Here are the first 5 things you should do once your partner proposes. (Right after you say ‘yes’!)

1. Buy lots of wedding magazines.

This is the fun part – feel free to go a little crazy. Spend some time looking through them and tear out things that you like. Tip: Get an accordion folder and file your finds under ‘dress’, ‘flowers‘, ‘cake’, ‘bridesmaids’, etc.

2. Ask yourself: When you picture your wedding what do you see? (Other than your soon-to-be spouse, of course!)

Brain storm your ideas and record them on a piece of paper. Include locations, guests, colours – anything that you have always dreamed about. Then, circle anything that is a ‘have to have’ and focus on these parts of your wedding first. For example, if you absolutely can’t get married without your Great Aunt Bettie present, then make sure she can make the trip from New Zealand when ¬†you set the date! Or, if you have always dreamed of getting married at that Japanese garden, then secure the location (and check with an almanac) before you announce the date!

3. Buy a workbook.

Get yourself a wedding planning workbook. These books are full of checklists and are organized by how many weeks/months in advance you need to do everything. They will make your life so much easier. Even if you are going to use a Wedding Planner, I would suggest purchasing one of these books. You will show up for meetings prepared and informed and you will know whether your Wedding Planner is ‘on the ball’ or not. There are many planning resources on the web as well but make sure you buy a physical book. This way all of your notes are in one place. They also usually have pockets for business cards, brochures and samples.

4. Decide – DIY or Wedding Planner?

Take a good look at the workbook you just bought and ask yourself honestly – do you have the support system in place to get all of the ‘to-do’ items on the lists done? If not, do you have the time and the organizational skills to do them all yourself? I remember hearing that some women actually take a leave of absence from their work to plan their weddings. I heard this about a month before my wedding when it seemed like I was spending every minute that I wasn’t at my own job working on my wedding. It made perfect sense at the time but I was in no position to afford the loss in pay. Other options: scale down and simplify the wedding (revisit that list you made of ‘must-haves’), hire a Wedding Planner, or elope. You can also meet with a Wedding Consultant: they help you get on the right track but they don’t actually plan your whole wedding.

5. Figure out your budget.

At this point, you can’t really move forward until you know how much you have to spend. This will involve a meeting with anyone helping out financially. At the least, have a verbal (preferably face-to-face) conversation – never assume anything! If you and your partner are paying for everything yourself, you need to sit down together and talk openly about what you can both afford. You don’t want your marriage to start off with the added stress of money troubles, or worse, money arguments!

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