You have just been asked the question most girls dream of: “will you marry me?” And after collecting yourself, catching your breath, and hopefully saying, “YES!,” a brief period of bliss and excitement rushes through you. You announce your engagement to the world…and then the hard work begins—wedding planning.

Almost immediately you start recalling your dream colors, venues, musicians, photographers, etc., and you want to book them. Yesterday. But before you make any calls, there a few things you should tackle first. You, your fiancé, and both families should discuss what the wedding budget is. After you have discussed wedding budget, determine when you want to get married, how many people will attend, and what type of wedding you want.

Weddings take a lot of planning, but it doesn't have to take over your life. Use the following tips to help you manage it all without hiring a personal planner:

  • Brainstorm with your fiancé. Venues, colors, themes, photographers, musicians…right down to invitation style and favors.
  • Decide how many guests you wish to invite. Keep in mind, about 15% of invitees will not attend.
  • Figure out what is the most important part of the wedding and begin to plan around that. For example if there is a special photographer  you just have to use, plan according to the dates s/he is available.
  • Set a date and book your ceremony site and venue. Most other planning will fall into place once this is set in stone.
  • Attend bridal shows, review magazines, and openly discuss your ideas with your fiancé.

Now that you have begun the journey, enjoy it and make decisions on all of the little things and big things too, together. There might me some debating and compromising, but the wedding day should be memorable for both of you.

Congratulations. Oh, and don’t forget to throw yourselves an engagement party!