Pop the champagne, you're engaged (congratu-stinkin-lations friends!) and you're starting to tackle the uncharted territory that is Wedding Planning. First of all, kudos to you, planning anything can be pretty difficult in this day and age, let alone a wedding.
But before we dive right into the Wedding preparations, one thing people don't really mention or talk about, is your Engagement. You don't just say Yes and then immediately call a venue (I'm sure someone has, but very rarely do we see this.) No. You say yes, you tell your folks, friends, family, coworkers, all the fuss and then you end up in this kind of weird Engaged, pre-wedding planning limbo where you're just kind of like "Ok now what do we do?"
This week I will be sharing some great tips to get you through this unnerving time in your life so you can truly enjoy your engagement and feel confident that your wedding day will be exactly how you dreamed it would be. So grab whatever wets your whistle, and let's get started!
One thing I'll never forget when Mike and I got engaged (above) was people telling us to ENJOY our engagement; they'd say something like "Don't be too eager to skip to the marriage part just yet, just enjoy this time" or "Give yourself some time before you start thinking about a wedding; enjoy this time together." As a planner by nature my first thought was Yeah right, I've had this planned since I was born, and depending on the person, What, you don't want us to get married, or what?, but it never occurred to me what they were trying to say.
Weddings can truly be one of the most stressful, time consuming and eye-opening events in a person's life (we won't go into having children and all that right now, sorry parents - you're heroes) and your now Fiancé had to chalk up the courage to ask you in the first place, which is no small feat either. It wasn't until I was engaged, planned my wedding, then planned my elopement and finally got married that I truly understood the cryptic, semi-concerning warning our friends and family were telling us: This only happens once and it flies by.
Being engaged is the transition period between being "single" and being married (duh we know that) but it's more than that; it's a right of passage (similar to your sweet sixteen or 21st birthday;) you're entering a stage in your life that will change you -- for the better of course -- and *hopefully* won't ever happen again. I tell my couples, YOEO, You're Only Engaged Once (I bet you tried to sound it out didn't you?) so enjoy it! Here are just a few examples of why being engaged rocks:
You get to be extra adorable and mushy with your Fiancé
Now, you might be into this or you might not, and there is no reason you can't be mushy and gross any other time, but it's just kind of expected when you're engaged. People are more accepting of PDA and generally don't mind a higher amount of selfie posts.
The Attention is ALL ON YOU
Even if you aren't getting married for another couple of years, you and your Fiancé will be the center of attention until those vows are read; every family gathering, holiday, friendly outing. Again, you may or may not enjoy this (I myself hate being the center of attention, even on my birthday,) but it's not everyday that you get spoiled like this. Just remember you deserve it!
Gifts, Money, Parties, Etc.
I'd like to point out that getting engaged and getting married is NOT meant to be a source of income or an excuse to get cool stuff -- however it's not a bad thing either. The world is so full of negativity, unfortunate events and catastrophes, so when people hear of something GOOD happening, our first instinct is to celebrate it; revel in the positivity and hang onto it as long as possible. We also get a sense of happiness when we contribute to that happiness by giving gifts or other acts of kindness; Humanity at it's finest. So embrace it; and graciously enjoy it.
So I know that you're thinking now: Becca you've told us that we need to enjoy ourselves but you haven't given us any tips on what or how. How do we act engaged? So let's just jump right in, shall we?
Tip #1: Who to Tell and When
It's a no brainer that you should probably tell your parents as soon as humanly possible, assuming they don't already know. But what about everyone else? This is obviously up for personal interpretation, but in general here's how to go about revealing the big news.
If you're like me, I prefer to tell people in person or over the phone; it's more personable, more respectful if it's a grandparent or someone important, and I get to really connect over this exciting news with them. I told everyone closest to me before I even thought about going on Social Media. I also wanted it to come from me; I didn't want my third cousin, twice removed on my mother's side telling my Grandma before I had the chance to. But I'll tell you right now, I waited a while before I changed that relationship status; again I hate being the center of attention and the thought of my two hundred plus friends commenting or messaging me to talk about how Mike proposed if we had a date yet, or started planning sounded absolutely dreadful (not to mention we were still having to recount our eleven day trip to Ireland a billion times at the same time.) I also kind of relished in the fact that no one really knew but us; it was like we had some big secret that was all ours. Call me crazy but we loved it. It can be exhausting, exhilarating, but exhausting. So if you're like me, it's ok to wait to share it with the world, and heck if you don't want to tell Facebook, don't. Make it your own; this is your special time.
If you're the kind of person who LOVES sharing everything with everyone, the above should probably still apply; tell your closest friends and loved ones first before you spill the beans to the world. But again, make it your own; go crazy, share the selfies, change that status and celebrate this exciting time! At the end of the day, it's about you and your Fiancé (a reoccurring theme we'll frequently touch on.)
Tip #2: What To Anticipate During Your Engagement
I say anticipate because at no point is there a one size fits all engagement period; so to tell you to expect anything would be outrageous.
Frequently (because again, everyone is different, families have different customs, etc.) couples are faced with many different happenings during their upcoming months of being engaged:
An Engagement Party - this is generally the first thing to happen for newly engaged couples. This is in celebration of your promise to tie that knot eventually, and is typically hosted by the couple's parents. It's a great way for future in-laws to meet (if they haven't already) and for both sides of the family to start getting to know one another. Engagement parties are extremely popular, but there is no hard and fast rule that says you have to have one, especially if you're families are already acquainted.
Engagement Photos - What better way to commemorate this joyous time than to take some professional portraits with your new spouse-to-be? There are no right or wrong ways to do engagement photos, nor is there an end-all-be-all purpose other than you want some nice photos that aren't with a selfie stick. We talk more about these in a minute.
Bridal Shower - historically, a Bridal shower was held for only the bride to provide goods and monetary assistance to make sure the wedding could financially take place. Nowadays, it's more of a gift/gag-giving party to celebrate the Bride-to-be on her upcoming matrimony (similar to a baby shower, if you will.) It's customary for either the Mother of the Bride or Maid/Matron of Honor to host this gathering, but your future Mother-In-Law may want to throw one for you. It's also polite for the entire bridesmaid entourage to pitch in (weddings are expensive!)
Again, no one says you have to have a Bridal shower, though it tends to be more important to the MOB than anyone. There are some great ways to switch it up and make it unique to you; it doesn't have to be all lace and doilies unless you want it to be.
Just keep in mind, the Bridal Shower is NOT a Bachelorette Party (I'm looking at you party animals.) There will likely be ladies from both sides of family attending; sisters, aunts, grandmothers, young children, etc.; don't turn it into some risqué burlesque scene and keep your gifts PG. Save it for the Bachelorette party.
Bachelor/Bachelorette Party - we all know what these are, but they're still an important part of the Engagement itinerary. Bachelor-ette parties do not have to be strippers, R-rated themed shenanigans every Hollywood movie makes them out to be. It can be a night out at the bar, a painting class with your gals, a fishing trip with the boys, or all of the above. Generally, these are to be planned by your MOH/Best Man, and paid for with the help of the other bridal party members.
There isn't a precise time these need to be held by, but it's my strongest, professional opinion to host them well before the month of the wedding date. I've seen so many people who had their party the night before their wedding -- it was not pretty. Not to mention the overwhelming stress the month prior brings; you don't need to worry about two-three events at the same time.
Rehearsal Dinner - again nothing we haven't heard of before, but it's also a widely interpreted event. Typically paid for and hosted by the Groom's family, this is generally held the night before your I Do's. It's a time for speeches, food and some quality time with immediate family before the big day. More often than not, your rehearsal with your venue will also be the day before your wedding to run through the in's and out's of the day to come, so it's customary for your immediate family and bridal party to attend; afterwards attending the Rehearsal dinner. These can be almost mini weddings with how elaborate some folks want to get; others are a simple meal with a drink or two. Make it your own!
Ok - breathe. I know that's a lot; kind of exhausting to think about isn't it? But that's ok, because it's all in the name of love and the fact that you found your person and other people want to share in that happiness with you. But now you can kind of see how being engaged can get highjacked by pre-wedding events and the focus immediately switches to all things wedding, wedding, wedding. And we haven't even touched on the Wedding planning stuff yet.
Tip #3: Snag Them Engagement Photos
As I touched on, Engagement photos are an excellent time to capture some of this explosive love you're feeling with your new fiancé. And I mean professional, quality photos you'll want to frame and hang on your grandma's wall - not a selfie with someone's thumb in the corner. We'll go over posing and wardrobe another day.
First thing to note is that October through December has the highest rate of proposals and engagements, so as soon as photographers are coming down from Wedding season, we get slammed with Engagement Sessions. At least here in Colorado, our "Wedding Season" is May through October, and the majority of our couples want to have their photos taken well in advance of their wedding date (6 months or more) either for personal preference or because they want to use them for their Save-the-Dates which need to be sent out 8 months in advance of their wedding date. So even though you should relax and enjoy this time together before you get consumed with wedding plans, it's highly encouraged to book your engagement photographer sooner rather than later (bonus if they offer packages that include both wedding and engagement!)
Second thing to note, is that Wedding Photographers (and venues!) are already starting to book for the upcoming wedding season starting as early as August. So it's my personal and professional opinion to chat about a date, research some companies and book your Venue and Photographer as soon as comfortably possible. The Wedding industry never sleeps and in this case the early bird truly does get the worm. Mike and I got engaged in October and by mid December our favorite venue was already booked out for the entire following fall calendar (not to mention they were horrible at communicating but we won't go there.) We were devastated, and it completely put a hold on any other planning we could do. But once those two major vendors were booked, the rest just fell into place.
Tip #4: RELAX
Needless to say there is a lot going on, there are a lot of emotions, and you have one giant to-do list coming your way, and the current state of the world is anything but pleasant but I cannot stress enough how important it is to remember what it's all about -- you and your Fiancé.
There is nothing that can't wait until tomorrow and there's truly no point in going through all the hustle and bustle if you're miserable the entire time. So take some time for yourselves, remember that at the end of the day, wedding or no wedding, you still have each other and that that is worth everything.
Something else to keep in mind, is that there are tools out there to keep you organized and on track; utilize them! You can't plan a wedding in a day (you can, but believe me -- it's rough) so give yourself a break! You don't have to have everything figured out the moment you get engaged. Take a breather.... and read our blog. ;)
Obviously there is SO MUCH to go over about the months prior to prepping for your big day and no blog post, or informational video will cover 100% of what you'll experience, and I'm sure your glass has been refilled several times throughout this post just because there is so much to take in; and it's nerve wracking! But I truly hope today's Tip-sy Tuesday post leaves you more tipped than tipsy.
Of course, if you have questions about today's post or there is something you'd like for us to go into more detail about, reach out to us and we'll do a supplemental Tip-sy post! We want to hear from you regardless, so if there is anything you want tips on, ask us for your chance to be featured and have your questions answered!
Thank you all for reading, and please stay safe wherever you're reading this. Cheers!
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