Hey, I'm Chelsea.

I'm a Chicago wedding photographer and videographer who's on a mission to take the stress out of wedding planning, one anecdote, gif, and movie
quote at a time.

Being engaged is an exciting, short-lived phase of your relationship. It’s the only time in your life you’ll be able to call each other your fiancé(e). Unfortunately, that excitement can dwindle when (well-intentioned) friends and family start bombarding you with questions and advice.

To help keep wedding planning exciting, I’ve teamed up with one of my favorite wedding planners in Chicago—Jenny from Blue Moon Events—to help you battle that initial overwhelm. 

The biggest tip for newly-engaged couples? Take these first 3 steps to kick off wedding planning on the right foot:

Step 1: Write Down Your Non-Negotiables

Sit down together and determine 2 major things:

  1. What do you HAVE to have as part of your wedding?
  2. What DON’T you want to have as part of your day?

Refer back to this list often as the planning process unfolds. It’s okay to change what’s on the list as you go along, but this initial conversation will serve as your North Star. This initial list will help you remember what’s truly important to you once the avalanche of inspo and advice starts flooding your inbox, social feed, texts, and late-night thoughts.

Pro-Tip: Wedding planning is a steep learning curve that you will get better at as you go along. And, as you get more familiar with the wedding world, your priorities may shift… and that’s OK. All that matters is that your wedding’s still what you want—not settling for what your loved ones want.

Step 2: Dream Big

Create an initial budget with your biggest wishes for your venue, catering, photography, apparel, decor, entertainment, etc.

Rip off the bandaid and get the sticker shock out of the way—you’ll find that you’re better able to find a happy medium once it’s all in front of you. And it will hopefully make the process gentler moving forward. 

Pro Tip: Always be extra liberal with estimates. Request quotes for your full invite list, even if you know not everyone will come. It’s better to see the big number and be pleasantly surprised if the actual amount winds up lower.

Step 3: Create a System for Planning

Systems help you make space for wedding planning in your life without letting it consume you. We recommend setting up:

  1. A spreadsheet with tabs for timeline, vendor searches, and budget in one file you can both access.
  2. A joint email address so you can both keep track of emails and responses.

Pro-Tip: Turn this email address into your household email. Post-wedding, you can use it for shared accounts (like Starbucks, Home Depot, Amazon, etc.) and to help consolidate any important emails so they don’t get lost in your personal inboxes.

👆 Once you have those systems set up, the real fun begins. Figure out a day (or days) of the week when you’ll crank your pump-up playlist, Doordash your favorite restaurant, sip on your drink of choice, and chip away at wedding tasks.

Bonus points if you have a dance break every time you finish a task on your spreadsheet.

Bride and groom clink champagne glasses

At the end of the day: don’t forget that this is your journey and *you* get to decide your approach. I know, I know—it sounds cliché, but being engaged truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One that’s filled with special moments, learning opportunities, and chances to grow stronger and closer with your partner.

And hiring the right team of wedding vendors can help make your journey less stressful. We’ll help guide you through the wedding planning process (and load you up on our best tips for newly engaged couples) so that you can enjoy being engaged. So if you’re in the market for a photographer or planner, we’d love to chat more about your wedding plans and see if we’re the perfect addition to your dream wedding vendor team.