Wedding photographer, Dunkin' enthusiast, and lover of all things romance and weddings.



For Brides

You’ve just said YES to forever with your best friend. CONGRATS! You’ve popped the bubbly, posted a ring selfie on Instagram and immediately started scrolling on Pinterest for wedding inspiration.

But once the congrats have been said and you find yourself at your job staring at that gorgeous rock on your finger, all of a sudden it hits you: what do I do now?!

There are SO many things to plan, from finding a dress, asking your closest friends to be your bridesmaids, finding a venue, picking an incredible menu that’ll have guests talking, picking vendors… it can get very overwhelming, very quickly!

I get it, I’ve planned a wedding and I’ve helped brides plan their weddings! Here are some key things to do after you get engaged!

MJ Mendoza Photography - Virginia Wedding Photographer


This is not the most fun of talks BUT it is the most important one! You need to set a budget so you don’t go overboard and end up in a difficult financial situation over a wedding. The wedding is one of the best days of your life, yes but it’s the marriage that truly matters. It’s so easy to get in over your head when you’re planning your dream wedding but it’s time to sit down with those who are paying or contributing to your wedding and discuss what limit you are comfortable and able to commit to. And stick to it! You may have to prioritize things that are the most important to you. Maybe you want a photographer and videographer, because your photos and video will the be things that last long after the wedding day has come and gone. Maybe you don’t mind having less florals if it means you’ll have an amazing photographer. You could forgo favors to get the invitations you’ve been dreaming of. Maybe cut back on the drinks so you can get the DJ that’ll keep the party going all night long. Set your budget, prioritize what’s important to you.


If you’re like me, you might have cousins on cousins and aunts and uncles galore. On both sides of the fam. And all those cousins have kids. And your parents have a lot of friends. And of course, you both have a lot of friends. Add your family (all the way to your third cousin, twice removed), plus your friends, both sets of parent’s’ friends, you can get an out of control guest list! It’s best to do this in three groups: your friends that you and your fiance can go through together. Then your parents’ invitation list which includes your side of the family. Then your fiance’s invitation list with their friends and family. And cut it down until you reach your ideal guest list count! The higher the count, the more expensive your wedding tends to be!


And what I mean by that is, determine what kind of feel you want for your wedding. If you’re a bride that enjoys the classic and high end feel, maybe a rustic barn venue isn’t for you. If you’re a bride who hates the traditional, maybe skip the ballroom setting and go for an unexpected industrial venue in the city! You don’t have to know what kind of decor you want but at least you’ll know what kind of vibe you want your wedding to have that’ll help you select the other details!


It’s important to find and book your venue as soon as you’re able. Venues often book far out, especially if it’s a popular wedding venue or if it’s a popular wedding date. You can be flexible with your date to book your perfect venue or you can have a specific date in mind and find a venue available for your date. That’s why I don’t suggest having your heart set on a certain date, in case you can’t find your perfect venue available on that date. Find a month or two that you would like and be open to the date possibilities! There’s a lot of things to consider in choosing your venue aside from the date such as capacity, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, if they allow vendors outside of a preferred vendor list, etc. I could talk about this all day but my best tip is to go tour the venues you love! Take the time to book an appointment to tour and ask all your questions while there. Consider the size of your guest list, if outside vendors are allowed, what’s included in your package. Once you have your venue booked, I’d say the hardest part of planning is behind you!

Now for photography, I don’t say pick your photographer because I am one. I say pick your photographer because like venues, we book up quickly, especially for popular wedding months like May, June, September and October! It’s important to find a style that you LOVE, and go meet the photographer! I love to meet potential couples in person so I can get an idea of who they are as a person and if we will get along! Your photographer will be by your side during the majority of the day so it makes sense if you both vibe well together and enjoy each other’s company! Photographers can offer so many different things in their packages and an array of price points but personally, I believe it’s the most important thing to make a personal connection with your photographer so you know you will enjoy who is with you all day and capturing the most precious memories for you!


Girl, you’re ENGAGED to the love of your life. Your life will be a whirlwind of wedding planning, lots of dreams about your wedding, and some stress induced panics about the color of linens, what to put in your invitation suite and more random details. Before all that though, take the time to actually sit down with your fiance and enjoy your engagement. You both have a beautiful relationship to look back on and an incredible future to look forward to! Take the time to soak in this time together. Go on a date, hit up your favorite spot in Richmond (or Washington DC or wherever you live!) and enjoy a date without mentioning the wedding. It’s such an exciting but brief time in your relationship so ENJOY your engagement!

How deep into planning are you? Just starting or are you a Pinterest Wedding Planning Queen at this point? 😉 Agree or disagree with these tips? Do you have any questions about what your next steps after these should be? Drop a comment below! Or are you curious about having me as your wedding photographer? Shoot me a message, I’d love to talk wedding details with you!

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You’re Engaged! But Now What?