Just Got Engaged? Things to Do First | Tips from a Knoxville Wedding Photographer

Newly engaged? Does it feel like the only thing that you know to do is stare at that sparkly, new ring on your finger?

My husband proposed on a mountaintop in late February with the most beautiful ring. I was reeling with excitement and remember calling all of our people on the way down the mountain. I basked in engagement bliss for a few days before thinking about the wedding day but as soon as I did, I felt completely overwhelmed. What did I need to? What was first? What needed to be handled immediately?

Take a few minutes to read these Tips from a Knoxville Wedding Photographer that has planned her own wedding and knows all about the “what do I do now?” post-engagement feels. I have been a part of so many weddings that I know a thing or two about this whole wedding thing! Let me help you figure out what to do after getting engaged!

Just Be Engaged

Trust me, I know just how easy it is to get lost on Pinterest planning your dream wedding. There is an endless sea of wedding inspiration in the world of Pinterest and once that ring is on your finger, you will find yourself here quicker than you said “Yes!” If you can, resist the temptation! You have so much wedding planning ahead of you… take a moment to just be a fiancé! Say it over and over and over and shout it from the rooftops if you want! Go get your nails done, take selfies, flaunt your ring, stare at your fiancé… whatever it is you do, take a week or two and just be engaged! This is such a small season in your relationship but it deserves its own little pedestal!

Talk to Each Other

When you are ready to start the wedding planning process, the first place to start is with each other. Discuss the details with each other so you both are on the same page and can focus on what really matters to both of you. Ask yourselves one big question… What do we want? You are planning a wedding but ultimately you are preparing for and working towards a marriage. Remember that as you dive into the wedding planning world. Ask yourselves all the questions and remember it’s okay not to have the answers yet. Where do you want to get married? When do you want to get married? Do we want a big wedding? Do we want to elope? What are you thinking? What is the most important thing for us? What is BEST for us?

After you’ve discussed details and have narrowed down what the two of you collectively want for your wedding day, I recommend making a short list. I tell couples to make a top 5 list of what is most important to you for your wedding day. This comes in handy during the planning process for decisions like “this or that” or “how much money do I pay for this?”

For my wedding it was something like this:

1. Getting Married
Ultimately, I didn’t care about anything else as long as at the end of the day, I was married to my best friend. This really help me put things in perspective not only when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in planning but even on the day of.

2. Wedding Photography
As a Professional Wedding Photographer, I placed a high importance on my Wedding Photography. I wanted to be able to relive my wedding day over and over and over through my pictures.

3. Ceremony
A lot of people like to have a super quick ceremony and rush to the party, there’s nothing wrong with that. I wanted a ceremony that really emphasized the promise that my husband and I were making to each other and a ceremony that pointed it all back to the Lord.

4. Friends and Family
I wanted all of our people by our side supporting us and celebrating with us! I wanted people who were active in our lives, people who mattered and ultimately people who cared.

5. Dancing
I wanted to dance the entire night away with my husband and all of our people. This was so important to me. Dancing is one of my favorite things at weddings and I really wanted a full dance floor for the bulk of our reception!

Some of these things seem rather obvious but they make a big difference in the Wedding Planning process. For me… because Wedding Photography was so important to me, I didn’t hire a videographer. My budget didn’t allow the photographer I wanted and a videographer. I could have hired a mediocre photographer and a mediocre videographer but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the quality of my Wedding Photography. Videography didn’t make the short list so it was an easy this and not that decision for us when considering what was the most important. There were several decisions throughout the wedding planning process that brought me back to this short list. It also helps in the budget creation when you are trying to decide how much of your overall budget to allot to different areas.

Create a Budget

You have to talk about it. You may not want to but you have to. The budget for your wedding determines many of the important factors and things you have to consider for your wedding day. It impacts your venue, guest list, bridal party size, vendor choices, wedding dress, length of engagement… and so much more. This discussion may include parents if they are helping fund the wedding.

Narrow Your Date or Season

Some people already have a date set from the moment they are engaged and that is completely fine. There is no right or wrong way, just the way you choose! If you don’t have a date in mind, consider the seasons as you are planning your wedding date. Each season – spring, summer, fall and winter – dictates different things about your wedding date and wedding planning decisions. The season you choose to get married in determines things like your length of engagement, floral choices, wedding attire, and whether you get married indoors or outdoors. Here in Knoxville, Tennessee you may not want to get married outdoors in August because it’s extremely hot! You may even find that you can save on things such as your venue if you choose a less popular wedding month.

Gather Some Wedding Inspiration and Consider Your Guest List/Count

This is where you need to start swimming in the wonderful, wedding inspiration filled world of Pinterest. You’ve talked about what you both want, what you envision for your wedding day and made your list of the things that are important to you. Keep those things in mind as you navigate through the various pins of bouquets and flowers, wedding dresses, colors, ceremony décor, tablescapes, and much more. Try to pay attention to what you find yourselves gravitating towards. You don’t have to make decisions in all of these areas but honing in on what style you want and are interested in will really help in your venue search.

You don’t have to sit down and think about every single person you want to invite to your wedding at this stage. You just want to take a little bit of time to consider the amount of people you want to invite. Guest capacity can be one of the bigger factors in your venue search so having a rough idea of this will help you know if a venue meets your needs in that area.

Choose a Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue will also dictate a lot of your wedding decisions. Everything starts here and flows out from the venue you choose. You will have to consider things such as: Location, Guest Capacity, Availability, Type, Rates, Layout, Parking, Catering, Rentals, Extras, etc. These are all things to consider when you are looking for a place that meets all of your needs and hopefully your wants. Other things to consider on your search: Does the venue fit your wedding day vibe that you have in mind? Is the venue naturally beautiful or will it require a lot of décor? And if so, is that in the budget?

Hire Your Important Vendors such as Your Professional Wedding Photographer

My favorite thing to talk about, me! Just kidding. Professional Wedding Photography. I am so passionate about it and it’s purpose for the wedding day. I’m Tiff Kennedy and I am a professional wedding photographer in Knoxville, Tennessee. I’m so incredibly excited for you. Marriage is one of my absolute favorite things and it’s a lot of fun so I can’t wait for you to enjoy it with your best friend!

Wedding photographers and other major wedding vendors can only take on one wedding per day and these vendors get booked quickly. The sooner you get your inquiries in to your wedding day vendors, the more time you have to research, schedule meetings and choose the best vendor fits for your day

I cannot express this enough when talking about your Wedding Photographer, choose a photographer that you love and that you vibe with! Your wedding photographer will spend most of your wedding day with you, choose someone who treats you like a lifelong friend and cares deeply about the details of your day… not someone who makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t care. THIS WILL SHOW IN YOUR PHOTOS. It matters. If photography is important to you for your wedding day, don’t just price shop. Your Wedding Photographer should be so much more than just someone who provides you with photos. My favorite quote about photography, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

Once you have hired your photographer, you get to take ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS! Most of my couples tell me after their engagement sessions, “That was the first time we truly felt engaged!” and that just makes my heart flutter a little bit because I’m a sap but also because being engaged is fun and I love playing a part in bringing that out! Engagement sessions should be romantic, fun, full of laughter and if you’re anything like me… sometimes tears. This also is such a great time to get to know your wedding photographer better and interact with each other. Plus, at the end of it all, you get to show off beautiful photos to all of your friends and family celebrating your season of engagement even more! Another thing to consider is if you want engagement pictures during the fall, try to hire your wedding photographer before the Fall season or you may not be able to get on their calendar depending on how busy they are.

Another reason to hire your wedding photographer early is because they are an incredible resource! They know the ins and outs of a wedding day, have tons of vendor referrals and recommendations, and can help point you in the right direction for areas you are struggling with in the planning process. One of the most important aspects of this is your wedding day timeline. Your timeline is one of the more important parts of the planning process and a photographer will play the most active role in helping you plan this to ensure you get the best photos possible of your day.

Other Vendors to consider booking early: Hair and Makeup Artists, Band/DJ, Coordinators. These are the vendors that typically book up quickly and can’t accommodate more than one wedding a day.

Something important to note and consider… Every couple is different and every wedding day is different. The wedding planning process can and will go in different orders for each couple depending on the length of your engagement and what is important to you. This is just enough to get you started and I can’t wait to see your wedding visions come to life!