You're Engaged! Now What?

Congratulations! Whether your engagement was planned or it was a surprise, those first weeks of romantic bliss will make life feel like a fairy tale. But now what? Where do you even begin planning a wedding? How are you supposed to answer all of the questions from coworkers and friends? Before you get overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remember: this is a happy, joyful time. All it takes is a little planning to get you through.

Here’s my advice to prepare you for a beautiful wedding, and an even more beautiful marriage:

1. Share the Happy News

Of course you want to share your good news, but think twice before posting a photo to Instagram. Call those who have been supporting you throughout your relationship so they don’t find out on social media or through the grapevine. Tell parents, grandparents, siblings, and BFFs first. Once your inner circle has been told, post away!

2. Take Care of Your Bling

Even if your beloved, like mine, did some reconnaissance to find out your ring size, it may not be a perfect fit. Go back to the jeweler to have your ring perfectly sized and make sure you have all the necessary appraisal paperwork. You’ll need that paperwork to insure your ring against loss or damage, so keep it safe and call your insurance company immediately. This is also a good time to start browsing for wedding bands for both of you. (Hey, it’s never too early to start looking!)

3. Get Organized

Nothing eases anxiety like a bit of organization. Start a notebook for information about dates, venues, guests, etc. And, if you haven’t already, sign up for Pinterest. It's an easy way to stay organized by creating boards for your dress, decorations, cake, etc. You can save a ton of time with the Pinterest app, too. Just pull out your phone to show the bakery your dream cake instead of trying to explain your vision.

4. Choose a Date

One of the first things people will ask, after demanding to see your ring, is “When’s the wedding?” You’ll want to get an idea of when the big day will be, even if it’s not the exact date. Giving people an estimate, like “next spring,” will satisfy their curiosity and help you start planning. Don’t lock yourself into one date too early, though, you may find a dream venue that is only available the weekend before or after.

5. Make a Budget and Start Saving

One of the most common sources of arguments between couples is money. How can you avoid this? By making sure you’re on the same page early on. If you’re frugal and want a small wedding with little fanfare but he’s always pictured his entire fraternity and all 25 cousins on the dance floor, there may be some tension. Plan a date night to talk about what you each have saved and what your parents or families may have offered to contribute, so you can start to get a realistic picture of your budget. Here are two resources to check out from The Knot and Brideside!

6. Start a Registry

Friends and family are unfailingly generous to engaged couples. But if you don’t have a registry, you could end up getting five sets of towels in bright pink, when your bathroom is an all-white oasis. So do your friends and family a favor by signing up for at least one registry. Think about kitchen essentials, items for your new home, or gifts that will replace your well-worn possessions.

7. Furniture for Two

If you're not already living together, you’ll need to start thinking about furnishing your new home. What do you each bring into the relationship? Where will you be living, and does your current furniture fit the space? Designing your dream home, and of course, shopping for a new bed can be fun for the newly engaged!

8. Stay Insured

This is not a glamorous topic, but it is oh-so-useful. Most health insurance companies only allow you to add a new person to your plan within a set number of days (probably 30) after a “life-changing event.” Since you’ll probably spend the first week or two after your wedding on a honeymoon, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for planning and paperwork. Review your health insurance plans early on to determine which one is the best option for you.

9. Think about the Wedding Party

You may have been planning your bridesmaids for years, but make sure you and your future husband are on the same page about how many people are in the wedding party before popping the question to your BFFs.

10. Take a Breather

You want everyone to have a great time. You want your future spouse to be happy. You want every detail to be perfect. But all that planning and stressing can take a toll on you - and your relationship. Be sure to take a break every once in awhile to unwind. Plan dates with your fiancé where wedding planning is off-limits to give you both a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

While the wedding is an important celebration marking the start of a new together, it has been helpful to remind myself that it is really just the start of the rest of your lives. It’s what comes after the wedding — the years of being married — that are truly important. Picturing your new life together, and following this advice, will be the icing on your wedding-planning-cake.