1. Take a deep breath – like, a three week long breath
It’s so natural to want to go into planning mode right away. Weddings are fun! And now you get to plan one! And you get centerpieces and venues and a dress and everything amazing! But slow down. There’s a sweetness, a softness to a period of being engaged but without the wedding planning stress – and really just marinate in that for a while. It’s not too far from now that you’ll have a binder and a list of everything to do and friends there to help and choosing a bridal party and all of those things.
But for a few weeks, however long you need, remember to just breathe. Say, “we’re getting married!” a BUNCH. Go see all your relatives and friends and have celebratory drinks or dinners with them. Live in this moment.
2. Sit down and make a list of your top values
Before you even start the planning process, you and your partner have to get clear on what your biggest values are. It’s easy to get swept up into the wedding industry – there’s so many things you’re told you NEED, you HAVE to do, every single freaking vendor under the sun, decorations for this, that, and the dog, you name it.
But at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re getting married. So what other things truly matter to you?
Start this list with the people you can’t live without, to make sure your venue can accommodate them. Then choose three other major values for your day. These can totally vary based on the couple – if you’re foodies, obviously your food/dessert goes to the top of the list. Or if you love to party, the DJ/band HAS to be the best. Or maybe you just want real, honest photographs. Whatever those three values are, put them at the top of the list and underlined. Always come back to those values when making decisions. Needing a little help deciding? This Values Workbook will start you in the right wedding planning direction.
3. Choose a relative season with three date options
It’s fun to sit down and decide what date will be your marriage celebration date for the rest of EVER – but if you have a venue/other vendors in mind that you love, possibly slow it down.
I recommend choosing a relative season, and then 2-3 dates within that season that you would deem fit to be married on – this serves as a huge backup plan in case your favorite venue or ideal photographer is already booked on your first choice.
From these dates you can then do things like set a budget, reach out to vendors, etc – but having flexibility will save a bit of heartbreak if you have your eye on certain folks already. Ready to dive deeper? Here’s a starter list of items you can plan right from your couch.
There’s so many things that come next in the planning process, but once you’re through your breathing period and you have your date + initial vendors, remember to always come back to #2 – your values. Maintaining this thought process throughout planning will increase the chances of looking back on your wedding with fondness and deeper memories, and less about things that don’t matter as much to you.
Always come back to this: “People matter. We’re getting married.”
Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN.
I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.
This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.
Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.
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