couple just got engaged and start planning their dream wedding day but first start by popping a bottle of champagne and celebrating this love they have

First steps to take after getting engaged!

Happy New Year! And happy engagement season!

Did you pop the question over the holidays? Find a ring under the tree? Say yes at the top of a snow-covered mountain? I love this time of year, with so many couples getting engaged and deciding to take that next step together. I know in the midst of the excitement it can also feel overwhelming to begin that wedding or elopement planning process, so I’ve broken down a few essential steps for you to consider at the beginning of this journey!

couple enjoying a picnic in the snow with hot chocolate and oranges and a cute blanket because they just got engaged over the holidays and are celebrating
couple gets engaged on a cool winter day in december and start planning their wedding

Step 1: Date Night Dreaming

Before you do anything else, remember to take some time with your partner and soak in that amazing new sensation of being engaged! One thing I always suggest is to have a date night with your fiancé and casually brainstorm your dream wedding, without delving too much into specifics, restraints, or budgets yet. Just picture what you want your day together to look like. Consider where you want to be, the people you want there, and how you want it to look. Write it all down, but keep it light and stress-free. Right now, you are celebrating this step with a simple time together. Details come later, but the dream starts now!

couple canoeing after getting engaged

Step 2: Elopement, Small-Wedding, or Traditional Wedding

Once you’re ready to talk specifics, the first thing you need to decide on is what kind of wedding you want: an elopement, a small or micro-wedding, or a traditional wedding… or some combination of each! An elopement doesn’t mean you have to exclude your family and friends. A traditional wedding doesn’t mean everyone you’ve ever met has to be there. If you need ideas for how to involve those you love, or ideas for how to have a more private day, I can help with that, too! I have a lot of experience with all types of elopements and weddings, and have seen some great ideas for incorporating loved ones, while also finding time to be alone together. And if you want some immediate help deciding, take my free quiz on what kind of wedding is right for you.

Step 3: Time and Place

After deciding on the type and size of your wedding, consider the general time of year and location you’d like for your special day. By a river in the spring? In a cozy cabin in the winter? Remember, if you book me as your photographer, I have a list of the most gorgeous secret locations for every season! Consider the weather and scenery that you’d like for the ceremony and photos. Also, make sure to check with any loved ones that you feel are essential to your day, and check when they’re available, too.

Step 4: Vendors and Venues

Once you land on a general time and place, figure out the most important vendor to you, some place or someone that you will not compromise on. Typically, this is a venue, a photographer, or a videographer. Reach out to them about their availability when you are hoping to have your wedding, and book them ASAP. Then have some fun booking all your additional vendors around that day. Honestly, once you set the date, everything else becomes possible to plan. You’ll know when you need your dress by, can start sending out save the dates, and can DIY whatever you want to fit the space that you’ve booked.

When you book me as your photographer early on in your planning, you’ll also have access to all my resources to help guide you through the entire process. I have a long list of my favourite vendors, officiants, florists, and hair and makeup artists, both who specialize in weddings and elopements. You can also check out my blog on Alberta’s Best Elopement Vendors, and if you need more help finding the perfect fit for you, feel free to reach out!

banff helicopter elopement

Step 5: Enjoy the Ride!

Throughout this process, don’t forget to enjoy this time with your new fiancé… they won’t be your fiancé for much longer! Make time to be with each other where you’re not just planning a wedding the whole time. An engagement is a short and magical season of life! If you do find yourself stressed or overwhelmed, remember that when you hire me as your elopement photographer, you’ll get my full in-depth guide of how to elope, which walks you through every stage of planning from the very beginning. So if you’ve decided to elope and are not sure where to start, reach out! I can help with all the details along the way.

P.S. I also have a free elopement planning checklist, so you don’t miss anything important when prepping for your day. Be sure to check it out!

Elopement Tips





I’m your elopement hype girl and a photographer for the goofball lovers + those who want to make their wedding day an adventure. I’m also the owner of a converted camper van and love exploring the outdoors. You’ll find my heart on this blog. Whether it’s documenting my real life couples or giving my brides + grooms the tips + tricks they need to plan their best elopement, I’ve poured my heart out for you here. 

I'm Liv Hettinga


First steps to take after getting engaged!

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"Liv is extremely talented and great to work with! She gave us enough direction in our shoots to know what to do but still left tons of room for candid, genuine moments. Nothing beats seeing real smiles and laughter in your photos! She was more than willing to collaborate and go for some sillier ideas, and was always super encouraging. She's an incredibly sweet person and we felt very comfortable to be ourselves around her. Liv's talent is beyond just the technical knowledge, she really has an artist eye for beautiful photos. Her editing style is perfect, not too dark or light but still brings personality with the warm tones she adds. I HIGHLY recommend working with Liv!!"

- Cassie + Matt

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