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Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now what? Engagement is such an exciting time in a woman’s life! But if you’re anything like me when I got engaged, you might have no idea what to do next. After going through the experience myself, helping friends plan weddings, and working at a bridal store, I’ve learned a few things. I also know how to avoid common stresses that come with engagement.

There are a lot of things that can come up in wedding planning that can cause tension and stress. Having open communication with your spouse, family, and in-laws is so important in order to not cause hurt feelings and damaged relationships in the long run. It also makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone!

You will definitely need a planner and checklist for all the minor details that can be easily forgotten. But for now, I’m going to tell you the top 10 things that you need to do right after you get engaged.

1. Set a budget

The average cost of a wedding these days is $35,000. That number is mind-blowing. So, if you or your family can’t afford to spend that much on a wedding, it’s important that you come up with a budget from the get-go. A budget can help you to not spend money on unnecessary extras. This is a decision that all of your other decisions will stem from. It’s also often the most looked over decision that brides make. For example, if you have a tight budget then you may not want to send out save the dates. This means you may also not want to do an engagement photo session, and save that money for the wedding photographer.

If your family is paying for the wedding, I would sit down with them and ask for a specific number that they are willing to spend. Talking about money with family can often be difficult and uncomfortable. While it may be uncomfortable at the time, it’s going to save you from more uncomfortable conversations if you spend too much money down the road.

2. Set a Date

This one is obvious but also important. My husband and I do pre-marital counseling with couples. One of the things we hear couples say over and over again is how hard it is to have a long engagement. A word of advice we give to couples is to try and have as short of an engagement as possible. We’ve even had couples move their wedding date up because of the strain it was putting on their relationship. A lot of people think that you need at least a year to plan a wedding but this just isn’t true! My husband and I planned our wedding with over 300 people in less than 5 months. And even 5 months felt long to us.

While a lot of venues are booked way in advance, you can still find a venue in a short amount of time. You can also adjust your date and have a Friday or Sunday wedding (I got married on a Sunday). If you do plan to have a short engagement you will need to be strategic about what you do first. For example, a wedding dress can take up to 6 months to arrive. So, this will be one of the first things that you will need to get done.

When setting a date, think about what is best for you both as a couple, your relationship will last a lifetime, your wedding is one day.

3. Visit and Book a Wedding and Ceremony Site

This goes hand in hand with setting a date. Sometimes setting a date will depend on the availability of a venue. Once we found the venue that we wanted we learned that our date was already booked so we moved it a day later and had it on a Sunday.

4. Pick a Theme

Picking a theme is also something that you will probably be thinking about when you’re looking for a venue. Do you want it outside/inside, how fancy do you want it to be etc. If you have no clue, Pinterest can always be a helpful tool but it can also be overwhelming. Don’t feel like you have to have the perfect Pinterest wedding, use it to inspire you, not to overwhelm you.

5. Determine your Guest List

Your guest list is often tied to your budget because the amount of money you have to spend on food for everyone can often determine how many people you can have at your wedding. You also often have parents who want to invite all of their friends as well so this can sometimes cause tension in your family.

6. Pick a Dress

It can often take 4-6 months to get a wedding dress in so you will want to find your dress ASAP in order to have enough time for alterations as well. There are a few things you want to think about when you go on the hunt for your dress. How many people do you want in your entourage? Are you easily swayed by other people’s opinions, and if so, how will that impact you choose your perfect dress? Finding a dress should be one of the most wonderful, and fun experiences in your wedding journey. Take time to consider who you want beside you when finding your dress so that it doesn’t become one of the most stressful parts of your wedding planning.

7. Book Caterers, Florists, DJ’s and Photographers

Just like venues, wedding professionals, photographers, and caterers can get booked up fast! Once you find the venue and know whether the venue provides the food, flowers etc. you will need to book all of your main professionals.

8. Choose Wedding Party

Talk to your fiance about how many people you want in your party. Oftentimes one person or the other has more bridesmaids/grooms so it’s important to know if you want to have the exact same number on both sides or if you’re ok with having different

9. Book Engagement Photos and Send Save the Dates

If you choose to send out save the dates, you will want to either book a photographer or choose a photo that you already have and create and send save the dates. One way to save money on these is to make postcard size save the dates. They are a little smaller than normal cards but you will save money on envelopes and postage!

10. Decide How to Plan Your Wedding

A wedding planner can help in so many ways and save you from a lot of stress. But they can also be pricey! It’s also easy to think that you can just plan the wedding yourself. However there are so many details involved in even a small wedding, it’s best to have at least one go-to person to help you. If you choose not to hire a planner, decide on who you want to help you with planning. This could be anyone from your mom, to your best friend.

My last word of advice would be to not stress over the details. This is often what brides get hung-up on and hinder them from enjoying their special day. Yes, some things may fall through the cracks or not get done perfectly on your day, but this is not something that should take away from the one day you marry the person you love. Slow down, enjoy every moment and don’t fret the details.