1. Don't freak out in the first week or two about planning. Your engaged! Enjoy it! Just think about the big picture for a while and enjoy the happy butterflies!
2. Get a good planning book (and/or get a wedding planner if your budget allows)
3. One of the first things you should figure out is your budget.
4. Another thing is to decide first what is most important to you, such as photography, flowers, your dress, etc, and put those as top priority in your budget. Make a sort of priority list.
5. Thrift stores and online sites like Ruffled for decorating! Then you can spend more on the things at the top of your list.
6. Ask for help! Don't be shy. Family, friends, church family, they all love you and would probably love to help you! Make use of your bridesmaids (nicely of course, don't go all bridezilla on them), set up invitation making parties and provide dinner. Make it a fun girlfriend date! Many hands make light work, food brings people to the table, and laughter drives away stress.
7. Don't overload your fiance. Some guys like to be more involved than others, and most don't want to here all the minuet of who, what, when and the color of the this or that. Don't get me wrong, he'll want to love and support you and hear about what you are excited about, but he's going to be your husband not your girlfriend-don't annoyingly gush about everything to him! (I hope i don't sound awful, guys are just different then girls.)
8. Do make use of your fiance. Give him something to work on and be in charge of. My now-husband loves music so I put him in charge of choosing the ceremony and reception music. He also helped with his side of the family's invite list and with some of the craft projects-like addressing the invitations.
9. Remember that compromise is okay. Everyone says it's your big day, and it is! But we often forget that it is also our parent's big day as well. They are giving away their precious baby. This is as much a milestone for them as for you-and someday you will mark the same one in your life. So no matter how frustrating your mother/mother-in-law's wishes are, be patient and remember that they love you. At the same time, don't give them everything they want and sacrifice your wishes. Compromise! Sit down and have a good long heart to heart. It can only bring you closer in the end to be open with each other.
(Disclaimer-i actually didn't have this problem! Thank goodness! But i have seen it happen!)
10. Find a pastor to do premarital counseling. I realize that you're in love and everything seems perfect and "counseling is for people with problems." I get that. My pastor called it premarital discipleship. Really it is just an older couple give you both advice for marriage, to build a happy successful life together. These were some of the best memories I have of our engagement, getting to know the Trammell's, Jeff and I discussing what we'd learned and growing deeper in our relationship.
11. YOUR ENGAGED! Remember ever minute! Journal it, take pictures, enjoy! This was one of the best times of my life and some times I miss it-one always misses good memories- of course I love being married much much more than being engaged!