Saying yes to a proposal is an exciting, blissful time for most people. And the focus, at first, is on all things related to engagements, from a ring to photos to sending formal or informal announcements.

But then everyone starts popping a question of their own: when’s the wedding?

Planning a wedding might be exciting too, but most people want to relax after they get engaged–in fact, there are ample reasons not to rush from an engagement into a marriage.

But when you do start to plan your wedding, it’s still best to take it slow and systematically. The first few months you’ll want to accomplish a few key things, but not get so overboard you make yourselves miserable.

Here’s a quick guide to planning during the first three months after your engagement:

  1. Decide on size: Do you want a more intimate wedding for only close family and friends, or an all-out bash with as many people as you know? The number of guests will determine nearly everything, from budget to venue to catering and possibly, even the wedding date itself. Discuss with your partner what makes sense for both of you.
  2. Budget is everything: Unfortunately, the first few months require both the most important and stressful decisions but having an early and honest dialogue is the key to reducing stress. How to decide? Think about your priorities: if having a large wedding is something you both want, that’s fine. You’ll just need to weigh other factors, like your incomes, five-year plans, and how much, if any, help you’ll get in paying for it.
  3. Your venue…. may help you decide on other details, like decor, catering, and even entertainment options. You don’t need to pinpoint a ceremony and reception site right away, but experts suggest as soon as possible, even up to a year before your intended date. Choose a venue that is meaningful, fits your budget, and is reasonably reachable (with an exception of destination weddings) for family and very close friends.
  4. Attire: You’ll also want to start shopping for a wedding gown, or at least getting an idea of what you’d like. Casually browse, and book an informal appointment so you can get an idea. It’s a good idea to allow around nine months if possible, for various fittings and ordering the gown. For a custom dress, more time is even better.

Photo by Haleigh Nicole Photography