Just Got Engaged? Find Out What to Do Next!

You're engaged... now what? Celebrity event planner Beth Helmstetter shares her tips!

From budgeting and planning the guest list to choosing a venue, hiring wedding professionals, and beyond, take a look at Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events' expert advice!

uche nwosu and clinton moxam mtv are you the one wedding portrait looking at wedding rings in chicago
Photo: Abby Jiu Photography

Congratulations to all you newly engaged out there! Being engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be overwhelming. While many of the couples Beth Helmstetter Events works with bring us on board before taking a lot of the following steps, I know many of you are navigating this on your own or hoping to bring someone in to assist after the initial decisions have been made. 

For those couples, here is a brief outline of the major planning phases of your wedding day in the order to approach each:

Budgeting for Your Wedding

The truth is unless you have been closely involved with the planning of your sister’s, best friend’s, or any other person’s big day, you may be surprised by the overall investment of a wedding. To avoid a lot of stress, determine up front how much you want to prioritize and how much your family may contribute. 

From there, set an approximate budget to use as a guideline when hiring wedding vendors. Note that sometimes setting your budget can be arbitrary and you may need to revisit this once you understand your vision, but having an idea of your comfort zone is important.

The Wedding Guest List

While some couples choose to formulate their guest list around their preferred venue, I highly recommend looking at this list before falling in love with a space that may or may not be able to accommodate your group. I suggest both of you make a list of people you can’t imagine marrying without – individually – and asking your families to do the same, if appropriate. 

From there, have a closer look at the collective list, negotiate as needed, and use the estimated number to determine what size of venue you need to have to accommodate the starting list.

Uche Nwosu with Bridesmaids in Chicago

Photo by Abby Jiu Photography; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events

When & Where

Where will your wedding be? Do you dream of a traditional wedding in the backyard of your childhood home? Do you want to marry with vineyards in the landscape? How about a private estate in the mountains? 

No matter where your wedding is held, you can’t move forward with the planning until you have a wedding date and a location selected. Narrow down the region or regions you’re interested in and start scouting all of the venues that fit your vision.

Hiring Your Wedding Support Team

Assembling the perfect team of experts for your day is crucial in the success of your wedding day. Remember, it is not only about style and budget – you also need to be able to trust each person in carrying out your vision. 

Here is a list of the vendors you may consider hiring for your day: 

  • Wedding Planner 
  • Ceremony Venue 
  • Reception Venue 
  • Caterer 
  • Floral Designer 
  • Photographer 
  • Cinematographer 
  • Cake Designer 
  • Ceremony Entertainment 
  • Reception Entertainment 
  • Stylist 
  • Stationer 
  • Lighting Company 
  • Linens 
  • Rental Company 

In an effort to secure your preferred wedding vendors, prioritize your interviews with the professionals that need to be present on your wedding day. For instance, your photographer will only be shooting one wedding per day; however, your stationer or linen supplier can obviously service more than one couple per any given date.

For this reason, we recommend hiring your venue, caterer, photographer, and DJ/Band first and foremost, and then chipping away at the others from there.

Uche Nwosu & Clinton Moxam Wedding Portrait

Photo by Abby Jiu Photography; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events

Wedding Guest Communication

Once you have a wedding date, location, and some key vendors on board, start thinking about your guests. I recommend aligning the mail date for your save the date with the launch of your wedding website, allowing guests to start planning themselves. If you’re having a destination wedding or a high percentage of guests will be traveling, don’t forget to secure a room block for the out-of-town guests. The wedding website is the perfect spot to communicate this helpful information.

The Details of Your Wedding Day

Once you have your wedding team in place, start thinking about the specifics. What do you want the day to look like, aesthetically? What type of experience are you hoping to create? Will it be black tie or more approachable? What songs will be played during the ceremony? What textiles and florals are you drawn to?

If you’re a couple who knows exactly what you want, great! If not, spend some time researching wedding resources, gathering inspiration, and talking with your vendors. As a general guideline, work to have all details and decisions made no later than one month before your wedding day. This will allow you to enjoy the days leading up to your union.

Final Thoughts

No matter what, keep in perspective the true meaning of the day. A more carefree mindset will save your sanity as you try to manage many moving parts, questions from vendors and guests, and staying connected to your fiancé. Congratulations again! 

Photos by Abby Jiu Photography of Uche Nwosu & Clinton Moxam’s Chicago wedding