Congratulations on your engagement! Now the fun begins – Planning your wedding day!

Preparing for a wedding can be an exciting, stressful, exhilarating and emotional time. The following wedding planning tips for the newly engaged will keep the stress low, the excitement high and the planning process smooth!

black and pink binders with to do list on the spine

1. Plan Ahead and Get a Decent Wedding Planner

Planning IS everything! An organized bride is a happy bride (and a happy groom, happy parents, etc).

Local bookstores offer a variety of wedding planners and organizers. Make sure to select one that has pockets, so that you can easily insert brochures, swatches, magazine clippings, photographs, etc. Follow suggested timelines to avoid a last minute frenzy, and to allow for plenty of time to deal with any unexpected surprises.

2. Establish a Budget

Large or small, get serious about setting a budget. This is a wedding planning tip you should not ignore. The budget will be a driving force for decision making and family harmony.

3. Develop a Theme

Chances are that you have had some ideas about your wedding day, even before you were proposed to. Perhaps you have always dreamed of getting married in the fall, or on the beach, or having your wedding reception at a specific venue.

These underlying notions can help form a theme for your entire celebration, from subtle (perhaps you love the color yellow), to over the top (you’ve heard of these… from Country Western to Mickey and Minnie…).

Whatever your tastes, they can fall into a theme that will add cohesiveness to your event, and will help in decision making along the way. Once established, you can more readily select your invitations, decorations, DJs and bands, etc., and help to reinforce what is important to you.

4. Wedding Planning is Good Practice for Marriage

Habits that you establish during the wedding planning process are a good predictor for habits you will develop during marriage. Remember your manners, laugh often, and maintain a proper perspective.

5. Ask Yourself: Does Traditional Work for You?

Invitations don’t need to be formal; Guests don’t need to sit at large round tables of eight, Your bridesmaids’ dresses don’t have to match; Your rehearsal doesn’t have to be the night before the wedding, etc. Make decisions that make sense to you, your guests, and your budget.

6. Receiving Line or Not?

Many couples decide to nix this tradition, due to the number of guests and time required. The receiving line may be the only opportunity for the bride/groom/parents to personally great each guest, so it shouldn’t be tossed away lightly.

It also provides a great opportunity for candid photos while everyone is still looking their best. If you want to amp up the fun factor, consider having the receiving line at the entry to the reception, and serve beverages in the line.

7. Plan and Time your Photos Appropriately

Many couples spend a great amount of their wedding day posing for a professional photographer. If great photos are your top priority, then make sure that your waiting guests have great entertainment, and go for it! If you want to spend more time with your guests, then consider having photos taken before the ceremony.

Encourage candid photos by placing disposable cameras throughout your venue. Ask your photographer to take candid photos as well.

8. Consider Your Guests

Yes, the day is all about you, but… While you are getting your photos taken, while you are in the receiving line, while you are going through a serious of first dances, what are your guests doing? Waiting!

Keep them in mind by keeping waits to a minimum, thoughtful seating arrangements, and great entertainment. Not only will you remember your special day, but your guests will too.

9. Are Favors in Favor?

I’m a fan of wedding favors (usually!). They add a nice touch, are a means of thanking your guests for their time, and can be a great memento for a social event.

Favors only work, however, when there is an element of the unexpected. A truly fabulous wedding favor won’t be left on the table after the event. A not-so-fabulous, although well-intentioned, favor will be.

10. Memorize Your Vows

You may be nervous, but wedding vows are an important statement that you will fall back on for years to come. They are the core of your wedding, and more important, the core of your marriage.

11. Think Comfort and Be Yourself

When you put your best foot forward on your wedding day, go in comfort!

Bad shoes, binding stockings, overdone make-up, etc., can all lead to feelings of malaise. Know yourself, what’s a comfortable reflection of you, and get ready to shine.

12. Delegate! Especially Wedding Weekend Tasks

From the moment your wedding weekend begins, you will want to focus on yourself, your groom, your guests and family, not worry about execution of wedding details. With foresight, you can delegate the necessary last minute details to the many people who offer assistance.

Take people up on their offers of help — they want to help, and you need their help!

13. Relax! It’s a Party!

During the wedding planning process, there will be times of stress and frustration. Although every wedding couple has the highest expectations of perfection for their special day, keep in mind that the wedding reception is a party to celebrate the marriage.

There will be more parties in your future! The aim is for only one marriage!

Don’t stop planning now! Plan your honeymoon too!