1. Take a breath. Sit down, get some food, enjoy a little alone time with your new fiance. Chances are after all the excitement, you will be starving.
2. Tell your parents! They should be the first to know, even if they knew it was happening. Give them a call, or go tell them in person if they’re close by!
3. Tell your siblings, close friends, grandparents, and close family members. Basically, tell anyone who should know before the world knows. After this, tell the world (Facebook).
4. Get a manicure. I mean, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine, so I didn’t, but I did file them and give them a clear coat. Everyone will be staring at your ring finger, so make sure your hands look decent.
5. Decide on a date. When I say “date” I mean time frame. How long do you want your engagement to be? Do you want your wedding in the summer or fall? The first question people will ask you is “When is the wedding?” even if you haven’t had a moment to think about it, so give them something, even if it is just “sometime in 2015.”
6. Decide on a city, style, and size for your wedding. A destination wedding will typically have a smaller guest list. It’s never too early to start making a guest list so you can get an idea of how many people you want to invite. (I suggest doing so in a spreadsheet in Google Drive. Your life will be easier if you use Google Drive.) If you know that you want to invite over 200 people, you don’t want to later be disappointed when your dream venue only accommodates 90 guests.
7. Set a budget. While this is going to be the best day of your life, you don’t want to be paying for it for the next 20 years, and your parents don’t, either. Start estimating how much you are able or willing to spend on each item (I’m just going to go ahead and remind you that you need 3 stamps for each invite — outer envelope, RSVP envelope, and thank you notes… and that’s a lot of money on stamps).
8. Search for venues. This can be really fun, or really stressful. I recommend communicating with venues before visiting and taking a glance at their policies and prices (and as many pictures as you can find online) first. Some churches don’t do weddings for non-members, some have strict policies on photography, and some require you to use their minister. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at two locations, you might also want to consider distance between the venues. Narrow down your selection to just a few, and visit those.
9. Don’t buy a bunch of bridal magazines. Seriously, it’s a waste of money. Buy one or two at the store, but don’t subscribe. The best thing about them is looking at different dresses and styles and figuring out what you like. Once you find your wedding dress, you won’t want to look at them anymore.
10. Stay organized. I already mentioned Google Drive. Keep your guest list (along with shower, rehearsal dinner, and e-party guest lists), list of potential vendors, and copies of contracts here. Your fiance, wedding planner, MOH, and parents can all access whichever document you share with them. I’d also recommend keeping a Notebook with a copy of your contracts, fabric swatches, contact info, and any other notes. It will be easier to quickly flip through this than trying to find the fine print on your smart phone.
11. Take a Break. After finding your venues and thinking about all your other vendors and list of things to do, you might be feeling burned out. Take a week or two with your pre-husband (or pre-wife) and relax. Maybe even go on a little vacation.
12. Celebrate! Sometime among all the planning, you’re going to be having engagement parties, showers, and fun with your bridesmaids. Enjoy it!