I just got engaged! Where do I even begin planning?

Christmas and new year’s are prime engagement season! So if you’re amongst those who are on cloud nine following a summer engagement – a huge congratulations to you!

The first question a lot of brides have is – what do I need to do now? And when?

1. Work out your budget and number of guests

Step one is to know how much money you have to play with.

Top tip here – it’s going to cost more than you think. There are a lot of little expenses that you won’t know about until they arise. And all of those little things add up. So add in a buffer for unknown expenses.

There are some gorgeous wedding planning folders at stores like Kikki K which can help you draw up a budget and get the planning started.

2. Choose your wedding date

In South East Queensland, the peak wedding seasons are April/May and September/October. Obviously this avoids the heat of summer but still allows for brilliant sunny days. Since a lot of other people will be choosing these months – and Saturdays in particular – be aware that you will possibly have to compete for your preferred suppliers and venue if you choose a popular date.

Knowing what I do now, I think I would actually choose a date in August, if I had my time again. The weather is just starting to warm up, but it’s not the kind of weather that will leave a groom sweating like crazy in his jacket and tie. Plus you get a lot more flexibility with suppliers.

3. Book your venue

For most couples the next step is booking a venue. If you have a photographer or videographer or celebrant that is your non-negotiable then you may like the book them first. But for most people the venue is the very first choice.

You can check out my reviews of some of the most gorgeous SEQ wedding venues.

If you are among those who want a non-religious ceremony which nevertheless has a slightly reverant tone (eg. to keep your parents happy) you might like to consider non-denominational Broadway Chapel or the gorgeous High Church in Fortitude Valley.

4. Book the most important suppliers

Most commonly, couples book in their celebrant and photographer next. Deposits will be required to secure your date. And you should make sure your supplier has a contract so you understand your obligations, and when to expect your goods/services.

If you know that videography is important to you, you should also book this in early as the best Brisbane videographers are also booked out well in advance. Watch these tips for choosing a videographer.

If you want a dress fitted to you, and not just off the rack, you should also book in an appointment to go dress shopping. Some of the most beautiful gowns I have seen come from White Lily Couture, Paddington Weddings, Karen Willis Holmes, Grace Loves Lace and Made with Love Bridal. If you want a truly upmarket experience, Brisbane designer George Wu has gowns that are to die for (and he is a total sweetheart). Same goes for MXM Couture.

If you want a designer gown but can’t stomach the cost, check out second hand sales of top designer dresses at http://www.stillwhite.com.au

5. Book the rest

Invitations and other wedding stationery (such as ceremony booklet, menus and seating chart), hair, makeup, flowers (+ stylist if applicable), cake, DJ / band, wedding rings and honeymoon will also need to be organised in due course. Don’t leave it later than 6 – 12 months before the wedding to book these in though, as the top professionals do get booked up well in advance in all these areas.

You might also like to book transport and bonbonniere, but both of these can be DIY and are an obvious place to cut costs.

You can read my guide to bridesmaid dress shopping here.

Also remember to book a block of accommodation for out of town guests if you are in a location where accommodation is scarce.

Good luck and may the force be with you!