I Just Got Engaged. How Do I Start Planning?
Engaged or not, there are many girls out there who have a “my dream wedding” Pinterest board. Hey I still plan my “second wedding that’s never gonna happen” all the time. It’s great fun. It’s when you get to the “Ok I have a party to plan now” part that most people turn clueless.
This post is for the clueless “where do I even begin” ones. I call it the two minute snapshot of what this wedding planning / engagement thing is going to look like. It’s worth a quick read especially if you’re really trying to just wrap your head around the basics.
Get engaged, but keep your mouth shut.
Yes, it’s counter intuitive because your first reaction is to tell your family, friends, coworkers and all of Facebook. But I recommend the opposite – for now at least. Because unless you are prepared to answer questions about when the wedding is, who’s invited and who’s in the wedding party, you had better zip the lip until you actually figure that stuff out. “We haven’t thought it through yet”. That’s all you have to say. Key takeaway here: don’t make any commitments or promises that you might later regret. And do not let people guilt trip you into anything this early in the game.
Take a moment to enjoy yourself and do whatever you need to do to keep that engagement high going. Because soon, things are gonna get serious. So please, get that manicure, buy the wedding magazines and conjure up your dream wedding on Pinterest. Oh, and do invest in a ring cleaner. You have no idea how much more brilliant, large and sparkly a clean diamond looks (take it from a mom of two very active little girls who frequently forgets to clean her engagement ring and when it’s filthy, it’s almost unwearable). And boys – now is the time to put in your two cents. Have an opinion (even if it’s not helpful), but show your enthusiasm and excitement.
Have the planning talk.
There are five big things you need to come to an agreement on before you can sign the first contract. Date, location, budget, people and priorities. You don’t need to have exacts figured out, but you just need to be on the same general page on a few important things.
- When will the wedding take place? (Three months? A Year? TBD)
- Where will the wedding take place? (Local? Destination?)
- Who is paying for the wedding, what is the budget and how is it being split? (You? Parents? A combination?)
- How many guests do you want? (Something small and intimate or a large bash?)
- What’s important? Identify what your ‘wedding must-haves’ are, and be flexible on the rest.
You’ll need a wedding binder. Whether it’s virtual one or an actual three ring binder, you need to have some system for staying organized, specifically with timelines and checklists, vendor management and guest list management. For a list of recommended wedding planning tools, download our free 18 page Best of the Web Guide.
Here are the key things to think about:
- Secure date, location & celebrant
- Vendors: Find, interview, negotiate and hire your wedding vendors including photographer, florist etc.
- Finalize & invite your wedding party
- Paper goods: Save the dates, invitations, thank you cards
- Travel & accommodation logistics: If people will be traveling, you’ll need to allow them plenty of time to book flights, secure accommodations and plan in advance.
- Attire: Your wedding dress, accessories and the outfits of your groom and the wedding party!
- Set up your wedding registry
- Events: Are you having an engagement party? bridal shower? Bachelorette party? Rehearsal dinner?
Down to the details
The rest are the details. Depending on how involved you are and the scope and scale of your wedding, the to do list can be simple or as long as the Nile river. They might include favors, music, readings, programs, menus, transportation, cake, accessories, seating charts and any other DIY projects you have up your sleeves.
A Note on Girls and the F word
Now that you have a shiny ring on your finger, you go from being a girlfriend to fiance. (FYI the words fiance and fiancee are not interchangeable. “Fiance” refers to an engaged male, and “Fiancee” refers to an engaged female). There’s actually quite a bit of debate around the word “Fiance”. So many girls have a difficult time with that word to the point of it being cringeworthy for them. They say it sounds stupid, pretentious and awkward, and cannot bring themselves to say it. It’s a very sore subject for men and women alike, so for those of you with an aversion to the F word, you are not alone. You can avoid saying it, or call each other partner, future husband/hubby, bethrothed (equally fancy in my book). I saw that some people even are using “Beyonce” as an alternative. Really? Beyonce?
Many girls embrace their fiancee status (myself included) and don’t really see what the big fuss is all about. Then again, I’m a pretty laid back go with the flow kind of gal so what do I know?
As you prepare to tackle the spectacular beast that is wedding planning, I’ll leave you with this — to you, it’s the most important day in the world, but to most everyone else, it’s just another day.
While it does give you the right to be a little more demanding and on edge than usual (and hopefully people will cut you some slack for it), it doesn’t give you the right to become self absorbed and rude. Things will come up that will you won’t like. Some parts of this process will be more than you bargained for.
At the end of the day, you will be making many many decisions as you plan for your celebration. This includes vendors, style, attire, food, paper – but it also includes how you treat people, work with them and manage the stress. Because while you won’t be able to control many events, circumstances and the way that other people behave, how you handle this process is entirely your choice.