So you have a shiny new diamond on your left hand; congrats! Now that the bubbly has been popped and the news spread, it’s time to get to the fun part of planning. Over the next few months you’ll be tasked with everything from picking out the perfect linens to finding a DJ who will bring it on the dance floor. With so many big decisions ahead of you, we’re here (just like a trusty bridesmaid!) to help with Real Brides Ask, a new series that tackles your toughest bridal questions.

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“I just got engaged! What are the first items I need to tackle when it comes to wedding planning?” — Natasha L., New Orleans, LA

First off, congrats! Soak in that new engagement glow and ride out the excitement — this is your BIG moment. Once that sinks in for a bit, turn to us for what’s next. We tapped experts to give you all the insight you need to kick-start your wedding planning without a hitch. Kellee Khalil, founder of modern wedding site Lover.ly, and Josh Spiegel, creative director of NYC event planning firm Birch Event Design, share their must-know tips. Before you start tackling your to-do list, read on!

Wedding Planning

1. Insure your bling. After taking lots of #selfies and showing off your ring, talk with your partner about insuring it. “It’s definitely not as exciting as the proposal itself, but you just received a very symbolic and pricey piece of jewelry, and you don’t want to be one of the horror stories I hear every year about someone losing their ring,” says Khalil. “Getting the ring properly sized by the jeweler who created it should be no problem, and there are plenty of ways to insure your ring, such as adding it to an existing insurance policy (ask if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company could cover it).”

2. Pick the date. Before you begin reaching out to potential vendors you’ve been shamelessly stalking, sit down with your spouse-to-be to set the cadence for your event. “The date is the most important element at this stage because you need to figure out what date works for both families, and it will surely affect what venues/vendors are available to work with you,” says Khalil.

3. Dig into the bigger details. The months to come will include a whole ‘lotta decision making, but now is *not* the time to delve into the nitty-gritty. Focus on the larger items ahead of you, like the guest list so you know what venue you’ll need and be able to provide a potential headcount to vendors, says Spiegel. Then, from there, you can settle on the venue and slowly pencil in the smaller items. “Map out the day and draw in the lines later,” suggests Spiegel.

Wedding Planning

4. Gather your resources. To prepare yourself for a seamless planning season, gather all the inspo you need in one place. Start with your Instagram feed or wedding magazines for visual references, recommends Spiegel. Then, consider bookmarking a more structured guide, like this free 12-month wedding checklist, to keep your long-term vision in mind. Pro tip: As you tackle each to-do, be sure to build a team that’s supportive of you. “Surround yourself with pleasant vendors that make you excited about your big day. It’s a stressful process but should also be enjoyable, so it is nice to be surrounded by people you trust,” says Spiegel.

4. Enjoy your engagement! Committing to a lifetime with the one you love should be anxiety-free! Treat your actions accordingly. “Once the date is settled (hopefully it’s far in advance so you have some time to plan), relax and enjoy being engaged. Wedding planning is stressful, so take this time for yourself and your partner before you start the journey of a lifetime,” adds Khalil.

Where are you in your planning process. Let us know! Then, share your burning bridal questions with us @BritandCo using hashtag #WeddingWoes for a chance to have them featured in our next post.

(Photos via Getty; Illustrations via San Trieu/Brit + Co)