Expert Advice: 10 Things to Do After You Get Engaged

Expert Advice: 10 Things to Do After You Get Engaged

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times in your life. Though, with the celebration comes big responsibility. Your wedding day is a milestone and one of the most memorable days of your life.

The first set of decisions you make over the next few weeks will set the tone of your wedding: budget, venue, date, etc., However, now more than ever, these choices are more important than before as wedding venues and vendors are booked solid. Several of our preferred venues and vendors have no Saturday availability for the entire year and are starting to fill up their Spring 2023 dates.

Currently, we're experiencing engagement season, as a majority of proposals happen between the holidays and Valentine's Day, so you're “competing” with lots of other couples for your one coveted date. However, if you're open to a non-Saturday date, you'll open yourself up to several more options.

And if you're heart is set on getting married this year, we've compiled a list of venues and vendors who still have availability for 2022.

1. Enjoy the Excitement

“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

“The first thing couples should do after they are engaged is to look for a premarital counselor. I can't stress the importance of having those harder conversations at the beginning enough! 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

“This engagement season is what you have been dreaming of your whole life, so enjoy every moment! As you start to wedding plan 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!” – Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

“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

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.” – Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

“Give yourself time to think about what you want your wedding to be like. Do you want a big or small, formal or casual, spring or winter wedding etc.” – Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“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

“When picturing the day, we suggest creating a list of the elements that are most important to you. The next step would be to hire a planner to help with guidance in selecting the best venue to bring your overall vision to life! There is so much to think about, but starting with the elements that are most important to you and your fiancé will help begin the planning process and give your planner a starting point to provide you with ideas for the most perfect day.” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A'La Carte

“In the new 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 of 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.” -Jessie Soplinksi, wedding planner with Breezin' Weddings

Waterfront Tampa Bay Wedding Ceremony Venue | Davis Islands Garden Club in Tampa Florida | Special Moments Event Planning

Waterfront Pink Spring Tampa Wedding | Davis Islands Garden Club | Special Moments Event Planning

3. Determine the Decision Makers

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

“Everybody has an opinion so it’s important to determine who makes the final decision about your wedding. It is always a great idea to listen to the advice of your family and close friends, however, it is also equally important to know that ultimately, this is you and your fiancé’s big day. So while you gain helpful advice from others, make sure to remember this is your wedding and you make the final decision.” -Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

4. 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. Then hire a planner. Your planner will be able to help you allocate that money appropriately so that you’re getting the most for your budget. Your planner will know industry standards and how that plays 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 give you the best quality for your budget.” -Jessica Ralph, owner of Parties A'La Carte

“Have the uncomfortable, raw, and real budget talk. The last thing you want to do is start your marriage off in debt and in financial stress. Figure out how much money you have to spend, and set some real expectations within that budget. Do not attempt to have a wedding you can't afford!  This will only decrease the enjoyment of planning your wedding and set yourself up for disappointment. Remember, a wedding is just a start to a lifelong together. Start it on the right foot.” -Leigh Wilson-Arwood, Red Mesa Events  

“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

“Make a list of everything you want for your wedding, from rentals, florals, catering, entertainment, and all things that make the day happen. Once you make the list, prioritize what is really important to you. Is the delicious food, pretty pictures, or upgraded rentals important to you? Be sure to really think about it and find vendors that understand your feelings on these priorities. Angel Hubaykah, Gabro Event Services

“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

“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.” – Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

Modern, Elegant Florida Wedding Reception and Decor, Clear Acrylic Ghost Chairs and Wooden Crossback Chairs with, Long Wooden Feasting Tables Gold Textured Chargers with Hanging Candlelight and Greenery, Low Floral Centerpieces with White Roses, Geometric Accents, | Downtown Tampa Wedding Planner UNIQUE Weddings and Events | Florida Special Event Rental Company Over The Top Linens | Tampa Bay Decor Rental A Chair Affair

Luxurious White and Greenery Inspired Downtown Tampa Wedding | UNIQUE Weddings + Events

5. Rethink Your Wedding Timeline

“There are a lot of great online resources about when you should book vendors, but I would take the advice from anything that was before 2020 with a grain of salt. COVID has messed up the timelines of a lot of milestones you should hit at each month mark when planning a wedding. For example, you used to be able to book a florist about six months out and now they are already booking 9-12 months out in advance. The timelines that used to be standard have now shifted with the influx of weddings, and it can really set you behind if you're not careful. The best way to avoid this problem is to go ahead and hire a planner who can help you stay on track and guide you with the ever-changing times that COVID has brought us! -Delaney Driver, owner Wilder Mind Events

6. Choose a Date

“Pick a date, and have a backup. The reason for having a date is so important is to confirm availability. You may go back and forth with a certain vendor for weeks, only to find out they are already booked for your date. 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.” -Brandon Wheeler, owner of Gulf Beach Weddings

“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 are wanting an outdoor wedding then choose a time of the year where 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.” – Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

7. 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.” -Miranda Gates, 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 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

“Drink Champagne! Book your venue!” -Karin Bearnarth, Director of Sales and Events Mision Lago Estate

Romantic Indoor Ballroom Wedding Ceremony with Gold Chiavari Chairs | St. Pete Rental Company Gabro Event Services | Venue The Birchwood | Tampa Bay Planner Perfecting the Plan

Romantic Eucalyptus Green and Pink Downtown St. Pete Wedding | The Birchwood | Perfecting the Plan

8. Hire Professionals

“For the love of sweet baby Jesus, hire a planner and hire a planner you vibe with and lean on them for vendor recommendations.  You can save a ton of money by getting solid recommendations from professionals in the field.  There's a lot of amazing vendors in our industry, but there are also a lot of not-so-amazing vendors that may flake or overcharge you.  Many venues are requiring planners now because they are so worth it.  If you think you don't need a planner, you absolutely do.” -Leigh Wilson-Arwood, Red Mesa Events  

“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

“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, and you are able to relax and enjoy your day because your day of coordinator/wedding planner will also put out the fires that will occur without you ever even knowing!” -Jessie Soplinski, wedding planner with Breezin' Weddings

“After 16 years 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.” -Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

“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

“Hiring professionals is the best route in making your wedding planning process seamless and stress-free! we plan weddings every day. We work with you and our years of experience to plan a realistic budget and stick to it. We are educated on the industry standards for pricing and can help prepare you for making financial decisions without sacrificing special details. Planners know the ins and outs and are there every step of the way to help solve any problem that may present itself.” -Jessica Ralph, owner Parties A'La Carte

“Hire your wedding photographer. With the pandemic having delayed weddings more people are getting married into 2022/2023 and couples are already looking into 2024. You may have your heart set on someone and find out they are already booked if you wait too long.” -Kristen Jeffers, Kristen Marie Photography

9. 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!” – Miranda Gates, 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

“In these times we are in 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? With the day and age we live in now there are many new 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

Classic Bride and Groom Under Pergola, Lush White Hydrangeas Eucalyptus and Greenery Floral Arrangements | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Parties A'la Carte | Bradenton Wedding Venue Concession Golf Club | Wedding Rentals Kate Ryan Event Rentals

Luxurious Classic Outdoor Wedding | The Concession Golf Club | Parties a la Carte

10. 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.” -Miranda Gates, Limelight Photography

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.