What to Do After You Get Engaged: A Cheat Sheet
Congratulations! You (or your partner) said yes! And now… the work starts!
Like most agreements, the initial “yes” is the easy part. It’s what follows that makes the difference. I suspect that you have a load of questions, ideas, and challenges right now and you’re wondering where to start.
I’ve been a wedding photographer since 2012, so I have a pretty good insight into what goes into a wedding. From cakes to flowers and everything in between, it can feel like a huge task. I mean, it IS a big task. But there are some big things to sort out first and some priorities to lay down.
I get involved with couples very early on, so I get to see and hear what goes into the planning of a wedding and what goes well (and not so well).
So, here you go… a cheat sheet for you newly-engaged couples to work to!
The first thing to do is… NOTHING!
Look, it’s not every day that you get engaged, is it? So just relax. Enjoy it. Bask in the moment. Take time with your partner to contemplate life together and all the dreams and aspirations that you have.
Think about the real reasons you got engaged and look into each other’s eyes and realise that you’ve finally found them. You’ve found ‘the one’. Have a lovely meal out. Go for drinks. By all means, start thinking about your preferences for weddings, but take your time to enjoy the peace before the planning starts!
Hold off on social media!
Far too much of modern-day life is shared on social media and there’s even a worrying trend of people who actually do things so that they can be shared on social media!
Consider resisting the social media temptation just for a short while? Don’t post that “She said YES” photo or selfie just yet. Avoid the dopamine hit for a little longer.
Why? Well, that’s when the pressure starts! That’s when people start to ask all those questions like dates, venues, dress codes, wedding roles. Argh!
Avoid it. Post about it later.
OK, tell them you said, “yes”
When you’re ready, one of the first things to do is to tell your family and friends. You might want to call or FaceTime them.
Do this when you’re ready. Not before. Enjoy your time.
Get an engagement party or photoshoot planned if you like. Consider it a warm-up!
Put a ring on it!
Your partner may have selected a ring already, or you may be choosing together. Those rings aren’t cheap, right? So don’t forget to update your home insurance! Simple, dull, but essential. If you lose them then you’ll be covered and you won’t regret anything. It’s a really simple job to do. It’s one phone call. But it’s worth it.
Build a budget.
Right, let’s not get carried away. The budget will set the intentions for all your actions and will help you answer so many questions in the future. The budget is key to this and how to segment and share it is too.
- What can you afford to save per month towards the wedding?
- How long will it take to reach your target budget?
- Consider what needs deposits and when you’ll need to pay them.
- How else can you raise money? Family? Gifts?
The budget is a key part, in fact, it’s the best place to start. You can download spreadsheets for this if you’re geeky enough. (Get geeky enough – they’re a great help.)
Don’t assume family will cover it.
Tradition states that the father of the bride will pay. But will he? Is there a pot of cash put aside for that? Don’t assume there is and be careful how you approach this topic. Money is a tricky subject and you want to get off on the right foot with your future in-laws, or stay on it with your own parents!
Ask for money, not gifts?
It’s becoming more popular to do this for the wedding presents and even for the wedding budget itself. It’s a little business-like, but you could gain some early working wedding capital with a well-placed invite or message.
There are some lovely ways to ask for money rather than presents and it can be done with decorum. Looking at how much you can save per month along with any donations will help you work out what you feel comfortable with as an overall wedding budget.
Don’t be pressured into picking a wedding date too soon!
It’s your wedding and your life. You’ll have people who will try to take over and this can be right at the start. So… don’t start letting them do it now. Take your time and be polite but assertive in your replies to family and friends badgering you for the date.
We know they might have a work trip or that future surgery to plan for but you can’t please everyone. Something a wedding certainly teaches you!
Pick a date
Ready? Great, now pick a date you’re happy with and one that fits you both and of course has the time for your budget to grow into one you can use for the wedding you’d like. Timing is essential, as is budget, to the rest of this list.
Pick a venue
OK, now you have a budget and a date, you can go shopping. This is the fun bit. You’ll spend a large proportion of the budget on the venue – but make sure you know what this is and do some research before you go visiting places that your budget gets afraid of.
Check the dates and budgets match and then go for a look around. Take photos and notes while you’re there as you’ll see a few venues and you won’t remember the differences. You’ll want to consider what’s important to you about the venue before you go, so you can see whether each one ticks your boxes.
Pick a wedding photographer
Now you have the budget and date and possible venues, you can select your photographer. Just like anyone who needs to be there on the day, a photographer will get booked up in advance so make sure they have the date very early on. Cake bakers, florists, and many of the other people you’ll need to contact can take more than one wedding a day. A photographer can’t.
Book the engagement party and even a photoshoot!
Keen to tell everyone? Book an engagement party and send out those invites. This is a good time to ask for donations to the wedding and could well help you build up some reserves in that budget.
One great way to amplify and extend the ‘just engaged buzz’ is to have an engagement photo shoot. It’s great practice in front of the camera and it gives you great photos that can be used on the wedding day for things like signing albums or signing frames. And more importantly – they’re great fun! You can see some of my engagement shoot images here.
Go to Pinterest?
Well… yes and no. You’ll get some great ideas here and a lot of brides are encouraged to go to Pinterest by wedding magazines and organisers but a word of caution…
… Don’t have a copy and paste wedding!
I’ve noticed a lot of weddings seem to have ‘the Pinterest look’ now and aren’t personal to the couple, at all. Have the wedding that YOU want; not what’s trending on Pinterest. Be different; don’t be a copycat.
Decide on your theme and go shopping…
Got the date, venue, and theme set? Great, now you need to book the big things for the wedding.
The next thing on your list is to compile a big list for all the things you need to book, order, view, choose and so on for your wedding day.
Some of the big purchases & decisions might include:
- The dress
- The suits
- The flowers
- The cake
- The guest list
- The transport
- The entertainment
- The wedding package (with the venue)
Each wedding will vary and I recommend that you take your time here to get this just right, assign a budget for each one and see how you’re fairing.
Get your best friends together and give them some important jobs to do (that you know they’ll actually do!). You know who’s reliable out of your mates.
Enjoy the build-up!
It’s a fantastic time and one I love to be involved with from the early days. Enjoy it and start on the journey together with happy memories, not fallouts. It’s a really emotional time and you’ll be bringing people together who may not even know each other. That can be a challenge in itself!
Remember: It’s your day and your wedding. Protect that as much you can.
Most of all – HAVE FUN!
That’s the number one aim for me and I recommend that you try to focus more on that than whether the napkins match the carpet.