Recently Engaged? The first 10 steps – Virginia Wedding Photographer

Wedding Wednesdays

Curtis and Kristen got engaged at Christopher Newport University.  Curtis and Kristen got engaged at Christopher Newport University.

So you just got engaged? Congratulations!!! I know how exciting this time can be. You feel like you’re floating on cloud 9 and everything is perfect. I recently got engaged too, so I know exactly what it is like. Today we are starting a blog series called Wedding Wednesdays! I will be sharing wedding tips and tricks with you to help you plan your wedding. I am no wedding expert but I have learned a few things. Here are the first 10 steps you should take after you get engaged:

Step 1- Tell Everyone! 

Let’s break this down a bit. Be sure to tell your family and close friends first. Once your family knows and have given you a few shrieks and squeals, then it is time to tell everyone else. Post a photo of your new gorgeous ring on facebook and instagram. Now sit back and enjoy. It’s time for the most comments and likes you’ve ever gotten. I know this sounds narcissistic, but you deserve this moment of pure happiness. You deserve to be told “congratulations” by 200 people. Enjoy it!

Step 2- Decide if you are going to have an engagement party.

Some couples like to have an engagement party to celebrate this exciting time in their life. If you decide you want to have an engagement party, then you need to start a registry. Make sure your registry is done before you send out invitations for the party. Once your registry is done, start planning your party and send out your invitations. Make sure to tell them where you are registered so they can bring you some fun gifts.
Josh and I chose not to have an engagement party so we have a bit more time to work on our gift registry.

Step 3- Take a deep breath. 

It’s about to be a wild ride. You may have already noticed that everyone likes to ask all kinds of questions. You just got engaged a week ago and people think your wedding is already planned. Whoa! Take a second and breathe. It’s ok. It’s ok that you don’t have a date yet. You’re supposed to be enjoying this time. Just remember to take a breath every time someone asks you a question or gives you advice about your wedding. It will be ok.

Step 4- Dream up your wedding

It’s time to start the planning process. In order to start, you need to put all of your dreams and ideas down on paper. What are things you always wanted when you dreamed of your wedding day? Are those things still something you want? Do you want a total princess fairytale wedding, or maybe a romantic floral wedding? What about a rustic barn wedding or a black tie affair? These things are important to decide before you pick your date and venue.

Here is my vision board for my dream wedding.

Step 5 – Pick your date. 

When choosing your date, you need to factor in the following things: What time of year is best for your ideal wedding? What dates are important to you? What dates do you want to avoid (maybe someone else’s anniversary)? Will people be able to get off work easily to attend? Pick your favorite date, but make sure to have a back up date.
Here’s a little secret: Fridays and Sundays are usually cheaper days. Venues often offer a $500-$1000 discount for getting married on a day other than Saturday. We chose to get married on Sunday September 4, 2016. This date is right in the middle of my birthday and Josh’s birthday. It is also a special day because it is my dad’s birthday and Josh’s grandma’s birthday.

Step 6- Determine your budget.

This is an important step. Do not skip it. You need to determine your budget for the wedding. The tradition is that the Bride’s parents pay for the wedding. Nowadays, it’s kinda a mixture of people paying. First you need to find out who will be paying for the wedding. If it is a mixture, or people then you need to find out how much money you have in savings right now. Next, figure out how much money you can save up between now and 30 days before your wedding. (Most of the last payments are due 30days before). Then, find out how much money your family is willing to put towards the wedding. After that, determine how much you are willing to put on a credit card. Make sure you are only using a credit card for the amount that you can pay off in a couple of months (a year at most). I suggest that you refrain from taking out a loan. It can get very risky. Add all of those totals up and you will have your budget.

Step 7- Get a Wedding Wire account. 

For real though. Do this. It’s the best thing ever. WeddingWire is an online wedding website that has everything you need! They’ve got budget dividers, guest list, seating charts, vendors, checklists, song lists….they have everything. Once you put in all the fun info for your profile, you need to add your budget. They will divide up your budget based on the nation’s average cost for each part of the wedding. This will then tell you about how much you can spend on things like your venue and your photographer. You can play around with the numbers if you want to change them. Head over to now to get started.

Step 8- Book your venue.

There are a few steps within this one. First you need to create a rough draft of your invite list. This will help you figure out how many people will be coming to your wedding. A general rule of thumb is that 1/3 of the people you invite won’t come. We are inviting about 200 people and so we think about 135 people will come. Next, you need to determine how far away you are willing to go to get married. Then research venues within that distance that can hold your estimated count. Make sure you are looking for venues that relate to your wedding vision. Don’t waste your time looking at barn venues if you want a black tie wedding. Check the rates of the venues. If they aren’t listed on their site, then email them. Pick up to 6 venues that fit your budget and schedule a visit with the owners. Once you have decided which one you like the best, get that venue booked. Venues book very early and you don’t want to miss out. Some venues get booked a year or more in advance. Don’t forget to ask about the Sunday/Friday discount! 😉
If there is a venue that you love and your original date is not available, consider using your backup date. If your date is really important to you, then you’ll just have to find a different venue.
This is the venue we booked. It is called Rounton Farm. We love it!!!

Step 9- Research and book your photographer. 

Now, that you have your venue and your date, let’s get that photographer booked. Head back to your budget on wedding wire and use the number they gave you as a guide. Research photographers who are in the area that you are getting married. If you look in that area, you will not have to pay the travel fee. Compile a list of photographers in that area that are also within your budget. Look for a photographer who offers an engagement session with their wedding packages. Pay attention to their style. If you are an edgy bride, look for someone who has lots of contrast in their photos. If you are a girly bride, a photographer who has lots of light and lots of color may be best for you. Also, if the photographer normally shoots black tie weddings in big white stone halls, they may not be prepared for a dark rustic barn that reflects no light (or vise versa). You want to find a photographer that fits your style.
Once you have booked your photographer, you need to get your engagement photos done. Consider using your new wedding venue for your engagement photos. Most venues will allow you to shoot there for free, once you have paid your deposit. Find some way to incorporate your date in your photos so you have plenty of options for your Save The Date cards. Here is a Pintrest page with a few ideas: Kristina Marie Photography – Pintrest.

Step 10 – Follow the WeddingWire timeline and checklist.

Like I mentioned, Wedding Wire has everything! When you put in your date, they create a timeline based on that date. They provide you a checklist for each month. They know that 9 months out, you need to book your caterer and your florist. They notify you when there’s a task that is overdue. If you keep an eye on the checklist, you won’t need to be stressed.

I hope these steps have been helpful. Be sure to save the Kristina Marie Photography Blog to your “favorites” bar so you can come back every Wednesday for more Wedding Wednesdays!

  1. Jahtpya says:

    This was very informative! I am 6 months away and still took pointers from this blog.

  2. Jaqueline says:

    Love this post! It can be so overwhelming when you first get engaged. This is the perfect resource for future brides.

    • Kristina Wall says:

      Thanks for reading! I am so excited about the future Wedding Wednesday posts. I have them all planned out. It’s going to be so much fun!

  3. Kayty says:

    Love these tips! We’ve been married for 2 years & I’m amazed by all our friends who are getting engaged who have NO idea where to start. We used TheKnot for our wedding website & that worked great too!

  4. Brianne says:

    Where is Rounton Farm? That venue space is beautiful! What’s your favorite thing about Wedding Wire and why do you suggest using them over other Wedding websites? I’ve never used it before and I’d love your opinion!

    • Kristina Wall says:

      Rounton Farm is in Orange Va. It’s a gorgeous farm that faces the mountains. It’s like a perfect combination of elegance and laid back.
      I think that there are so many great wedding websites out there. I use The Knot occasionally, too. For me, Wedding Wire is just so user friendly. Everything is so clearly laid out and I don’t get lost in ads.

  5. Michelle Streeter says:

    Congratulations on your recent engagement!!! I was really excited to see that the first few tips on there were about enjoying this time and each other! It’s so easy to get caught up in the planning that you miss out on the celebration. 🙂 This will make such a great resource for newly engaged couples!

  6. Great blog! I got married in 2015 and these were my exact steps. I agree budget is SO important!!!

  7. Chantal says:

    Such a great write up for anyone newly engaged!! Great work!

  8. jenny says:

    Love this post for newly engaged brides! It can be so overwhelming and this will totally help any couple.

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