Starting AOS soon, married on ESTA, what do I need to know?

I made a similar post a while back, but just want to make sure we are doing the right thing here.

So my bf and I met online. I am from Australia. He is from SC in the USA. We originally planned to meet for 3 weeks and road trip around California and the midwest, and then I was planning to return home (I had a return ticket booked). We had never met before in person before this trip. However, when I got there on ESTA we decided that I wanted to stay, so we have decided to get married and do AOS so that we don't have to be apart anymore.

My ESTA visa started on June 20 when I arrived, and it expires on September 17. I have about 1 month left here legally, but it has been so amazing being together in person for these last 2 months I couldn't ever imagine having to leave.

So my questions are: 1) When would it be the best time to get married? In my last post i got mixed answers, some people said it was better to wait till the ESTA expired, some people said it was fine to get married whenever we want. We were thinking of getting married on or shortly before or after my ESTA expires. Is that a good idea?

2) Also, we were thinking of getting married just the two of us somewhere private, and then having a bigger wedding later when COVID is over and my family could be there too (right now Australia is locked down and no one can leave the country, so it would be unfair to make my family miss the wedding I think). But would this look strange to USCIS and immigration people when we start AOS?

3) How long after we get married do I start the AOS process? Should I start filing right away or would it be better to wait another 90 days before filing AOS? Again, I have heard mixed things on this.

4) I know there is a financial requirement for the AOS process (i.e. you must prove you and your spouse can support your household). Me and my bf are both young so we live with his mum and dad, his brother, and the two dogs. We have some form of income but definitely not enough to meet the requirements. Is it okay if his parents provide the proof that they are able to meet the financial requirements?

5) Which forms do I need for AOS and which ones should I start with?

6) Is this a pretty straightforward case? Would i need a lawyer to look it over or something? Or could we do it on our own?


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