Just Got Engaged? Here Are 5 Key Steps to Start Planning Your Wedding Now

By Shayna Seid

Picture this: you recently said, “Yes,” to your fiancé—and have submitted your engagement story to Over The Moon—and now you want to start the initial steps to wedding planning but don’t know where to begin or which are the most important tasks to cross off your list first. Don’t worry, we’re here to help, and our friends (and now your friends) are the top wedding planners in the industry. You may be already flanked with questions from all of your friends and relatives on the venue, date, dress, wedding party, and more. And while those are great questions, there are some key aspects of planning that you’ll need to figure out from the get go, in order to have a smooth sail to the altar. Whether or not you decide to hire a wedding planner, the premier tasks are pretty consistent. Below five steps to start planning your wedding now:

Photo: Sarah Falugo

1. Start to Define Your Vision

“Start by simply defining the experience you are looking for,” Matthew Robbins of Robbins Otoya Destinations expertly advises. “Is it seaside or tropical? Island or mountains? Old world charm or chic, urban vibes?” If you have no idea what you want, say hello to your new best friend: Over The Moon’s Instagram and real weddings section. “These general descriptions will allow you to get a handle on what the story is that you plan to tell. Once you have these details you can dive into finding the perfect location.”

Photo: Norman & Blake

2. Get an Accurate Guest Count

“The very first step is writing down a real guest list,” planner extraordinaire Marcy Blum shares. And if you’re thinking of doing a destination event, it’s safe to assume that more guests than a local event won’t be able to attend. “People often say to me, ‘It will be 200 guests,’ and then when I insist they write it down, it might actually be 150 or 250, which of course will have an effect on suitable venue choice.”

Photo: Melia Lucida

3. Determine If You Want a Planner

If you are able to hire a planner, we are all for it, and hiring one from the very start of your wedding journey is recommended. Planners are obviously the most knowledgable about everything wedding-related, but they also have trade secrets. If you really want to get married in X location, but can’t find the right public venue, a planner might know a few private venues or up-and-coming ones to recommend. There are hundreds of options, when looking at who to hire too, so here is our guide to Over The Moon’s favorite planners.

“Interview planners not just whose style but whose ethos you’re most aligned with,” Alison Laesser-Keck of Alison Bryan Destinations says. “A planner is intimately involved in your finances and your family, so find one that you can connect with and really trust. Try not to choose a date, a venue, or attire just yet—hire a professional first. If you’re extra excited and couldn’t help but jump on any of those things, it can still work, of course, but it’s kind of like one big puzzle, making a few moves can easily pigeonhole you into decisions and create a domino effect for everything that’s to come. Give yourself flexibility from the very beginning, if you can.”

Photo: KT Merry

4. Calculate a Flexible Yet Accurate Budget

No one knows this better than George Banks: A realistic budget can make all the difference and help avoid tension, arguments, and other things of that nature. “While there may seem like endless possibilities when it comes to creating your dream wedding day, having a flexible budget can help ensure that everything you want is achievable,” New Orleans-based planner Michelle Norwood shares. “It’s important to understand weddings almost always cost more than we initially anticipated. So many couples forget to factor in the small details which can add up to big costs. Allow extra room in your guestimates, so you can create the event you desire without having overwhelming financial stress afterwards.”

Photo: Perry Vaile

5. Find a Location and Set The Date

Once you have the beginning stages of  your wedding vibe, an accurate guest count, an estimated budget, and maybe a planner by your side, you’ll start looking at locations. “As things have gotten so busy and venues are booked so early post-Covid, the very first concrete step is to nail down a venue,” Blum advises. Still don’t know where to start? Here is a guide to some of our favorite U.S. and destination wedding venues.

Hopefully some of your anxiety has been calmed by this intro course to wedding planning and maybe even turned to sheer excitement. And once you do walk back down the aisle as a newlywed, we’d love to see how everything came together. Click here to submit your wedding to Over The Moon, so the chain of inspiration will live on.