from the desk of Hope Ann

newly engaged couple popping confetti on Pilot Mountain

I’m Engaged! Now What?

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Destination wedding & portrait photographer fascinated by stories & people. This blog is the home for some of my favorite things — from weddings, engagement sessions, branding & more personal things. 

Grab your favorite cup of hot tea(or coffee), and stay a while. 

Hi! I'm Hope!

Congratulations!!! You’re engaged!! But now what?

Where do you even begin?? 

You have one voice telling you to start here, another voice saying you should start there, & pretty soon you’re overwhelmed!

Relax, take a deep breath with me. Ready?

Breathe In. (1.2.3)

And Out (1.2.3)

Let’s take it step by step. newly engaged couple popping confetti on Pilot Mountain

1. Just enjoy this moment.

Yep, that’s the first step. Just enjoy this moment. Your fiance has probably been planning this special surprise for you, for a while now. Soak it all in. Process it. Tell all your friends & family. Take the just engaged selfie. Enjoy it.

2. Brain Dump

When I’m in massive overwhelm, the best thing for me to do is sit down & write all my thoughts out.

Grab a notebook, open Notion or Asana, or grab your iPad & open your favorite note taking app.

Set your timer for 15-30 min, & just write.

Write out your fears. Your thoughts. What venues you are interested in. What photographers & videographers you want to approach. What you want to have at your wedding. Who want to have at your wedding. Write out any concerns you may have.

The point here is to write out everything that’s floating in your mind. You’ll be amazed at how you feel moving foward.

(Pro Tip: Make this a regular practice throughout your wedding planning experience.)

newly engaged couple snuggling on Pilot Mountain as the wind whips through their hair at sunset

3. Set Up A Wedding E-mail

You’ll inquire with more vendors than you think, so have a seperate e-mail to keep track of them all.

If you want to stay in touch with certain vendors after your wedding is done, make sure to give them your personal e-mail address so you can stay up to date with them. Vendors you’ll likely want to stay in touch with, are people like your photographers.

A lot of my clients are repeat clients after weddings. 🙂 It makes me so happy, and I’m so honored to be able to capture their anniversaries, maternity, family, etc.

4. Set A Budget

This is where most people miss the mark. They never set a budget for their wedding & end up going into massive debt for it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

List out everything you could possibly want.

Go ahead & circle the non-negotiables (you absolutely have to have this, & you will not compromise).

The other items that are not circled, do you really need it? Where can you cut back a little bit?

By creating a plan early on, you set yourself up for success later.

Up Close shot of a woman and her engagement ring while shes holding a confetti popper

5. Set Your Date

Think about the time of year you love most, or season.

Some couples choose their dating anniversaries as their wedding dates.

Some tips that might be helpful when setting your date:

Want a beautiful spring wedding filled with colorful flowers? April or the first of May, might be your ideal time.

Want a summer themed wedding? June might be optimal. Your guests can still be comfortable outside.

If you set your date for July & August, maybe choose an indoor venue. (In North Carolina these are the hottest two months of the year)

Want a fall wedding with colorful changing leaves? Mid-October, to the first of Novemember is typically when the leaves are in their full color. (This can always change. Weather & the changing of the leaves are very unpredictable from season to season.)

detail photo of an engagement ring close up

6. Book Your Vendors

After you have done the step above, then it’s time to book those vendors!

For myself as a wedding photographer I typically book out 6 months-1 year in advance. The same can be said for videographers, wedding venues, florists, make-up artists, and hair stylists.

Booking in advance doesn’t have to be scary.

After my clients pay their non-refundable retainer to book me(this just secures the wedding date & I block that date off), I then create a payment plan for them. If they need it broken up more, then I adjust it.

Don’t be afraid to work with your wedding vendors. We’re here ready to serve you.

Wedding dress photographed at WillStella Farms in the getting ready suite

7. Get Your Ring Insured

Just in case it gets lost, stolen, or something else happens. You want to have a way to protect that little sparkly thing.


8. Plan Date Nights

Wedding planning will inevitably become stressful, no matter how big or small the wedding. Make sure you are planning fun date nights. No wedding talk allowed during these nights either. Just go out, have fun, & get your mind off of things for a while.

9. Plan With Your Fiance

We always make weddings all about the bride, but the groom’s need some love too.

And even if he says he’s leaving it up to you, he’ll still want to stay in the loop.

Set aside time once or twice a month to sit down, & discuss the details of your wedding day.

That way you’ll both be on the same page.

10. Choose Your Wedding Party Wisely

You want to have people there who are the best of your best friends. The people that just want to celebrate with you! The people that will be there to help you, if you need help with your wedding plans & on the day of.

You don’t need drama llamas trying to ruin your day. Your group should be supportive & loving.

I hope this post gave you a good place to get started with your wedding planning. If you’re interested in wedding photography for your big day, make sure you go here: Hope Ann Photos Wedding Experience

If you want more resources, I think you’ll love these posts: 

What If It Rains? Wedding Edition

WillStella Farms Wedding

Why You Need A Day of Coordinator


© Hope Ann Photos, 2023