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The First Five Things To Do When Planning a Wedding

Congratulations! You’re engaged (or thinking of getting engaged soon)! You’ve got the ring and celebrated with loved ones. Now, you’re ready to dive into wedding planning. Before you do, though, here are the first FIVE things to do to kickstart the wedding planning process.


1. Decide When You Want To Get Married

Sounds simple enough, right? If you are currently engaged, you probably already have something in mind for when you want to get married. However, it would be good to sit down with your partner and talk about it. What year do you want to get married in? Do you want a spring wedding? Fall wedding? Something else? How long do you need for wedding planning and saving?

Another good thing to keep in mind is holidays. If you have a lot of out of town guests, it might be helpful to get married when they have a 3-day weekend. However, getting married around a holiday can have its own challenges. For example, the cost of florals tend to skyrocket around Mother’s Day, and it can be harder to get ahold of certain types of flowers. Also, people may prefer to go on a family vacation around the holidays. This could work in your favor or against it, depending on how important it is for you to have all of your guests in attendance.

Do not pick an exact date unless it has a significant meaning in your life. When you go to tour wedding venues, you can’t guarantee they’ll have your exact date available. In fact, Chattanooga wedding venue owner, Talene, from Howe Farms says that really popular wedding dates typically get booked up to 18 months in advance. A lot of other dates can be taken around a year in advance.

Regardless, you and your partner are going to want a rough idea of when you’d like your wedding to take place before continuing the wedding planning process.

2.  Create a Wedding Email

Before you contact any vendors for anything up for your wedding, create a new email address that is specifically for your wedding. Your regular email likely gets flooded every day with subscriptions and other meaningless mail. Creating a separate email account for wedding related business is helpful for a few reasons.

  1. it allows you to easily find emails from your wedding vendors
  2. it keeps your regular email inbox free from extra clutter
  3. you can turn on push notifications to make sure you never miss an important wedding email
  4. you can log out of the email account after the wedding (and after you’ve received an email with your wedding photos and such)  to avoid getting promotional emails after you’re already married

Make sure to use this email account for anything you do related to the wedding – filling out contact forms, signing contracts, creating a wedding website, etc.

3. Make a List of Wedding Priorities

Every couple has different priorities when it comes to weddings. Ranking your priorities can help give you an idea of many things such as budgets, wedding size, sentimental touches, etc. So, what is most important to you? Do you want a stunning venue overlooking the mountains? Is it vital that every person you’ve ever met is invited to the wedding? Do you want florals draping every inch of the reception space? Is a professional photographer who you “click” with above anything else? Or maybe the only thing you care about is marrying the love of your life and having a huge party afterwards.

Now, there are certain things in a wedding that tend to be more costly – even if it’s not a priority to you. However, a list of priorities will help show you where the majority of your wedding budget will be allocated. It will also help keep you and your partner on the same page going forward.

4. Draft a Guest List

There’s a huge difference between a 30-person wedding and a 300-person wedding. Before you book any vendors or set a budget, it is important to make a rough guest list. You may be surprised at how many people end up on that list. Make an “A” list and a “B” list. An “A” list should have the name of every person that absolutely must be at your wedding. The “B” list is for people you would like to be there. However, it would not ruin your day if they cannot make it. You could even make a “C” list if you’d like to!

The number of guests at your wedding is the #1 thing that can impact how much money you spend on your wedding. More people means more food, more tables and decor, a larger venue space, etc. After looking at your first draft of the guest list, you may reconsider who all you want to be there!

Also, you will need a rough idea of how many people will be attending your wedding before you book a venue. How terrible would it be if you booked a cute little chapel that holds 75 people only to discover later on that there are 150 people you absolutely want at your wedding?! To save yourself from stress later on, create your first guest list draft early.

5. Start Looking into Vendors

The first vendor you need to book is a venue. When you reach out to a photographer, DJ, or anyone else, they are going to need to know when and where you are getting married. How else are they supposed to know if they’re available for your wedding?

Next, start reaching out to vendors that are in high demand. Common examples of this would be a photographer, videographer, wedding planner, and any vendor in your area that people love. For example, there is a DJ based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee that can be completely booked out for a year or more in advance. Most DJs aren’t normally unavailable that far ahead, but this man is amazing at what he does and  is highly sought after. Did you guess who it is? The one and only – The MillionDolla man. So, if there is a particular vendor you know you need as part of your wedding day, then reach out to them asap!

Even if you are not ready to start officially booking vendors, still go ahead and start researching some in your area. Write down the ones that stand out to you. Then, you can figure out how much those vendors cost so that you can create an accurate wedding budget. Let’s be honest – the budgets you find on Pinterest are wildly incorrect. A budget created yourself will be much more personalized.  Remember, it’s a lot easier to stick to a budget when you already know how much your preferred vendors cost. It’s a lot harder to create a budget first only to find out later that you can’t find anyone you like within that price range.


There are a lot of different opinions on what you should do first after getting engaged. However, as a recent bride and a professional photographer in the wedding industry, these five things are what I recommend to make your wedding planning process a lot smoother.

Do you want more wedding planning advice? Get expert tips from the top vendors in East Tennessee (Chattanooga, Knoxville, and surrounding areas) and get wedding inspiration directly from other brides and grooms by visiting this VIP Facebook group: click here to join the Facebook group

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