Feb 16, 2023

Wedding couple dancing with family at the Olana wedding venue in Texas

YAASS!!! Congratulations, you are going to marry your best friend, which means we get to celebrate! Pop that champagne, glory in your dreamy wedding vision board, and let’s get to planning! After helping over 150+ couples on their wedding planning journey, I’ve put together the essential steps that every couple needs to consider after they get engaged.

1. Pick Your Wedding Party

I made this my #1 because this one is just FUN. Celebrate with your favorite people and let them know that you want them to be a part of your big day! Enjoy the hell out of this time in your life, and do it with the people who matter most to you. 

Here are some other reasons why this is important:

  • These people will be helping you plan and put together this party. So pick people who don’t stress you TF out! Truly. Don’t let anyone pressure you to select a group of people who don’t love you the way you deserve. Choose people who will help you and give you sound advice.
  • Knowing the final number of your wedding party will help determine a budget, which you need before anything else kicks in.
  • If you choose to have a Person of Honor (you don’t have to, did you know that? They can all be wedding party people if that’s less stressful!), they may help you a lot by taking specific tasks entirely off your plate. 

2. Pick a Date or a Range of Dates

Pick a range that your family & wedding party have open, and use those to help guide you on your vendor search. Sometimes the venue or photographer of your dreams is unavailable on your single chosen date, so having a handful of dates can significantly help to book key vendors!

Tips for choosing a date:

  • Schedule at least a year away if you can. Not only is this an average amount of time it takes to properly plan a wedding (even a budget one), but your wedding vendors are already booked 1-2, even 3 years out. 
  • Weekend or weekday? Take into consideration travel requirements for this one. You’d be surprised how common weekday weddings are now! You can often plan a wedding for far less money on a weekday, even it’s a Friday.
  • Want a visually catchy date like 2/24/24 or 3/23/24? Get those vendors secured quickly, as many couples have already reserved those popular dates.

3. Budget, budget, budget!

  • Be realistic, not hopeful. What can you reasonably pay for without adding undue stress or debt? Are people in your circle gifting services or helping pay for costs? Loop them into this conversation too, and allow them to be honest with what they can comfortably pay for. This will ensure that if any financial plans fall through, you aren’t struggling to pay invoices or changing plans last minute based on numbers that weren’t solidified.
  • Pick your non-negotiable things and budget for those first. If you know that photography or great food is your #1 must-have, make sure your pool of finances can go there first and then do the math on what’s left. 
  • After you know what you can realistically spend, check out a few of your ideal vendors and see how much they charge. This will help you get an idea of what you can book within the budget. If you realize you need to go back to the drawing board, it’s good to do that now instead of in the middle of planning!

4. Guest List

Time to make your guest list! Make a list of all the people you’d like to invite, and be sure to include any members your family wants to invite so that there aren’t any surprises. 

Tips on building your guest list:

• Expect about 50%-60% of your invitees to RSVP.

• Keep that number of potential RSVPs written down so you know how many people the venue should hold when you tour venues.

• Remember that budget you decided on? Plug in your guest list to this and do rough numbers on the cost of food, drinks, and any extra expense like rentals (linen, flatware, etc.) per guest.

5. Which Kind of Coordinator is Right For You

Choosing a coordinator is crucial, whether that title falls on family, friends, or a professional. You will need to know who to delegate tasks to and who you can ask for help! For the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on hiring a professional.

Three most common wedding Coordinator services:

  • Complete Planning

This one is undoubtedly the highest tier and the most valuable- you’re planning a massive event with many moving parts. Who better to do that than someone who’d done it a hundred times? They know what to expect every bit of the way and how to handle it, where you and your friends may not. They also have significant connections in the industry that will prove invaluable to you.

  • Month-of

This is generally the most cost-to-value coordination. While you still bear the load of booking vendors, planning, and communication, they will come in near the very end to finalize details with you, the vendors, and your family. They will take care of remaining contractual requirements between your vendors, help you build a schedule, and take over communications.

  • Day-of

This one is best suited for smaller weddings & elopements. Many planners will not accommodate day-of for guest lists over 100. If you are having a small ceremony & you are confident in your planning skills leading up to the event, this is an excellent way to lessen the cost but still free up your hands on the wedding day! They will be present at the location to direct vendors, help with set up & tear down, and manage problems that arise the day-of.

6. Choose a Venue 

This is where the first big step happens! Now that you have a budget & potential guest list, you can start looking at magical places to say your I-Dos! (This is also a task you can delegate to your wedding planner, and then they can give you a short list of qualified venues.) 

Tips for choosing the perfect venue:

• Build your list of venue attributes that you’re dreaming of! Order it by importance.

• Classy castle? Hotel with a big ballroom? Rustic? Narrow down your style so that your google/social searches target the right wedding venues. 

• If you’re looking for classy, check out my favorite wedding venues! View my Top 10 Elegant Dallas Wedding Venues 

• Find brides who have gotten married at your favorite places. Facebook groups are great for this, and there are many for DFW + Seattle brides! Ask for honest reviews about their experience with the venue.

• Contact & tour your top picks! 

7. Find Your Perfect Photographer & Videographer

After the day is over, all you have left are the photos & video. And trust me, you won’t remember much; the day goes by so quick, and there’s so much you won’t be present for that we will be capturing for you! This truly should be in your upper tier of budget so that you won’t risk the only remaining memories you will have after the wedding.

  • Define your style. Do you feel drawn to photos that are bright, light, airy & pastel? Or do you hit the heart on those rich, moody photos on IG? Do you love real film? Narrow down the style before meeting with photographers/videographers to speed things up. 
  • Make a short list of your favorite people! Reach out with your wedding date, venue location, and your ideal budget. You can also delegate this to your planner! 
  • Schedule consults with the people who make the final cut! It’s imperative to meet your media vendors before booking to make sure they match your energy. They will be with you the entire day and in control of how your final wedding is recorded, so being able to trust them is key.

8. Make a List of Remaining Vendors

This is another excellent time to outsource! Delegate the remaining vendor searches to your wedding party & your planner. They can reach out, confirm availability, and give you a shortlist.

Psssttt…when you book, I also provide my exclusive preferred vendor list with 50+ amazing, proven people <3

Typical Vendors to Consider:

  • Florist 
  • DJ
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Rentals (linens, chairs, cutlery, decor, etc.)
  • Catering
  • Bartending 
  • Officiant (or a church for catholic and other special ceremonies) 
  • Cake & sweets bakery
  • Rental getaway car
  • Photo Booth
  • Coffee, ice cream, and other neat treat carts/trucks
  • Specialty vendors; fireworks, animal rentals, live painters/sketch artists, neon signs 

9. Get Your Wedding Insured

This one is heavily overlooked but possibly the most crucial: Insure your wedding so that if disaster strikes, you aren’t out of thousands of dollars. Weather, damages, unexpected vendor failure, and more, insurance will cover costs so that you aren’t out of pocket. I bet your coordinator has some great recommendations! 

Why wedding insurance is excellent:

  • Post-Covid closures are still happening. The financial damage venues & vendors suffered are still rippling out, and, unfortunately, brides are being left without a venue, caterer, and other vendors just weeks before their date, with no resolution or refunds being offered. 
  • Washington & Texas weather is so unpredictable. If severe weather makes it impossible to access the venue or for guests to attend, you want to be able to cover the costs of that loss.
  • Travel disruption is real! If you have a destination wedding and a lot of travel is involved, you’ll want to make sure those risks are covered if you miss a flight, get sick, and have to reschedule the event.

10. Rest up, and pace yourself. 

Planning a wedding is no joke. Nobody wants to invite stress into their home or relationship, but planning a wedding definitely will! That’s ok. Combat that now by promising yourself and your partner to take regular breaks! Don’t you dare skip those dates, spa treatments, good healthy dinners, or whole weekends without talking about the wedding. 

Remember….this party is to celebrate your love, not become a distraction. Make time to take care of yourself, your skin, your mental energy, and your physical well-being. 

As your photographer, I make it my goal to make this easier for you and completely remove the burden of worry and planning about how your wedding will be captured. I also work with you as little or as much as you’d like- we can hop on a FaceTime for literally any question or need, or I can only work through your coordinator to make sure there is less in your inbox! Your wedding journey is my highest priority, and I’ll customize my workflow to match your rhythm and take that stress away. 

If you have any questions at all about the things I’ve covered, or if you feel like I should add something important, chat with me! 

Happy planning and I can’t wait to meet you <3


Wedding couple dancing with family at the Olana wedding venue in Texas

Just Engaged, Now What? Plan Your Wedding in 10 Steps

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hannah hix

Just Engaged, Now What? Plan Your Wedding in 10 Steps


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