You and your partner just got engaged! Now you’re not sure if you should start wedding planning right away or what you even want. The planning process is different for everyone, but there are some important things you should discuss first to make sure you’re on the same page.

Do we want to have a wedding?

If you two haven’t talked about this at length, and even if you have, it’s good to recap and make sure you both actually want a wedding. Maybe your financial situation has changed or one of you is experiencing health issues or a loss in the family, and you’ve decided a wedding doesn’t make sense. You can get married without having a wedding and it’s important to be on the same page.

How small do we want our wedding to be?

Once you’ve decided you do want a wedding, how many people are you envisioning? Are you someone who wants everyone you’ve ever talked to at the wedding, or are you feeling an intimate gathering? While you’re having this conversation, it might be a good idea to make a list of each of your non-negotiable guests—people you absolutely want to invite to the wedding no matter what size you decide on.

wedding registry etiquette
Wedding Registry Etiquette

How soon do we want to get married?

While the average engagement length is a little over a year, you might want to get married sooner or later than that. If you recently moved, had a child, received a diagnosis, changed jobs or lost someone close to you, you might be thinking about waiting. If you know your wedding will be a lot of work because of how detailed you want it to be, you might want to give yourself years. And if you know that a long engagement will just make you procrastinate, you might be thinking about how to speed things up.

What’s our wedding budget?

Have an open conversation about your financial situation, future goals and how much you’d both be comfortable spending on the wedding. Just because you or your spouse makes a large salary doesn’t mean you automatically want to spend $50,000 on your wedding! It’s important to compromise here and find a number that feels right to both of you. And talk about your flexibility, too. Are either of you willing to budge if it turns out you’ll need to spend more? What areas of the wedding are you willing to skip or cut down to save money? What areas are so important to you that you’d be willing to go over budget?

Would we consider eloping?

Many couples choose to elope or have a small courtroom ceremony instead of a wedding. It’s worth talking about what would make sense for you and your partner. If you’ve always envisioned a wedding, it’s still possible to elope and be happy with the ceremony. You can talk about which aspects of the wedding you always imagined that are non-negotiable to you—maybe it’s the gorgeous fall foliage photos, the long lace dress or the expensive wedding cake. You can find ways to have a smaller ceremony or elope and still get the details you always dreamed of.

What time of year do we want to get married?

Or is there a time of year you’d absolutely not want to get married? If you’re looking to save a lot of money, it’s worth considering off-season weddings (including winter), but you might be unwilling to move from your dream of a summer beach wedding. Figuring out what time of year you want to get married will help you narrow down locations, venues and attire.

Snowy January old city Philadelphia wedding

Are there any particular places we want to get married—or don’t?

This is a great time to talk about whether either of you feels strongly about getting married in a church, temple or another place religious worship. Are there places you’ve always dreamed of getting married, or others you can’t even think about without cringing? If you hate golf courses, you’re going to want to stay away from a lot of country clubs, so you and your partner need to figure out your location preferences.

Do we want an elaborate wedding or a simple one?

This will probably depend a lot on your individual personalities, but some people love the idea of an elaborate, detailed wedding while others prefer the day is simpler and more casual. How do you and your partner feel about the vibe and mood of the wedding? Are you planning to ask guests to wear black tie or are summer dresses and flip flops appropriate?

How traditional do we want our wedding to be?

Traditions can be anything from vows to walking down the aisle to personalized traditions that only exist in your family or are specific to your religion or culture. You should talk about any traditions you might want to include, and any you’d like to avoid. It’s also worth discussing the heteronormative wedding traditions, like not seeing one another until the wedding day and the bouquet toss. Are you planning on incorporating some of these, altering them or skipping them altogether?

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