I’ve noticed a lot of engagements happening recently. My Facebook wall is full of changed-relationship-status declarations and it makes me so happy to see that some awesome folks have decided to get married. Then, inevitably, a few days after each initial announcement, I see a public Facebook status freak-out: “I’m engaged! Now what?!” Wedding-planning can be daunting, crazy, and confusing; well-meaning friends and relatives have a thousand different ideas of what to do next. Of course, the problem you bump into is: your friends haven’t gotten married and are going with what they’ve seen in movies; your Auntie Muriel helped plan a wedding in 1986 and things may be different nowadays… So what do you tackle first?

      As a recently married woman and a wedding vendor, I thought I’d write these quick tips for my friends who have just gotten engaged instead of posting the same list as a comment to each frenzied Facebook status. I figure that maybe more people than those on my friends list would find this helpful. Please note that these are just ideas that I’ve accumulated in my own planning and what I’ve picked up since.

      1. First, ENJOY. Bask in this beautiful moment. You probably don’t need telling twice.
      2. Start reading A Practical Wedding to keep you grounded. Seriously — this is one of the best resources for wedding and marriage planning I’ve ever seen. It kept me sane when I thought I was losing my mind wedding-planning. The people who rally there are some of the most level-headed and smart folks, and they inspired me so much that I decided to become a blog sponsor. So you know I believe in it.
      3. Start reading Offbeat Bride to inspire you. A wedding isn’t all taffeta and lace and staunchly-held traditions that mean nothing to you. Make your wedding what you want it to be. The site also has a to-do list that is super helpful (and way more practical than a lot of wedding to-do lists I’ve seen)!
      4. On that note, join a wedding forum and keep most of your wedding-related rambles and planning thoughts contained to the forum. I’d suggest the Offbeat Bride Tribe; I was a part of the OBT and found it incredibly useful to find an entire population who wanted to talk weddings, were open to non-traditional ideas, and the folks brainstorm DIY projects and provide feedback. Also, by keeping the wedding relegated to just the Tribe, I didn’t let wedding-planning take over my whole life. When things got really frustrating with wedding-planning, it was nice to be able to step back from that space.
      5. As far as weddings go, the guest list plus your budget are the biggest obstacles, in my opinion. The guest list decides the venue, and the venue’s availability decides the date. Of course, there are no rules that say you have to figure out the final guest list before you do any other planning — you can always tailor the guest list to fit the venue, like Walt and I did with our wedding, since we knew we wanted a backyard wedding — so starting to plan with a murky idea of how many people you’d like to have, and around what time of year, will help to shape your wedding.

      Everything else is just preference! I hope this helped you!

      For the record, I am a sponsor of both A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride, but I’m not getting any kickbacks from writing this. I am a sponsor for those sites because I truly like them.


      I’m so glad I know this from being in the industry before getting engaged.

      As someone who’s been married for a few months, I totally agree with everything you said! I’d add START with a budget and stick to it. Your wedding should fit your budget, not the other way around. Never go into debt for your wedding. Marriage is hard enough without starting out with a big credit card debt. Definitely enjoy the experience (I know, this is impossible) and don’t sweat the details (I know, another impossible). I was amazed on the date of my wedding how little all the details I had spent months agonizing over mattered.

      Step 6. Hire Elissa to shoot your wedding!! :-D Love this E!

      Haha, thanks Em :) Glad you liked it!