Yay, you're engaged!! ... Now what?

Your head might be spinning with excitement and a bit of confusion... Going back and forth between "Yayyyyy we're engaged!" And "Erm, now what?" We know a heck of a lot about love, meaningful communication with our partner, and the feeling you had when you realized your honey was the one. But falling in love and wedding-planning are two very different things. It's normal if you don't have the slightest clue what to do next!

In addition to giving you clear steps on what to do after you get engaged, I hope to give you meaningful ways to make more space for ease, excitement, and peace moving through your wedding planning adventure. You deserve to look back at this time down the road knowing you made the most out of it instead of becoming a lil ball of stress. I hope more than anything you to use these tools to build a solid foundation together, walk hand-in-hand, and navigate even the trickiest situations with love, understanding, and intentionality.


Let's gooo!

Wedding planning step #1:

Celebrate your engagement!

Okay, lovebugs. You're freaking engaged! This is the time to soak up all the joy of your good news. Go ahead and pop a bottle of bubbly, treat yourself and get your nails done (you'll be taking more photos of your hand than you're used to!), and enjoy this exciting season of life where you get to call each other fiancee. You'll have plenty of time to get into the details of wedding planning later, so use these first few weeks to simply relish in the exciting news!

Get Intentional: When you're ready to start sharing the news, tell the people you're closest to first before posting anything on social media. The last thing you want is for super-close family members to find out via social (I've been there and I don't recommend it). Use it as a chance to go out for brunch with your grandma, pop on over to your best friend's place, or hop on a video chat if you live far away. By sharing the good news with them face to face, you'll be able to see their smiling faces, which is just 1000% better than a text message or voice note, and it will be such a memorable way to deliver the news to your loved ones.

After you've made your rounds, go ahead and post that cute ring selfie online and throw an engagement party! 

Extra tip: Get your ring resized as soon as possible and think about getting your ring insured while you're still in this stage. :)

Wedding planning step #2:

Set intentions with your partner

I promised intentionality, and this is where you'll get it! Lots of blogs will recommend that you go straight into budgeting, but I think it's beneficial to take an extra step: intentionality. I believe this step is an absolute must so you can take steps forward together as a team, can communicate effectively with one another, and be intentional throughout your wedding planning process. Yes, there are moments of the planning phase where you'll feel totally blissed out & other moments where it feels like such a huge undertaking to coordinate what is maybe the biggest event of your life together. That's why I suggest getting super, super clear about how you want to feel moving through the planning stages of your wedding.

Go on a date night where you set expectations with your fiancee about your wedding. Below I've gathered some questions you two can ask each other during your date to get the ideas flowing and set a solid foundation to move forward. I suggest revisiting the "feeling" you want to have throughout your wedding process every single time you dive into wedding planning. It can be as simple as writing the feeling on a post-it and sticking it on your laptop or desk area. Take 10 seconds to re-center (because we are not about frenzied decision making over here, amiright!) and really try to imagine + feel this word working into the task you are about to tackle.

  1. How do we want to feel throughout the panning process?
  2. What is our intention for the planning process/ for our wedding?
  3. How do we want to feel the morning of the wedding? the morning after?
  4. What are the goal(s) of our wedding? Who are we really trying to satisfy besides ourselves? *
  5. What would make it a meaningful event that reflects our lifestyle and values?*
  6. What do you envision for our wedding ceremony? *
  7. What do you envision for our wedding celebration?*
  8. What is most important to you in the planning process? In the wedding ceremony? In the celebration?*
  9. What is least important to you in the planning process? In the wedding ceremony? In the celebration?*
  10. What’s the best way to organize ourselves in planning the wedding? How involved do you want to be with the planning process?*
  11. How do we manage pre-existing family conflicts in the wedding planning/ceremony/celebration? *
  12. What’s the best way to communicate with you when you are feeling overwhelmed? *
  13. If things get heated, what’s the best way to help you reset and bring you back to the real reason that we are getting married?*
  14. What skillset(s) do you have that will be useful to the wedding planning process? *

The *'d questions are from a series of questions coined "Love Mapping" by Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Institute. If you'd like to see their full list of questions and a cute video of a couple talking through their experience of Love-Mapping, you can take a look here. 

Wedding planning step #3:

Set your budget

After you've set your intentions, it's time to set a budget. Whether you have 7,000 dollars or 70,000, this number will help as you move forward in your planning. Even in the case you have a wedding planner, they'll want to know how much cheddar you're planning to spend.

Prioritize your money.

Once you have your budget, definitely take time to prioritize your money. Think about the 3-4 most important services you want. For some couples, their priorities include their travel expenses, photographer, and videographer. For others, it could be the venue, music, and food. Those are the vendors you should keep in mind to book first.

Wedding planning step#4:

What time of year/would you like to get married? 

Seasons will vary the look and feel of your day. Chances of rain, what kinds of flowers will be available, and even the pricing of venues and vendors will all change depending on the time of year.

Start with having a season in mind and with 3 potential dates to choose from. Most importantly, try to go in open-minded about the date itself. Wedding vendors book quite far in advance, and many couples choose the date based on the availability of the venue. If it's an anniversary date you want to get married on, keep in mind you'll likely have to book the venue and vendors out further in advance.  

If you're getting hitched in a tourist destination, research what seasons they have. Summer in Europe and the USA is Winter in Australia. Many parts of the world have "rainy season."

In addition, be sure to have an understanding of what their "high season" is. "High season" is what's referred to as the time in which there is an influx of tourists expected in the area. If you plan your wedding during high season, be sure to hire your vendors in advance before they're booked. I often work in bella Italia, and August is mega high-season because it's the month Italians don't work and tourists are visiting from around the world. In popular destinations like Venice or the Amalfi coast, you can expect prices to be much higher and that bookings should be made far in advance. In cases like these, aim to book your venue and vendors for at least a year before the wedding.

Wedding planning step#5:

What kind of wedding style are you drawn to having?

Depending on what you discussed in step #2, you could already have an idea if a big, traditional wedding, an intimate wedding, or an elopement is right for you. If you're excited about the thought of going on an adventure where you celebrate your day intimately with just a handful of your loved ones (or just you and your honey!) I suggest taking a look at this blog post where I cover 7 reasons an elopement might be perfect for you!

Wedding planning step#6:

How many guests do you want to invite?

Now that you've worked out a vision of your day, you can get a rough idea of how many guests you would like to invite. If you're working with a smaller budget, remember that the more guests you invite, the more costs will be involved.

Wedding planning step#7:

Collect wedding-day inspiration!

Time to deep-dive into inspiration. Now is a time to look at those Pinterest boards you've had since you were 15, or to dive into the wedding-inspo world for the first time! What colors are you attracted to? Are you more drawn to an outdoor or indoor venue? Put all of your inspiration into a board and keep revisiting it weekly to see if there is a common thread in the photos you collect. 

Wedding planning step#8:

Hire a wedding planner

I will always recommend having a wedding planner because they take so much of the stress away from the day so you can focus on more important things - getting married! Especially for couples who don't have much time in their day with full-time jobs and lots of plans outside of work to tend to, hiring a wedding planner is ideal. If you're a type-A organized queen/king, then maybe you want to do it yourself! Either way, here's my two cents: regardless of the size of the wedding, they take so much of the tedious, stressful part off of your plate so you can sit back and fully enjoy. I've photographed huge weddings with a planner and small elopements, and the couples I have worked with have never regretted their choice. But ultimately, this is your decision. All the steps you've taken until now will be a great basis to give your wedding planner an idea of what you're dreaming up!

Wedding planning step#9:

Hire your photographer

Woohoo! Now I get to introduce myself! Hi there, I'm Johanna owner of Johanna Patton Photography! A wedding day is filled with so much meaning, intention, joy, and tears... And it goes by in a beautiful flash. At the end of your wedding day you might find yourself saying, "wait a second, what just happened?!" That's I want you to feel at ease knowing that all the small moments have been captured on camera for you so you get to relive the giddy "holy crap I get to marry my best friend" feels, snuggly hugs, and the way your spouse looked at you for the first time on your wedding day for years and years.

I may be biased, but I believe all the hard work you put into your wedding day deserves to be captured in an honest and authentic way so you can enjoy it for the generations to come. You can find more information about me here: www.johannapatton.com

Planning your wedding and still searching for your dream photographer? Fill out the contact form below and I'll get back to you within 24 hours with a full pricing guide. In the meanwhile, find out a little bit more about me here and browse through couples galleries here!

Destination Elopement Wedding Photographer

Johanna Patton is a Mexican-American adventure-inspired photographer serving kind-hearted, down-to-earth couples getting married in Europe & ethical initiatives making a positive impact on the world.