The first thought I had after getting engaged was: holy crap, I’m getting married to the man of my dreams. I have so much to do.

Planning a wedding is a big task. It can be an even heftier feat when you’re also finishing up a degree in an intensive program (cough, cough). But I decided to break up the planning into little chunks so it’s not overwhelming. This is a great way to do it, especially when you get engaged at 19 and you have three years to plan it. But even if you only have 10 or 12 months to plan your wedding, taking it one day at a time is an easy way to manage your stress.

Choosing the date of your wedding is one of the first steps you should take. Choosing this date might revolve around a couple of things – venue availability, your family’s schedule or a family member’s health, or even your photographer’s availability if you are particular about who you choose. But ultimately, once you choose your date, everything else will revolve around that. You choose your date, you book your venue, and then you work backwards to book everything else.

Our getting-together anniversary is February 26. As much as I would’ve loved to only have one anniversary, I was not about to get married in February. If it’s not freezing cold, it’s a slushy mess in Winnipeg. Most weddings happen from April to October, and that’s no exception for us. We settled on September 3. We picked that date because it’s sort getting close to the end of wedding season, fall is in the air, but it’s Labour Day weekend. Yes, we’re that couple that’s making our friends and family sacrifice their last possible long weekend at the cabin. (Don’t worry you guys, it’ll be worth it). Our venue offered a discount on Fridays and Sundays, so we chose a Sunday of a long weekend – cheaper for us, but the party goes on for our guests anyway.

Check with venues in your area to see if they offer a not-Saturday or an off-season discount (Christmas wedding, anyone?) to help you save money on your biggest expense. You can still get your dream venue at a cheaper price if you’re willing to be flexible on the day of the week or time of year.