By Thomas Waters with The Renaissance

Congratulations, you just got engaged! After taking a couple of days to just bask in the glory, now it’s time to start planning. At this point, there are probably dozens of questions floating around your head. Who should I call first? What should I ask?  What’s a good budget? It can be overwhelming! But find comfort in knowing that most couples starting out are in the same position as you.

Paige Stevens Photography

Every couple tackles wedding planning differently and there is no right or wrong place to start. Just take a deep breath and own the fact that everything is going to be okay. You’ll hire the right vendors, get everything done when needed, and eventually, your big day will go on without a hitch. So often couples get lost in the planning. This is a good time to take a second and realize that you can appreciate the journey. You can either enjoy your engagement and planning or you can choose to let it get the better of you. Many couples will approach their big day frustrated, worried that they haven’t done everything, and scared they are forgetting something. Instead, promise to yourself to not let this happen.

Take it easy at first by thinking about how many people may come to your wedding.  Sit down and start writing names, keeping in mind that your parents may want to include a few guests too.

Next, decide if you want your ceremony in a church or if you would like it to be at the same place as your reception. This decision will set the way you start planning from the beginning. Then start researching venues and start interviewing planners. Choosing the right wedding planner can ensure you have a fun and organized experience from beginning to end. Some venues have coordinators and/ or planners so you may be able to kill two birds with one stone.

Paige Stevens Photography

If you have a game plan, and if you surround yourself with the right vendors, your experience is bound to be positive. Not only will you have an amazing wedding day, but you’ll also have an amazing time getting there. Just understand that there will be bumps in the road! Things won’t go 100% the way you want! Your family and friends will NOT send in their RSVPs by the due date, and yes, they might bring a plus one when they shouldn’t. It’s inevitable that these things, and more, are going to happen. Accepting this in the beginning and giving yourself permission to not let them get you down, is the BEST way to start the planning process!

Thomas (everyone calls him Tommy) Waters is with The Renaissance, an all-inclusive wedding ceremony and reception venue based in downtown Richmond’s exciting Arts District. To learn more about The Renaissance, please visit Feature Photo: Paige Stevens Photography