Almost 40% of marriage proposals happen during the months of November thru February with Christmas Day being the most popular day of the year to POP the big question...aka to propose to the person of your dreams! Valentine's Day is a close second by the way! Planning a wedding is such an exciting time in your life, but the planning process can sometimes be daunting to say the least.

The BIG moment arrives, you say YES! So, now what? Most new couples have never been married before and have no idea where to start. Here are 6 of my best tips for newly engaged couples so you can get the ball rolling on your wedding planning adventure...and yes, it will be an adventure!

#1 Book Your Venue

This is the most important thing you can do first! Everything else you need to plan will be based off of what venue you book. Talk about what aesthetic you want for your ceremony. What kind of vibe do you dream of your day having? Your ceremony and reception venue is EVERYTHING! It sets the tone for the whole process. Decide on a few dates and then get to touring the venues that you love most. Be open minded...especially if you live in a destination wedding location like I do here in Wilmington, NC. All of the most sought after venues will book up early. If you can't get your dream venue on the date you want, consider a weekday or a Sunday. Sometimes you can even get the venue at a discounted cost for it not being on a Saturday. Over all, get this task marked off your to do list first! Trust me! Most other vendors will not even consider booking you unless you have a venue and date secured.

#2 Book a Photographer

A photographer is second on my list because we book up FAST! Photographs are extremely important... it's all you will have left to remember your day by. You want to book someone you vibe with, someone with a lot of wedding experience, and someone who's photographic style you really like. Good photographers will often book up a year and a half in advance for popular dates. Make sure you are able to get the photographer you really love by booking them as soon as possible after you book your venue. You can always check a photographers available dates when you are deciding on a wedding date and looking a venues.

#3 Book Your Caterer

So you have your dream venue and you've booked an amazing photographer...now you need to figure out how to feed your guest! A good meal is a highlight of a wedding. Everyone always talks about the dress and the food! LOL so a good caterer is essential. You'll want to taste their food, so schedule several tastings so that you can compare them and choose the one you love. Also, ask around on social media sites, for recommendations from other recently marries couples. Real life experiences are good to help you decide on who you'd like to use for your day. If you are getting married in the Wilmington, NC area, I can offer you several recommendations on amazing caterers!

#4 Shop for a Dress!

Dress shopping is probably the step that a lot of brides don't realize is so important to do early. As a former bridal consultant, I can say this is very important to do early! Most wedding gowns have to be made once you order them. They are not stocked in a warehouse waiting to be purchased. These gowns can take up to 6 months to be made and shipped and there's lots of things during that time that can slow the process even more. Shop for your gown early! Take into consideration that your gown will most likely need some type of alterations and those usually take anywhere from 6-8 weeks minimum to complete. If you are wanting to book a bridal portrait session you will need to do that at least two months before your wedding date. Your dress has to be completely ready to go before your bridal portraits. So, get that appointment scheduled and go try on gowns! This is often one of the most fun and exciting parts of your planning process!

#5 Hire a Planner

Hiring a planner is one of the biggest tips I give my couples. Listen, your wedding day is going to be chaotic enough. Even the most organized and well planned out weddings will be crazy at times. Having someone there who knows and understands your vision is key to keeping your sanity. Trust me! Hire a professional to do this. Do not rely on family members or friends to do this job for you. It's a mistake that I see a lot of brides make. Your family member/friend will want to enjoy your wedding day too. By the time the reception rolls around they are usually ready to party. A professional planner or day of coordinator is there to make your day flawless from beginning to end; they are there to handle all the little things that will come up. Avoid being asked a million questions while your getting ready by hiring someone who can take care of these things for you!

#6 Book a DJ / Band

A DJ / Band can make or break a wedding so it's extremely important to hire a good one. A good DJ will keep the party going and give your guest the direction they need so they know what to do and what is coming next! If you want your party hopping then book a DJ early on in your process. Take time and do some research and get recommendations from other people. Good DJ's book up early so this step is very important.