You’re at your favorite park, restaurant, or bar. In the backyard, at the lake, on vacation. Your man looks at you and you know in your heart something big is about to happen. He’s talking from the heart and looks a little nervous. He’s even getting a little emotional. Oh boy, what’s happening? He replays your relationship and tells you how much you mean to him, how he can’t see his life without you, how you’re his better half. This is it! The moment that so many of us dream about—and it’s perfect. The tears come to your eyes, a smile to your face, and you’re wrapped in his embrace. “Yes!” “I do!” “About time!” Whatever your response, you are now a fiancé, no longer a girlfriend. You beam from ear to ear as you think about how you get to call your boyfriend your fiancé now, and as you picture the beautiful life that lies ahead of the two of you. Whatever your story is or isn’t, you get what I’m saying: You’re engaged! You’ve won over the guy, he got down on one knee, you’re on the fast track for happily ever after! What can you mess up now, right? Wrong. Think the hard part is over? Think again. What about that whole engagement/wedding planning thing? The term Bridezilla didn’t create itself, you know.
First thing’s first. Don’t say “yes” for the wrong reasons. Not only will that ruin your engagement, but it will also set you up for a pretty awful marriage. Yikes! Don’t do it because you feel pressure from the fam or friends. Don’t do it because it’s the “next step” (what does that even mean, anyway?) Don’t do it because you are comparing yourself to your peers. And certainly don’t do it if you think it will help your relationship… It won’t. Say “yes” and mean it, because you love your significant other and you can’t imagine the rest of your life without them. End of story. Now for the slightly less obvious advice…
Enjoy yourself (and each other!) This is such a happy stage for the two of you, your families, and your friends. Don’t get the ring, turn around, and start planning in the next minute. Take some time to soak up the idea of being engaged for a hot minute. You have the rest of your life to be married, enjoy this step toward forever
Don’t go social media crazy two seconds after the proposal either. I know you’re dying to take those killer Instagrams of that new sparkling accessory on your hand with you and your man beaming in the background—I get it. But let us fondly remember the days before social media when you told people exciting news in person (or even over the phone!). Face-to-face communication is good. And not to mention, it’s super fun when you have big, exciting news like this!
Planning should not consume your life. It’s key to continue with the hobbies you had before the proposal. And it’s critical to remember your friends. Sure, they’re super excited for you, but they may want to have conversations with you about life outside of planning. They have lives too. Ask them
Going along with number four, celebrate accordingly. Don’t ignore this exciting step in your relationship, but also don’t over celebrate it. I love a good bridal/couples shower or bachelor/bachelorette party (any sort of celebration really.) But anyone who has attended these fun events knows that they aren’t cheap. Celebrate your engagement, but avoid over doing it on the parties if you want your friends to keep coming.
Have the budget talk immediately. Did you know the average wedding costs about $25,000!? Woah. Clearly the money talk is necessary. Having this talk with help both of you see what is important for each of you. It will also help you be realistic about your expectations.
Thou shalt never say, “Whatever” or “I don’t care” about X Y or Z of the planning process. Odds are you definitely have an opinion and you’re just trying to be nice. The reality is that you’re being indecisive and kind of annoying to your planning (and soon to be life) partner. Give a little feedback, big or small, so your significant other doesn’t feel like they’re in this alone.
Insure your rings! You just made a pretty substantial investment on those pretty little rings on your left hand. Accidents happen, so please insure them now!
Just because you’re not technically “dating” anymore, doesn’t mean 'date night' has to die. On the contrary, date night is maybe even more
important now. You’re busy bees with all the planning on your hands. You’ve got to be sure to make special time for each other, away from vendors, planners, and to-do lists. Keep the romance alive, people.
The first question people like to ask after they find out you’re engaged: “Have you picked a date yet?” Nope! Prohibit that from being the first thing on your to-do list. Many different factors play into finding the perfect date, primarily: Venue! You can’t realistically pick a date without picking a venue, because you never know what their calendar looks like. Shop around for the perfect place before the determined date.
Venue + Vendor(s) = Wedding Bliss. Not all venues allow all vendors. Ask questions up front.
Going along with number 10, thou shalt not book a vendor without shopping around. Vendor prices can vary greatly. Quality goes along with that. I totally get going the easy route and booking price-friendly photographers, DJs, caterers, what have you. But make sure the quality is up to par and the vibe is right for your big day. Compare, see work, get opinions. That's what Internet is for, right?
On the topic of vendors. You shouldn't feel obligated to book your friends. We all know that aspiring photographer, and we'd all love to help him or her out. However, this is your wedding
. A pretty big day if you ask me. You love your friend, but you need to pick the best. End of story.
Once your dear date is all picked, it is time to send your stylish save the dates! Yippee! This means that you have accomplished a good chunk of your wedding planning. The real question here: Have you finalized that guest list of yours? The last thing you want to do is send out a save the date to someone who should NOT be keeping that date open. Finalize, finalize, finalize. Make sure both you and your fiancé have input on this. And then send away! Side note: Do not invite people you do not want to come. Plain and simple.
Along with save the dates come invitations. It is very important to do your research before sending either of these important pieces of paper. Let guests know who, what, when, where, and (I guess) why. Also let them know where they can stay near your venue, where you are registered, a new address if you have one, etc. You're not the only one putting energy and money into this event, so keep your guests happy and informed.
Keep things simple. Pinterest is absolutely fantastic, yet entirely overwhelming. Type “wedding” into the Pinterest search bar and I think you can scroll forever. Pick your vision and stick with it. Start a new board with only the stuff you plan on using. Don't let pinning take over your life.
Do not, I repeat, do not
overload on DIY crafts and projects. Pinterest has a billion super cute ideas for your big day, but that does not mean you need to try them all. These crafts are time consuming and often fail to turn out as pictured, take it from a girl who has had her fair share of Pinterest flops. I'm not saying you shouldn't try them at all, I'm just saying pick and choose wisely (and in moderation).
This next step can be tied to DIY projects, but really goes for all wedding planning in general. Stop yourself from micro-managing. Don't push all of your tasks onto others, but DO let people help you here and there. You'll drive yourself crazy if you try to do it all alone while maintaining a normal, healthy life.
Furthermore, avoid being a brat about your expectations. As the wise Leo Tolstoy once said, "If you look for perfection, you'll never be content." We've all got our dream day planned in our head thanks to the glamorous images we see on Pinterest. It is important to remember that many of those images are staged, meaning they are not real life
. Your wedding is
real life. Don't work yourself up on perfecting every last little detail.
Lots of couples are adding videography to their list of things to have. I'm totally hopping on this bandwagon. You might then that pictures will suffice, but think about how amazing it will be to hear a loved one's laugh after the day is done. This won't make or break your pre-wedding to-do list!
Friends and family are going to pressure you to do things a certain way. Cousin Courtney had such-and-such vendor at her wedding, so you should too. Mother-in-Law Mary doesn't love your color scheme and thinks you should look again. Groomsman Gary wants you to play the most annoying song in the world at your reception because he loves to dance to it. Deep breath now. This is your day, don't let pressure from others take away from what you want.
Treat yo self! Haven't seen the hilarious Parks and Rec scene I'm talking about? Stop and watch now
. All brides want to look their best on their big day. Diet and exercise are fantastic, but you also need to enjoy life along the way. You'll seriously drive yourself crazy if you don't treat yourself on occasion. That donut you want at the bakery? Maybe avoid getting it every day, but once a week (or every other week) isn't going to kill you. Not sure about you, but I get hangry (hunger + angry) when I deny myself the sweets I love. Again, it's all about moderation!
Abstain from other large life-changing decisions if at all possible. You're going to have a lot going on during this occasion. Use your free time for fun things with your fiancé. Refrain from purchasing a pet, moving houses, changing jobs, etc. if at all possible. Keep your stress to a minimum.
Richard Carlson, the author of the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
, poses a wonderful question: "Will this matter a year from now?" Small details may displease you, but in the end the important thing is that you're starting forever with your best friend. Don't let little worries make you forget that.
Last, but certainly not least, do not forget to be a couple. You two are the reason this whole engagement thing is happening. Remember that cute little play-by-play up at the top? Keep the moments like that alive. Embrace this time with one another and enjoy every step.
You survived your engagement!
The day is finally here! You're walking down the aisle. You can see the man of your dreams looking truly dreamy ahead of you. You place your hand in his and all feels right in the world. You say "I do" and he does too. Introducing the new Mr. and Mrs.! You've survived the engagement. Now go enjoy your happily ever after. Just try not to screw that up either. *Insert wink face* Any other engagement slip-ups I missed? Share your tips with a fellow bride- or groom-to-be!
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