You’re Engaged! Now what?
Here's what do to after you get engaged and before you deep dive into wedding planning.
We love a good love story, we also know very well that there are a lot of steps in between popping the question and your wedding day.
Thanksgiving kicks off not just the holiday season, but it launches the engagement season (with full force). During the winter holiday wave, thousands of couples declare their love for one another and promise to spend their lives together. You might be one of them, or maybe you have a hunch that it’s happening soon. If so, this is for you!
Should you find yourself saying "hell yes" to the partner of your dreams this engagement season, here are my recommended steps as a wedding planner and owner of a Washington and Oregon wedding planning team.
The Guide To Your Engagement and Planning Your Wedding
1. Take a moment!
Finding your person will understandably make you want to announce your engagement to the whole world. But I highly encourage to press pause on the phone calls/texts/Instagram posts and instead revel in the moment with your partner for just a little longer. Pop some bubbles and savor each emotional second with just the two of you. Laugh, cry, stare at the ring. The world can wait. Remember, once you step outside that euphoric engagement bubble and share it with the world, the wedding planning circus begins. Don't rush it. Enjoy your moment!
2. Share the news - VIP's first.
Once you are ready to shout from the rooftops, make a few calls first. Your parents, siblings and BFF's are not going to want to hear about this from social media. If you are close, head over and spread the news in person. If not, pick up the phone. This is a big thing for them too.
3. Insure the ring!
I know doing boring crap like calling your insurance company is the last thing you want to do now, but it's important. You would be surprised at how often engagement rings go missing before the wedding. It's new, and you aren't used to wearing it. I once had a good friend lose her ring at the nail salon, getting a mani for those killer ring photos… Needless to say it didn’t happen that day. Please, please, please get this ring insured.
Insider tid bit, the person proposing can get it insured before the question is even popped. Our friends over at BRIDES did a great article guiding you through the best place to insure the ring.
4. Social shout out.
It's time for the ring to make its public debut. Before posting that ring shot, ensure your fingers are ready for their close up. Treat yourself to a wonderful manicure (but don’t lose that ring). Because the wedding industry is well.....the wedding industry there is actually guidance out there for what nail color will compliment your ring if you want a killer photo. But if that’s not your jam, everyone will be excited to know however you wish to share the news. P.S. while you are on Instagram posting that ring selfie, give us a follow to at @yourperfectbridesmaid
5. Take a breather.
I know it's tempting to dive into the big stuff wedding planning wise, but I also think it is important to enjoy just being engaged. Whether you take a weekend, a month or 6 months, try to slow down, be preset and enjoy this stage. Remember, you only call each other “fiance” for so long. This is the easy part, don't rush through it. What comes next is talking about important topics.
6. Discuss the Big Stuff.
In other words, when, where, how many, and how much. When you are ready to start tackling wedding planning there are a few things to discuss first.
Talk about “when”
Couples that get engaged during the engagement season (November - February) choose to either get married “sooner” or “later”. For this engagement season, “sooner” would be 2023 in less than a year, and later might be 2024 or beyond. There is no right answer - it all depends on a few factors:
Desired engagement length
Ability to handle stress
Other life events
Preference for a specific date
Preference for a specific venue
For example… If you’ve been dying to get married and a specific day or specific venue in mind isn’t the biggest priority, a “sooner” wedding might be for you. If you have a specific date in mind but not a specific venue, a “later” wedding might be for you so you can have more time to sift through venues that have your date available.
Talk about "where"
Before you start looking at specific venues, I think it’s helpful to first narrow down and agree on your preferred geographic area. If you have a lot of out-of-town family, you might keep in mind that a venue close to an airport will be a good option. Or, maybe you really love the coast, or the mountains and know you want to narrow your search to those areas. Narrowing down the location is going to be important to streamlining your venue search. On the topic of venue availability, you may have heard about venues booking out early in the past few years. Rest be assured, we’re seeing that 2023 isn’t as crazy as the wedding boom in 2021 and 2022, so venues have more availability. In other words, don’t panic about finding your “where”. Keep in mind, a wedding planner can help you find that “where” in relation to your priorities, budget and preferences. We call our service a Venue Search and Consultation or “Venue Hunt” for short.
Talk about “how many”
Oh, the guest count. Likely the source of your first wedding planning stressor. Everyone is going to have a list and it can add up quickly. Right now we are seeing weddings average about 100 ppl, but we are starting to see big weddings make a comeback, too. Regardless of what number you land on, it is super helpful to have a good idea on how many you are inviting and a good guess as to how many of those will be coming before you go much further.
Talk about “how much”
Money stress at any point in life is the worst. Money stress during planning a wedding is the worst of the worst. If you find yourself wanting to hide under the covers at this stage, it's perfectly normal. No one wants to talk about money, ever, but it is so important for EVERYONE to be on the same page - that may mean you and your partner, and it might also mean either of your parents or other contributors. When you are ready, have a talk with your fiance and each family about how much everyone is able to contribute. This isn't really the "budget" conversation, this is the "how much is going into the pot and who is contributing to it" conversation. When having these talks, this info might be helpful:
An average wedding in the PNW these days runs about 100 guests and a budget of $45,000. You of course can spend more or less, but this is the average of what we are seeing.
There are some traditions around who pays for the wedding, but honestly, we rarely see couples follow those guidelines. In the modern wedding industry world, we see couples treat funding a wedding like a team sport: each family contributes what they can or want to, and the couple picks up the rest.
If your family is contributing to the wedding, ask if they are wanting to contribute a set amount or pay for specific items. For example, we’ve had couples’ parents cover all the costs of just catering, or items like the dress and hair and makeup. As a follow up, if they are contributing a set amount, ask if they want to write you a check and have you manage the funds or if they want to pay vendors directly. If they are writing you a check, ask when you can expect that. If they want to pay vendors directly, or if they want to cover certain things, ask if they are wanting/expecting to be part of the vendor selection process.
In general, the goal is to be on the same page, and that requires asking the right questions, and sometimes the hard questions. Take your time on this part!
7. Set up for financial and organizational success.
Now that you’ve had the talk about the big things, it’s time to prepare. Before stepping full force into the wide world of wedding planning I highly recommend getting two wedding specific accounts.
A wedding bank account or wedding credit card: I find having a separate, shared account for wedding related expenses crucial. It gives everyone oversight and it really helps you stay on budget because your expenses are getting muddled with your normal life expenses. You may also consider putting all your wedding expenses on a credit card where you and your partner get rewards you can use together (i.e. an airline credit card). You may find you’ll be spending a decent amount, so you might as well reap any benefits you can! Keep in mind, not every vendor allows online payments, or some may have credit card or online payment fees.
A wedding email account: Having a shared wedding account allows you to keep your wedding emails in one area. You both will have access to it and things aren’t getting lost in the sea of your life emails. But, you can always set up a forwarding address to your personal account if you find that helpful to see notifications.
8. Hire a wedding planner.
We do what we do for a reason. Deep down in my core, I believe in the importance of a planner because wedding planning can be stressful and full of surprises, and you deserve someone who gives their full attention to helping you tackle all that it can be. Regardless of who you choose to work with, I highly, highly, highly recommend that a wedding planner be the first official vendor you reach out to.
A planner can do a lot of things for you, such as:
Pencil out a budget
Help you find the best venue
Provide a curated list of vendors
Take care of logistical details such as timelines and floor plans
Communicate to vendors on your behalf if you have a busy life
Curate a unique and realistic design
And manage all the details so nothing falls through the cracks
Now that all was what we “do”... But the real benefits to hiring a wedding planner are:
Peace of mind
Problem prevention (and solving when necessary)
and assurance that nothing is being forgotten about or missed.
If you are interested in having some help through this process for your Washington or Oregon wedding - reach out! We offer a complimentary consultation and we would love to learn more about your ideas and share how we can help make them happen!
9. Build your budget.
If you decide to not hire a planner, I definitely recommend penciling out a very detailed budget before moving forward. You want to make sure that the venue and every vendor hired is in support of your budget. Splurging early is going to make everything else that much more difficult. Budgets are tricky - that’s why it’s always the first thing we touch on with our couples and have a handy-dandy customized spreadsheet to build couples’ personalized budgets.
Here are tips to help with finding the budget that works best for you (beyond what the overall number is):
Determine what is in and out of the budget. Are you including the cost of the wedding dress, hair and makeup, wedding bands, honeymoon, or rehearsal dinner into the budget? Make a list of what is and isn’t in the budget. This will be an essential step to avoiding miscommunication.
Do some research on wedding costs. You don’t want national or even state averages. You really are looking at what the things you want in your region cost. A planner can for sure help with this, but if you have friends who very recently got married, they too can give you some context. Keep in mind, inflation is impacting the wedding industry as well, so if you are building your budget based on data from friends, add about 15% to it. If you do want some professional help creating your budget, check out our Ask a Planner service. We have an a la carte budget creation service to help you create a custom budget for you.
10. Find a venue!
Once you have completed steps 1-9, it's time to tackle the venue hunt. Your search for the perfect venue is going to be stressful. To help with expectations I recommend:
Email and check availability and updated pricing
Schedule a tour and visit in person.
Narrow down your favorites and consult the budget.
Email your favs and request a contract
We are so excited for you and the life you’ll get to spend together. I believe that wedding planning should be fun, not stressful, and that starts with the right conversations, the right plan, and the right resources. We’d love to be a part of your wedding story - reach out and schedule a consultation to talk about what kind of assistance you’d like during the planning process!