Congratulations! You Just Got Engaged!

Five things you need to do right away

Congratulations! You got engaged! Now the real fun­—and work—begins: planning the wedding. Following are five things to do right after he (or she) puts a ring on it.

Set a Budget

Crunch the numbers. Before you pick the venue, determine the guest list or decide if you can afford to serve caviar during cocktail hour, consider your budget. “Setting a budget is like setting a business plan for your wedding,” says Kate Whelan, owner of Kate Whelan Events in Sacramento. “It allows you to make realistic decisions about what you can afford in the wedding.” Good to keep in mind: The average cost of a wedding in the Sacramento area is between $30,000 and $35,000.

Come Up With a Timeframe

You’ve got the who, you know the what, start thinking about the when. While you do not need to pick a specific date right out of the gate, having a general timeframe in mind of when you want to get married will help with the planning process. A January wedding in Lake Tahoe will look—and feel . . . burr—a lot different from a June wedding in Lake Tahoe. Also, if you want to get married in six months as opposed to sixteen months, that will impact your choice of venues and vendors.

Start Your Guest List

Decide on the guest list.  “Think about not only how many people you want to invite but who you think will actually come,” says Stephanie Teague, owner of Stephanie Teague Events in Sacramento. Teague suggests taking a look at your guest list and considering who is likely to attend, keeping in mind that about 25 percent of invitees do not make it to the wedding (with the number going higher if the wedding is out of town).

Whelan suggests making sure you have correct mailing addresses for intended guests. (What? You were not thinking of sending your guests invitations via Evite or Facebook Events, were you?)

Determine Your Style Preference

Start thinking about style.  Are you more “rustic barn” or “New York cosmopolitan”? While you do not have to have every detail narrowed down, having an idea of what your style preference is will help when it comes to things such as choosing a venue, picking out colors or even deciding what time of day to get married.  “Look around your house,” suggests Teague. “Your house is often a reflection of what you want your wedding to be.”

Whelan suggests making a Pinterest page or the like. “I want newly engaged couples to make inspiration boards of things they like but also things they do not like,” she says After all, knowing what you don’t want is almost as important as knowing what you do want.

Then, Take It Easy…

Relax . . .  and incorporate relaxation into the wedding planning process. Whether it’s meditation, massages or designating one day a week to not talk about the wedding—Whelan suggests her clients have “no wedding Wednesdays” (or the equivalent)—finding time to relax and take a break from wedding planning is important, say experts such as Whelan.

Finally, an excuse to schedule that weekly spa excursion.