Justine Russo Photography

So, you just got engaged. You’ve probably been quite busy over the past few days staring at your ring, updating your Facebook status, and celebrating with family and friends. Now, it’s time to get down to the business of planning your wedding. It may seem overwhelming at first, but we promise, it’s completely manageable – and we’re here to help. So, where should you start? Here’s a list of the first five things you must do (in order!) to begin planning your wedding:

1. Set Your Budget Meet with all of the parties who will be contributing financially to the wedding and plan out who will pay for what, and how much you’re willing to set aside. Make sure everyone is on the same page before continuing with your planning process. Note that the average cost of a wedding is about $25,000, and your biggest expenses will likely be your reception venue and catering. Use our Budget Tool to help you get organized.

2. Pick a Date Break out the calendar and figure out which days will (and won’t) work for your wedding day. It’s important to think about national and religious holidays, as well as events in the city or town where you’re marrying that might cause major traffic snarls and travel tie-ups (think parades, major conventions, etc.) before choosing your date. Also, note that Saturday weddings in June and September are very popular (and therefore, expensive), if you’re looking to save money, consider dates in the winter months or on Fridays, Sundays, or even weeknights.

3. Make a Guest List Before you start looking at venues, you’ll need to know around how many guests you’ll host. While you don’t have to have a final number for a while, there’s a big difference between a wedding for 30 and a wedding for 300 – so make sure both families have the same expectations when it comes to the guest list. Check out our Guest List Tool to get started.

4. Book a Venue First, think about the type of venue (and wedding style!) you’re looking for. A laid-back beach setting, a grand hotel, a modern loft space, a rustic barn, or something else? Start doing some research on our Vendor Finder and visit several venues before making a decision.

5. Consider a Wedding Planner Wedding coordinators can take much of the stress out of planning. Whether you just need assistance on the day of or would like help from start to finish, check out our Vendor Finder to connect with planners in your area.

What are the next steps? Take a peek at our Wedding Checklist to find out, and be sure to follow this blog for more tips and inspiration. Happy Planning!