How to start planning your wedding

Recently engaged? What to do next. Expert tips on how to start planning your wedding. 

If you’re recently engaged – congratulations! This is such a wonderfully exciting time with lots to look forward and, if you’re going to jump into planning your wedding, there can be quite a lot to do as well.  But stop – before you go too far and before your to-do list starts to get away from you, please take a little time to look through my guide that explains what you should do when you’ve just gotten engaged.

Firstly, take some time to enjoy being engaged! I know it’s incredibly tempting to start planning your big day as soon as the ring is on your finger but there’s no hurry and no immediate need to make decisions so if you can, take some time to revel in your newly engaged status.

When you’re ready to start planning your wedding, it’s time to have a really honest conversation with your partner. It might be that you’ve already discussed the kind of wedding that you’d like but now that it’s a reality, revisit those discussions and talk about the season, style, size and rough location for your wedding. Talk about the elements that are important to you both, what you’d really like to include and even the things that you’re not so keen on. Look at your priorities and hopefully, your wedding day will start to emerge.


Another conversation you absolutely must have at this stage is the one about money. There’s no denying the fact that weddings can be expensive but similarly, fabulous weddings can also be planned on any budget. Work out what you can (and want) to afford. Will you have any input from parents or family members? How long will you need to save if you’re paying for everything yourself? Once you have your absolute maximum figure, aim to spend 10 per cent less than this – this contingency is your little wedding planning safety net so do everything you can to avoid dipping into this unless it’s absolutely necessary.

With your budget agreed and a vision for the day clear, it’s time to move on to some practical planning and the first thing to do is to look at your guest list. It’s so important that you have a rough idea of numbers for your wedding before you start visiting venues so now’s the time to starting writing things down. Of course, there might be a few changes before you send out your invitations but from this first draft, you’ll get a good idea of the size of venue that you’ll need. You’ll also need these figures to be able to get an idea of catering costs so be realistic about numbers at this point.

Now you’ve got rough numbers, you’re ready to get out there into the world of wedding planning and the first job on your list should be to secure your wedding venue. Your venue has such an impact on your day and obviously, you can’t begin to book other suppliers until you have your date booked and secured.

There are so many ways to find your venue – you might use an online directory such as Coco Wedding Venues, you might browse magazines and blogs, or you might just hit Google and social media.  There’s no ‘right’ way to research so work in whatever way suits you best.

Look at the venue’s capacities, its style and see if matches up with the notes from your earlier discussions. If it does, check their availability and make an appointment to visit for a showround.  

The showround will give you a really clear idea if this is the venue for you. You’ll then be given a full tour of the venue and this is your chance to ask any questions that you might have.  If you think the venue could be ‘the one’, check their available dates and ask about next steps before you leave. Some venues will provisionally ‘hold’ a date for you for a few days while you decide but you’ll need to sign a contract and pay your deposit to formally book. Before you do sign, carefully read the venue’s terms and conditions and question anything that you’re not sure about.

With your venue booked and your wedding date confirmed, you can then move on to planning the rest of your big day, starting off with a planning timeline/checklist and the creation of a master budget!

Good luck and enjoy every moment!

Katrina Otter is a Cambridgeshire based wedding planner and event organiser with over 10 years experience. Find out how she could help you plan your wedding day at


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