Holy Freaking Wow. YOU’RE ENGAGED! Before we get into the nitty gritty, I just have to say, Congratulations! What a big flippen deal!

You got that bling, now it’s time to start thinking about how to make your dream wedding a reality, or if you’re like me, figure out what is is you even want out of your wedding day. I had NO idea what I was doing when I got engaged and was planning my wedding 6 years ago. Everyone telling me “just do what you want” didn’t help me AT ALL. I felt stuck and lost and just kind of settled for what I thought other people would like. BOY DID I DO IT ALL WRONG. My wedding was fine, cute, some of the guests even said beautiful, but it had NO personality! I did incorporate little things here and there of our relationship, but looking back, it doesn’t really feel like us. Now that I’ve been in the wedding industry for 4+ years, I’ve been around the block a couple time and there are DEFINITELY things that I would do differently if I were planning our wedding now.

I’ve compiled a little list here of things that go into planning your wedding that, I would say, are pretty dang important. I really hope you find all this information helpful!

First up…

Create a vision board

Where all your wildest dreams collide. I made this one above in Photoshop, pulling photos from the internet in various places but it’s even easier to do on pinterest. Create a board just for your wedding day hopes and dreams. I like to tell my clients to just go crazy, have fun, and pin what their heart desires. If it resonates with you at all, pin it. You will start to see your vision and your vibe come together. What inspires you? What is your style? What would you LOVE to see at your wedding? What do you want your wedding day to feel like? What colors ignite your soul? If Joanna Gains were to name your esthetic, what would it be called?  Get creative and have fun!

Hire a Planner


This is something I WISH we had invested in. Hiring a wedding planner would have saved us so much time, stress, and honestly money! I know, I know, I get it. I didn’t want to pay that extra expense for a wedding planner either. I figured I could do I all myself, and while I did… I went over budget and it ended up just being meh. Wedding planners are where it’s at if you have a big vision and a limited budget. And even if you have a healthy budget. They know all the industry tips and tricks for making your dream wedding come to life and how to make it happen within your budget. They take all of the stressful stuff off your back so you can actually enjoy your wedding planning process. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Here are some of my favorite local wedding planners:  Bubbly and Bliss, Events by Melody, Availed Events, Buck and Rose,  Lilacs & Lace, Laine Palm Planning, Nalias Events, Maven Events

Figure out your budget

I should also add… and stick to it. Your wedding planner will help you out with this, but talk to your parents and see if they are willing to help out with some wedding costs, or if you and your spouse to be will be the ones taking care of things. Really crunch the numbers so you know what you can spend and where to draw the line. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Some of my all time favorite weddings had a smaller budget so do not stress if you don’t have a very large budget, you will be able to make something beautiful with what you have. And remember, a wedding is about the marriage and not about how much you can show off.

Financially Engaged is an incredible resource to help you guys figure out and set your budget. If you need some help, definitely check them out.


Part of figuring out your budget is figuring out which wedding day check list item is important for you to have at your wedding? Is photography super important to you? Create a bigger budget for it. Are you really not all that into wedding favors? Decide to ditch them. Honestly, no one will miss them. Creating a list of what practices or vendors are important to you to have on your wedding day will completely change the feel of your day and make your wedding feel more like you.

Pick Your Venue

Your wedding venue will set the mood / vibe of the entire day. This may or may not be the most important part of your wedding day to nail down right away. There are TON of options on what kind of venue you’d want. Industrial / urban, clean & modern, rustic / barn, event halls, regal & historic, golf course, winery, greenhouse / garden, woodsy, backyard… really anything you can dream of. Once you have your vision nailed down, you can better narrow down what venue you’d like.

Here is a list of my favorite venues:
Pinewood Weddings & Events, Camrose Flower Gardens, Ashery Lane, Redeemed Farm, Legacy Hill Farm, Ivory North, NP Event Space, Quincy Hall, Aria, Pikka, Neu Neu. There are so many more, but these are a few that come to mind!

And pro tip: if you’re picking your venue based off of their outdoor ceremony location, make sure you love the inside of the venue too just in case weather forces you indoors!

Pick Your Photographer

Alright, I may be bias here but hiring the right photographer for you is crucial in remembering how your wedding went. After all, your photographs are one of the few things left over from your wedding day, that you will be able to cherish for years and years to come. This is the vendor that will be with you for the majority of your wedding day, so you want to make sure you hire someone you are comfortable with and makes your wedding day experience easy breezy. Find one who pours their heart into their business and their clients so you won’t be let down. Photographers are all very different in style and experience, so it’s very important to do your research before hiring your perfect photographer!

Having trouble finding your desired photography style?    Check out my blog post to help you narrow down your idea style   HERE

Build Your Vendor Dream Team

The backbone to your wedding day and the people that will do everything in their power to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Choosing quality and reliable vendors may be tough, but if you chat with your photographer, planner, or other vendors already hired, they’re more than likely to share with you amazing vendors they have worked for before and trust. You can customize and hire vendors as you need, since you might not need a DJ, but would like to have a live band, or even just have a friend with a phone hooked up so a speaker. Really dive in and think about who is vital to bringing your wedding day vision to life and what vendors you can live without.

Pick Your Bridal Party

Your hype crew. Your wing men & women. Your support system. If you decide to have a bridal party, you’ll want to make sure these are the people that will without a doubt support you in your new marriage. Who will be there for you beyond your wedding day and into your marriage. In my professional wedding opinion, don’t try and settle on adding more people into your party just to match the number of people you have on your side to the number of people your partner has on theirs. It really does not need to be even. Really put thought and energy into who you’d like to have by your side on your wedding day, and remember that they will have to make some financial investments such as dresses/suits or bachelor or bachelorette parties so talk that over with them and see if they would be able to afford the costs that come with being a bridal party member!

Plan Your Engagement Photos

After booking your photographer, you’ll want to make sure you schedule out your engagement photos well in advanced. Photographers schedules fill up fast, so making sure you have a date on the calendar sooner rather than later will save you and your photographer a lot of stress. Think about what season you’d like to have these done in, and have them scheduled out far enough from your wedding to be able to order save the dates or invitations! The typical turnaround time for engagement sessions is 1-3 weeks so keep that in mind when scheduling the session!

 Order Save The Dates

This is one that you honestly can live without, but is helpful for your guests! Also a fun way to get your engagement photos out there to people to see. I don’t really have advice on when the best time to send these out would be, but sometime soon after you figure out your date and your venue! Ordering Invitations will follow soon after.

Pick Your Outfits

Now this is the fun part. What are you going to wear?!? Are you one that loves color or are more traditional and simple? Want to wear a traditional white dress or is maybe black is more your thing? Honestly, screw typical wedding day norms. Do whatever you want. Have fun! Wear a bridal pantsuit if you want or a glittery jumpsuit. There are endless possibilities on what you can wear. Get creative and add some personality. One of my favorite things to see at a wedding is the bride wearing bold shoes with a traditional dress or anything really out of the norm. And make sure it matches / goes well with what your partner will be wearing. The typical outfits for men are black, gray or navy suits, however I love it when grooms switch it up and wear a colored blazer. Maroon or forest green are always a favorite, but adding your own unique flair and color scheme will add a whole new level of awesome to your day.

Add in Personality

Maybe it’s family or ethnic traditions or just adding details that make your heart sing. Adding little things to your wedding day that show you and your partners relationship with make your wedding stand out to your guests and set up apart from other weddings happening that year. Are your doggos a really big part of your life? Pick a venue that allows dogs so you can have them apart of your day. Maybe you met on a trip overseas like my husband and I did, incorporate elements or photos from your trip. Are you guys music lovers? I’ve had couples hire a vinyl DJ and have vinyl records for their guest book which is such a cool unique flair to their day. Again, get creative and have fun with adding your own unique twist to your wedding.

Book a Boudoir Session

Alright, this one you don’t have to do, but I am a little bias. Boudoir sessions are such a fun gift / teaser for your spouse and honestly, such an amazing gift for yourself. Boudoir is such a bold and powerful experience, which will leave you walking away empowered and feeling like a badass. I proimse you, doing a boudoir session will boost your self confidence before your wedding, esspocially if you are gifting it to your partner on the day of. They won’t stop bringing it up and hyping you up. I photograph a lot of brides who are gifting these photos to their groom in a little black book album or some prints, and even a vintage viewfinder to keep it more subtle unnoticeable gift. It’s just so fun!

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Don’t lose track of who you are

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Do not settle. Don’t do it. Don’t plan things just to please other people. It’s your day and people will get over not getting their way. It’s hard to overcome but stick to your guns and make your dream wedding a reality. But obviously, stay within reason and in budget ?


Thanks for reading!  ?