How to Start Wedding Planning — by a Pensacola, FL based wedding photographer

man kisses woman's cheek at Alys Beach

So you just got engaged to the love of your life. CONGRATULATIONS!! This is such a sweet, short, and fun time in your lives.

You may be wondering what to do next. Where do I start? What do we do now?

It’s totally normal to be asking these questions! I mean most of us only plan a wedding once in our lives.

In this blog, I am going to give you tips on how to start the wedding planning process on the right foot.


Ahh you’re engaged!! Soak it in! Enjoy this season in your life. Do all the bride things (I promise you won’t regret it even if it feels cheesy at the time).

  1. Take your time. Wedding planning is no walk in the park (unless you have a super awesome wedding planner which we 10/10 recommend doing).
    I don’t know your personal situation, but please take some time to truly enjoy this engaged season. So many brides agree that it is the one time in their lives that they want to go by super quickly, but often miss it when their wedding day is said and done.

    Take a few days, weeks, months, whatever you need to do to feel ready to begin planning your dream wedding day.


Yes, I said it. Please sit down and have the money talk with all parties involved BEFORE booking anything. Trust me. If you start planning without a budget or idea of how much you would like to spend on your wedding day, it will be so easy to go over board and spend a lot more than you were thinking.

  1. Reach out to about 3 vendors in their respective category (unless you already 100% know who you want to work with). Find out what the average price looks like for the vendors you are interested in and what you can expect to be paying.

  2. Once you have an idea of the cost of your vendors, begin to sit down and write up a budget with your fiance.
    • If you think family will be contributing in any way, this is a good time to also sit down with them and show them how much you are expecting to pay towards your wedding. **Please make sure their contribution is actually a gift. Some family may expect you to use their money in a specific way or adjust your plans to match theirs if they give you money. Make sure you know these expectations and are comfortable with them before accepting ANY help.

Pro tip: If you are a visual person like me, a few wedding planning websites (like the Knot or Wedding Wire) have a really cool pie chart feature. It allows you to plug in your estimated wedding costs and then plug in the actual amount. It will slowly fill in your pie chart and give you a better understanding of what your budget looks like.

Book Your Venue & Set a Date

Here is where the fun begins!! Searching for your dream venue and locking in your date.

Most of your wedding vendors cannot be booked until you have a firm wedding date.

If you are nervous that a few of your must-have vendors may not be available on your date, here is a solution: Before officially booking, you can ask your venue for a list of dates that they currently have available and then send these dates to those must-have vendors. If you decide to go this route, please communicate this with your venue and make sure that you do this quickly. Your venue is not obligated to keep any particular date available for you until you make your deposit and sign any paperwork they need you to.

I could go on and on about wedding dates, but I will keep it short. To avoid being let down, please go into your venue search with an open heart about choosing dates. Unless having your wedding on a particular date is SUPER important to you (which in this case we completely understand), be flexible with dates. This will give you a higher chance that your dream venue and vendors are actually available.

Time to Create Your Dream Team

Now that you have a wedding venue and a date secured, its time to book your dream team (AKA your vendors). Every vendor has a different timeline of when they should be booked, but if they are already taking bookings at the time you start planning, its always better to get your vendors secured sooner rather than later.

One thing that really surprised me when planning my own Florida wedding was how long wedding dresses can take to be made and altered. My wedding dress took a total of 7 months to arrive from the day I was fitted and sent my order in. It took a few more weeks to be tailored.

Your bridal shop will be able to get a handful of dresses sooner, but if you want to have plenty of options, we recommend going dress shopping sooner rather than later.

When in Doubt, Consult Your Wedding Planner

Now you have a vendor who is 10000% on your side! If you have any questions during your wedding planning journey, please do not be afraid to reach out to them or the respective vendor you think this question could be best answered by.

I know wedding planning can be stressful, but I believe in you! You got this!!

— Madison Higgins (your photog bestie)

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