What To Do When You First Get Engaged

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We’re well into 2023, and approaching the end of the most popular engagement season! Whether congratulations are in order for you and your partner, or whether you’re expecting a proposal in the near future, it’s never a bad time to begin thinking about your first steps in wedding planning.

After celebrating with loved ones and announcing your engagement to the world, plenty of couples are left with that typical “what now?” feeling. You might find yourself typing “what to do after you get engaged” into a search engine, and maybe that’s how you got here, or you’re reading off a 30+ step checklist designed for the masses.

Either way, here’s your friendly reminder to take this wedding planning thing one day at a time, and actually enjoy your engagement! After all, there’s no “right way” to plan a wedding. But to keep your mind stress-free, we’ve compiled 8 of our suggested beginning steps in wedding planning. Cheers!

Setting The Big Picture For Your Wedding

Get Organized

When you’re fresh out of a proposal, the first and most important step before diving into the crazy world of planning is setting a space for organization. This can be as simple as a single notebook to write things down, or as elaborate as a digital spreadsheet. Whatever method works best for you and your partner, getting organized will set you up for a smooth and enjoyable experience!

Define Your Purpose

No two weddings are alike, and the planning process is driven by the vision and intent each couple has for their wedding day. If you haven’t given your wedding day much thought yet, now’s the time to ask yourself what your priorities are. Are you and your partner interested in keeping the moment intimate? Do you envision a magazine-worthy design? Would you like to include your cousins, their cousins, and everyone in between? Set your top 3 priorities now to define the purpose of your wedding, to stay focused and calm throughout your engagement.

Find Time and Delegate

Setting realistic expectations from the beginning is just one factor in setting yourself up for success in wedding planning, and that includes taking a look at the time you and your partner have each week. Before even looking at a venue or catering menu, we encourage all couples to take a look at their schedules, set aside consistent time for planning, and determine what extent of delegation they might need. Whether you’re able to take control and simply seek wedding management support, or you need a planner to take on the whole shebang, asking for help and managing your time will ensure the best possible outcome.

Dipping Your Toes Into Wedding Planning

Establish an Ideal Timeline

By this point, you should have your notebook ready and your ideal support system there to help you with wedding planning. Now you’re ready to start envisioning your perfect day, and that begins with setting your timeline and ideal range of dates. During this step, be sure to consider factors such as weather, travel constraints, financial obligations, and your ideal design and feel for your big day. Whatever timeline you end up with, just remember: this is YOUR day, and traditions and others’ expectations can be thrown out the door.

Draft a Guest List

Arguably the most emotionally confusing part of the process, beginning to draft your guest list before you get into the other details of planning will help you narrow other decisions down the road. While you don’t need to confirm the exact spelling of your mom’s childhood friend’s last name just yet, it’s important to get an idea of how many people you intend to invite. Whether you’re sticking with 20 of your closest loved ones, or inviting a whopping 500 guests, preparing a rough draft of your guest list now will help you and your partner secure the perfect vision for wedding planning.

Determine Your Budget

Ughhh, financials. Money can be such an uncomfortable topic, right? Unless you have an unlimited budget at your disposal, it’s going to be so important for you and your partner to take a detailed look at what your expectations are financially and who is contributing what for the wedding. Consider a minimal budget, an ideal budget, and a splurge budget to truly get a good picture of what each can provide for your wedding. If you want to break things down even further, we recommend thinking of your budget on a price-per-person basis. Your budget will inevitably fluctuate based on how many guests are in attendance. That’s why it’s so important to nail down that guest count number in the previous step. All things considered, preparing a budget for your wedding at the beginning of the process will help you, your partner, AND your support system find the best possible vendors and necessities for your big day.

The Fun Parts Of Planning A Wedding

Pick your Party

We’ve made it through the heavy work, and it’s finally time for the fun part! If you’ve already had your wedding party planned since your 15th birthday, perfect. If not, let’s talk about expectations: there are NONE! Throw the idea of even numbers out the door if you’d like, or skip the wedding party altogether. Many of our couples do. Considering those who you’d like by your side on your big day is an exciting decision, and you deserve to be surrounded by the people who love you most. Take your time to pick your party, and ask them to stand by your side in the way you find best!

Set a Date (Or Two)

If you’ve successfully checked off the last 7 steps, chances are you’re prepared to pick a date, or have already chosen one. Now that you’re here, let’s consider a few factors in setting the date for your big day: your established timeline, your party’s availability, religious or cultural holidays, meaningful days to you and your partner, and your ideal day of the week. While all factors together might be helpful for some, you might have more or fewer things to consider, and at the end of the day, this decision should first and foremost be best for you and your partner!

Our Final Thoughts

Are you feeling overwhelmed? We hope not! While we believe these steps should be the framework for a successful wedding planning process, we’re also here to remind you that this time is meant for YOU. Take the process day by day, make the decisions that feel right for you and your partner, and remember there’s no perfect way to plan your own wedding day.

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I'm courtney-rose!

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serving the greater Washington, D.C. area

I’m an event logistics guru and wedding designer based in Washington, D.C. I’m also a wife and mama to a fiercely independent toddler and two fluffy terriers. Settle in as we share our team’s latest love stories, behind-the-scenes adventures and top-notch wedding planning advice.

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Dantus & Co. Events specializes in special event, and wedding planning & design in the greater Washington, D.C. area and beyond. Our couples are busy professionals who love details, want to incorporate several cultures or religions into their big day, and need a wedding planner who gets it to help.