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First 5 Things to Do When Engaged

You're Engaged! The First 5 Things to Do

As soon as that ring's on your finger, the big-day countdown begins, and it's overwhelming to say the least! There are so many to-do lists, people to call, and appointments to be made, it's enough to turn a sane bride-to-be into a basket case. I know how scary it can be. Just days after my proposal I logged in to The Knot to see 100 things I was behind on already and 200-plus things I needed to do. So why don't we take a big breath together, and start small? I asked Ashlyn Carter of event planning and design company Carter & Cook Event Co. what she would start off with, and she had some helpful advice. With our combined efforts, here are the first five must dos for a bride-to-be:

1. Set the budget.

This is huge, because it's how you'll know how much you can spend on every big and little detail, from the cocktails to the photographer. Talk with parents if they are helping out, and figure out where the money's coming from and how you'll keep track of it. Will your dad have an account you have access to? Are you creating a joint bank account with your fiancé? See some of our helpful budgeting advice.

2. Set a general time you want to get married.

Determining the season you want will narrow down the type of venue and attire, but it will also affect the budget since some vendors offer discounts to off-season weddings.

3. Hire a planner!

Or decide if you're going to hire a planner. This is important early on because if you are hiring a planner, you want her help as early in the planning process as possible. (Here are some tips for how to choose the right one.) While it can cost a pretty penny, you may end up making up for it with the help of a professional who keeps you on budget and can pick smart vendors. But also factor in priorities: if you do everything yourself, you may save money, but it will cost you your time and some extra blood, sweat, and tears.

4. Book the venue and photographer once the date is set.

Ashlyn adds that sometimes their availability will determine the date, so it may come down to your biggest priority: the venue, date, photographer, or even caterer. My fiancé and I decided that since our dream venue had limited availability, it was our top priority. Once the venue date was set, we checked that the caterer and the photographer were available (and our closest family and friends).

5. Get inspired.

Don't forget the fun part! Start inspiration boards on Pinterest to help you pick the colors and overall look, flip through bridal mags and wedding blogs (some of my favorites are Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Wedding Chicks, and 100 Layer Cake) for dress ideas and more, and begin researching other vendors such as DJs and invitation companies. You can also organize photo inspiration on Flickr and Tumblr.

And don't forget to check out what NOT to do here!

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danakscully64 danakscully64 5 years
Oh no, is wedding season around the corner? Crap, it comes so fast!
xxstardust xxstardust 5 years
Spacekat, I actually work in IT l while I'm at school - more on the instructional side, but I spend most of my days with computer geeks as well. Actually, one of the men I work with is currently planning his wedding with his long-time partner (a renfaire wedding!), and he's the last you'd pin for being so excited about it - he's a scruffy, bitterly sarcastic man who spends his nights playing WoW and his days writing code. So I guess it's really a very individual kind of feeling regardless of your field or circle of friends, and to each their own - whatever floats your boat! But of course you're right in that the marriage, not the wedding, is the most important part - I just think that most people do recognize that, even when planning elaborate receptions.
snarkypants snarkypants 5 years
i see both sides of the story. you don't need to have a giant wedding in order to have a successful marriage, but wanting an elaborate wedding doesn't mean you are vapid and superficial. i'm always one for a party, so if i get married, it's gonna be EPIC. (no $20,000 cake though...i always envisioned my wedding to be a party for my guests, not a gala to recognize how great i am)
snarkypants snarkypants 5 years
i see both sides of the story. you don't need to have a giant wedding in order to have a successful marriage, but wanting an elaborate wedding doesn't mean you are vapid and superficial. i'm always one for a party, so if i get married, it's gonna be EPIC. (no $20,000 cake though...i always envisioned my wedding to be a party for my guests, not a gala to recognize how great i am)
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
That is a heart for Valentine's Day!I don't think it's fair to say that women who want a big wedding are superficial and vacuous, but I think it is fair to say that a lot of them don't have their priorities in order. I hear about people with $40,000 weddings and I think... that's half a house in my area. That's a college education for any future children. That's the beginning of a retirement fund. It is truly foolish.My ex's family if huge and I've been to a lower-budget 250 guest wedding. It is possible to have a nice, big wedding without spending tens of thousands of dollars. For me though... I wasn't joking when I said I would elope to Vegas.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
That is a heart for Valentine's Day! I don't think it's fair to say that women who want a big wedding are superficial and vacuous, but I think it is fair to say that a lot of them don't have their priorities in order. I hear about people with $40,000 weddings and I think... that's half a house in my area. That's a college education for any future children. That's the beginning of a retirement fund. It is truly foolish. My ex's family if huge and I've been to a lower-budget 250 guest wedding. It is possible to have a nice, big wedding without spending tens of thousands of dollars. For me though... I wasn't joking when I said I would elope to Vegas.
xxstardust xxstardust 5 years
Spacekat, do you think it was the audience that brought about such a unanimous anti-wedding response? I'm a senior in college, and the women I know - who, by and large, are intelligent, self-sufficient women - who still would like very much a traditional wedding. It's something that my boyfriend, too, wants very much - a celebration with family and friends is important to us. I don't think going out and dropping 150k on a wedding is a good idea, but I don't believe that the desire to have a wedding is a "character flaw", either. I think that that's harsh, because there's clearly a middle ground between eschewing weddings entirely and obsessing about the superficial.
HuntressS HuntressS 5 years
at the end of everyday, thank God for the blessing and hope that he'll never forget, as you will not forget Him. :))
Tara-Block Tara-Block 5 years
Good one, Lauren! I totally meant to include that under choosing the location. Creating a rough guest list was actually the very first thing we did!
Lauren-Turner Lauren-Turner 5 years
I would add getting together a rough guest list to these to-dos! You can't really do much until you know how many people you're going to have since it affects where you can hold the event, how much you'll have to spend etc.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 5 years
Wow, you just gave me 5 more reasons to want to elope. Sorry fam, I'll send you some post cards from Vegas.
xxstardust xxstardust 5 years
Let's be honest, it's not so much a "discount for off-season weddings" as it is a "large mark-up on wedding season weddings" - a wedding in May, June or September will cost anywhere from 40-60% more than the identical event would in any other month. Owners call it profit season and the staff calls it hell month, because we all lose 15 pounds from the amount of work we end up doing! ;]
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