It's happened. You've got a gleaming rock of awesomeness on your left ring finger. After the shock and excitement wear off and the daunting task you have ahead of you starts to set in, you wonder, "now what?" Good question. Here's some advice that I've learned (sometimes the hard way) about where to start planning for the big day.
2. Set your budget. I know this is pretty common advice, but come on, it's crucial! Especially if you are paying for all, or some of your wedding. You will find really quickly that meeting your budget won't be easy. Things for weddings are over-priced and add up very quickly. Start with a number, and don't go over it!
3. Start looking for venues. The location for you ceremony and reception set the tone for the entire wedding. You can't plan any details without knowing the type of venue you will be in. I mean, what if you start planning for a vintage-themed wedding, but end up falling in love with a super-contemporary art museum as the locale? Then you have to scratch your original idea and start over. You want everything to feel cohesive. Pick the venue, and everything else will fall into place.
4. Don't be afraid to accept help. The second you get engaged, your friends and family are going to be chomping at the bit to help you get rolling with the plans. This can either be a good thing, or a horrible, awful, I-want-to-stab-myself-in-the-foot thing. The difference between these two is determined by your ability to delegate and lead, not give full reign to whatever your crazy Aunt Mildred wants. People want to help, and you should let them, but it's your wedding. You will feel better if you give your loved ones jobs to do (that will take the load off of your shoulders), but with instruction that shows them what YOU want. Find a happy medium.
6. Last, but certainly not least, look for ways to save money. Yes, it can be done. There are so many options out there for DIY projects ranging from invitations, to party favors, to the actual wedding cake. You can do it. And if you can't, well, there's certainly someone in your family who can. Also, use your connections. Does your best friend know a photographer? Is your co-worker's wife friends with a man who's uncle knows a guy who's a chef? Perfect!