you can think of. This is probably the most important decision of the planning process so make it wisely. Take your time and consider all of your options before signing the contract.

9. Discuss Timeline

Now this one will evolve over time as you continue planning so don’t stress too hard about it. But it’s important to think through a basic timeline before you start booking other vendors. The three important times I want you to think about now are: what time you want your ceremony to start, what time you want dinner to be served, and what time you want your reception to end. If you’ve already booked your venue, you may already have some of these decisions made!

Once you have these 3 crucial parts of your day, you can build everything around it. Once you know when the ceremony is, you can calculate how much time it will take to get ready before hand. This allows you to determine what time you need to book hair and make-up artists. Once you know when you the reception will end, you know how long to book your band or DJ for. The timeline is crucial to think about before reaching out to all vendors. How long you need a service and what time you want to book will be some of vendors first questions for you! The timeline also prepares you for step 10 – booking your photographer!

10. Hire a Photographer!

Now I may be a bit biased but I think booking your wedding photographer is the most important vendor decision you will make after choosing your venue. Your photos are going to be the only thing (unless you also hire a videographer) that you will have after the wedding is over. So you want to choose a photographer who’s style you love since the photos they deliver will last you a lifetime. Start researching and decide what photography style you like – do you like dark and moody? Light and airy? Or somewhere in between? Are you drawn to candid photos or more posed, styled photos?

Once you’ve narrowed down what style you prefer, look for photographers that offer packages within your budget. Photography pricing varies greatly so you will have lots of options! Most photographers charge hourly so having a rough timeline will help you decide how long you need to have photography coverage. On top of price and style, you want to choose a photographer that you get along with! Your photographer will be with you all day so you want to choose someone that you can see adding to your day – not taking away from it. You also want to hire someone who is organized and has wedding experience! If you are not hiring a wedding coordinator, your photographer often ends up calling the shots throughout the day and keeping you on schedule (along with being moral support, personal cheerleader, and dress fluffer)! I think a good photographer can make or break your wedding experience.

Once you’ve chosen a potential photographer, check out this blog post for 40 questions to ask BEFORE booking your wedding photographer.

That’s It – Now You’re Ready!

If you made it to the end of the list, I’m proud of you! I hope you aren’t too overwhelmed and that you’re still happy to be engaged! that you have a good idea of where to start in the wedding planning process! If still haven’t finished Step 10 – I would love to chat about my wedding packages and see if I would be a good fit for your big day!

Remember, weddings are joyous occasions and they are supposed to be FUN! Don’t let the stress of planning ruin the experience for you. Lean on your friends and family to help and consider hiring a wedding coordinator! Best of luck and happy planning!


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