Advice

Expert Advice: 10 Things to Do After You Get Engaged

As you bask in the glow of your freshly announced engagement, it’s natural to feel a whirlwind of emotions: excitement, love, and perhaps a bit of overwhelm by the journey ahead. While enjoying this special time is paramount, it’s also the perfect opportunity to start envisioning what your day will look like. To guide you through these first crucial steps, we’ve asked Tampa’s most respected wedding professionals to provide their advice.

The first set of decisions you make over the next few weeks will set the tone of your wedding: budget, venue, date, etc. With engagement season in full force, as a majority of proposals happen between the holidays and Valentine’s Day, you’re “competing” with lots of other couples for your one coveted date. Several of our preferred venues and vendors have limited Saturday availability for 2024 and are starting to fill up their Spring 2025 dates.

In this comprehensive article, we dive into setting the foundation for a smooth and joyful wedding planning experience. Our experts, ranging from seasoned wedding planners to experienced photographers, caterers, and florists, share their insider tips on how to navigate this new chapter with grace and ease. They’ve seen it all, from intimate backyard nuptials to grand destination weddings, and their advice is tailored to help you, regardless of the size or style of your celebration.

Join us as we embark on this exciting journey together, providing you with the wisdom and insights of those who have dedicated their careers to making wedding dreams come true.


1. Enjoy the Excitement

“Do yourself a huge favor and resist the urge to immediately update your relationship status and post photos all over social media. It’ll be just as exciting for everyone tomorrow! Take five minutes, call those closest to you, and tell them first. You’d be surprised how often we hear about hurt feelings of parents, siblings, and close family because they found out about a couple’s engagement on social media!” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Enjoy your engagement. Don’t rush right into planning. Throw some type of engagement party to kick off the festivities. This could be anything from a formal party to a casual gathering at a local bar. Make sure you only invite those you would also invite to the wedding. If family members haven’t met before, this is a great opportunity to introduce people.” – Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“Enjoy being engaged. This season of your relationship will go by so quickly, and it can easily be consumed with wedding planning. Continue to date one another, building your relationship even deeper. You’re preparing for a healthy marriage, and that foundation isn’t built overnight. Remember to prioritize your significant other’s feelings over the hurred ‘check-list’ of the wedding. You’ll be glad you did once the wedding is over and the marriage begins.” -Stacy Boyce, owner of Garry & Stacy Photography Co.

“This gets so overlooked in our industry – the immediate advice is to book your venue, choose a date, find your vendors, etc., and that’s all great! But how about taking a week or three to just enjoy the rush of being newly engaged? This is a chapter of your life you can’t redo! Enjoy it while it lasts – order champagne, tell every waiter you encounter that you just got engaged (um, hello free dessert!), and enjoy dreaming with your soon-to-be spouse.” -Rachel Lee, owner of Rachel Elle Photography

“Enjoy your engagement! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to jump head-first into planning your wedding the moment you’ve said ‘Yes!’ You are more than allowed to take your time and enjoy this special point in your relationship. A lot of people only see the leap from boyfriend/girlfriend to husband/wife, but the in-between period can be just as amazing. If you do start right away with planning your nuptials, remember to stop every now and then and remember what it’s all for. Be sure to keep making special moments with your loved one so that you can reflect upon your engagement with good memories.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“The first thing you should do after you are engaged…ENJOY IT! I know the excitement is at an all-time high; everyone is asking questions, and you’re ready to get to planning. However, even if it’s just for a week or two, I highly suggest soaking in the engagement bliss to focus on you two and enjoy the moment together before you dive in head first. This is a moment you won’t get back, and it’s super important that you stop and smell the roses and truly enjoy the moment together.” -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“This engagement season is what you have been dreaming of your whole life, so enjoy every moment! As you start to plan your wedding, think of ways you can really enjoy this special time. For example, when you are starting to tour different venues, make a whole day of it by also going out to dinner or grabbing drinks. The wedding planning process can feel overwhelming at times, so make it fun!” -Limelight Photography


2. Envision What You Want Your Day to be Like

“After you have had a chance to enjoy being engaged and have told your family and friends, start discussing what each of you wants when it comes to your wedding day. Discuss what you each envision for your wedding and what is most important to you both. Being on the same page will help the planning process go much smoother.” – Amber McWhorter, owner of Amber McWhorter Photography 

“Before you start to plan your wedding, it is imperative that you envision what you want your special day to be like. Three important pillars that will help you do this are style, size, and budget. Think about how big you want your wedding to be, what the overall style is, and how much you are willing to spend. These three pillars will help you choose your wedding venue and vendors.” -Limelight Photography

“Dating is getting to know each other, but we’d bet that you never talked about the size, style, or budget of hosting a wedding. Once the two of you are on the same page, which may take more than one conversation and a little compromise, have some conversations with your parents about their thoughts. Then come up with a rough budget, ideas about the date or season for the wedding, and how big of a wedding you might want. This is important to know when you start looking for wedding venues.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Discuss with your partner about what kind of wedding you each would like and the pros and cons of your options. Are you looking to elope as quickly as possible, or are you expecting to be engaged for three years to allow time to plan a three-day wedding event? The expectations of your partner may differ from yours, so it’s important to figure out things you both want and things you each are willing to compromise on.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“In the age of social media and Pinterest boards, weddings have taken a life of their own. Before making a single decision on venues and guest lists, make sure you both agree on what you envision your day to look like. Ask yourself questions like, ‘Do you want a large wedding?’ ‘Do you want an outdoor wedding?’ ‘Do you want a springtime beach wedding or a fall garden wedding?’ All of these questions are important to ask yourself in order to ensure that you both agree on what you would like your day to look like and then you are both on the same page at the very beginning of the planning process.” –Breezin’ Weddings

“Sit down with your partner and go over what your ‘musts’ are – and limit them. For example, my husband and I each got to pick three things we really cared about. For me, it was the photography and the music. For him, it was the food and the DJ. And we both wanted all our friends and family there. Having priorities set meant that we each got to own parts of the day and that made planning less stressful and more fun. I was in charge of hiring the photographer, and he was in charge of choosing the caterer, which is so much easier than just one of you shouldering the load!” -Rachel Lee, owner of Rachel Elle Photography

“After you have soaked in the engagement some, the next steps are to figure out what kind of wedding you want. The best place to start is figuring out a rough guest count, where you want to get married, the time of year you want to get married, and how much money will be spent. There are a lot of factors that go into planning your day, and it’s going to save a lot of stress if you figure out these factors before you start touring venues and making plans. For example, some couples get fixated on a specific date, and it can really limit the venues they can pick from or they get fixated on the venue and it ends up being way out of budget. Having a game plan before you start shopping around can save you a lot of heartache and stress.” -Delaney Driver, owner of Wilder Mind Events

“Take some time to just enjoy being engaged! Then, when you’re ready to start planning, comb through Pinterest or Google Images to get a general idea of what aesthetic you like if you don’t already have an album. Once you have your venue and date, a planner, photographer, florist, or stationer/calligrapher can help you make sure to include all the beautiful little visual touches that will be forever saved as memories. All logistics are important but make sure you leave space for the ones you have your heart set on. Sometimes starting with the details can actually help you with the bigger picture, as you can incorporate something like a venue illustration or custom monogram throughout your entire event.” -Margot Griffin, owner of Inky Fingers Calligraphy

“Make a list of things you want and don’t want at your wedding and put them in order of importance. This will help prioritize your wedding budget and vendors. Remember that this is your day. Do not let your fourth cousin’s best friend’s sister insert their opinion on you and sway your wants. Trust me, they will totally do that, and it’s not cool. Stick to what you want.” -Amanda Biery, owner of The Olive Tree Weddings

Bride and Groom Just Married | Old Florida Outdoor Wedding Ceremony | White Planter Boxes with Stock Flowers, Roses, Hydrangeas, and Greenery Aisle Arrangement Inspiration | Tampa Bay Florist Bruce Wayne Florals | St. Pete Planner Parties A La Carte

Luxurious Black-Tie Pink Downtown St. Pete Wedding | Parties A’ La Carte | Photography by Avery | Bruce Wayne Florals


3. Set a Budget

“My top advice is when it comes time to start thinking about planning a wedding, I always use the acronym BGT: budget, guests, time-frame. Determining each of these in this order will help narrow down the options for each one, locking in a wedding date, and so many other wedding details! -Danyle Longenecker, Elegant Affairs by Design

“Budgets are the absolute most important document next to the marriage license. Be realistic about your number and what you are comfortable spending. Your initial budget and guest count will be the two driving factors in the next step, selecting a venue. Once the budget and guest count are established, we highly suggest hiring a wedding planner to assist you! They will help with selecting a venue that best aligns with your budget, guest count, and vision. Your planner will be able to help you allocate your money appropriately so that you’re getting the most for your budget. They will know industry standards and how they play into each piece of the budget. It is so easy to get overwhelmed and just spend, but your planner is instrumental in keeping that bottom line intact and still giving you the best quality for your budget. They will also help guide you through the remainder of the planning process, keeping you within budget and on track with the remaining vendor selections. This will provide an overall stress-free planning process with extensive experience and knowledge available every step of the way. ” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A’La Carte

“One of the most important things to do, once you get engaged, is to have that awkward conversation with both sets of parents to determine if they will contribute to the wedding and, if so, what they are willing to contribute. It could be financial assistance, helping with a specific vendor, or with a specific project; you need to be open to their assistance. Your parents have been looking forward to this day (much longer than you), so be open to hearing their thoughts. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, and it should reflect you, but it’s also a celebration for two families coming together. Before you spend a single penny on your wedding, you should have a mutually accepted budget breakdown. Not just a large number, but a breakdown of all of the expenses of your wedding with budgeted dollar amounts next to them. Your budget breakdown is your ‘Wedding GPS. You wouldn’t get in the car and just start driving, but rather, you would have a destination and route to get there. This is how you should think of your budget breakdown. Your overall wedding budget is your destination, and your budget breakdown is your route to get there.” -Staci Mandikas, owner of UNIQUE Weddings + Events

“Determine a budget for your wedding. This is one of the most difficult details to come to terms with because there are so many outliers, and it ultimately determines what kind of wedding is possible. Do you know if family will help fund the wedding? If so, how much? Will this be something you and your partner will be responsible for? What is a comfortable amount you both are willing to spend? Remember that planning a wedding involves a lot of compromise and communication. You may have dreamed of a fully decked-out event, but if your budget is more modest, then it may be time to reevaluate your vision.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

Have a conversation with your fiancé and your families about financial expectations and responsibilities. Establish a clear budget and who will be contributing. Is your fiancé the type who wants to be involved in every decision, or do they care primarily about a few key points and are happy to leave the other details to you? This doesn’t mean they aren’t excited about the wedding and getting married. You will both enjoy the process a lot more if you have an understanding of what details they are interested in and what they trust you to decide.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“Talking about money has been taboo for a long time, but when you start to plan a wedding, talking about money and budgeting are two of the first things you dive into. One tip for alleviating stress is not dumping all the money into one big pot. If parents, grandparents, or other family members contribute money, designate it to specific areas. ‘Grandma’s money covers wedding gown and accessories.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Budget. Budget. Budget. Who is contributing? How much is everyone putting into the wedding? What is the max amount you are willing to spend? This is one of the most important things to figure out and will set the expectation for the type of wedding you are going to have. There is a strong possibility that you want to do something small after figuring out what is important to you, and you go elope instead, or perhaps you have a lot of family willing to contribute, and you want to have a full-scale wedding. Whatever is decided, the budget is how you get there. Make sure to have these conversations beforehand!” -Delaney Driver, owner of Wilder Mind Events

“We know that having the budget conversation can be awkward to have with your fiancé and family; however, it is a must! Setting your wedding budget and sticking to it is crucial as you start to choose vendors, pick a venue, and determine the guest list. One helpful tip that we recommend is allowing a little extra to go towards any unexpected costs. By giving yourself a safety net in the budget, you will avoid breaking the bank in case of emergencies such as last-minute gown alterations, extra catering needs, or unexpected weather.” -Limelight Photography

Bride and Groom at Romantic White Gold and Greenery Sweetheart Table with White Linens Wedding Inspiration Portrait | Tampa Rentals Kate Ryan Event Rentals | Planner Eventfull Weddings | Venue Hotel Haya

Classic White, Gold, and Greenery Ybor City Wedding | Hotel Haya | EventFull Weddings | Emma Anna Photo | Jennie’s Flowers


4. Choose a Date

“When choosing the date for your big day, make sure to consider the location and venue where your wedding will be held. It is important to envision what you want your ceremony and reception to look like before you choose the actual date. For example, if you want an outdoor wedding, then choose a time of the year when the weather is typically cooler, less humid, and sunny. The fall season in Florida, between the months of October through January, is usually the most popular time of the year to get married since the weather is the most pleasant. By determining the time of the year that coordinates with the wedding you have envisioned, you are best equipped to choose the perfect date.” -Limelight Photography

“The best way to get the date you want is to have a few in mind! Second, the best solution to this problem is to invert. For example, ask key family members and friends for dates that do not work for them, then work backward and have a list of dates that everyone is available. Once the venue is reserved for a specific date, you can start to reach out to all the vendors involved and confirm their availability. We recommend leaving a deposit ASAP to secure the date with the venue and each of the vendors accordingly. You risk losing the date/vendor or both if you delay this investment (and it unfortunately happens frequently). Often, couples will go back and forth discussing packages/pricing, etc., and then, for some reason, hold off leaving a deposit for a couple of weeks, only to find out this specific venue or vendor has been reserved in the interim (and you have to start the selection process all over again). Our advice is to be diligent, confirm, and reserve sooner than later. There are a ton of great venues, vendors, and professionals in the industry; however, you cannot reserve your favorites without confirming availability of a date on the front end and leaving a deposit.” -Brandon Wheeler, owner of Gulf Beach Weddings

“Think about your ideal wedding date. Keep in mind that popular dates and seasons are always booked first. Also, be sure to think about the weather.” -Amanda Biery, owner of The Olive Tree Weddings


5. Narrow Down Venue Styles

“Take some time to celebrate, let your friends and family know, and soak it in because it’s such an exciting time. Then, start planning, but really take some time with your fiancé and cast a vision for the type of wedding, feel, style, and time of year you want to get married. Here in Tampa Bay, there are so many styles of venues, from beachfront to rustic barn to downtown. It will save you a ton of time when you start the venue search if you can have a vision for what you want your wedding to be.” -Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography

“There are many gorgeous venues in the Tampa Bay area, but choosing the one that is right for you all comes down to how you envision your wedding style. If your theme is a rustic vibe, then you would want to choose a venue with that rustic and historic feel. If your wedding style is a fairytale garden theme, then you would want to choose a venue with luscious gardens. Choose a venue that matches the overall theme of your wedding day.” -Limelight Photography

​​”When it comes to the exciting step of wedding venue shopping, be prepared to share as many details with your initial inquiry i.e., preferred wedding dates, expected guest count, desired meal service and bar, as well as your desired budget guidelines. Providing these details upfront to the venue coordinator will allow them to best speak to the reception space as it relates to your special day. In most cases, we can use your helpful updates to prepare an initial proposal for your review. A custom proposal based on your specific wedding day wants and needs can be a wonderful planning tool as you narrow down and compare your favorite venue spots!” -Mary Barnett, Event Sales Manager The Birchwood

“Once you are engaged, we recommend for couples to start a Pinterest board to bring together their vision and ideas. Once they know the style they are looking for, the next step would be to pick a venue. Many event spaces have a list of approved or preferred vendors, so it is often best to secure your date at your venue of choice first. Once you have secured your venue, you will be given a list of vendors that have been vetted and are accustomed to working in that particular space. The next step would be to find a planner that you connect with, and that can help bring your vision to life. And lastly, don’t forget to breathe and enjoy the process!” -Maria Slater, Venue Manager, The West Events Space

“When you are ready to begin planning for the big day, reach out to your favorite catering company to ask their professional opinion on selecting a venue that will best fit your vision. As a full-service catering company, we love helping our clients find the perfect venue that suits their personality and style and can help them with checking venues for availability and giving them an insider perspective on what might work best for their overall budget.” -Melissa Misgen, owner of Elite Events Catering


6. Think About Your Guest List

“Before you even book an event space, think about how many guests will be attending. Different venues accommodate a different number of people, so have a set number of guests in your mind before you start to venue shop. It is also beneficial to determine the number of wedding guests ahead of time so that you can plan your budget and accommodate them accordingly. By determining the set number of guests who will attend, you are setting yourself up for success!” -Limelight Photography

“Start working on the guest list with parents and collecting addresses so you can determine the number of anticipated guests, which helps with the venue selection process. There’s nothing worse than booking a venue that is not large enough for the number of guests or is too large for the number of anticipated guests.” -Tammy Waterman, owner of Special Moments Event Planning

“Build your guest list and look at the demographics. Do you have grandparents and older guests who may be comfortable in an outdoor setting? Do you have a lot of guests from out of town? Do you want to keep it intimate? There are many considerations to think about, but you can still have the wedding of your dreams and have all your favorite people there.” -Carrie Wildes, owner of Carrie Wildes Photography

“Your guest count is important and this will help set the tone of your overall budget. Do you want it to be an intimate setting or a large affair? Do you want guests to have plus ones, extended family, etc.? Next set a realistic expectation of a realistic budget with your partner. Wedding needs, wedding wants, and your overall guest count will play a huge role in this. Remember your guest count sets the tone for your budget! Keep in mind that your wedding date may be determined by the availability of your dream venue. Don’t settle on a venue you don’t love.” -Kelci Zicconi, owner Kelci Leigh Events


7. Hire Professionals

“Hiring professionals is the best route in making your wedding planning process seamless and stress-free! Once the venue and date are secured, the initial vendors we suggest securing are photography, entertainment, and videography. These tend to book up fairly quickly, depending on your selected date!” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A’La Carte

“Many couples turn to a wedding consultant to help them every step of the way in the planning process. However, with technology today, many couples are capable of planning a beautiful wedding by themselves, but who will be there to ensure it’s executed properly? Do not rely on your thousands of dollars and months of planning in the hands of a bridesmaid who planned events for her sorority in college or your Aunt Sally, who loves throwing dinner parties and is self-proclaimed ‘crafty.’ Give yourself the peace of mind that not only will your wedding run smoothly, but you are able to relax and enjoy your day because your wedding planner will also put out the fires that will occur without you ever even knowing!” –Breezin’ Weddings

“After nearly a decade in the business, we cannot overemphasize how important it is to choose wedding professionals to handle your wedding day. When looking for a wedding photographer, for example, hire someone who has had plenty of experience shooting weddings. Entrusting a photographer to capture the moments you will remember forever is so very important. That is why you want to choose a professional wedding photographer who is confident in his or her skill and will deliver high-quality photos.” -Limelight Photography

“Hire a wedding planner. This will just help everything be less stressful and more fun during the wedding planning process. You don’t get married every day, but wedding planners do this every day for a living. We have your best interest and lots of knowledge to guide you along the way.” -Amanda Biery, owner of The Olive Tree Weddings

“Decide which vendors and details are ‘must haves’ and which you are more flexible about. If there is a specific photographer whose portfolio you love or a venue that your partner has been dreaming about for years, be sure to reach out ASAP. Vendors and venues, especially ones that are popular in the area, can be booked out years in advance and require getting on their list sooner than later.” -Melanie Eubanks, owner of Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“Getting engaged is one of the most exciting seasons in a couple’s life but can become overwhelming once you get into details of picking vendors. When selecting your vendor team, make sure you read reviews and chat with other vendors to see who they recommend. Check out their website and schedule a consultation call to really get to know the people behind the brand. Even if you hire a wedding planner, it’s great to make that personal connection with your vendors. Once you find the right fit, book them! Wedding dates are going even faster than normal with in-demand vendors.” -Kelcey Yaeger, owner Adore Bridal Hair and Makeup

“Reach out to a wedding planner for a consultation. We can help explain what’s going on in the industry, realistic budgets, venue options, and much more before signing any contracts.” -Katy Martin, owner of Coastal Coordinating

“Once you decide to start planning, know that the four things that book fastest are venues, DJs or live entertainment, photographers, and planners. Pro tip: Hire the planner first so they can help you curate a list of recommended vendors, which is less work for you!” -Rachel Lee, owner of Rachel Elle Photography

“Celebrate! Soak in this special milestone together as a couple. Before you dive into wedding planning, you should consider hiring an experienced wedding planner. A professional wedding planner can help you with your budget, source venues, and vendors, and ensure to keep you on track through the planning process. Through our budget management services, we are able to break down a couple’s overall wedding budget to offer guidance on what range they should stay in for each vendor and service. There are also many variables to think about when it comes to your venue search. We will recommend potential venues that align with your wedding vision and budget.” -Riley Gersch, owner of Elegant Affairs by Design

Hire a planner! Why? Because they will help guide you through the whole process, help with the design, keep you on budget, give monthly planning check-ins, hire the best vendor team, and most importantly be your biggest support.” -Kelci Zicconi, owner of Kelci Leigh Events

“Already overwhelmed? Hire a wedding planner. Full-service wedding planners help you from start to finish. That means we can help you with your budget, venue search, and help navigate this process from the very start. This also will help your wedding process feel more enjoyable and smooth.” -Delaney Driver, owner of Wilder Mind Events

Bride and Groom Just Married Wedding Portrait | Tampa Bay Photographer Rachel Elle Photography | Planner The Olive Tree Weddings | White Lace Fit and Flare Morilee Wedding Gown

Romantic Rustic, Pink and Green Dade City Wedding | Rachel Elle Photography | The Olive Tree Weddings | Boho Floral


8. Book Your Engagement Session

“After you get engaged, I recommend taking engagement photos (because how exciting)! This could be a photographer that you hire for your wedding or not. Keep in mind that most wedding photographers will include an engagement session. Make sure to hire a photographer based on your aesthetics, overall vibe, and one that you and your partner are comfortable with.” -Kelci Zicconi, Kelci Leigh Events

“Save-the-Dates should be ordered 9-12 months prior to your wedding date. We suggest scheduling an engagement shoot with your selected wedding photographer. These images can be utilized on your Save-the-Dates. This also allows you and the photographer to get to know each other prior to your big day. By developing this relationship, the photographer will be able to note poses that make you comfortable, what makes you laugh, your favorite angles, and much more! This makes portraits on the wedding day so much better, and you know you’re in good hands. Pro Tip: We also recommend scheduling your hair and makeup trial on the same day as your shoot! With this, you can see how your hair and makeup photographs.” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A’La Carte

“Take engagement photos! These can be used for your Save-the-Date or wedding invites. This is also the best possible way to find a wedding photographer that you vibe with and love their work. Wedding photos are forever. Be sure you like the photos and the person behind the camera capturing these moments.” -Amanda Biery, owner of The Olive Tree Weddings


9. Buy Wedding Insurance

“If you haven’t done it already, be sure to insure your engagement ring. It’s easy to get swept up with the Pinterest pins, glasses of champagne, and constant eye googling of your new sparkle, but to bring you back to reality…you need to make sure that your paperwork is in line.” -Staci Mandikas, owner of UNIQUE Weddings + Events

“Purchase wedding insurance to protect your investment from a number of perils. October and November are popular wedding months in Florida, but they still fall within hurricane season.” -Karen Cerboni, owner of EventFull Weddings

“None of us know the future, and unfortunate things may happen that could affect your wedding plans. In Florida, during the summer months, for example, hurricanes can cause unexpected damage to an area. If you are a bride planning your beautiful Florida wedding, then you must consider that unexpected Florida weather may arise. That is why it is important to protect your investment by planning ahead and purchasing wedding insurance. You can never be too safe, especially when you are planning the wedding of your dreams.” -Limelight Photography


10. Focus on the Marriage, Not Just the Wedding

“The first thing couples should do after they are engaged is to look for a premarital counselor. I can’t stress enough the importance of having those harder conversations at the beginning. The engagement is such an exciting time, but I want each bride that we come in contact with to have a long and successful marriage! Take the time to nourish your relationship in the midst of wedding planning chaos!” -Lela Haas, owner of Truly Forever Bridal

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.