OMG I’m engaged! What should I do first?

Firstly – serious congratulations to you both and welcome to the start of one of the most exciting and creative times of your life…planning a wedding!  Even if you’ve been secretly (or not so secretly!)  planning your big day since you were a wee nipper, chances are that the reality of becoming engaged has suddenly left you wondering where to actually start and how on earth to make this happen!  Never fear, Valley Brides is here to help, so crack open another bottle of bubbly, take a deep breath and let’s get this party started…and don’t forget to keep checking the website as we are always showcasing local vendors, venues, designers and anything wedding related in Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.


 1. Get inspired – Bask in the joy of being newly engaged and pin, pin, pin to your heart’s content!  Now is not the time to rush into any quick decisions or bookings nor, as tempting as it may be, is it the time to go and choose a wedding dress!  For brides with time on their hands (and copious amounts of leftover Christmas cellotape!), a real life mood board is a great project to get you started. Its also a great excuse to snap up those beautiful glossy wedding publications you’ve secretly lusted after while picking up the weekly TV mag!  If the internet is more your thing, Pinterest is your place for virtual mood boards – and don’t forget wedding blogs too, especially local ones with real life brides as inspiration!  Pinning and mood-boarding is a great way to narrow down the styles and looks that you love and will also provide a great resource to share with your vendors later on.


Another fabulous source of local wedding inspiration is the traditional wedding fair. These happen all year round in many different venues and locations, so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with wedding fair news.

2. Set your budget – With both Pinterest and the big wedding blogs bombarding us with images of utter wedding gorgeousness on a daily basis, it can be all too easy to get swept up in the idea of the ‘perfect wedding’.  But, before you allow yourself to get too far into your planning, it is crucial to research, and put in place, a steadfast budget.  It may sound obvious, but having these conversations with your other half now will really help make the rest of the wedding planning process smooth sailing. Try to stick to this budget as much as you can and remember that it is always worth trying to negotiate with the venues and vendors to see if there is any wiggle room on their prices, particularly if it is something that is just out of reach.  Valley Brides reader Pauline, from Reading, told us how she managed to secure her dream venue using a little bit of charm. “I had my heart set on my venue from day one but it was quite a way over our budget.  I figured I had nothing to lose so I went down there in person and absolutely gushed about the place! I mustered all my friendliness, charm and a little bit of cheekiness and came away with £3000 off of the cost and my perfect venue booked.”  Remember, it never hurts to ask!


3. Pick your date – Part and parcel of showing off your shiny new engagement ring will be your friends and family uttering the inevitable question, ‘have you set a date?’  Of course,  if you have a venue that you just have to have your wedding at, then your date may have to fit around them, but picking a date isn’t always as easy as plucking random days out of the air. Are you in love with the styling options of a summer or winter wedding? Is there a date that is significant to you both? Do you have important family or friends who are already busy on certain dates?  Once the date has been decided, you can then send out save the date cards to make sure everyone you want there has it in their diaries and have no excuses not to make it to your special day

4. Choose your venue – Here in the Thames Valley we are incredibly lucky to have such amazing, beautiful and totally contrasting venues to suit all tastes and budgets. From a barn in Oxfordshire, to a hotel in Berkshire and a marquee wedding in Hampshire, there really is something for everyone.  Taking your budget into consideration, think about the number of guests you want to celebrate with you and then get the ol’ laptop out and google away!

barn venue

Your venue search is absolutely crucial to the style of wedding you will ultimately have.  What sort of style or vibe are you hoping for? High end and glamorous, where everything sparkles and shines, or a more rustic, homemade feel to the day? Are you going to have all of your family, friends and loved ones attend your day or are you going to have a more intimate celebration with a select few? Once you’ve decided on the look and feel of your day, you will find it much easier to narrow down your venue choices.

Today we’ve covered just a couple of the most important first steps in panning your wedding – be sure to look around the blog and follow us on Facebook for more in-depth articles on planning your day, including upcoming features on budget breakdowns and how to get the most from wedding dress shopping!

Photo Credits (from top): The Heart Bandits, Valley Brides, Jessica Davies Photography, Stott & Atkinson

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Have you got any planning tips for newly engaged couples looking to start organising their big day? Leave your advice as a comment below… we love to hear from you.



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