You don't have a ring — but you know it's coming. And as a practical person, you're itching to plan even before your significant other pops the question. So we asked wedding experts which wedding plans are safe to get a head start on. After all, says Minneapolis-based Blush & Whim owner Jennae Saltzman, "being prepared will make a naturally stressful time so much more fun and relaxing."
1. Your budget.
If you know a proposal is all but imminent, it's likely you've discussed your future with your significant other. So continue the conversation with him or her and your family members to see what a realistic budget might be for your big day. "Think about it: You wouldn't buy a house, car, or make any type of big purchase or investment without knowing what you want to spend," points out Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. "Why would a wedding be any different?"
2. How many guests you'd like to attend.
Now's not the time to collect an exact head-count, but it's smart to "get a rough idea on how big your event is going to be," says Saltzman. "It's easy to forget that your parents and in-laws will have their own list in addition to yours, so start the conversation and get people thinking about who they want to include on the master list."
3. What your dream wedding would look like.
Asks Fisher, "Do you picture an outdoor ceremony or getting married in a church? Are you thinking winter, spring, summer, or fall? Do you want a wedding that feels modern, traditional, rustic, or vintage?" If you can answer these questions now, you'll have a clear vision to execute when the time comes. Keep all your ideas handy in a Pinterest board, Fisher suggests, but "if you don't want friends and family asking questions, make those boards private until he pops the question."
4. Checking your dream venue's availability.
Popular venues sometimes book up years in advance, especially in summer months. So "if you have a specific time frame or date you are hoping for, you better start looking up your dream venues to see if they are even available," Saltzman advises. "If you know before you have a ring on your finger, you can save yourself the disappointment of not getting the date you want. Flexibility is key in wedding planning, so it's always good to be well informed on what is and isn't available."
5. Which wedding dress you'll buy.
It's A-OK to flip through bridal magazines and wedding blogs in search of the style you think you'll rock down the aisle. "Your dress will dictate a lot of design related items," explains Saltzman, "so it's good to start researching early." Just don't try anything on quite yet!
Finally, don't go overboard with good intentions of getting ahead. Remember, says Fisher, "a wedding is about the couple, so if you've gotten a head start on the planning without your significant other, welcome his or her input when the time comes." It's also smart not to drag your partner into pre-planning if he or she isn't willing or ready. "There's nothing worse than stressing out your partner before you have a ring on your finger," says Saltzman. "It's always good to be informed and prepared, but don't go crazy. Use the time as more of an informative period, instead of a decision-making time."