You're engaged! Congratulations! What's next? Follow these steps first—in this order—so that you stay on track from the very begining. Then you can starting working on all those other fun wedding-planning to-dos!
Tell Your Family and Friends First
The minute you say "yes" and you have a ring on your finger, the first thing you will want to do is tell your family and closest friends. It is important to try and remember, among all the excitement, that you do tell the "key players" before you post anything on social media.
Set a Date for the Engagement Party
As the news gets out to all of your friends, family, colleagues, etc., everyone will want to celebrate with you. Time to set the date for an engagement party! These days, engagement parties are not necessarily hosted by the bride's family exclusively, and since this is really meant to share your joyous news with everyone, try to pick a date soon after the engagement.
Make a Budget
Create your wedding budget, and discuss with those contributing. Is your family paying, is your fiancé's family helping, are you two handling it on your own, etc.? This may not seem like a lot of fun, but trust us, it is extremely important, and will allow you two to start making all of the fun decisions as you move forward. You will know exactly how much you have to work with, and it will help you stay on track throughout the planning process, as well as determining what each of your priorities are—such as, do you put more towards the food and drinks, or the music and flowers, etc.?
Start Your Guest List
Put together an initial guest list for the wedding. This is crucial, and will factor heavily into all of the other aspects of your wedding planning, so you want this number to be as realistic as possible from the beginning. If you have 50 guests versus 350 guests, this will determine your venue, and a lot of other big decisions. It is also good to have a "Guest List A" with everyone you can think of, and a "Guest List B" with just the key players—because who knows if your dream venue will be able to accommodate your entire "A" list?
Get Some Help!
Research and hire a planner, if budget allows. Maybe we're biased, but we know that planners are worth their weight in gold. They will relieve you of much of the stress that comes with planning a momentous celebration with your closest family and friends. Good planners will not only be able to introduce you to venues and vendors that you may not be able to access on your own, but they can also help you navigate contracts, they will be your advocate surrounding family politics, and will coach you through sensitive etiquette questions. Plus, this may be your first time planning a wedding, right? Trust an expert, who has done hundreds of weddings, to help guide you, and to see your "wedding day vision" come to fruition.
Choose a Location
Decide where you want to get married—do you want something local or a destination venue, for example? If you have hired a planner, this will likely be the first step they take in working with you. If you are planning on your own, then you want to research all of the wedding venues in the locale you are considering; what are their capacities, fees, and availability? Schedule site visits to see them in person, or have someone you trust go visit them on your behalf. Make sure you know the basic information for each venue you are considering, such as their available dates, timeframe for the wedding and reception, and any rules/regulations or exclusive vendor lists that you need to work with, etc.
Save the Date
Select a couple of date options for the wedding. Having more than one option will give you the most flexibility with your venue and the best chance of securing your first-choice vendors.
Start a Registry
This may not seem like an important priority, but you might even want to be registered before your engagement party, so people can get you a gift then, if they want to. Also, this will help you and your fiancé start thinking about bigger things, like your home together and how you want to build a household as a married couple!
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.