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You’re engaged! Now what? After planning and coordinating weddings for over 30 years, I’ve come up with seven different starting points. Take a look.

  1. Guest List – This is a great starting point because it will help you determine your budget, based on the number of people you want to accommodate. On your list, include your wedding party, both parents’ lists, and whoever is in your life that you want to share your special day with. You can prioritize them (A-list, B-list, C-list), in case you need to pare down or even beef up your event. There are a couple of terrific free databases that you can easily enter your info into. The Knot has a guest list planner (, and WeddingWire has planning tools (, that even feed into a seating chart, as well as many other applications. And it’s easy!
  2. Budget – The dreaded money muncher!! Don’t worry, it’s not that hard to figure out where to spend on what, even if you’re just having a low-key get-together with a few of your closest friends. Here’s a common way to divide the funds:
  3. Wedding Style –  Of course you probably already know that there are zillions of styles of weddings these days (I’ve even done one with a dirtbike theme!). But the basic list includes: Classic, Modern, Rustic/Farm, Boho, and Fantasy. Choosing your style will help you decide how much you’ll need to spend, and how many people you can accommodate.
  4. Wedding Colors – Okay, colors aren’t an imperative point in planning, but they really can help you get started. Think of the style you want, then incorporate the colors you love. You can even toss in his favorite colors for good measure… (or at least work them in somehow). Pantone (the color masters), put out a “Pantone Color of the Year” every year. It’s worth taking a look at if you like to stay trendy. For 2018, the color is UltraViolet. Take a look: You may even get some inspiration!
  5. Date – Everyone is going to be asking you for this, so why not take the plunge. However, your venue where you’re holding your ceremony and/or reception will play a huge part in choosing your date. If you’re dead set on having a memorable number like 7/11, or something, start looking for your venue(s) first. You may have to push your engagement out further in order to get the exact date you want. If you’re flexible, things are a bit simpler to plan. (By the way, it’s okay to be inflexible. It’s your day!)
  6. Wedding Party – You may have been dreaming of asking your Maid of Honor to take her rightful place, since third grade. But if not, now is the time to start thinking about who you want as attendants for your wedding. This could drive the style of wedding you have. If you have eight siblings and five close friends you want to include, your chances of having a low-key affair are slim! I once did a Samoan wedding that had 20 female and 20 male attendants. No kidding! Have fun choosing, then enjoy inviting them to join. There are myriad ways to ask attendants to be part of your wedding. Check out Pinterest if you need a nudge. Otherwise, just text them!
  7. Timeline – This may seem a bit analytic, but you’ll be happy you did it. A timeline can be a simple line you draw on the back of a napkin, with all the things that have to happen before the big day squished somewhere on the line. I prefer something more formal (like Excel, or something online), but whatever works for you is best. From your timeline, you can easily create a “To-do List.” If your brain is frozen, take a look in any bridal magazine, or use one of the links listed in point #1 above. Working from a hard and fast To-do List will help you enlist help. And trust me, you want as much help as possible!

These are just a few ways to get started. As you begin to move forward, things will come into focus and a natural progression of planning will come. If you feel frozen like a deer-in-the-headlights, do the brave thing and hire a planner! She’ll put everything in order for you and keep you on track. No matter how you choose to move forward, try to enjoy this special engagement time and keep the wonderful memories as you go!