Lela & Lyla Photography
After six years of dating, Hayden Lessenberry popped the question to Brooke McGinness during a stroll through Crystal Bridge’s outdoor exhibits.

You’re going to spend forever with your favorite person — congrats!

But now what?

Welcome to the wild world of wedding planning! It may seem daunting, but we’ve come up with 10 things you can do right off the bat to help ease the stress and streamline the process.


1. Celebrate!

Kylie Farmer Photography
Kendall Sikes and Brandon Vick will say their I dos along the Buffalo River on October 26, 2019.

There are a million to-do lists waiting to be written, decisions to be made and countless other pressing items in your wedding planning agenda, but first, take time to celebrate this epic milestone. You’re engaged! Soak it in! Take time to announce your engagement to your closest friends and family members before the real work begins.


Cameron Spencer Photography

2. Post a Ring Selfie

After telling your loved ones, it’s time to announce your engagement to the world!

Whether you choose to do a ring shot on your Instagram or post a photo of the two of you on your Facebook page for all your parent’s friends to comment on, this is your chance to shout your engagement from the rooftops, metaphorically speaking.

Might We Suggest...

Getting a manicure. Trust us, you don’t want chipped nail polish to be what people notice.

Cleaning your bling. There are plenty of ring-cleaning tools to invest in. Whether you go with the Bling Brush or your run-of-the-mill jewelry cleaner, you’ll be using it throughout your engagement and beyond.


3. Get Your Ring Insured

This is a biggie. Make sure your fiancé kept the receipts for your ring and then take it to get appraised by a certified gemologist. After you do that, you can choose to purchase a “rider” on your home or renter’s insurance, which is essentially an extension on your existing policy for a specific item. But make sure you read the fine print on your “ring rider.”

A good policy will cover everything from a stolen ring to accidentally flushing it down the toilet. (It’s been known to happen, y’all.)


4. Choose Your Squad

Take some time to really consider who you want standing beside you on your big day. Also, be mindful of what’s going on in their lives during the months leading up to the wedding. If one of your best friends will be eight months pregnant at your outdoor July wedding, maybe think of another way to include them.

No matter who you choose, here are a few cute ways to ask them:

Riffraff
Bridal tees — Riffraff has a selection of cheeky bridal tees that are perfectly suited to any personality.

Tesori Bridal

 Bridal tees — Riffraff has a selection of cheeky bridal tees that are perfectly suited to any personality.

Goodie box filled with a few of their favorite things — This thoughtful gesture can be customized to each ’maid’s interests.

 Custom cookies — See our Caterers & Bakeries section for professionals who can whip up tasty treats for your bridesmaids.

A bridesmaid emergency kit — This is sure to come in handy on your wedding day.

 Customized jewelry — This gift is really a twofer. Pick out something that your ’maids can wear on the day of the wedding and forever after.

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5. Start Your Mood Board

Maybe you’ve had your wedding mapped out since 6th grade. Or maybe you’re at a complete loss for what you want your day to look like. Instagram is a tried-and-true source for creative inspiration and wedding ideas that will help you hone in on your specific style.

Must-follow accounts:


6. Discuss Budget & Wedding Size

Money talk isn’t the most fun wedding planning convo you’ll have, but it’s the most important. Talk with whoever is helping you foot the bill to map out how much you have to spend and how big you want your wedding to be. After you figure out those two items, you and your fiancé should start working on your guest list.

Make the process easier by both writing down your close family members, then your closest friends and then other people you’d love to see on the big day. After you narrow them down into those three categories, it’s easier to see where you can cut down on the final headcount. Two more ways to whittle down the guest list: Skip the plus-ones for people who aren’t engaged or make it an adult-only affair.


7. Research Venues

Justin Palmer Weddings

Arkansas is blessed with an abundance of beautiful wedding venues. From rustic barns on sprawling acreage to modern, industrial venues in the heart of the capital city, our state has it all. Check out our venue vendors page to get a jumpstart on your venue research, then schedule appointments to tour the spaces that strike your fancy. Once you’ve chosen your venue, then you should set your date (not before!).


8. Plan a Gown Shopping Trip

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Once you lock down your venue, schedule a day to try on dresses. Be sure to make appointments ahead of time and try to have an idea of what kind of gowns you’re interested in to make the day go smoother.

Dress Buying Guide

Is there a dress designer that you particularly love? Look around to see if they are holding any upcoming trunk shows near you. Trunk shows offer the latest from designers, often at a small discount.

Sample sales are also a great way to save a lot of money on absolutely gorgeous gowns.

Stay glued to our Insta and the ArkansasBride.com/Calendar for sales and trunk show dates!

 Download our complete gown-buying guide at ArkansasBride.com/Planning-Tools.


9. Build a Wedding Website

Minted.com

To help ward off all the questions you’re sure to get about the details of your big day, go ahead and put all of that info on your wedding website. Website builders like The Knot, Zola and Minted make it easy (and free!) to create a templated wedding website. You can make them as simple or as complex as you want!

Things you’ll want to include:

Where you’re registered

The wedding day agenda (in case guests need to travel from one venue to another, if you’re providing bus transportation from the hotels to the venue, etc.)

Dress code info

RSVPs — if you want to! If you want to only worry about getting back your physical RSVPs, that’s fine, too.


10. Relax!

The planning process isn’t easy and you deserve time to de-stress. Remember the reason for the season. Take a page from Kim Lane and Aaron Duvall and take a pre-wedding moon! The couple traveled to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon and the red rocks of Sedona a few months before the wedding. “I definitely recommend that to couples who are engaged,” Kim, says. “A little adventure getaway before the big day!” 

Kim Lane
Aaron Duvall and Kim Lane go for a dry run to Arizona for a pre-wedding honeymoon,