The first 5 things you need to do after you get engaged

 A groom hugs his fiance while she shows off her engagement ring during their engagement portrait session in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Woo-whoo! You just had the most magical moment of your life and have a sparkly ring on your left hand to show for it! But after the initial shock wears off, you may look at all the wedding planning to do and wonder, "What do I do next?"

So in this installment of our Bride Advice series, we're sharing the first 5 things you need to do after you say, "Yes!" Read on to learn from our experience as wedding professionals, and as fiances who planned our own wedding!

 A groom dips his fiance and kisses her during their engagement portrait session near the Suspension Bridge in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

1. ENJOY IT!

It can be tempting once you get a ring on your finger to immediately start wedding planning. But before you do, take a little time to enjoy the excitement of getting engaged! You just had the love of your life ask you to be his wife and spend the rest of your life with him. Don’t let the planning process overshadow the significance of what just happened!

And don't just enjoy it now, figure out how you can keep enjoying this time! Wedding planning can get stressful. There are a lot of decisions for you to make, and everyone will be looking to you for answers. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful process if you keep the big picture in mind. You’re not just planning a big party, you’re planning the celebration of your marriage. So vow now to enjoy the process, and when stress comes, to take a step back and look at the big picture.

 A groom kisses his fiance's cheek during their engagement portrait session in Dallas, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

2. Plan for your marriage

Speaking of big picture, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do immediately after getting engaged is not wedding planning, but marriage planning! Seriously, if you get nothing else out of this blog, remember that. Maybe you and your sweetie have already had long conversations about the type of marriage you want...or maybe not. But either way, now is the time to plan for the success of your marriage. Take some marriage courses, meet with a marriage therapist or your officiant for some premarital counseling, or at the very least, have some honest conversations about what you want your marriage to look like. We believe this step is so important we gift our Sweethearts a copy of The 5 Love Languages to help them have these marriage-planning conversations. Because when the ceremony is over and you have all your wedding images in an album on your coffee table, the daily task of living in your marriage begins...and keeps going day-in and day-out for years to come.

 A view from the balcony during a catholic wedding ceremony in Sweet Home, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

3. Determine the type of wedding you both want

There are as many unique wedding styles as there are couples, so start talking about what you like...or what you definitely don’t. A massive party in a hotel ballroom with hundreds of guests? Eloping on the side of a mountain with just you two, your officiant and a photographer? Something in between? Talk through what type of couple you are and what ceremony is perfect for y'all.

Decide what season you want to be married in, or if there is a specific date you'd like as your wedding date. Think ahead of life changes coming up in your calendar (i.e., graduations or new jobs) and figure out how those affect your wedding planning and/or date.  Realistically consider how long you need to plan to achieve the wedding you want. If your busy schedule or the type of wedding you want doesn’t allow for a quick planning process, you may need to push the wedding date back a few months or into next year.

 A summer wedding ceremony at Stone Hall at The Springs in McKinney, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

4. Budget!

The next thing you really, really, really should do is create a budget for your wedding. We know, budgeting is not exciting or glamorous. It’s so much more fun to pick out a wedding dress or go taste-testing for your cake. But trust us, having a budget allows you to make smart decisions when planning your wedding. Every consultation you have with wedding professionals will go so much more smoothly if you have at least a ballpark idea of what you can spend on their services.

Having a budget also helps you know what’s important to you. Because if you’ve always dreamed of having certain flowers at your wedding and then discover it’ll cost hundreds more than you thought, you can decide if there are other areas of your budget you can adjust...or figure out an acceptable alternative for your floral arrangements.

So talk with your fiance, talk with your parents (if they’re contributing to the budget), and figure out what you realistically can and want to spend on your wedding. If you need help figuring out your budget, you can reach out to wedding planners for a budget consultation. This is a meeting where you can talk about your wedding plans and an expert will help you craft a budget for your big day. Two central Texas planners we love who offer this service are Taylor Bible Weddings and Karla McNeill Events. A planner’s knowledge of the realistic cost of weddings in your area is extremely valuable, and they can even help guide you in the best ways to get the most out of your budget and have the wedding of your dreams.

 A groom and bride embraces with a sunset behind them on their wedding day at Bear Creek in Gatesville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

5. Book your big 3 wedding professionals

Once you have a budget in place, you can now start ticking off all the actual planning to-dos on your list. But of all your tasks, there are 3 big wedding professionals' services you need to book ASAP after getting engaged.

  • Your venue - Where you are going to get married is one of the first decisions you need to make, because this is a huge factor in the date of your ceremony. If you have a specific date in mind, you’ll need to find a venue who has that date available. If you have a general time of year in mind for your wedding, picking a venue will help you pick your wedding date based on their availability. Some venues, particularly ones whose main purpose is weddings, book months or even a year out. So you don’t want to wait in securing your venue, especially if you want a certain date, or a certain venue!

  • Your planner/day-of coordinator - We’ve already highlighted the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons you should have a wedding planner on the blog, so we won’t discuss that here. But if you’re even thinking you need a planner or day-of services with a wedding coordinator, you should hire this wedding professional very soon after getting engaged. She or he will be able to help you plan your budget, design your dream wedding, and help connect you with the perfect-for-you wedding professionals who will make your dream a reality.

  • Your photographer(s) - We don't list your photographers next because we’re photographers and we think we're the most important. Trust us, we don't think that. No, the reason you should book your photographers ASAP is because our calendars get full fast, especially if you are getting married on a popular day (like say, Saturday 8-18-18). Most other wedding professionals have a team working for them and have the ability to commit to more than one wedding any given day. But unless your photographer has associates working for them, they can only photograph one wedding a day. And once they’re booked, they’re booked. So you really don’t want to wait to book your photographer and then not be able to get the one you want because they’re already photographing someone else’s wedding on your day.

    (Not sure how to pick out the perfect photographer for your wedding day? Stay tuned for our blog post covering that topic next week!)

If you do these 5 things ASAP after getting engaged, you'll set you and your Sweetheart up for success and have great memories of the time you planned your wedding!

Did any of these 5 steps seem surprising, or super helpful? Let us know in the comments below!