Call your VIPs before changing your Facebook status. Phone your family and close friends, especially those who played wingwomen during your single years. You’ll want to hear their genuine excitement when you tell them the news, and they deserve to know you’re getting married before your 500 other friends and friends of friends find out via social media.
Get a manicure. When you tell people that you said yes, first they’ll hug you, and then they’ll say, “Girl, let me see that ring!” So polish those nails! Try an unexpected color to show off that sparkler. Midnight blue, cement, and plum are favorites of mine right now.
Enjoy the moment. While the wedding may be the big day, savor the journey getting there. Sit back and take a breath. You’re beginning a new, exciting chapter in your life.
Start dreaming. Brainstorm with your beau about your dream wedding. Compare fantasies (tequila tastings? beach vows?) and start a Pinterest board immediately so you can store your inspiration images in one place.
Now come down to earth and set the budget. Talking money is never fun, unless you just won the lottery. More than 36 percent of couples pay for their wedding themselves. If your parents have offered to pitch in, sit down with them without your fiancé (and vice versa) to find out just how much they plan to contribute. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is—are you sitting down?—almost $27,000, so it’s important to nail down your budget before you book a single vendor.
Get out your calendar. Decide on a range of dates before you tour venues. Ask engaged friends when they’re getting hitched so you can avoid potential conflicts. And if anyone close to you is about to graduate, find out when so you can avoid those days as well.
Hire a pro. If you want to work with a wedding planner, book her before you make any plans or choose your location. You’ll be paying for her expertise, so get your money’s worth starting now. She may have inside scoop, like which venues provide great service and which to avoid.
Find the venue. I know it’s hard, but hold off on buying your dress until you have the venue confirmed. You don’t want to commit to a ball gown if you then decide to get married on the beach in Jamaica. Likewise, a get-your-twerk-on, cleavage-flaunting body hugger isn’t going to work in a church.
Now you can dress shop. It sounds crazy, but unless you’re buying off-the-rack from a megastore that carries dresses in all sizes, it typically takes nine months from when you order your dress to when you take it home. Go to brides.com to see over 1000 of the latest gowns.
Get organized. Commit to a comprehensive to-do list and budget tracker. Use “The List” in every issue of BRIDES (on sale now) as your jumping-off point.
Book in-demand vendors. The average engagement is 15 months, so while your wedding may seem far away, your favorite caterer or dream photographer may already have another gig. Lock up your favorites asap.
Schedule a date night. Wedding planning can be all consuming, and at some point, you’ll argue with the love of your life over the guest list, how much you want to spend on flowers, or how much he wants to spend on the band. Keep things sexy by planning a night out, and make a pact not to discuss the wedding the entire romantic evening.