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You are engaged! Now what?

Congratulations on your engagement! Is this your first time getting married? Here are some basic tips to help you get started:

1. Wait a minute before you plan.

While it may be tempting to immediately start booking a venue and choosing outfits once you're engaged, it's important to refrain from making any significant decisions until you've had important discussions with your partner and families regarding budgets and expectations. Without a clear idea of your spending limit, you won't be able to secure a venue, and it's crucial to be aware beforehand of any unspoken expectations from your parents regarding the formality or size of the wedding. While they may not have the final say in these matters, their input will influence your planning process in some way.

2. Prepare yourself for sticker shock.

Weddings depicted in movies and TV shows often come with a high price tag. Many of them showcase elements that exceed the total budget for catering alone, so it's common to experience sticker shock when beginning to plan your own wedding. It's important to realize that having unrealistic expectations is not unusual (those weddings on screen appeared quite reasonable!) and feeling sticker shock is a typical reaction. By approaching your planning process with this knowledge, you can avoid setting unrealistic expectations, especially when it comes to the affordability of a five-tiered wedding cake.

3. Say No!

Many wedding "traditions" are not truly traditional (some are actually creations of pop culture or marketing), so feel free to remove anything that is not essential. Take a moment to reflect before making any significant wedding planning choices and question yourselves, "Is this truly our preference?" and firmly reject anything that does not align.

4. Research real wedding budgets.

One of the most valuable resources for planning a wedding is gaining insights from the experiences of other couples. Even if weddings are not your forte, learning that a stylish $3,000 wedding can feature a complimentary venue, photography as a gift, and a dress from a thrift store can be beneficial.

5. Rethink "Wedding".

If you are organizing a wedding on a budget of under $10,000 (adjust for local wedding expenses), it's important to change your vision of what a wedding should be like. Hosting a formal seated dinner in an upscale ballroom may not be feasible. However, a casual family-style taco bar at a park you love could be a great alternative! Remember, you can get creative beyond just the venue. Opting for a morning wedding with a breakfast buffet and mimosas will cost much less than a traditional steak and potatoes dinner (and can be equally enjoyable!)

6. Set your priorities (and then stick to them).

Take a seat with your partner and create a list of your top wedding priorities. These could involve maximizing the number of guests, providing top-quality food and drinks, or hosting a spectacular celebration. Stay focused on these priorities. If you start stressing about the expense of flowers later on, question whether having an Instagram-worthy floral display was among your priorities. If not, release that worry. Seek a budget-friendly alternative or simply let it go.

7. Avoid the detail trap.

It can be tempting to focus on the multitude of details surrounding a wedding day, such as decorations, attire, and photographs. However, consider the weddings or events you have attended. Do you recall the centerpieces, menus, or clever signs at the entrance? Most likely not. The essence of a truly memorable event lies beyond these tangible elements. It is about the individuals present, the atmosphere, and the unique moment shared. When you find yourself worrying about the expenses of elaborate centerpieces, remind yourself that it is not these specifics that create lasting memories of a wedding.

8. Pick your battles.

Parental expectations can cause significant stress during wedding planning. Keep in mind that your parents and grandparents may have envisioned your wedding long before you even found your partner. While this doesn't excuse their behavior, try to be understanding and choose your conflicts carefully. If a particular aspect is very important to your family but only slightly matters to you, consider letting them have their way. However, it's essential to stand your ground when necessary: Uphold your values, set boundaries, and avoid being overly accommodating.

9. Don't make money assumptions.

Traditional assumptions about who should cover the costs of your wedding may not align with the actual financial situations of you or your parents. It's important to openly discuss this matter with all involved parties. If the idea of asking for financial support is causing you anxiety, begin by posing less daunting inquiries such as, "Do you have any preferences for our wedding?" This can lead to a more direct question like, "Were you considering making any financial contributions?"

10. Use your hobbies as inspiration.

If you're not feeling inspired by traditional weddings, reflect on your and your partner's hobbies and interests during your free time or on weekends. Then, explore ways to integrate those aspects into your wedding celebration. Whether you enjoy beer and pizza, exploring art galleries, or playing at arcades, these activities can serve as a foundation for shaping the ambiance and style of your wedding.

11. Cross it off before you start.

Many online wedding checklists cater to weddings with high budgets. However, much of the content is not essential. When using a platform such as, make use of the trashcan icon to remove items that do not resonate with you and your partner.

12. Build your budget from your savings account.

If you're wondering about the affordability of your wedding, determine your average monthly savings (or the amount you can save by being thrifty), and then multiply it by the duration of your engagement. Voilà! You now have an approximate notion of your budget for the wedding.

13. Do the math.

When considering the cost of an all-inclusive venue or package wedding deal, it's common to believe that you could achieve the same for a lower price. However, before making that decision, it's important to carefully calculate all expenses. Renting furniture, hiring servers, and managing logistics for an a la carte wedding may ultimately turn out to be more costly, not to mention the time required to organize everything.

14. Don't have a wedding you don't want.

If deep down you feel that you are not willing to invest the time and money in a large event, think about eloping instead. If it aligns with your culture and relationship dynamics, communicate to your family if you are considering a big wedding just to please them. There might be a compromise between a grand wedding and eloping, such as a smaller separate ceremony or a family-organized reception where your only duty is to attend, which could satisfy everyone involved.

15. Create a burner email account just for your wedding.

To save money while planning your wedding, consider subscribing to promotional emails from wedding brands. However, avoid using your personal email address to prevent potential regrets. Instead, create a dedicated email account solely for wedding-related correspondence. Just remember to check it regularly!

16. Tackle your to-do list from big to small.

It is important to start by discussing your wedding priorities, budget, and overall vision before finalizing the guest list and venue. Once these key elements are decided, you can then focus on arranging food, drinks, and essential vendors such as catering and coordination. After that, you can move on to secondary vendors, and lastly, concentrate on outfits, decorations, and other details. Attempting to plan in the opposite order may result in details that do not align with the overall theme of your wedding.

Make sure to keep up to date on my social media and posts! There are plenty more tips and tricks coming your way and you will not want to miss out!

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