Photo by Pearly Kate Photography.
This is the first post in a year-long series chronicling the process from engagement to wedding. We will share tips, ideas, and real-world experiences that may help you through your own planning process.
You’re getting married! Congratulations! You’re probably feeling excited and happy, but you may also feel a sense of being overwhelmed, and maybe a tiny bit panicked. You can head off those negative emotions with a few tips.
You don’t have to take every tip that’s offered, either here or from anyone else—more about this later. But I hope some of these tips will be useful to help you get started.
Take a Break and Breathe
It’s very, very tempting to start wedding planning right away.
The wedding planning process is often stressful, despite all the best efforts, and there will be plenty to plan and stress over later. Take a couple of weeks to enjoy your engaged status. Bask in the glow of that excitement and love with your fiancé. Take some time for you two and just enjoy this initial headiness. There will be plenty of time for planning and questions afterward. Remember to breathe and rest.
Tell Your Loved Ones First
Use the two-week break to call or visit your loved ones and tell them your big news personally, BEFORE you put it out on social media! Many parents have been surprised by seeing an engagement announcement on social media before they heard it directly from their child, and it can really be a cause for hurt feelings. And it’s not just parents—make sure you call all the important people in your life. This can include grandparents, siblings, other relatives with whom you are close, best friends, and your future spouse’s family members. Just because you’ve told everyone on your side and want to put it out there, it doesn’t mean your fiancé’s side has been fully informed.
Once you have ensured that the important people in both your lives have been updated directly, feel free to use social media to announce it to a broader audience.
Decide on an Engagement Party
Generally, your first act after both of the above tips will be to decide if you want to have an engagement party. If you do, who will host it? Will it be the happy couple to host with a few family and friends? Will the parents host something? Or could you give it to the future maid of honor or best man to organize as their first official duty? Ponder over whether you want a party and how, when, where, and who to invite.
During the pandemic crisis, you may not be able to hold an in-person engagement party at all, depending on the regulations in your state or county. If this is the case, you could always consider hosting a virtual party. Gather your friends and family on a private online forum, open a bottle of wine, and be prepared to chat! You could also pick a few games to play, such as trivia, bingo, or pictionary, or take turns with other attendees to organize the games between you so one person isn’t always having to lead.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to throw a party at all. If you know you need to keep your budget small, then you may decide to skip the engagement party completely. And that’s fine! You are not obligated to have any parties, especially if it will break your budget. Which leads into the final tip…
Practice Saying NO
As a newly engaged person, you’re likely to receive a lot of advice. So many people have been married that it feels like everyone is an expert, and some folks are more insistent in offering advice than others. However well-intentioned that advice may be, it’s often overwhelming. You’re going to get advice from parents, family, friends—really, just about anyone—whether you ask for it or not. Be prepared, remember to breathe, and practice saying one or more of the following statements:
- “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”
- “We’ll consider it.”
- “I’ll check with my coordinator.”
- “It’s not really what I’m looking for, but I appreciate your advice.”
- “We’d really like to keep it small.”
That last word will come in handy should anyone start insisting that you “need” to have items that are not what you want or are outside of your budget. It’s OK to say no, and to repeat it as often as is necessary. You may want to practice saying it until you’re comfortable, especially if you’re not normally an assertive person or if you’ve been taken by surprise. Ask your coordinator for help if you need it.
Also lumped in with this tip is: Don’t ask for wedding help on social media unless you really want it. One bride was astonished to find that a single post on Facebook expressing surprise at wedding costs brought out every female member of her family and many of her friends to add tips, advice, and “you should do…”—all of which wasn’t really solicited or helpful in that moment.
Keep in mind that your family and friends likely are just wanting to be helpful to you, especially if this is a process they’ve already been through themselves, and they want to be part of your special day. If it would be helpful to you to save their advice for later, you could always ask them to email their tips and then filter those messages aside for a later time when you’re ready to look at them.
You and your fiancé will need to decide what you want in a wedding, and what you can afford. A good coordinator can help with this. Once you decide, make sure you stand firm, say no as necessary—and remember to breathe!