You're Engaged; What's Next?
While the engagement is exciting, it can be entirely daunting. The first question almost anyone will ask is "when's the wedding?" and this will start before your new fiancé has even had a chance to get up from being down on one knee. That in itself can send you in to panic to try and plan your big day as quick as possible. From speaking to married couples, try not to do this. Enjoy the engagement and enjoy the celebrations. It only happens once and the engagement in itself is a pretty big deal.
I recently attended a wedding fair and a bride-to-be was standing next to me at a stall enquiring about a cake supplier. She was trying to plan a wedding in three months, THREE MONTHS. Even the cake supplier could not believe the craziness of how quickly she was in a rush to walk down the aisle and needless to say the cake supplier was unavailable. Of course, if there is a reason why you need your marriage to be legalised quickly and it's more of a merited reason than you simply cannot wait for your big day, then yes, that is more than justified. Turning into bridezilla however and demanding your big day with unrealistic timeframes will take the enjoyment out the whole wedding process. It also rings alarm bells that there will be some regret down the line from jumping into decisions too soon. The moral of the story? Make sure you have the day you want. Don't rush it because you're beside yourself with excitement, you'll more than likely make decision that you will look back on and regret. And of course, it is important to enjoy the whole process - even the planning!
So, as the post is entitled, you're engaged; what's next?
Enjoy Your Engagement. It goes without saying, it is a time for celebration. I had great joy in letting friends and family know about our engagement and you know what, a month or so on and I don't feel I've entirely exhausted the excuse to celebrate. Keep banging that "we're just engaged" drum for as long as you can!
Set a budget. We are only in the infancy of planning our day but it is already apparent at how important it is to set a budget. It can be so easy to get carried away in the excitement of it all. The main factor in deciding our budget was the date of the wedding. We went for a date that is over two years away and the reason being is that we will have more time to save for the day we really want, rather than having to make a lot of comprises. So, I guess coupled with setting a budget, a wedding date is within the budget umbrella. Even if the date is a rough estimate, it'll let you plan a timescale for saving.
Research venues. I researched local venues until I was blue in the face. It was a case of process of elimination to focus on a few venues that we wanted to visit. I firstly looked at a variety of venues; hotels, country estates, castles and local landmarks. I managed to select a few from each type of category and narrowed my selection down further by deciding on what suited our style more. It turns out we were more a hotel and country estate kind of couple because we liked the packages they offer, we wanted somewhere that isn't overly formal and a place where you are still provided with pretty backdrops for your photographs. Several were also eliminated because of price and if some were out with our budget, I didn't look into it any further. By process of elimination I was left with a few venues to enquire about visiting with my fiancé. There are of course more hurdles to jump over before you actually visit the venue. Sigh.
Decide on an approximate guest list. This doesn't have to be set in stone but you will need to make sure you have a rough idea of numbers to provide to your prospective venue. This might eliminate your choices even further as the venues you have selected may not cater of the number of guest you are thinking of having. We opted to have a small wedding, for two main factors; we want the day to be very personal and again, budget.
Visit & Book your venue. It is so exciting looking at your chosen venues and it is rewarding to turn your research into action. You will know the venue for you as soon as you step in through the door. I'll say no more. It is likely your venue will hold your chosen date as a provisional booking for 14 days and it might be an idea at this point to research and ask about availability for photographers and bands. Similarly to venues, photographers and bands tend to get booked up quite far in advance.
Choose your bridal party. Another exciting thing to do is letting your nearest and dearest know they will play a special part in your big day. We've gone for a mid-sized bridal party; 3 bridesmaids, 3 flower girls, 2 groomsmen and 3 pageboys. I've still to "pop the question" to my side of the bridal party and that is currently work in process. I'm currently looking at various ideas and again, I want to make this special for all involved. It can be easy to be pressured into making a specific person part of your bridal party but remember it is your day; you'll know who you want and the numbers needed better than anyone else.
I suppose the main theme in "what's next" after the engagement is to continue to enjoy it all and look at the big picture to essentially where and when the wedding will be. This will let you start to formulate a picture in your head of what your wedding will be like and have some stability that while you are enjoying your engagement things aren't becoming static. In terms of recording your planning ideas etc; I haven't bought a hardcopy journal yet but I plan to do so to compile receipts. I have however downloaded the WedHappy app, which has been great for setting reminders, alerting me of tasks to-do and setting up a budget planner! I also have a spreadsheet with wedding numbers and the sorts but lets not talk about that...
If you are in the stages of planning your wedding, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.