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How to Plan a Wedding: What to Do After Getting Engaged

Newly engaged and not sure where to start? As professional wedding planners, we know most couples have no idea how to plan a wedding. In fact, in their excitement to get moving, they often skip important steps that will make their planning process smoother. Let us save you from making those same mistakes. Follow our list below of what to do after getting engaged.

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Step 1: Set a budget

The first step that will save you from heartbreak later in your planning process is to get real about your budget. 

This can be a ballpark number for now, but you won’t book the same venue or vendors with a $25,000 budget that you would with a $125,000 budget. 

If others are helping you pay for the wedding, now is the time to have an open conversation about how much they would like to contribute.

Step 2: Talk about your guest list

Similarly, your budget goes a lot further if you’re inviting 50 guests than it does for 200 people. You won’t know how to plan your wedding until you know approximately how many people will be there.

Guest lists can also be emotional. Maybe you’ve always pictured a small wedding and your parents have their hearts set on inviting all of their friends. Make sure to get on the same page about how you want your wedding day to feel and who is important to include.

Once you decide on your budget and a rough guest count, you can calculate your target per-guest cost. This number needs to cover everything from the big items like your venue to the tiniest details, like the napkins you choose, so consider this piece carefully before you book any of your vendors.

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Step 3: Choose a season

Your ideal spring wedding might look very different from your perfect winter wedding, from colors to attire to decor. Decide what time of year you want to get married so you can start forming a mental picture of your day. Keep in mind that if you have your heart set on a popular venue, you may have to be flexible on season or book a date a year or more out.

Step 4: Get clear on your vision

Before you hire any vendors, gather inspiration images and start forming opinions about what you like and what you don’t. Do you want bright and colorful, light and neutral, or dark and moody? Do you want a casual backyard barbecue, a sleek black tie affair, or something in between? Think about your “must-have” and your “absolutely-do-not-wants”. You don’t need to know exactly what you want your day to look like, but think about how you want it to feel.

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Step 5: Hire your planner

Your planner should be the very first vendor you hire, because we can help you allocate your budget to match your priorities in order to bring your vision to life. If you love flowers, we can tell you how much of your budget to reserve for incredible arrangements. If photos are the most important thing, we can help you find a photographer that matches the photography style you’re looking for, as well as your budget. Without pausing to thoughtfully allocate your budget, you’re likely to overspend in one area and start feeling the squeeze before you’ve accounted for all the necessities.

Your planner will also help you think through the logistics of the day and create a smooth and cohesive experience for your guests. We help solve problems before they arise, making sure everyone gets where they need to be on time and ensuring that your guests have a great time from the moment they arrive to the very last song.

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Step 6: Choose your venue

Your planner can help you find venues that fit your vision and your budget. The availability of your venue will determine your wedding date, so choose your venue next, then work with your planner to find the rest of the vendor team that will bring your day to life.

We hope this list has helped you get clear on the first steps of how to plan a wedding after getting engaged! Take it one step at a time and don’t be afraid to lean on experts, and your day will come together beautifully.

Havard Events & Design is a boutique wedding planning and design studio serving Washington, DC, and beyond. We specialize in timeless designs, obsess over the smallest of details, and create events that feel as good as they look. 

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