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We hear it from couples all the time... you've gotten engaged, you've been caught up in the joy of the moment (as you should be), but then the questions begin. When are you getting married? Where are you getting married? Have you booked a venue yet? Did you know you need a year's lead time to order your dress? You can go from elation to overwhelm in a matter of days or weeks. That's where we come in. Below you'll find 5 first steps for starting your wedding planning journey.

TIP ONE: Dream together.

Order take out, stay in, turn off your phones and dream about your upcoming wedding day. Large or intimate? Formal or casual? What vendors are most important to you? The caterer? The florist? The photographer? Write down your top three priorities and refer back to those throughout your planning journey.

TIP TWO: Pick a date.

As soon as you announce your engagement, people will start asking you the wedding date. It helps to be ready with an answer! It doesn’t have to be an exact date (and often that will depend on your venue) – a month or even a season will do to help you narrow down your options.

TIP THREE: Establish a budget.

The rest of your planning will be dependent upon your budget, so it’s important to determine and communicate your overall budget up-front. Depending on who will be paying, sit down with one or both sets of parents, or just the two of you, and come up with a number that is realistic. Also determine when and how you will have access to funds. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s important to have as soon as possible.

TIP FOUR: Determine a guest count.

Before you start looking at venues, you’ll need to have a good idea of how many people you will be inviting. Start by writing down a preliminary list just the two of you. It can be helpful to share your overall guest count with parents ahead of time so they have a realistic understanding of how many extended family members and friends they can anticipate inviting themselves. Although a wedding day is a celebration for all, it is YOUR day, so clear, but respectful communication is vital.

TIP FIVE: Gather inspiration and HAVE FUN!

Now that you’ve narrowed down the season, venue size, type of event, and budget… you can start with the fun part! Buy a pile of wedding magazines, scour blogs that resonate with you, start following some inspirational accounts re: social media. A Pinterest board may be helpful in gathering images you love (and can be easily shared with vendors if needed). Your vendors can help you narrow down what is realistic, accessible, etc. but this can be a great starting point. MOST IMPORTANTLY, enjoy. This is supposed to be fun! After setting a solid foundation, and having the right vendors in place, you’ll feel supported and truly enjoy your wedding planning experience from start to finish.

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