You’re engaged?! Congratulations! We want you to bask in all the newly engaged glory. Pop some bubbly and don’t panic. We know wedding planning can seem daunting. But, if you tackle some wedding planning tasks early in your engagement, you’ll have a massive headstart.
This list of wedding planning to-dos is not meant to be overwhelming. We want to offer you a clear guide on which important tasks should be done early. That way, the rest of your wedding planning experience is smooth sailing.
For example, our top priority to-do includes setting a budget. Make your life easy and download our free wedding budget spreadsheet here. You should do this before you make your guest list. Why? Each guest on your list costs a finite number of dollars in venue space, rentals, food and drink. You’ll need to know from the outset how much money you have in your wedding budget before you start inviting guests, booking vendors and buying goods.
We’ve tapped experienced wedding industry pros to share which wedding planning tasks you should tackle within the first three months of your engagement. And, for ease, we put them in order of wedding planning priority.
1. Prioritize your significant other & enjoy this time together
“First and foremost, prioritize ways that you can enjoy this time together with your SO! You’re only engaged to each other once. So, take all of the time to attend events specialized for newly engaged couples. Plan date nights to ensure you’re taking time off from wedding planning to appreciate your love for one another.” – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events.
2. Size your engagement ring
“Get your ring sized! You have this gorgeous stunner on your ring finger – please make sure it fits! I have heard such horror stories in the wedding industry of people losing their rings down the drain, at the park, at the gym, etc. because their ring didn’t fit! Don’t let this happen to you!
If you can’t get it down immediately, order some Ring Snuggies in the meantime: a quick fix that will keep that gorgeous ring in place! Speaking of the unthinkable, insure your ring, too. My husband has mine insured through our bank, under our personal property insurance. A few dollars can save you so much headache. You can also get warranties and such through your jewelry!” – Vanessa Hicks Photography
3. Create your budget, then your guest list
“If you want your planning to start off on the right foot and minimize your stress levels, I recommend tackling the two planning silos I believe are the most challenging and will test a couple’s love. That’s the budget and the guest list.
Before you make any purchases or put down deposits, you should know how much money you have to work with. Who is going to be a financial contributor to this budget? And, how do you want to allocate that money? Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to cut corners because you didn’t lay the financial foundation at the outset of your planning.
Your budget will help you establish an estimation on how many guests you can have at your wedding. You may have to set firm boundaries with your parents or other family members who are making a financial contribution on how many of their friends can come to your wedding. You and your fiancé could be in a position where you have to draw a firm line on groups of people like children, co-workers or third cousins.
Whether you plan on hosting 30 or 300 guests, set your limit early on in your planning. Make sure that anyone who has an influence on the guestlist understands your expectations and how many invites you’re allocating to them.” – Maya Holihan, CEO and Founder, EWedded
4. Set a date range
“You may not know your exact wedding date for a while. After all, it depends on many factors—including your dream venue’s availability. But, settling on a general date range like “Summer 2024” or “next fall” will enable you to get your planning process in gear and give it some structure. Plus, it’ll be nice to have an answer when all your friends and family members start asking, “Sooooo, when’s the big day?!” You’ll also get an idea of how long your planning process will be. Having just 90 days to plan your wedding will look a lot different than having a full 12-month timeline.” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
5. Book your wedding planner
“A wedding planner should be your first booking! They will guide you through the entire planning process starting from beginning to end. You can reap the most benefits of your working relationship by bringing them on from the start of planning. Many have unadvertised venues in their back pockets and negotiated discounted rates with vendors. So, the sooner you book, the sooner you save not only money but also your sanity!” – Nora Sheils, Co-Founder of Rock Paper Coin and Founder of Bridal Bliss
6. Start your venue search
“You don’t want to fall in love with your dream venue only to find out they’re fully booked for the next 12 months, right? Wedding venues tend to fill their calendars up to a year in advance or more. So, if you truly want your first pick of venue or have a non-negotiable wedding date already set, start your venue search early. Schedule those site visits as soon as you can.” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
7. Organize your wedding details
“As you start planning your wedding, you’re going to collect endless ideas, checklists, venue and vendor favorites, photo inspiration, pricing guides, contracts, and more. Figure out an organizational system early so that you can keep track of all your wedding-related collateral. It could be Google Drive, Dropbox, a dedicated Pinterest board, a wedding binder, a nifty new calendar app, a color-coded spreadsheet, or a combination of several systems.
Organizing everything before you begin the actual planning process will minimize stress. You’ll allow yourself to hit the ground running with those all-important wedding decisions.” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide
8. Start searching for your dream dress
“Now for my favorite part…start looking for your dress! Bridal dresses are made-to-order, rather than something you can buy off the rack. They often take around eight months to be made. Plus, you’ll need to factor in time for some alterations too.
One of the best things to do at this stage is to look online. Instagram or Pinterest is a great place to start getting ideas. If you look through your screenshots, you’ll likely start to see a trend of similar styles and designers emerge. Create a list of these brands and see where they’re stocked near you, and there you have your list of where to book appointments.” – Sarah Alouache, Creative Director, Designer & Founder of Sarah Alouache Bridal
9. Get a head start on your wedding stationery
“Typically, you send save the dates 6-9 months before your wedding date. But, with weddings taking place seven days a week thanks to the wedding boom, I highly recommend engaged couples get a head start on their very first wedding stationery piece sooner rather than later.
Save the dates are not just a way to officially announce your engagement to family and friends. The announcement will also give guests plenty of time to clear their calendars. Plus, save the dates are a fun and creative planning task. It’s a nice break from vendor meetings and all the other overwhelming details.” – Meghan Shaughnessy, Lace and Belle
Dealing with wedding planning stress? Anxiety begone! Get loads of wellness advice & expert tips from our Planning section.
These tips were gathered with help from Be Inspired PR, a PR + Social Media Agency for wedding, wellness & lifestyle clients. With over 10+ years of experience, we’re here to take our clients to the next level! Find oodles of stylish wedding inspiration on their Instagram & Pinterest.