You’re madly in love, your other half has just proposed and you’ve just said yes. Take a moment, because this is happiness personified, right here. And before you post a ring selfie on Instagram or start creating Pinterest boards, take a read through our top ten tips on some non-negotiable (or at least highly recommended) first-things-first, must-not-forget steps for what happens next….
Pause & Be Present
Before you rush to share the news with friends and family, pause for a few hours (or better yet, an entire day or night) savouring this sweet moment with your other half. Crack open a bottle of champagne or head to a favourite bar (or maybe a restaurant that feels meaningful such as where you had your first date) for some celebratory alone time, before a stream of congratulations and (inevitable) 20 questions kicks in.
Share the Good News
When the time feels sweet to share this exciting new news with friends and family, be sure to begin with your ‘innermost family’ (whether they be family by blood, or the friends we choose as family) and work your way out from there. Resist the urge to share anything on social media (and request that those already in the know, do the same) until you have had the chance to speak to all your significant people, personally. Traditionally, face to face is best (and loveliest) but with families now spread far and wide, thank goodness for face time or a good old fashioned phone call! Only after you’ve covered this off, are social media announcements or text messages, cool.
If you’re lucky enough to have all your nearest and dearest in one place (geographically) throwing a surprise engagement party can be a wonderful way to announce your engagement to everyone all at once! If you’ve already shared the news, parents may host and help plan the celebration. Either way, keep in mind that usually an invitation to the engagement party leads to expectations of an invitation to the wedding. So if you’re not planning on inviting the whole engagement party gathering, it might save some heartache later if you and your partner find a way to mention this, on the night. A good solution is giving a quick speech (thanking everyone for coming and celebrating with you) and mentioning that as you’re planning a more intimate wedding, you’re particularly thrilled the be able to celebrate with so many people here tonight. This should help manage expectations and any hurt feelings later.
…for the dozens of questions coming your way! As soon as you announce your engagement you can expect to be answering on a regular basis these and many others: Have you set a date? How did they propose? Where are you thinking for the wedding? Will I be in the wedding party? Take a moment to think these things through before giving out any answers. A gracious (please back off) response? “We’re just basking in this ‘newly engaged’ feeling for now. We promised ourselves and each other we’d cherish this for a few months before diving in with any wedding planning”.
Meet the parents
Unless their parents live on the other side of the world, we’re assuming that if you’re planning to marry their offspring, you have already met the parents of your partner. But have they met your parents? If not (and if it’s logistically possible) this is a great opportunity to get them together. You plan on spending the rest of your lives together so laying good relationship energy makes for only good things down the track. Plus, in this modern age (when the brides family is no longer expected to foot the entire wedding bill) there will likely be shared costs and conversations around planning. Which will unfold in smoother more personal fashion if they can at least put a face to each other.
Insure your ring
File this one under pesky-life-admin…but it is important, because chances are it’s the most valuable thing in your possession that could legitimately be ‘lost or stolen’ (unlike say your house!). Have the jewel evaluated by an objective party and take out adequate insurance checking whether you’re covered for lost, stolen or damage. This can be added to your home and contents insurance, or renters insurance. If you have neither, now is the perfect time to take that grown up first step together.
Set a Budget
Once you’re ready to begin planning, this is absolutely the first step, before you do anything. Because your budget informs pretty much every decision to follow, including the scope of your guest list, which in turn, informs your venue choices.
Whether you plan on dividing things up in traditional fashion (with different people nominated to cover particular costs for particular items ie. The brides family pays for the reception and flowers etc) or whether you’re splitting it three ways with both sets of parents, open and honest communication is key.
Draft your guest list
This can be a major source of tension and contention. Many couples (no matter how grounded and how chillaxed) struggle through this step and it can prove the first argument obstacle in wedding planning. This is often due to serious pressure from one or both sets of parents, and nuclear missile size expectations being launched and projected on all sides. Take a deep breath and try to find middle ground. At the very least you and your partner need to be on the same page, even if that’s not the same page as the parents. A good test for culling a few extras? Ask yourself these two questions: Have we spent time with this person socially, of our own arranging (ie. invited them over for dinner), in the past 12 months? Will we still be friends with this person (ie. inviting them over for dinner) in 20 years time? Whether you apply this reasoning to friends or to extended family, it’s a pretty good indication of whether this person holds meaningful space in your life or not.
Book a Venue & Set a Date
Once you’ve finalised your guest list, which determines the capacity of the wedding venues you’re looking at…this next step can be a bit chicken and egg. If you have your heart set on a particular date (a Saturday full moon, the date you first met, New Years Eve etc), start there…as that will seriously narrow down venue choice, based on availability. If you’re flexible with the date (thinking sometime in Spring, next year) get browsing and keep in mind many venues book out 1-2years ahead, in peak wedding seasons of Autumn and Spring. Keep in mind way you want to feel on your wedding day and let that inform all the other decisions. Do you imagine a ceremony indoors or outdoors? A reception that is sit down or mingling? A cityscape or sand between the toes? Then err on the time of year most appropriate to your dream day, making sure to check rainfall averages if your ideal day is a mostly outdoor event.
And by that we mean, stay focussed on the number one thing here…which isn’t the wedding itself, but your partner, your relationship and your future marriage. Don’t let the planning of a wedding take on a life of its own, stealing your combined sanity and your happiness. Being engaged should be one of the most romantic chapters of your life and all too often, this supposed blissed out chapter gets derailed with challenging negotiations, stressful expectations and unfamiliar logistics. Remember to continue to make time for one other, go on date nights (with no wedding chat), take weekends away, take a deep breath, stay in love! Nurture your relationship during this time and enjoy the ride. It’s the first of many challenges during your life together, that will require compassion and compromise brought to the table…so practise navigating it with each other like a boss. A loved up boss.