Clueless about how to start planning your wedding? Pro planners weigh in on what to do before "I do."

By Rachel Sylvester
December 19, 2018

Engagement season is officially in full swing, and whether you secured a sparkler last week or last year, we're willing to bet you could use a few wedding planning tips. After all, planning your wedding is undeniably stressful, and it's a overwhelming task that's even more daunting now that you've got a distracting new ring and an impatient mother-in-law waiting on your next move. Fortunately, wedding planners exist for moments like this, when you can barely stop to answer congratulatory texts long enough to consider when and where you'll say "I do."

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To help you stress less and organize what will perhaps be the biggest day of your life, we asked top wedding planners across the country to dish on what do now that you're (finally) engaged. Spoiler: Your first task involves celebrating and a lot of Champagne.

1
Celebrate Accordingly

"Many couples want to go right to social media to share the big news, but I recommend couples celebrate together and share the big news with their family and friends first." — Jove Meyer, Jove Meyer Events

2
Assess Your Guests

"Before you start looking at venues, sit down and write out an actual list of all the guests you want to invite and aks your parents to do the same. You'll get a good idea of a realistic guest count, which will help narrow down your venue search." —Tzo Ai Ang, Ang Weddings & Events

3
Leave It to the Pros

"Hire vendors you respect and whose work you adore, so you can trust them to do their job. Wedding planning is only as stressful as you allow it to be. If you love and trust your team, then it can be a fun and exciting process!" —Jove Meyer, Jove Meyer Events

4
Hold Off on Your Venue Search

"If you're thinking about hiring a wedding planner, engage them first before you even start looking at wedding venues. They'll be able to suggest the best venues for your style, guest count, season and budget." —Tzo Ai Ang, Ang Weddings & Events

5
Agree on a Budget

"It's not romantic, but before any planning takes place, it's very necessary to have a candid—and potentially uncomfortable—conversation about wedding expenses and who will be contributing to the budget. It doesn't make sense to pull together your dream moodboard or reach out to vendors until you have an idea of what you want to spend. There are also important considerations about who gets to make ultimate decisions, particularly if a parent or other "stakeholder" is footing the bill." —Erica Taylor Haskins, TINSEL Experiential Design

6
Make That Two Budgets...

"Create an uncomfortable and comfortable budget number. You may not know how to allocate from there, but going into a bunch of contracts without allocating a budget will get you into trouble real fast." ——Alison Laesser-Keck & Bryan Keck, Alison | Bryan Destinations

7
Hire a Planner

"Yes, we'll say it. If you're hiring a planner, don't do a thing until you hire one. It doesn't cost extra to bring them on board before venue hunting, and it very well may be the most important move you make and contract you negotiate. With that being said, if you're not hiring someone, go ahead and create your guest list." —Alison Laesser-Keck & Bryan Keck, Alison | Bryan Destinations

8
Schedule an Engagement Shoot

"Once you have a photographer secured, schedule an engagement shoot. Not so much for the benefit of Facebook or the 'gram, but to get comfortable smiling and posing together as the primary subjects of someone else's camera. That way, by your wedding day, you won't be worried about stilted smiles or what to do with your hands (hint: hold each other's)." —Erica Taylor Haskins, TINSEL Experiential Design

9
Commit to Dating (Each Other)

"Throughout your engagement, it can be easy to slip into wedding planning mode 100-percent of the time, which is generally less fun and romantic than it sounds. Make sure all your conversations aren't wedding-centric, and carve out time to do things as a normal, happy couple just as you did before the ring." —Erica Taylor Haskins, TINSEL Experiential Design

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